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Island Hopping in Ontario: Unveiling Nature’s 15 Best-Kept Secrets You MUST Explore!

Ever find yourself daydreaming about escaping the daily grind and chilling on your own private island? Well, maybe not private, but definitely serene and oh-so-beautiful! Ontario’s got a bunch of these gems tucked away, just waiting for you to explore. 

Picture yourself biking through Wolfe Island’s quaint countryside, sipping local wine on Pelee Island, or maybe even getting lost (in a good way) on Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. 

Trust me, these spots are not just postcard pretty; they’re like little slices of paradise right here in our own backyard. So, let’s unpack the essentials and get ready to island-hop Ontario-style!

Wolfe Island

Media from kikincanada

Address: Frontenac County


If you’re looking to escape the city and dive into some nature, Wolfe Island is the place to be. Picture rolling countryside, charming farms, and peaceful beaches—perfect for outdoor adventures or just chilling out.

Cycling is huge on Wolfe Island. The terrain is flat, the routes are scenic, and the views of the lake and countryside are unbeatable. You can rent a bike from a local shop or bring your own and explore at your own pace. Not into biking? No worries, the beaches are great for kicking back and soaking up the sun.

Getting there is half the fun with a ferry ride from Kingston that offers beautiful water views. Once you arrive, you’ll find a friendly community with quaint shops, cozy cafes, and welcoming locals who are happy to share their island with visitors.

Pro tips:

Leave your car on the mainland and bike from the ferry terminal to the beach along the 1.3 km nature trail when you get to Wolfe Island.

Howe Island

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Address: Frontenac Islands


Howe Island, tucked between Kingston and Gananoque, is the perfect spot to escape city life and soak in some nature. This peaceful little island is ideal for boating, fishing, or just chilling by the water.

You can get there by ferry from the east or west side, making it incredibly convenient. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by beautiful landscapes, charming homes, and friendly locals. The slower pace here is a breath of fresh air, perfect for disconnecting and recharging.

For fishing fans, Howe Island’s got some primo spots for catching bass, pike, and more. And if you’re up for it, exploring the river’s beauty by boat is a must.

Pro tips:

Make sure to check the ferry schedule in advance, as it runs less frequently than some of the other routes. 

St. Joseph Island

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Address: St Joseph Island, Algoma District


St. Joseph Island in northern Ontario is where history meets stunning natural beauty, offering a perfect mix of activities for every kind of traveller. From exploring historical sites to outdoor adventures, this island has it all.

Don’t miss Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site! It’s a history buff’s dream with its restored buildings, cool displays, and trails that take you back to the War of 1812.

And if you’re into maple syrup, you’re in luck. The island is famous for it!

Visit a local sugar shack to see how it’s made and sample the delicious, locally-produced syrup. With its scenic landscapes and charming small towns, St. Joseph Island is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.

Pro tips:

Visit in the fall for the breathtaking foliage and the annual Harvest Festival. The island’s vibrant colours and festive vibe make it the perfect time to explore and soak in everything St. Joseph Island has to offer.

Manitoulin Island

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Address: Lake Huron


Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island, is a real gem in Ontario. Its stunning landscapes, cute towns, and vibrant Indigenous culture make it a must-visit.

You’ve got everything here—rolling hills, lush forests, and lakes so clear you can see right to the bottom. Perfect for hiking, kayaking, or just chilling out in nature. 

The Cup and Saucer Trail is a top pick for hikers, offering killer views from the top. And if you’re into water sports, there are lakes galore for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

Make sure you take some time to dive into Indigenous culture, too. Swing by the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation for exhibits and events that really bring Manitoulin’s history to life. And in towns like Little Current and Gore Bay, there are tons of cute shops, cozy cafes, and friendly locals ready to welcome you.

Pro tips:

Don’t miss Bridal Veil Falls, a picturesque spot that’s perfect for a refreshing swim in the summer. The waterfall is easily accessible and offers a beautiful setting for a picnic or a relaxing afternoon by the water.

Long Sault Parkway Islands

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Address: 22 Long Sault Dr, Long Sault


Ever heard of the Long Sault Parkway? It’s this cool chain of 11 islands smack dab in the St. Lawrence River, and let me tell you, it’s a hidden gem for outdoor lovers. Expect a scenic drive that hooks you up with stunning river views and landscapes that’ll make your jaw drop.

These islands came to life thanks to the St. Lawrence Seaway project, and now they’re all about wildlife and recreation. Whether you’re up for camping, boating, or just chilling on the beach, this place has it all. Oh, and fishing? You bet—it’s prime time to reel in some big ones here.

And if hiking and wildlife spotting are your jam, the Long Sault Parkway has trails and nature walks that’ll lead you right into the heart of nature. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, deer, and all sorts of critters living it up on these islands. 

Pro tip:

Book your campsite early in the summer months as they fill up quickly, especially on weekends. 

Amherst Island 

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Address: Amherst Island, Loyalist


Amherst Island, just a ferry ride west of Kingston, is your go-to spot for a peaceful getaway. Picture serene countryside, charming farms, and tons of wildlife—especially if you’re into birdwatching.

Once you hop off the ferry at Millhaven, you’ll find a laid-back community with cute shops, cozy cafes, and locals who are all about that friendly island vibe. It’s the perfect place to slow down, soak up the natural beauty, and maybe even learn a thing or two about island life.

Oh, and don’t skip Topsy Farms, a real working sheep farm where you can see how things run and pick up some quality wool goodies. They’ve even got guided tours to really get you into the island groove.

Pro tips:

Be sure to bring your binoculars for bird watching, as the island is home to a variety of bird species, including owls, eagles, and songbirds.

Pelee Island

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Address: Lake Erie Islands


Pelee Island, sitting pretty in Lake Erie and claiming the title of Canada’s southernmost inhabited spot, is a total hidden gem just waiting for you to uncover. Imagine sunny days, stunning views, and some seriously good vineyards—it’s the ultimate escape.

You have to hit up the local wineries—they’re famous for whipping up some of Ontario’s best wines. Take your time with tastings, go behind the scenes on vineyard tours, and learn what makes their wine special. 

And when you’re not sipping away, there are beaches to chill on, bike trails to cruise, and spots to scope out awesome birds.

Once you’re there, dive into the island life vibe with friendly faces, cool shops, and cafes where you can kick back and soak it all in. Pelee Island is where relaxation meets adventure, waiting for you to explore every laid-back corner.

Pro tip:

And if you’re up for exploring, biking around the island is a breeze with its flat terrain and scenic trails—it’s made for cycling adventures.

1000 Islands National Park

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Address: 10 King Street East, Gananoque


Situated along the St. Lawrence River, the 1000 Islands National Park is a gem with over 20 islands, perfect for outdoor lovers. Whether you’re up for boating, kayaking, camping, or hiking, it’s a must-visit spot for anyone who loves nature and adventure.

For the best experience, hop in a boat or kayak to explore the islands, uncovering hidden coves, beaches, and wildlife along the way. Camping options range from mainland sites to island retreats, giving you a chance to really connect with nature.

Keep your eyes peeled for birds, deer, and other critters—the park’s wildlife is a big draw for nature enthusiasts. And don’t miss the hiking trails, which offer breathtaking views of the river and surrounding landscapes, making every step a scenic adventure.

Pro tip:

Grab a kayak or canoe and get ready to explore the islands up close. You’ll find hidden coves and beaches waiting to be discovered, and paddling through the islands offers a whole new view of the park’s natural beauty.

Petrie Island Beach

Media from  alex_xian

Address: 795 Tweddle Rd, Ottawa


Petrie Island Beach on the Ottawa River is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to chill by the water. With sandy shores, shallow waters, and plenty of amenities, it’s ideal for a relaxed day out with family and friends.

Beyond the beach, Petrie Island offers walking trails, picnic spots, and a nature center, making it a hub for outdoor fun and exploration. Its diverse ecosystems, from wetlands to forests, are home to a range of wildlife, adding to its appeal for nature enthusiasts. 

Not to mention, it’s easily reachable from Ottawa, so it’s perfect for a quick day trip or a weekend escape. Whether you’re swimming, sunbathing, or just digging in the sand, its shallow waters and sandy beaches set the scene for a laid-back day on the river.

Pro tip:

Get there early on weekends to snag a good spot because the beach gets busy. Bring a picnic and kick back for a leisurely meal at one of the island’s picnic areas, surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery.

Grasshopper Island

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Address: Alnwick/Haldimand


Ever heard of Grasshopper Island in Rice Lake? It’s this sweet little spot that’s all about rustic vibes and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re into fishing, canoeing, or just chilling out in nature, this island’s got you covered. 

Accommodations are cozy but limited—think cute cottages and starry-night camping spots, perfect for soaking up the island’s peaceful vibes. Dan Hill, the owner, is all about ensuring guests feel at home and keeping the island’s natural beauty intact. 

And let’s talk fishing—there’s plenty of bass, pike, and other freshwater fish waiting for you. Plus, paddling around in a canoe or kayak lets you explore every inch of the island’s shoreline and Rice Lake’s scenic waters. It’s a laid-back paradise for anyone looking to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Pro tips:

Try to book your stay well ahead of time because spots are limited, and this place is pretty popular for its unique charm. Don’t forget your fishing gear—there’s some awesome fishing waiting for you around here.

Peche Island

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Address: Windsor


Fun fact: to get to Peche Island from Windsor, just hop on a personal watercraft or join one of the City of Windsor Tours. They’ve been working hard to restore the island and protect all the cool plants and animals you’ll find there.

Think tranquil walking trails, perfect picnic spots by the water, and stunning river and city skyline. The island has a fascinating history dating back to the 19th century—it was even once owned by Hiram Walker, the Canadian Club Whisky founder!

Plus, if you’d rather not go solo or don’t have a boat and boating skills, Windsor hooks you up with boat tours and shuttle service from June to October.

Pro tips:

Grab a kayak rental or hop on a guided boat tour from Windsor to really make the most of your visit. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and savour a laid-back meal surrounded by the island’s natural beauty.

Chantry Island

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Address: Bruce County


Chantry Island is this cool spot off Southampton in Lake Huron, where you’ll find a bird sanctuary and the historic Chantry Island Lighthouse. It’s a peaceful haven for nature buffs and history fans, and you can explore it on a guided tour. 

The lighthouse, built back in 1859, is a real piece of local history. You can climb up during the tours, soak in its story, and enjoy awesome views of Lake Huron and the surroundings. 

And hey, it’s not just about history—the island’s also a designated bird sanctuary. So, if you’re into birdwatching or just want to stroll around in nature, Chantry Island’s got you covered.

Pro tip:

Be sure to book your guided tour early since access to the island is restricted to protect the wildlife. Don’t forget your camera to snap some amazing views and capture the island’s special charm.

Flowerpot Island

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Address: Flowerpot Island, Tobermory


You got to experience Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park—it’s a total gem! The “flowerpot” rock formations there, shaped by the elements over time, are impressive. 

Just catch a boat from Tobermory, and you’re in for a day packed with outdoor adventures and some of the most stunning scenery.

Once you step foot on the island, the hiking trails will blow you away. They wind through rugged terrain, leading you to hidden caves, towering cliffs, and these amazing little beaches tucked away along the shore. 

And let me tell you about the water—crystal clear and perfect for a dip, snorkelling to check out the underwater life, or cruising around in a kayak.

Oh, and don’t forget to trek over to the Flowerpot Island Lighthouse. It’s a short hike but worth it for the panoramic views of the island and the sparkling waters around it.

Pro tip:

Make sure you’ve got some sturdy shoes for hiking and exploring the rocky terrain.

Philip Edward Island

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Address: Killarney


Philip Edward Island near Killarney Provincial Park is an absolute dream for kayakers. The rugged coastline and pristine waters are perfect for some serious outdoor fun.

The shoreline is packed with bays, coves, and inlets, making it ideal for kayaking and canoeing. The clear waters and stunning rock formations make for a beautiful backdrop, and there are so many hidden spots to discover.

Camping on the island is fantastic, too. There are remote campsites where you can truly unwind and soak in the natural beauty. It’s the perfect place for a multi-day kayaking trip or just a relaxing weekend getaway.

Pro tip:

Make sure to bring all your camping gear and supplies since the island is remote and doesn’t have many facilities.

Christian Island

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Address: Simcoe County


Christian Island, in Georgian Bay, is part of the Beausoleil First Nation and offers a unique, culturally rich spot for visitors. With beautiful landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant Indigenous culture, it’s perfect for a relaxing and educational getaway.

You can catch a ferry from Cedar Point to this peaceful island. The beaches are great for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking, and the surrounding waters are perfect for boating and fishing.

What makes Christian Island special is its rich Indigenous culture. You can learn about the island’s heritage by chatting with the local community and joining in on cultural events. The residents are friendly and eager to share their history, making your visit truly unique and enriching.

Pro tips:

Be sure to respect the local culture and environment while you’re there. Take some time to chat with the locals and learn about their traditions and history.

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