Six beautiful islands in Ontario
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, St. Lawrence River
Located in in Southeast Ontario’s Frontenac County, Wolfe Island is the largest of the famous Thousand Islands, scattered across the St. Lawrence River.
The island is situated where Lake Ontario ends and St. Lawrence begins, across the waters from Kingston and is known as a quiet, picturesque place with secluded beaches, sand dunes and cycling routes.
Getting here: Wolfe Island is about 20 minutes from Kingston via a year-round ferry service from the Kingston Terminal at 295 Ontario Street to Wolfe Island Dawson’s Point dock (just under five kilometres east of Marysville).
Things to do: Visit the Old House Museum to learn more about the island’s history. Sample butter tarts from the original Wolfe Island Bakery, right by the dock. Explore the various cycling routes and hike through wetlands to the beach, and enjoy beautiful lake views, exceptional birding and the rare dunes of Big Sandy Bay Conservation Area.
Where to stay: For an overnight stay, book a room at the charming Blue Moose Bed and Breakfast in Marysville.
Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron
At the top of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest freshwater island. Several lakes can be found on the island, in a lake!
Manitoulin is home to six Anishnaabeg First Nations, a living testament to the region’s flourishing Indigenous communities and culture.
Getting here: Access the island over the Little Current Swing Bridge or board the scenic two-hour MS Chi–Cheemaun ferrying passengers and vehicles between Tobermory and South Baymouth.
Things to do: Hike an extension of the Niagara Escarpment to a spectacular lookout point on the along the Cup and Saucer Trail or skirt behind the curtain of water at Bridal Veil Falls. Supporting local tourism operators, Wikwemikong Tourism offers a variety of outdoor and cultural experiences that reflect the culture and traditions of the Anishnaabek people.
Where to stay: Enjoy luxury at Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre or connect with nature at Manitoulin Eco Park. If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, the Scandinavian-style cabins at Ten Mile Point Accommodations are minimalist in design with large windows that frame amazing water and nature views.
Pelee Island, Lake Erie
Head to the southernmost inhabited point in Canada and discover a place like no other. A leisurely 90-minute ferry ride will transport you to the warm shores of one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. This little gem sits on the same latitude as wine making appellations in Portugal, Spain and France, and the pace here is set to chill.
Getting here: Board the Pelee Island Ferry from either the Leamington or Kingsville docks.
Things to do: Tool around by bicycle, e-bike or even in a golf cart. Venture out to the very last tip of land at Fish Point Nature Reserve. Keep a keen eye out for migrating shorebirds and butterflies. Tour the picturesque ruins at Vin Villa, the site of Canada’s first commercial estate winery founded in 1866. And relax in the outdoor wine garden at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, overlooking Lake Erie.
Where to stay: Accommodations range from camping to cottage rentals, bed and breakfasts and inns. The Wandering Dog Inn is a picturesque spot that reflects the laidback character of the island. If pints are your preference, you’ll find great Canadian craft beers and delicious farm-to-table food at Stone House 1891.
Toronto Island Park, Lake Ontario
Soak up the breezy island vibe yet keep the city at your fingertips at Toronto Islands. Just a short 15 minute ferry ride from the downtown Harbourfront, this car-free clutch of 15 islands connected by boardwalks, pathways and bridges is the perfect destination for a summer day trip.
Getting here: Ferries run on a frequent schedule from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point and Ward’s Island.
Things to do: Fun activates include paddling, cycling and frisbee golf, or simply park yourself on a beach and soak up some sun. Check out the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, built in 1808. Centerville Theme Park beckons to the little ones with over 30 rides and attractions like the chair lift, mini golf, log ride and even an antique carousel.
Dining options are limited, however just across the harbour downtown Toronto serves up a smorgasbord of culinary choice. On the islands, there’s a small food court in Centreville, the Island Café across from the Ward’s Island ferry dock serves a seasonal menu, and the backyard garden patio at The Rectory Café or the Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. are both great spots to spend a summer afternoon.
Grasshopper Island, Rice Lake
Join Island Spirits for an off-grid eco-scape on a private, 10-hectare island that is undoubtedly one of Ontario’s most unique getaways. Grasshopper Island is a car-free island in the middle of Rice Lake.
Getting here: Captain TJ, with Island Spirits will ferry you over to the island from
Things to do: Take advantage of the on-site kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and boats and get out on the water. Dive off the floating swimming barge and forage for wild blackberries and raspberries. Visit the sheep, piglets, hens, goats, bunnies and even alpacas that call the island home. Savour the quality of pizza and bread made in the 100-year-old wood-burning oven. Reconnect around the campfire and marvel at the star-studded show above on a clear night.
Where to stay: Stay in a solar powered eco cabin or pod.
St. Joseph Island, Lake Huron
St. Joseph is the second largest island on Lake Huron, after Manitoulin, and is located just off the shore of Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Ontario.
Getting here: Cross the free bridge from the mainland for a weekend water and outdoor adventure.
Things to do: The two main villages, Hilton Beach and Richard’s Landing, offer key amenities from restaurants to shops. The Hilton Beach Marina provides services for boaters like dockage, gas, power, pump-out and more. Opportunities abound for anglers of northern pike, trout, bass and salmon. Country roads meander over diverse terrain, making the island a popular destination for touring by motorcycle or bicycle. Also worth a visit, Fort St. Joseph is a National Historic Site of Canada. Once a thriving British outpost, the site features fort ruins, a visitor centre, a museum and nature trails.
Last updated: January 23, 2024