Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beat the Heat: Islands in the sun

Thousands of people stream from the mainland of Toronto, across the vast expanse of water know as the inner harbour and frolic in the green parks, sandy beaches and cool waters of Lake Ontario on the Toronto Islands. You can get there by plane, water taxi, pleasure boats, tour boats and by the mighty ships known as the Toronto Ferries
I like the ferries because they are so old and full of character with red life jackets hanging from the ceilings. This year the cost for the ferry trip for an adult is only $6.50 and you can bring your bikes at no extra cost. Actually the cost is for the trip across, you can come back for free!
Family picnics and the Centreville Amusement Park probably bring the most people seeking recreation. Centreville is on the largest island called Centre Island - I think it is somewhere in the middle. Ward's Island on the east is the next largest with Hanlan's Point on the west side, which is also the home of the Island Airport. There are a few more islands and you can move between the islands by the many bridges. You can see a great map of the islands here.

It's quieter on the Hanlan's Point side away from the families going to the amusement park (I always remember the log flume ride) and being home to the clothing optional (I mean naked) beach keeps a lot of people away on general principle. 
Right outside the beach area is a snack shack that serves alcohol so if the beach gets too warm you can chill out with some cold brews. You just have to remember to put your clothes back on when you come off the beach. The homes and cottages are on the Ward's Island side and some unusual housing designs make it a nice way to spend some time checking out the sights and little cottages.
With no private cars allowed the best way to see the islands is to roller blade or take your bike across - you can even rent a bike on the  islands. They have some groovy family bikes that resemble old style cars and that can seat two and four people.
Names carved into the pier on the south side of the islands.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

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