Toronto Islands: Island Escape Without Leaving Toronto City

Who doesn’t love an island getaway? Who doesn’t love a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city? Now that Canadian dollar is weak, it means higher costs for us Canadians to travel abroad. More and more people are considering a Canada-cation or staycation as an alternative to a trip to distant exotic destinations. But does Canada’s weak economy mean we must give up on beach vacations? In this post, I will share a destination where you don’t need to stray too faraway from home to still have fun this summer. Pack your swimsuit, towel and sunscreen because we are going to Toronto Islands!

Toronto Islands Summer Getaway

Toronto Islands

Toronto Islands are easily accessible from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, located at the foot of Bay Street at Queens Quay. A 10-min ferry ride will transport you to another world where you can to spend the day throwing a frisbee, soaking up the sun, or biking alongside the lake. The islands offer spectacular lakefront views of Lake Ontario and downtown Toronto, making it a popular picturesque destination for locals and tourists alike.

Toronto islands are made up of 3 major islands: Ward’s, Algonquin, and Centre, all connected by pathways and bridges. The island stretches 5 km long, from the furthest east (Ward’s Island) to the furthest west (Hanlan’s Point). Whether you’re visiting by foot or by bike, the Toronto Islands offer plenty of fun attractions for you to explore on a warm summer day!

Read more: How to get around Toronto by subway and streetcars 

Ward’s and Algonquin Islands

Home to many Island residents, Ward’s and Algonquin Islands feature quaint cottage homes from the 1920s and charming English-style gardens. A stroll around this peaceful residential area provides a picturesque retreat from the city, with beaches, playgrounds and picnic areas scattered around the islands.

Tired of traditional golf? Why not try playing disc golf! There is a disc golf course on Ward’s Island where you can test your skills. Consisting of 18 holes, the golf course is a championship layout open to all players year round. No reservation is required and admission is free. The only thing you need to bring is your own disc!

Disc golf course on Toronto Islands

Disc golf course

Looking for island getaways? #TorontoIslands is perfect for peace seekers & nature lovers! @SeeTorontoNow #Toronto # Click To Tweet

Centre Island

Centre Island is the largest and most popular spot for families with kids. Located between Hanlan’s Point and Ward’s Island, Centre Island features sprawling acres of greenery, bike paths, a beach, a pier, the Far Enough Farm, the William Meany Maze and the Centreville amusement park. You can rent bikes (standard, tandem and quad cycles) by hour and tour through the lush parkland, or rent canoes and kayaks and enjoy the lagoons of Toronto Island. The amusement park is a popular kids’ attraction and has more than 30 rides. There is no admission fee for Centreville, but the rides do cost money. You can purchase a day pass or tickets for the rides.

Read more: 13 places to visit in Toronto for photographers

Hanlan’s Point

First settled by the Hanlan family in 1862, Hanlan’s Point provides a quiet escape. This area features a clothing optional beach, wading pools, picnic areas with fire pits, volleyball courts and softball diamonds. It is also home to the historic Gibralter Point Lighthouse, the oldest landmark in Toronto and the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Canada.

There is a mysterious tale behind the lighthouse. They say the lighthouse may be haunted after people claiming to have heard moaning and footsteps in the building even though there’s no one there. It is suspected that the ghost of Toronto’s first lightkeeper, J.P. Radan Muller, who died mysteriously on January 2, 1815 is searching for the pieces of his body that were hacked off  and buried somewhere in the sand.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Islands

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse


With so many attractions and activities to explore, you can easily spend a full day in Toronto Islands. Make sure you wait for the sunset on the Olympic Island and snap a photo of the stunning Toronto skyline!

Toronto Skyline from Toronto Islands

Sunset from Olympic Island

How to Get There

Board the ferries at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, located at the foot of Bay Street at Queens Quay. The ferries depart every 15~30 mins and stop at Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. Hop abroad any ferries and walk to the island you want to see!

  • Return-trip ferry fare: $7.50 for adults
  • Schedules: schedule varies depending on destinations and seasons. For official schedules, check here.

 

Toronto Island, Canada is a quick day trip you can take out of Toronto. Just a ferry ride away, this tiny island offers beautiful scenery, fun things to do for couples, and tons of outdoor activities in the summer, perfect for a weekend getaway! Click through to find out more on For Two, Please. #toronto #ontario #Canada #couplestravel #romanticgetaway #daytrips #weekendgetaway #travelcanada #travelguide #tripplanning #traveltips #itinerary #thingstodo #traveldestinations #summertravels #instagramspots

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45 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Very nice! I hope to get up into Canada and do some exploring soon!

  2. Omg these islands sound gorgeous! I’ve never been to Toronto but would love to visit soon, thanks so much for sharing (and love the idea of a Canada-cation!!)

  3. I’ve been to Toronto many times and every time I tell myself that this time I’m going to take a day off and visit the Islands but never do. After reading your post I realy hope I make it there next time I’m in Toronto.

  4.  Wow !   You have had an amazing experience there .   I’ll have to check that out myself 

  5. Hi Cat, I am so so jealous of you guys living in Canada and that too in Toronto. I visited Canada for a month in 2014. And I and my wife fell in love with the country and particularly the city. Being from India, it becomes a bit costly affair to visit every year ( with the currency conversions and all) But your post and pics just forced me to go back to the memory lane. sigh How I miss the city and specially the Toronto Islands.

  6. What a gorgeous getaway! Love it! I enjoy learning about Toronto thru your posts ;0)

  7. Are you sure you live in Calgary?? I keep seeing these awesome posts about Toronto and every time I go read your About Me section to see if we live close to each other in the city…but then it says you are in Calgary! LOL! You must have done some excellent exploring on your recent trip here. I love seeing Toronto through your eyes.

    • Hahahah Lauren, yes, unfortunately I live in Calgary. We traveled to Toronto not too long ago and hit up some remarkable attractions. I’m glad you enjoyed reading them! There are more to come!! Where are you based in?

  8. Great post – and it sounds like a fantastic way to spend a weekend! Thanks for the tips!

  9. ahhhhh yeah! Toronto Islands…thanks for giving my city so much love hahah…I haven’t been there for ages…

    by the way sick site layout. Wish I had as much skills as you lol.

    Cheers

  10. And people ask why we love traveling… There are so many places like this beauty 🙂

  11. I’m a proud Torontonian but I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to the islands! We bike regularly on the lakeshore and we always say ONE DAY we will take our bikes across but never do. We keep waiting until it’s not busy but it always is haha. We really should this summer! 

  12. I love going to the Toronto islands in the summer! My favourite place on the islands is the petting zoo 🙂

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  14. The Toronto Islands look gorgeous! What a perfect getaway without having to get too far away. Love that pirate ship on Centre Island.

  15. I’ve gotta admit that I’d never heard of the Toronto Islands until I read a previous post of yours Cat. But it looks like there’s actually quite a lot to see. The views, for sure! Even some wildlife and a lighthouse? I’ll definitely fill up a day in Toronto out on the islands whenever I finally make it up there.

  16. This is so cool, I didn’t know about these islands. They look worlds away from the bustling city. Hanlan’s Point looks especially appealing with its lighthouse and quiet beaches.

  17. You had me at disc golf. I actually started the company disc golf club. Every year we would get $500 dollar budget and I would purchase more disc golf holes and place them around the plant site. Pretty soon, I had an entire course at work. The baskets stayed in Tucson but I have a bunch of discs here at my desk in San Diego.

    Love the view of the skyline from Olympic Island. It looks so majestic. Toronto was the first international trip I went on when I was five so I have very fond memories.

  18. What a nice getaway from the city! The cottage homes and disc golf course looks beautiful. The city skyline from across the island is so captivating too!

  19. I had NO idea there are island close by Toronto… hard to imagine when I picture it as a super busy city! Must be a nice way to get away from the hustle and bustle for the locals. Is the pirate ship part of the amusement park or is it something else?

  20. This looks so relaxing! I’m planning a trip to Toronto with my parents for a weekend in August and looking for fun, chill things we can all do. Thanks for the tip!

  21. I had no idea there were islands right there in Toronto! With a lighthouse to boot? Wow! What a nice little jaunt away from the city. I’d definitely take advantage of that if I were spending much time in Toronto.

  22. Ooooh that does look like it would be a haunted lighthouse!! I would love to visit Toronto, we’re trying to make it to Canada later this year – will be sure to set aside a day to explore the islands – I had no idea they were right there and so accessible. Thanks!

  23. I didn’t realize there were islands near Toronto! So fun, I want to check them out, checking out local islands is a great day trip. We used to do that as kids on Lake Erie from Cleveland. I want to see that haunted lighthouse too!

  24. Disc golf is something I was unacquainted with, however the thing that one could play it free of cost in Ward’s Island sounds excellent. The cottage homes and English style gardens are so rich in aesthetic value. The story of the haunted Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is scary. I wonder if anyone explored the lighthouse braving the ghost. Gulp!

  25. Oh how wonderful. I’ve been to Toronto twice in recent years – once last September and once the September before – and on the first visit I could see the islands from my hotel window. One of the guides we had mentioned how popular they are to visit, especially Centre, but I just didn’t have time to squeeze them in. I’m regretting that now as they look like real oases so close to the city centre!

  26. This is so beautiful! I haven’t been to Toronto since I was 11, but I definitely need to go back. My family did go to Center Island, but I had no idea that there were so many different islands to explore! I want to do Hanlan’s Point!

  27. I wouldn’t plan your trip to the islands just yet, since they’re still closed because of flooding. They’re a great spot to visit, although I prefer them before the summer crowds arrive. I love the little petting zoo!

  28. Beautiful! I had no idea about these islands. Now I am ready to buy a ticket to Toronto!

  29. I’ve been to Toronto several times, but have never managed to get out to the islands. Really no good excuse given how relatively close they are! I’d love to take a bike tour on Centre, but I’m also a sucker for cottage spotting, lighthouse exploring and relaxing on a beach. Looks like a great vacation/staycation option!

  30. How have I never heard of the Toronto Islands? I’m terrible! They’re so gorgeous and I had no idea there are so many! What an awesome day trip / weekend away.

  31. I have yet to visit Toronto but I am glad I read this post because now when I plan my trip I know to add the Islands to my itinerary. I love lighthouses and would love to visit this one. It looks so peaceful there and like the perfect getaway from a more busy city. 

  32. I didn’t know that Toronto had islands 🙂 — and it’s great to see what a wonderful, and very different part of the city they are. It looks like a great weekend getaway for folks who live there, as well as someplace tourists should’t miss. Canada is on my travel list in 2018, and I’ll definitely be in Toronto. Thanks for sharing your experience visiting the islands!

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  34. Toronto Islands is really nice to visit. I love to visit Canada!!

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