15 Best Places to Go Kayaking Near Toronto [Local’s Guide 2022]

If you’re looking for the best places to go kayaking near Toronto, look no further!

This local’s guide will show you some of the most picturesque and serene spots to paddle in the area.

Most people think of Toronto as an urban jungle with only concrete and steel towering overhead.

But what they don’t realize is that there are actually plenty of natural places to explore just outside the city.

And one of the best ways to do that is by kayak!

In fact, the Toronto Islands and the Humber River are within 20 minutes of downtown!

So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, here are 15 of the best places to go kayaking near Toronto.

👉 This is my favourite kayak tour in the Toronto Islands to spot native wildlife and get a stunning view of the Toronto skyline

15 Best Places to Kayak Near Toronto

Within 1 Hour Drive

paddle kayak humber river

1) Humber River

The Humber River is a great place to go kayaking in Toronto for beginners.

It’s slow-moving and relatively calm, making it perfect for those who are new to the sport.

The Humber is also one of the best places to go birdwatching in the city – over 275 species have been spotted here!

In the fall, you can also see the salmon jumping upriver over the falls that are further north on the river – where kayaks can’t go.

There are plenty of places to launch your kayak along the river, but I recommend starting at the Old Mill or where the Humber River meets Lake Ontario.

It’s a bit of a trek from downtown Toronto, but it’s worth it for the serenity of the park and the river. You’ll be amongst thick trees, rolling green park areas, and even get to spot wildlife like geese and, rarely, beavers!

Toronto skyline - best destinations for first time solo female travel

2) Lake Ontario

Kayaking on Lake Ontario is a must-do if you’re visiting Toronto in the summer.

With its clear blue waters and views of the city skyline, it’s an unforgettable experience.

There are plenty of places to launch your kayak – which I’ll get to as their own points on this list.

I wanted to include Lake Ontario because literally anywhere you go along the waterfront, you’ll find a cool opportunity to kayak.

Although, some places can be more challenging if they don’t have an official boat launch for you to put your kayak in the water.

When I first moved back in 2020, I used to run along the waterfront every morning and I was so jealous of all the people pumping up their inflatable kayaks to explore the lake every morning.

Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!

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Most people think of Lake Ontario as dirty – it’s not, they cleaned it years ago. But when I was a kid in the early 2000s it was still considered kinda gross to get into.

Or they think of it as too high traffic to enjoy in a kayak.

Yes, there are a lot of boats out (typically sailboats, and they’re easy to avoid).

Check to ensure you aren’t paddling into a race (there will be a lot of people yelling at you if you are, so that’s an easy way to tell), and you’ll be fine!

IMG 3545

3) The Beaches

The Beaches are a neighbourhood in the east end of Toronto, aptly named for their plethora of white sand beaches.

The best part is that they’re all connected by a long boardwalk, making it easy to explore them all in one day.

And what better way to do that than by kayak?

There are several places to launch your kayak along the boardwalk, or you can just drag it across the sand. And there are many rental options for kayaks along the beach that you can book same day.

The Beaches are a very popular area, so do expect more crowds in the shallow waters than you would on the Humber River. So you’ll need to stay a bit further out to avoid people swimming into your kayak.

If you go before 10am, the water is usually pretty empty.

I recommend launching from Woodbine Beach, as it has a few more places to get food and drink than the others – which can come in handy when you work up an appetite kayaking!

Scarborough Bluffer's Park Beach Paddle board

4) The Scarborough Bluffs

The Scarborough Bluffs are one of the most beautiful places to go kayaking near Toronto.

They’re a series of tall bluffs that line the shore of Lake Ontario in the east end of the city.

Bluffs are white sandstone cliffs that were formed over 12,000 years ago by glaciers.

The Scarborough Bluffs are the tallest and most extensive bluffs in Toronto, reaching up to 65 metres (215 feet) in height in some places!

They’re also a very popular spot for picnics, hiking, biking, and of course – kayaking!

When I first visited to hike, I kept seeing people on paddleboards and kayaks exploring closer to the bluffs than we could get on foot.

They were also able to cool off more than I was with my dog as we went on one of the hottest days of the summer by accident.

So if you’re looking for a place to kayak that’s both gorgeous and unique, the Scarborough Bluffs should be at the top of your list!

5) Cherry Beach

Cherry Beach is a man-made beach located in the Portlands area of Toronto.

It was created in the early 1900s as a place for people to cool off in the summer. The beach was originally called Clarke Beach Park, but was renamed Cherry Beach in 1975.

The best part about Cherry Beach is that it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

It’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery, or go for a swim.

There’s also a dog park and an off-leash area for dogs, so it’s a great spot to bring your furry friend!

Kayaking at Cherry Beach is a great way to explore the Outer Harbour, and you can even paddle out to the Toronto Islands!

Cherry Beach is a great spot for kayaking, but it can be quite windy at times.

So if you’re not an experienced kayaker, I would recommend avoiding it on days when the wind is blowing strong.

sunset canoe tour toronto islands - ruckify

6) Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands are a chain of small islands in the Western Harbour of Lake Ontario.

They’re a popular spot for picnics, swimming, and camping in the summer months.

The Islands are also home to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, as well as a few small businesses and residences.

You can reach the Toronto Islands by taking a ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, which is located at the foot of Bay Street.

The ferry ride only takes about 10 minutes, and it’s free for pedestrians and cyclists!

Alternatively, you can book a water taxi or even kayak directly from Cherry Beach.

The Toronto Islands are a great place to go kayaking because there are so many different things to see and explore.

There are several small beaches, a lighthouse, and even an amusement park!

When you get inside the inlets of the Toronto Islands, you’ll find yourself in a whole new world. It feels like you’re in the jungle with the plethora of birds and the trees hanging out over the quiet river.

In summer, the area can get a bit rowdy with party boats. So I prefer to go in spring or fall, or early in the morning.

However, one of the best ways to kayak in the Toronto Islands is to go at sunset and get the perfect view of the Toronto skyline.

👉 This is my favourite kayak tour in the Toronto Islands to spot native wildlife and get a stunning view of the Toronto skyline

How do you kayak to Toronto Islands?

To kayak to the Toronto Islands, you can launch from Cherry Beach.

It’s about a 2.5 km paddle from Cherry Beach to Ward’s Island, which is the largest and most populated of the Toronto Islands.

If you’re experienced, you can also paddle out from the Bluffs Park or any of the other beaches along the Scarborough Bluffs.

Just be sure to check the weather conditions before you go, as it can be quite windy on Lake Ontario!

👉 This is my favourite kayak tour in the Toronto Islands to spot native wildlife and get a stunning view of the Toronto skyline

Toronto Islands at Night

One of the best kayaking experiences in Toronto is actually at night.

This unique tour takes you on a sunset safari of the Toronto Islands, then your kayak begins to glow. You’ll have an illuminated kayak ride back in the dark after getting a once in a lifetime view of Toronto.

You’ll even get an app to control your own lighting!

Click here to check prices!

7) Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes, and it’s located entirely within Canadian borders.

The lake is home to many different species of fish, as well as a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Kayaking on Lake Erie is a great way to explore the coastline and get up close and personal with nature.

My favourite spot to kayak along the lake is at Big Creek National Wildlife Area.

The area is known for its lush greenery and extensive marshes, which are home to a variety of wildlife including birds, frogs, turtles, and more.

Big Creek is also a great place to kayak because it’s relatively shallow, so you don’t have to worry about getting too deep into the water.

Plus, the area is very calm and secluded, so it’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous kayaking experience, you can head over to Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

The park is located on the southeastern tip of Lake Erie, and it’s known for its rocky shores and strong currents.

Presqu’ile is a great place to go kayaking if you’re experienced and comfortable in rough waters.

Just be sure to check the weather conditions before you go, as the waves can get quite high on Lake Erie!

🚣 I recommend this amazing kayak tour of Big Creek with a naturalist guide!

8) Credit River

The Credit River is a river in southern Ontario that flows from the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario.

The river is home to a variety of fish, including trout, salmon, and bass.

Kayaking on the Credit River is a great way to explore the winding waterways and get up close and personal with nature.

My favourite spot to kayak on the Credit River is in Mississauga.

The city of Mississauga is located just west of Toronto, and it’s home to a section of the river that runs through an urban area.

This section of the river is known for its class I and II rapids, which make it a great place for experienced kayakers.

If you’re looking for a more peaceful kayaking experience, you can paddle upstream from Mississauga to the town of Streetsville.

This section of the river is much quieter, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery.

nina in elora

9) Grand River at Elora Gorge

The Grand River is a beautiful river that flows through Southern Ontario.

One of the best parts of the river is Elora Gorge, where the river has carved a deep canyon into the bedrock.

The gorge is a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking, and it’s easy to see why.

The cliffs are towering and the views are incredible.

You can’t kayak the entire way through the gorge as there are some rapids you won’t be able to get over. And there is a lazy river tubing experience, so they can’t have kayakers dodging tubers.

But kayaking a bit further from the shore will give you a chance to see the gorge from a different perspective.

I love kayaking near Toronto in Elora during the spring. The higher water levels make for epic views and even some little waterfalls down the gorge!

paris ontario grand river

10) Grand River at Paris, Ontario

Paris, Ontario is a beautiful town located on the Grand River.

The river winds its way through the town and there are many different kayaking trails that you can take.

You can even paddle all the way to Brantford, which is about 10 kilometers downstream.

The best time to kayak the Grand River in Paris is during the spring when the water levels are higher.

This is also a great time to see the many different species of birds that live along the river.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot a beaver or two!

When you’re done paddling, you can stop by Twisted Treats for a yummy ice cream that’s the size of your head!

Within 3 Hour Drive

algonquin beach two rivers

11) Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park is a provincial park in Ontario that covers over 7,000 square kilometers.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, beavers, wolves, and birds.

Kayaking in Algonquin Park is a great way to explore the many lakes and waterways, and get up close and personal with nature.

There are many different kayaking trails in Algonquin Park, so you can find one that’s perfect for your skill level.

If you’re a beginner, I recommend checking out the Oxtongue River.

The river is relatively calm and easy to paddle, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery.

If you’re looking for a more challenging kayaking experience, you can try paddling on one of the park’s many lakes.

I recommend paddling in the fall, when the leaves are changing colours.

Paddling on a lake in Algonquin Park is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some peace and quiet.

👉 If you enjoy paddling, you’ll love this 3-day canoe trip through Algonquin Park!

tobermory kayaking

12) Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay is a large bay of Lake Huron that is located entirely within Canadian borders.

The bay is home to a variety of fish, as well as a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Kayaking on Georgian Bay is a great way to explore the coastline and get up close and personal with nature.

There are many different kayaking trails in Georgian Bay, so you can find one that’s perfect for your skill level.

Georgian Bay is a great place to kayak because it offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging trail or a relaxing paddle, you can find it here.

One of the most beautiful spots to kayak near Toronto is in Tobermory on Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

Tobermory is the gateway to Fathom Five National Marine Park- Canada’s first National Marine Park.

The park is home to 22 shipwrecks, making it a popular destination for scuba divers from all over the world.

But you don’t have to be a diver to enjoy Tobermory.

You can even kayak near these wrecks on guided tours!

lake on the mountain ontario

13) Lake on the Mountain, Prince Edward County

Lake on the Mountain is a natural phenomenon located in Prince Edward County.

The lake sits atop a mountain and is fed by springs, making it one of the cleanest lakes in Ontario.

The views from the top of the mountain are breathtaking, and kayaking on the lake is a great way to experience them.

You can drop your kayak into the water, but you’ll have to carry it across the road from the parking lot. For this reason, most people opt for tandem kayaks and have a partner help them carry it to launch.

The lake is incredible still and because it’s so high up, you can often see clouds clinging to the mountainsides.

It’s an otherworldly experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

dog in green kayak

14) Lake Muskoka

Lake Muskoka is one of the most popular lakes in Ontario, and for good reason.

The lake is dotted with islands, making it perfect for exploring by kayak.

You can even kayak all the way up Lake Muskoka, through the Muskoka River, to Rosseau and Lake Joseph for a full day adventure!

Most people opt for shorter kayaks around their cozy cottage rental on Lake Muskoka, but if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore.

There are many different kayaking trails and routes that you can take, so you can find one that’s perfect for your skill level.

And if you get tired of kayaking, you can always go for a swim or relax on the dock with a cocktail.

wasaga beach sunset

15) Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Ontario, and it’s also a great place to go kayaking.

The beach is over 14 kilometers long, making it the longest freshwater beach in the world!

The best part about kayaking at Wasaga Beach is that you can paddle along the shoreline and stop to relax on the sand whenever you want.

There are many different kayaking trails that you can take, so you can find one that’s perfect for your skill level.

It does get pretty busy in the summer, so you’ll want to go early in the morning or around sunset, when there are fewer boats in the water.

Best Time to Kayak in Toronto

The best time to kayak in Toronto depends on which river or lake you’re exploring.

Lake Ontario and Lake Muskoka are best paddled in the summer when the water is warmest.

The Grand River is best paddled in the spring when the water levels are higher.

And Elora Gorge is best paddled in the spring or summer when the water levels are high and there are fewer people on the river.

Fall is a gorgeous time to explore the Humber River, Credit River, and Algonquin Park’s lakes.

The only bad time to kayak in Toronto is winter, when the lakes and rivers are frozen over. So unless you want someone to drag you through the snow in your kayak, you’re not going to find any fun paths.

9 Tips for Kayaking near Toronto

  1. If you’re new to kayaking, it’s best to start on a calm lake or river with little to no currents. More experienced kayakers can take on the rougher conditions, but should always be prepared to turn back if it gets too harsh on the water.
  2. Make sure you have the proper safety gear, including a life jacket and a whistle. You legally have to wear a life jacket in Ontario.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch out for other boats. They’re supposed to watch out for you, but if they don’t pay attention you’re the one who can get hurt.
  4. Tell someone your planned route. And if possible have a GPS device (or even an apple airtag) on board so people can find you if you get lost.
  5. Stay hydrated. You may think being on the water isn’t dehydrating, but the reflection of the sun intensifies it, and you’ll be exerting a lot of energy.
  6. Pack insect repellant to prevent nasty mozzie bites on still lakes.
  7. Watch out for wildlife. The rivers and lakes in Toronto are home to many different animals, including beavers, fish, turtles, snakes, and birds. Some of these animals can be aggressive, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. For example, beavers cause a number of deaths annually from people infringing on their dens in the water.
  8. Pack out what you pack in. Leave no trace!
  9. Finally, have fun and enjoy the amazing views!
inflatable kayak ottawa

Best Inflatable Kayak for Toronto

If you’re looking for the best kayak for Toronto paddling, we recommend the Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak.

This two person tandem kayak has aluminum paddles and a 400lb capacity. It’s also under $120 CAD, making it a great option for budget-conscious kayakers.

As it’s inflatable, it’s easy to transport and store, which is perfect if you don’t have a lot of space at home.

The Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak is a great option for both beginners and experienced kayakers alike. And it’s sure to provide you with hours of fun on the water!

🚣‍♀️ I recommend this inflatable kayak

What to Bring Kayaking

  1. Kayak
  2. Paddle
  3. Life jacket
  4. Bilge pump (to get water out of your kayak if it starts to fill up)
  5. Dry bag (to keep your things dry)
  6. First-aid kit
  7. Sunscreen
  8. Hat
  9. Insect repellent
  10. Waterproof outer layer, like a shell
  11. Plenty of snacks and drinks
  12. Waterproof camera

Kayaking Safety

Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it’s important to be safe. Here are a few kayaking safety tips:

  1. Wear a life jacket at all times. It is the law in Ontario!
  2. Avoid paddling alone. Bring a friend or join a group tour. (That saved my sisters when their canoe got pushed down current and they got stranded on a beach as kids.)
  3. Be aware of your surroundings and the conditions. Know your abilities and limitations.
  4. Don’t kayak under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  5. Bring a cell phone and/or satellite phone in case of an emergency.
  6. Pack a first-aid kit, including supplies for insect bites, blisters, and minor cuts.
  7. You will get tired. Don’t paddle to your limit and then need to turn around.
  8. Watch out for boats – especially motorboats and jet skis. They aren’t always keeping a watchful eye. (That’s why it’s important for kayaks to be bright colours to catch their attention.)

Wrap Up: Best Kayaking Near Toronto

Kayaking is a great way to explore the outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. There are many different trails for kayaking near Toronto, so there’s sure to be one that’s perfect for you.

Just remember to follow these safety tips and bring the proper gear, and you’ll be sure to have a great time!

Whether you head up to Algonquin Park to paddle beneath the golden fall foliage, or go on a sunset kayak at the Toronto Islands in the summer, you’ll create lasting memories kayaking near Toronto.

👉 This is my favourite kayak tour in the Toronto Islands to spot native wildlife and get a stunning view of the Toronto skyline

FAQs:

What are the best places for kayaking & canoeing in Toronto?

Some of the best places to kayak in Toronto are:

  • The Humber River
  • Lake Ontario
  • Woodbine Beach
  • Cherry Beach
  • Credit River
  • Toronto Islands

Is kayaking safe?

Kayaking is safe when proper safety guidelines are followed. Always wear a life jacket and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t kayak alone and bring a first-aid kit in case of an emergency.

You will be safe if you go on days that don’t have forecasts for high winds, avoid areas with rapids, and tell someone where you’re going.

What experiences are best for kayaking & canoeing in Toronto?

These are the best kayaking and canoeing experiences in Toronto:

Can you kayak anywhere in Toronto?

Yes! There are many different kayaking trails in Toronto. You can paddle on the Humber River, Lake Ontario, Woodbine Beach, Cherry Beach, Credit River, and Toronto Islands.

Do you need a license to kayak in Toronto?

No, you do not need a license to kayak in Toronto.

You only need a license to operate a motorboat. As a self-propelled vessel, kayaks are unlicensed.

Do you need a permit to kayak in Ontario?

No, you do not need a permit to kayak in Ontario. Ontario only requires boaters’ licenses for people operating motorized vehicles. Unless you’ve strapped a motor onto your kayak, you’re fine to paddle within a permit.

Do I need to wear a life jacket when kayaking?

Yes, it is the law in Ontario to wear a life jacket when kayaking.

Can you kayak from Toronto to Montreal?

Yes, you technically can kayak from Toronto to Montreal. However, this is an arduous journey that requires paddling over 550km.

And in many areas, it’s nearly impossible to continue the journey entirely by kayak due to locks, boat passages, and private marinas.

You will need to also portage the kayak from Lake Ontario to the Trent-Severn Waterway in order to connect to the Ottawa River and onwards to Quebec.

It takes at least 10 days to make this journey.

Do I need insurance to kayak in Toronto?

No, you do not need insurance to kayak in Toronto. However, we recommend getting adventure sports insurance if you plan to kayak often.

This will cover any injuries you may face – regular insurance plans often don’t cover activities like hiking and kayaking.

It will also cover any lost or damaged materials from kayaking.

👉 Find out how much it costs to protect your trip today with World Nomads travel insurance.

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