Trip Rating: 4.5/5
The Toronto Islands is a semi-man made set of islands that act as a natural harbour for the City of Toronto. The cluster of 12 or so islands makes for some very interesting channels and ponds to explore. There are at least 3 or for 4 marinas in the islands, so the traffic can range from busy to insane with people coming and going. Our trip was on a Monday in October and we saw a lot of people on the water; such is life in the big city.
If you go at the right time of year, you can stash your boat (bring a lock) and get ice cream, visit the petting zoo, and have lunch in one of the many restaurants on Centre Island. There is even an amusement park. If you are anything like me, who enjoys peace and tranquility on the water, do this trip in the fall. You will see the fall colours and the boat traffic will be much less hectic. Otherwise, you will be right in the thick of things.
Parking is not an easy thing to do in a big city. In Canada’s biggest, you’ll sometimes feel like it would be easier to win the lottery than to find a good spot. We launched from Cherry Beach, which has a reasonably big car lot. We arrived at 9:30 am and we did get a spot, when we returned at 12:30, it was overflowing. The point being, earlier is better for this trip. On the bright side, there is no charge to park at Cherry Beach.
The launch site is at 1 Cherry St, Toronto, ON, Canada. As mentioned, there is free parking. The launch is a wet, sand launch and there were no facilities to speak of. We did find a gas station up the road, though.
The trip has spectacular views of the islands and the city. It is a photographers dream.
From Cherry Beach, we headed West around the point of the Eastern Channel, then headed North until we entered the Inner Harbour. The change of scenery is dramatic as you round the point. A quick word of caution on this portion, the “Gap” gets crowded, keep on high alert for boats as they may not be paying attention.
The Inner Harbour is also a sight to be seen. You can watch Canadian made Bombardier Q400 Turboprops taking off and landing at the Billy Bishop Airport, the ferries taking tourists to and from the island, huge lakers coming into the Port of Toronto or in our case, some beautiful sailing yachts.
From there we were off to explore the interior of the islands. At first sight you could forget you were in a city of 6 million people.
We saw lots of herons, geese, raccoons (the official animal of Toronto) and this little guy.
We had some more stunning views on the way out of the islands.
Here is the route that we took
Difficulty: This is hard trip to rate. Lake Ontario, especially in the Outer Harbour (Cherry Beach) area, can be a beast. There is a lot of unpredictable boat traffic and it is not a short trip. Be very careful and please use all the proper safety gear.