Say you live in Ontario and you’re thinking of buying a paddleboard for the summer, or maybe even sooner considering recent weather trends! You’re probably trying to figure out two things: what type of board is right for you (more on that here) and where you would go out to paddle. There’s got to be more to it than going out in Toronto’s Harbourfront, right? Well, there is. Here’s our list of the best places to paddleboard in Ontario. These are guaranteed to be beautiful paddles:
1. Fathom Five National Marine Park
This park is famous for its 22 shipwrecks and is an internationally popular scuba diving destination. Flowerpot Island and Tobermory are excellent spots for a paddle. You will have an excellent vantage point from atop your board to see the shipwrecks below.
The park is located almost 4 hours’ drive north of Toronto, after Sauble Beach, in the Bruce Peninsula. Combine this paddle with a visit to the Bruce Peninsula National Park, also another favourite spot of ours (see below).
2. Bruce Peninsula National Park
The Cyprus Lake Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park boasts some of the most beautiful, crystal clear and pristine waters seen in Ontario. Enjoy a paddle on this shallow lake with rocky cliff formations. You may want to plan your trip there in June, during the annual orchid festival!
This lake is located 20 minutes away from Tobermory, or 4 hours from Toronto. The park has so much to offer, but if you have limited time, make sure you go to the grotto!
3. Algonquin Provincial Park
Go to Algonquin in the fall. The leaves are every shade of red, burgundy and orange. The weather is cool but you feel warm, and it’s less buggy. This park has long been a canoer favourite. They revere it for its beauty, solitude and vastness. There are over 2,400 to choose from when visiting this acclaimed park.
Try the Barron Canyon Trail – it is breathtaking. Look at for animals while you paddle. You might see a moose or a wolf, and you’ll definitely see a lot of chipmunks! Check out their website for daily parking fees, access points, paddling maps and camping spots.
4. Frontenac Provincial Park
Until recently, we didn’t know this place existed. We drove through it to visit our friends at Frontenac Outfitters and fell in love with the area. According to them, the best spot for a day paddle is Big Salmon Lake. It is about 6 km long and is great for fishing, swimming and wildlife watching. However, there are PLENTY of lakes in this park to choose from and explore.
The park is within a 2-3 hour drive from Toronto and Ottawa, located just north of the city of Kingston.
5. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
We couldn’t leave this one out, it’s so majestic. It’s far from Toronto but if you’re ever in the Thunder Bay region, you should probably visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. This gorgeous place set on Lake Superior full of huge rock formations.
Paddle from Silver Islet to the southern tip of the park, about 12 km. Combine this trip with a lot of excellent hiking and awesome vistas from the top of the Chimney Lookout. Tip: try a fishing board and see if you catch any fish, and then cook them over fire at the camp.
6. French River Provincial Park
Historically paddled by voyageurs for centuries, the French River is a great place to paddle! This gorgeous Canadian Heritage River mirror has sections of water that mirror the sky and others that become rapids. Drive to the French River Visitor’s Centre to get the lay of the land and go from there! Your options are endless. You could also drive to Hartley Bay Marina and paddle out to Merranger’s Island.
At 3.5 hours north of Toronto, and just over 2 hours from Muskoka if you happen to be up at the cottage.
7. Pinery Provincial Park
Just a quick 2.5 hours drive from downtown Toronto! If you want to feel sandy in your toes, this is your spot. Bring your board out here for a magical paddle that will transport you somewhere else. Its sand dunes aren’t the only impressive feature of this park. It is also an Oak Savanna woodland. If you’re a fan of turtles, like us, there are 7 different kinds living in this park. You’re likely to spot them on the edge of the water taking in some sun.
Tip: reserve one of the furnished yurts at the Riverside Campground. They sleep 6 and have a gas BBQ as well as electricity. Make sure you book for enough in advance, especially if you’re after one of the much desired summer long weekends.
8. Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park is a spectacular place to paddleboard. Start off from Sinclair Cove, just north of Agawa Bay and paddle down about 15 minutes. You will come to Agawa Rock where you’ll find the famous pictographs. Combine this paddling trip with some trout fishing.
Driving time is 1.5 hours north of Sault Ste. Marie. If you’re coming from Toronto or Ottawa, this may be a little too far unless you fly or are a keen road tripper!
It is very picturesque. The mansions have a southern charm to them, with their white wooden trims and kept rose gardens. The view of the lake is spectacular. There is top notch accommodation and plenty of vineyards to visit.
Please contact us to organize a customized trip with or without paddle boards to any one of these paddle perfect locations!
A note on safety: Please remember to always have a leash on. Legally, you must have a PFD, but you’re not required to wear it. If you are knocked off and separated from your board, unless you’re leashed to it, it will be very difficult to reach it and your PFD. Your board is your best flotation device. Leash yourself to it always.