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Luxury Travel

A Postcard From the Toronto Islands

By Isabella Noble

This is a feature from Issue 18 of Charitable Traveller. 

Just a couple of kilometres off downtown Toronto’s shoreline, a string of 15 pancake-flat, vehicle-free islands curves across Lake Ontario. Welcome to the lovely Toronto Islands, where Torontonians come to switch off, soak up the ever-changing urban skyline and go birdwatching, kayaking, swimming, paddle-boarding and more. 

In the mid-20th century, the islands grew to have around 2,000 inhabitants, with cottage-style houses dotted along the lakefront, meadows and woodlands. For the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation people, this has been a sacred gathering place for thousands of years. Today only around 750 people live on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands, and there are strict regulations around buying and selling houses here. 

 

I escape over to the islands on quiet, sunny weekdays to read and swim on Ward’s Beach, where a tree-shaded boardwalk frames a stretch of golden sand and views wander across the calm water to neighbouring Tommy Thompson Park. On summer evenings, my partner and I join a soothing sunset paddle-boarding trip with Toronto Island SUP.  Heading out from Algonquin Bridge, our small group weave through meandering boat-lined canals, before emerging on the harbour front as the sun blazes orangey-pink over the Toronto skyline. We also cycle the entire length of the islands, from Ward’s dock to Gibraltar Point Lighthouse (a local landmark since 1808) and on past clothing-optional Hanlan’s Beach to the edge of Billy Bishop airport.

Toronto Island SUP rents kayaks and paddle boards, along with SUP yoga, sunset excursions and more

Regular 15 minute ferries run year round between Toronto's Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Ward's Island

A few private-rental homes on the islands now even offer the chance to wake up here and savour the serene morning atmosphere. Come September, all those lush trees will turn fiery red and by the end of the year the islands will be covered in snow – for now though, it’s easy to see why this blissful place is Toronto’s favourite summer escape.

Book your trip to the Toronto Islands with us and donate 5% of your holiday price to the charity of your choice at no extra cost to you. Click the button below to get in touch with us!

This is a feature from Issue 18 of Charitable Traveller.