toronto islands

The best way to get to the Toronto Islands this summer and the best things to do

Whether you’re looking to stroll through the sands of some of the cleanest beaches in the world, try your luck at paddle board yoga, or get close and personal with over 40 species of exotic farm animals the Toronto Islands have something for everyone. The Island area (which is a group of 15 islands connected by pathways and bridges) is one of Toronto’s most popular tourist attractions.

To help you navigate the area on your next visit, here are the top five reasons you should visit the Toronto islands this summer.

Beaches and Swimming

There are four beaches on the Toronto Islands, each facing Lake Ontario: Ward’s Island Beach, Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, and Hanlan’s Point Beach (split into “clothing optional” and standard sections). The beaches are free and fantastic for, tanning, relaxing, or even swimming. Each beach (except for Hanlan’s Point) has received a Blue Flag designation, indicating top water quality, safety, and access. Sand quality on these beaches is also okay overall, although some areas are littered with lake debris, rocks, and pebbles.

Hanlan’s Point Beach tends to be less crowded than the other island beaches. The left (south) part of the beach is clothing optional, while the right (north) side of the beach is a standard beach.

Centre Island Beach is located on the busiest island and is the busiest beach with the most amenities (including food outlets, washrooms, change rooms, lockers, etc.). It’s family-friendly and wheelchair accessible.

Gibraltar Point Beach is the newest (created in 2007) and most secluded beach on the Islands. It’s located on the southwest portion of the island, on the strip of land that connects Hanlan’s Point to Centre Island.

Ward’s Island Beach is considered the ‘resident’s beach’ as it’s the closest beach to the homes on the island. It’s also the closest beach to any ferry terminal on the island (about a five-minute walk from the ferry dock).

photo of the swan ride at Centreville on the Toronto Islands

Centreville Amusement Park

The park is surrounded by 600 acres of parkland and families can participate in more than 30 rides and attractions, like taking a ride in the twirling tea cups or antique carousel, plunging through the log flume, or bouncing around in bumper boats and bumper cars. There are 14 delicious food outlets throughout the park, making it the perfect summer destination for families with young kids or couples going out for date night. Tickets: Under 4′  = $31.64 +tax; over 4′ = $40.71 +tax.

Far Enough Animal Farm

The free petting farm has been an iconic staple on the island for more than 60 years, fascinating both children and adults. Visitors can get up close and personal with over 40 species of exotic birds and farmyard animals, such as Indian runner ducks, mini pot belly pigs, Romanov sheep, and even ponies. There are several farmers/farmhands readily available to answer questions from visitors.

Toronto Island Disc Golf Course (western side of Ward’s Island)

Established in 1980, this challenging 18-hole course is available to the public at no charge, on a first-come. It features water hazards, generous gaps, and stunning views of the Toronto skyline (but watch out for the strong winds). More established players will appreciate the dual asphalt tee pad with dual targets,18 Prodigy disc baskets for long pins, and 18 DGC Mach V baskets for short pins). Ken Climo, considered by some to be the best professional disc golfer of all time, lists it as one of his favourite courses. The practice basket and first tee are just beyond the Firehall.

Kayaking and Paddling

If you enjoy water sports, you can explore the island by kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding — three different types of paddle boards and five different types of kayaks are available for rent by the hour. Basic lessons and advanced workshops and tours via water sports are also available, but participants must be able to swim short distances. People can also explore the island via water sports —events include everything from ‘paddlebirding’ (paddleboarding with professional birders) and paddleboarding at sunset,

How to get to the Toronto Islands

The only way to get to/from the Islands is by ferries leaving from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (service runs 365 days a year) or by private water taxis leaving from a separate dock.

City-run ferries run to and from Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point, and Ward’s Island (with trails and bridges connecting the islands), and the trip is only 10-15 minutes to any of the islands.

The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is located at 9 Queen’s Quay West. If heading from Union Station, you can catch the 509 or 510 streetcar to Queens Quay/Ferry Docks Station ( a 2-minute ride) and walk about 4 minutes until you reach the terminal. The terminal is at the foot of Bay St. at Queen’s Quay W., just west of the Westin Harbour Castle hotel. You can enter the Ferry terminal via the walkway between the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel and the Harbour Castle condominiums. Click here for the ferry schedules.

The islands can get busy during the summer and on long weekends (be prepared to wait 30-60 minutes for a ferry during peak times).  To avoid crowds, the best time to catch the ferry to the Islands is before 10 a.m., and when returning to Toronto — by 5:30 p.m.

Ticket prices include the return trip (you don’t need to show tickets on the way back) and can be purchased online (when you get to the docks, look for a special line for people with pre-purchased tickets). They cost $9.11 for adults, $5.86 for students and seniors, $4.29 under 14, and it’s free for children under 2.

If you prefer a private water taxi—it will take you across the water in about 5 minutes but the price is about $12-$15 per person one-way. During busy periods, water taxis also have lineups.

Right now, the City is improving access to Toronto Island Park by replacing its ferry fleet with electric vessels and building supporting electrical infrastructure at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. Later this year/next year, electric infrastructure work at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal will be completed. In late 2025, two electric ferries will arrive in Toronto; the ferries will be begin operating/start taking passengers in 2026.

Ferry Island Schedule (summer 2024 schedule)

Centre Island Ferry 

  • First island-bound ferry: 8 a.m. 
  • Last city-bound ferry: 11:45 p.m.
  • Frequency: Every half hour to 40 mins.

Hanlan’s Point Ferry

  • First island-bound ferry: 6:45 a.m. 
  • Last city-bound ferry: 11:00 p.m.
  • Frequency: Varies, but every 50 mins on average, sometimes longer.

Ward’s Island Ferry

  • First island-bound ferry: 6:30 a.m. 
  • Last city-bound ferry: 11:45 p.m.
  • Frequency: Every half an hour to an hour (on average). 

Click here to see a full schedule and seasonal variations.

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