Picnic basket on the sandy shore of an empty beach

 photo credit: by Suzy Lamont @suzy_lamont @frontenaccounty

Six Beautiful Islands in Ontario

Picnic basket on the sandy shore of an empty beach

 photo credit: by Suzy Lamont @suzy_lamont @frontenaccounty

With endless lakes, rivers and waterways, Ontario is blessed with beautiful islands just waiting to be explored. Let the timelessness and tranquility of the island spell engulf you on these floating jewels.

Wolfe Island 

As the largest of the 1000 islands in Ontario’s eastern region, Wolfe Island is full of activities and shops that make it a relaxing, worthwhile destination. Situated where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, this nature retreat is only 20 minutes from Kingston by free, year-round ferry service. The Wolfe Islander III travels from Kingston to Marysville throughout the day, arriving in the island’s main town of Marysville. Explore the Old House Museum to learn more about the island’s history. Devour the iconic butter tarts from the original Wolfe Island Bakery, right by the dock, before setting off for some time in nature. Hike through wetlands to the beach, where the rare dunes of Big Sandy Bay will take your breath away.  

Manitoulin Island (Mnidoo Mnising)  

At the top of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Manitoulin Island (Mnidoo Mnising), which boasts several lakes in itself, is the world’s largest freshwater island. Home to 6 Anishnaabeg First Nations, the island is a living testament to the region’s robust Indigenous communities. Hunt, fish, make art, sing and connect with the outdoors on Mnidoo Mnising. The MS Chi–Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory arrives at South Baymouth town in about two hours, or you can drive over the Little Current Swing Bridge. Take a guided walk with the Great Spirit Circle Trail and enjoy authentic experiences like canoe tours, traditional song and drum, bannock, and berries preparation. Hike an extension of the  Niagara Escarpment on the scenic Cup and Saucer Trail or skirt behind the curtain of water at Bridal Veil Falls. Enjoy luxury at Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre or sleep in a traditional teepee at Gordon’s Park

Pelee Island 

On Canada’s southernmost inhabited land, take a swim, go fishing, explore nature reserves and see wildlife. A 90-minute ferry ride from Leamington or Kingsville delivers you to one of the more special islands in Ontario. Famous for its vineyards, Pelee Island is a great place to tour by bicycle or e-bike between tastings. Venture to the southernmost tip of land at Fish Point Nature Reserve, where migrating shorebirds and butterflies can be sighted. The ruins at Vin Villa, Canada’s first commercial estate winery founded in 1866, will leave you craving a glass of vino from the Pelee Island Winery Pavillion overlooking Lake Erie. Accommodation ranges from camping to cottages or inns like the Wandering Dog Inn, a laid back, picturesque spot by the water. Grab a Canadian craft beer and some delicious farm-to-table food at Stone House 1891 during your stay.

Toronto Islands 

With the city at your fingertips, Toronto Islands is the perfect urban escape just 15 minutes by ferry from downtown. Explore this car-free cluster of islands by the connecting boardwalks, pathways and bridges, where you can paddlecycle, or catch a game of frisbee golf. On a hot day, cool off at one of three beaches on Centre Island. Visit the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, built in 1808. Centerville Theme Park beckons families with rides and attractions perfect for a nice summer day. Relax at Island Café for seasonal fare or soak up a summer afternoon on the patio at Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. Bike around the charming cottage homes on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands, or rent a cottage so you can feel like a local while you take in the city views. 

Grasshopper Island

Join Island Spirits for an off-the-grid escape on a private, 10 hectare getaway that is undoubtedly one of Ontario’s most unique islands. Located in Rice Lake, Grasshopper Island is a car-free oasis where you can enjoy solitude while keeping things eco-friendly. Stay in a solar-powered eco-cabin after spending the day kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding or boating. Dive off the floating swimming barge, forage for wild blackberries and raspberries or visit the friendly farm animals. Delicious pizza and bread made in the 100-year-old woodfire oven are the perfect snack at the end of a long day outside. Spend the evening marvelling at the stars above, just 2 hours drive away from the bright lights of Toronto.

St. Joseph Island

St. Joseph is the second-largest island on Lake Huron, located just off the shore of Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Ontario. The two main villages, Hilton Beach and Richard’s Landing, offer essential amenities like restaurants and shops. The scenicHilton Beach Marina provides services for boaters like dockage, gas, power and a pump-out location. Anglers can fish for northern pike, trout, bass and salmon in the surrounding waters, while motor and cycle tourists can meander the country roads over diverse terrain. Set up camp at the Busy Beaver Campground or book into a cozy bed and breakfast. Visit the National Historic Site of Canada at Fort St. Joseph, a formerly thriving British outpost with ruins, a visitor centre, a museum and nature trails.

Last updated: May 31, 2022

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