Beat the summer heat with Toronto beach and waterfront activities like sailing, SUP, sunset paddleboarding and so much more.
When the summer hits, Torontonians come out to play. And when the temperature hits scorching, we take advantage of our Lake Ontario location. Toronto’s beach and waterfront areas typically feel 5-10 degrees Celsius cooler than the heart of the city. So, try chilling out on the water this summer. Here are 9 ways to make a splash like a local.
Join a freestyle swim race in Lake Ontario
Diehard lake swimmer, seasoned Ironman or aspiring triathlete? Put on your game face and race against other lake swimmers at the Toronto Triathlon Festival (July 24, 2022) or Toronto Island Triathlon and Duathlon (August 20 and 21, 2022).
Both events offer various race distances; unique urban swim, bike and run courses; a fun, welcoming vibe… and the thrill of racing for a Personal Best time in and alongside Lake Ontario.
Frolic on a Blue Flag beach
For a more relaxed pace, take a dip, toss a frisbee or splash in Lake Ontario. Toronto is home to eight public Blue Flag-certified beaches. Blue Flag beaches meet stringent international standards for cleanliness, safety, accessibility and environmental stewardship.
Most Toronto beaches are accessible by public transit, and the local beach scene is as eclectic as our city. Got kids? Try the kid-pleasing (and warm!) Centre Island Beach. Looking for an epic cliff backdrop? Hike to the eastern end of Bluffer’s Beach Park by the Scarborough Bluffs. Hate tan-lines? Head to clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point Beach.
During summer, the City of Toronto monitors and posts beach water quality throughout the week.
Work out on the water with Oceah Oceah’s SUP yoga
Exercise on Lake Ontario with stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) yoga by Oceah Oceah. This Indigenous-owned company is operated by sisters Jenifer, Sharon and Lana whose mission is to connect people of all nations with and to water.
Classes run 75 minutes and you’ll be guided through a series of sequences, which change from week to week. SUP yoga is an excellent way to strengthen your core, improve balance, and change up your usual workout routine.
Check out a bird sanctuary on Toronto Island
Explore the natural splendour of the 13-island Toronto Island archipelago on a guided tandem kayak tour with Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre. You’ll paddle various wildlife-rich channels and bird sanctuaries within the islands while learning about the destination’s history and geography.
This two-hour evening tour lets you avoid peak sun for a relaxed and comfortable sunset paddling experience.
Try a sunset paddle with Toronto Island SUP
Another sunset paddle to consider is a SUP sesh with Toronto Island SUP. Fill your social feed with a Toronto sunset from the most unique angle: the water.
Each two-hour tour departs from Ward’s Island and includes paddleboards, lifejackets and LED-illuminated oars.
Your leisurely tour will take you past island homes and houseboats, to the Toronto Harbour, just in time for a stunning sunset over the downtown skyline. After some photo opportunities (and maybe even a quick swim), you’ll slowly make your way back through the island waterways, including Turtle Alley which will have you weaving around sunken logs and trees, and Snug Harbour, where the city’s night lights will be on full display.
Cruise Toronto’s inner harbour on a powerboat
Looking for a little more horsepower with your water activities? Rent a mini powerboat from the Harbourfront Centre Sailing and Powerboating.
Their Paradise F13 and Lund Fury powerboats don’t require any boating experience; you’ll just need to be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. The powerboats can seat one to five adults and are rented out by the hour. Staff will guide you in the operations and safety of the boat and before you know it, you’ll be cruising Toronto’s inner harbour at your own pace.
Embark on a tall ship cruise on the historic Kajama
If letting someone else do all the work is more your style, hop on board the Kajama for a tall ship cruise. This traditional 165-ft, three-mast Schooner is an iconic sight sailing around the shores of Toronto in the summer.
Departing near Harbourfront Centre, this 90-minute tour cruises the Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario. You’ll learn about the history of the boat (which has been sailing since 1930), have the chance to help raise the sails and witness the firing of a cannon (live out your pirate dreams!). There’s also a full menu and licensed bar onboard, so you can enjoy refreshments alongside those Lake Ontario breezes.
Light up the water in a glow-in-the-dark kayak
Immerse yourself in a magical waterfront experience, as you paddle after sundown in a glowing, LED-illuminated tandem kayak from Toronto Kayaks.
Hit one of Toronto’s most popular swimming beaches, east end’s sandy Woodbine Beach, or explore 5 km of natural habitat along west end’s Humber River. Both tours offer a fresh take on Lake Ontario and plenty of jaw-dropping snaps and videos to fill your social media feed, which will be #lit.
Catch waves on Lake Ontario with Surf the Greats
Push your boundaries by embracing the cold-water surfing trend. Peak season in Toronto is fall/winter, but you can sometimes catch swells in late summer, too.
If you’re here on an extended vacation, get started by taking Surf the Greats’ Flat Water Intro to Surf clinic at Cherry Beach. The 75-minute clinics run all summer long and include boards, wetsuits and gear. Then you’ll be set to catch waves later in the season at various spots along Lake Ontario (locations vary by water conditions).
Looking for more ways to get out and explore the city this summer? Check out our summer guide to Toronto.