Get away from the concrete jungle and head to Toronto’s island oasis. Commonly known just as “The Island,” Toronto’s Centre Island is the perfect summer spot to beat the heat, and maybe even make a bit of your own. Far from the typical bar and club scene, the Island offers an opportunity to casually meet people on the beach, picnicking in the park, or even on the busy ferry-ride over—all within a beautiful summer setting.
Who you’ll find
Everyone from families heading to the Island’s petting zoo and theme park to cyclists looking for a serene day of riding to groups of young urbanites ready to play Frisbee and tan on the beach.
Wow. The Toronto Islands are stunningly beautiful & peaceful. pic.twitter.com/DUHdn6Keyv
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) May 9, 2015
What’s the vibe
Fun in the sun.
How to get there
The Centre Island ferry leaves from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the base of Bay Street and Queens Quay. The fare includes the return journey and is $7.50 for adults, and $5 for students or seniors.
What to wear
Your cutest beach gear. The beaches are clean and the water is clear so bust out those great new board shorts or that polka-dot bikini and take a dip. If you’re looking for a more active day, wear sneakers and some shorts because you can bring your bike or rent one on the island (standard, tandem or quad) and enjoy one of the many trails.
Where to go
The beach and surrounding park is a hub for the BBQing, sun-soaking, and summer-sports playing crowds. Pick up games of soccer or ultimate are common, as are the beach bods.
If your forgot your picnic, head to the newly opened Toronto Island Beer & BBQ Co., for a cold brew and burger. Located just off the ferry docks with a massive patio that sits right on the water, this is a summer hot spot for Toronto’s sun-loving crowds. For something more low-key, avoid the concession stands and head to the hip and lovely Rectory Café on Ward Island (about a 20 minute walk from the beach), known for their delicious brunch and outstanding view of the city.
Feeling a bit adventurous? Head to Hanlan’s Point, the “clothing optional” stretch of Toronto Island’s beach, located on the western side of the island. While the regulars are often older men, one of the lifeguards told the Toronto Star, there are many 20-somethings that also frequent the beach for a little bit of bare-bummed freedom.
Get there early (before 11am). The Island is not exactly a well-kept secret and waiting too long guarantees long lines at the ferry, big crowds, and more hassle.