Enjoy Toronto – On the Water!

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Perched on magnificent Lake Ontario, Toronto is an ideal place to enjoy paddling in its many forms. By Doug O'Neill.

It’s doubtful that surf instructors Duke Kahanamoku and Leroy and Bobby AhChoy could have predicted that Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) – which they invented in Waikiki in the 1940s – would be trending seven decades later in Toronto. Not only do our beaches, island lagoons, lake and rivers offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy SUP boarding – but kayaking and canoeing, as well.

Photo: @glibz

Tour the Lagoons of Toronto Island

Rent a canoe, pedal boat or kayak from the Boat House on Toronto Island and explore the hidden lagoons in the archipelago of tiny islands where swans, geese, 35 fish species, turtles and other amphibians make their home. The Boat House is located near the Centre Island dock. Visit Toronto Islands Boat House Rentals or call (416) 397-2628.

Explore the Humber River by Kayak, Canoe or SUP Board

Picture yourself floating downriver and sighting a blue heron right within the city. Toronto Adventures offers guided tours (or you can rent watercraft for a self-guided outing), as well as lessons for newbies. Two outings to consider: The Humber River tour involves a gentle paddle to the mouth of the river on Lake Ontario and there’s also a sunset tour down the Humber that takes paddlers out along the shore of Lake Ontario to Sunnyside Beach. Tours launch from King’s Mill Park a few minutes’ walk from the Old Mill subway station.

Canoe the Rouge River

The Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America. There’s almost 80 square kilometres teeming with wildlife and plant species – plus an urban campground. The gentle Rouge River is ideal for canoeing. There are several entry spots to the Rouge Park but if you plan on canoeing, use the campground entrance at 1749 Meadowvale Road, Scarborough.

TIP: Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s North York store (784 Sheppard Avenue East). Mountain Equipment Co-op's downtown location (440 King Street West) rents out SUP boards.

Paddle to a Concert

This summer, fans of Iron Maiden, Kings of Leon and the Deftones can combine their love of metal with paddling. Participants meet at Adventure Toronto’s Sunnyside location, choose a kayak, SUP board or canoe, and then follow the leader on a sunset paddle to the Budweiser Stage concert venue, located right by Lake Ontario, where paddlers catch 45 minutes or so of live music before heading back. Boat lights are provided.

Yoga on Water in the Beaches

Combine your love of yoga with stand-up paddle boarding. Experience the energizing moves, tranquility and full-body workout during a yoga class on water in the Beaches area of Toronto. Sign up for Gentle Wave SUPYoga or Pilates SUP. Classes are held at the Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club or Hubbard location, right on the boardwalk.

Cathedral Bluff Paddle Tour

Join the folks at Osha Osha on Mondays (or book a private tour) for a five-hour paddling outing. Experienced participants meet at Kew-Balmy Beach and paddle all the way to Bluffers Park. The views are magnificent, and there are some good eateries at Bluffers Park in order to fuel up before paddling back to the starting point. Another Monday option for experienced SUP boarders is the 15-km paddle from Budapest Park (on Lake Shore Boulevard West) that crosses the open waters to Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Island.

Paddling Tour of Bluffers Park /
Paddle Board Addict

One-Of-A-Kind (Short) Paddling Tours of Bluffers Park

Paddle Board Addict offers a one-hour “Bluffs Tour” that affords paddlers lakeside views of the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs – as well as a quick pass through the Float Home community in Bluffers Park, where scores of boaters live year-round. The Paddle Board Addict also offers a 1.5-hour Night Light SUP Board Tour on specially-designed paddleboards with built-in lighting.

Paddle Toronto /
Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre

A True Canadian Experience

Paddle Toronto caters to beginner, intermediate and experienced kayakers, SUP boarders and canoeists. To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, experience a Canadian heritage moment on water – the Voyageur canoe. The Friday sunset tours in replica Voyageur canoes (that seat up to 17) require no paddling experience. A 30-minute safety and paddling demonstration is part of the 2.5 hour outing. Weekend tours are at 2:00 pm.

Sail on Lake Ontario

Never been sailing? Gone Sailing Adventures’ 3 Hour Sailing Experience (on Lake Ontario) requires no previous experience. Spend some time learning the art of sailing with friends and family on the 41-foot Australian Kiss.

Learn the Craft of Lake Kayaking

The Complete Paddler, based in the west end of Toronto, offers various tours and instructional programs. The day-long Introduction to Kayaking Lake Course is held on designated Saturdays (book ahead).