Trip Rating: 4.5/5
For our first visit to a National Park we decided to go to Georgian Bay Islands. Beausoleil Island is the largest island in the park, which is a part of the largest freshwater archipelago (a sea or stretch of water containing many islands) in the world. In Ontario we are very lucky to have two major archipelagos, the other being 1000 Islands National Park, which we plan to visit next year.
It was worth every penny spent and every bit of vacation time taken. Having said that, you need to be aware of a few things before you go on this trip.
- This park is vast, spread out over many islands and very close to Toronto.
- With a city if 5 million+ people so close (2.5hours) comes heavy summer boat traffic. I highly recommend going in the off season to mitigate the traffic (boat and car) as much as possible.
- The park is only 15 mins by boat from Honey Harbour. The closest protected bay for “gunk holers” is right beside the campground. 99.9999% of boaters are respectful and friendly people but all it takes is one “rich kid party yacht” to completely ruin the experience. My advice? Go the week or two after college starts.
- The island itself is rugged wilderness outside the 10 or so acres of the campground. There are Massassauga Rattle Snakes, Black Bears, and Posion Ivy on the island. My point is, even with the city so close, care and caution is warranted. We saw all three during our stay, without issue.
The staff on the island are top notch, they went far and away beyond any expectations to make us comfortable and feel safe. One young ranger even chased away a small black bear cub before we noticed it walking through. Another gave my daughter a lesson on the snakes that live on the island. I can’t say enough about how great they were.
Getting to the Island/Park:
Getting to the island from the mainland is by boat, only. If you rent an oTENTik, you get a round trip on the Daytripper included in the price, as well as the parking for your stay.
After a 15 minute trip, we were on the Island ready for the adventure. Out stuff followed close behind on a barge.
Having a three year old, we decided we could stay longer if we rented an oTENTik. As an added bonus, there is a private food locker on the plot. This saves you from walking to the communal lockers, what a huge convenience. The lockers keep bears out of your food.
There was a dock for tying up large boats on the island but it was quite the hike from camp, so I decide to wet launch from the marsh in front of our oTENTik. There are so may options to explore it would take a lifetime to see it all. I decided to break my trip into these trips:
The Lookout Hike, The Grave Site/Heritage Loop Hike, Many Other Hikes.
The Big and Little Dog Cuts Paddle
The Lighthouse Paddle
Ferry Lake Paddling/Hiking
Cost: About $500 for the week all in.
Difficulty: This is a fairly calm area in the Fall on the protected side of the island. The windward side is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced paddlers. Please be careful and use the right gear when paddling. Look out for speeding boats!