Comprising 63 tree-topped islands scattered near Lake Huron’s southwest shore, Georgian Bay Islands National Park is known for its beaches, wind-bent white pines, and stark granite coastline. The pristine freshwater archipelago inspired Canada’s Group of Seven artists in the 1920s and continues to attract summertime adventurers.
Only public and private boats and water taxis can access Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The DayTripper ferry departs from Honey Harbour, Ontario, and makes two stops. One is at Beausoleil Island, the largest and only island with campsites and cabins in the park. Bone Islands is the only other island with docking facilities.
At Beausoleil Island, a trip might start on the south end at Cedar Spring, where visitors can rent mountain bikes, swim at beaches, and drop by the welcome center. Another possible stop could be on the north end at Chimney Bay, which is rockier, wilder, and arguably more scenic.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tickets for the DayTripper ferry must be booked in advance and no gear (bikes, kayaks, etc.) is allowed on board.
- Beausoleil Island has a wheelchair-accessible dock, bathrooms, showers, camping spots, and trails.
- Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and ample drinking water.
- Look out for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a rare venomous species that lives on Beausoleil Island.
- If going for a swim, wear swimming shoes to protect your feet from stones and shell fragments.
How to Get There
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a small part of the Thirty Thousand Islands, said to be the largest freshwater archipelago on the planet. The park is about 103 miles (166 kilometers) from Toronto, near Honey Harbour on the mainland. Drive to Honey Harbour and ride the DayTripper ferry from there.
When to Get There
Boats to the island typically run between mid-May and mid-October, with July and August as the busiest months. Late September and early October are the best times to see the fall colors. Black flies are present in May and June, while mosquitoes tend to show up from June through mid-August; go in late August or September to avoid the worst of them.
Where to Swim on the Island
Most of the best beaches and swimming spots on Beausoleil Island are on the eastern shore, though a few can be found on the north shore, too. You can enter the water near Cedar Spring on the southeast coast, at Wana Keta or Sandpiper on the central section of the east coast, at Oaks on the northeast, and at Honeymoon Bay on the north coast.