You don’t have to hit the Pacific to surf, head to Yosemite to climb, or travel to the tropics to dive. Believe it or not, you don’t even have to leave the province. Whether you love heights, or long to spend your days in the water, there are a ton of outdoor adventures you likely didn’t even realize existed in Ontario. Sure, the surf might be a little more tame and the rock walls slightly less epic, but unless you’re an expert in one of these endeavours, they should be more than enough to satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Scuba Dive Near Tobermory
Off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, just east of the small resort-like town of Tobermory, is Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada’s first National Marine Conservation Area and—believe it or not—one of the best freshwater dive sites in the world. These crystal-clear waters are home to an abundance of caves and more than 20 shipwrecks, some of which date back to the mid-1800s. These waters attract both novice snorkelers and expert divers, but anyone planning to explore Fathom Five needs to get their dive tag first.
Surf The Great Lakes
Surfing in Ontario isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, the best time to do it is in the winter, when the waves can reach up to two metres high. But if you’re just starting out, and you’re not interested in climbing out of the water with a beard of icicles (seriously, it happens) you can still find waves in warmer months. A few well-known spots just outside the city include Ashbridges Bay and the Scarborough Bluffs. If you’re willing to trek a little further, Lake Huron, just off the shores of Kincardine, is another hot spot. But your best bet is to sign up for a lesson at Surf Ontario, and have the experts show you where and when to go.
Rock Climb Rattlesnake Point
When the weather turns nice, it’s time to get out of the gym and make the most of the outdoors, especially when it comes to rockclimbing. There are lots of worthwhile rocks to scale in Ontario, like Mazinaw Rock and Old Baldy. But if you’re in Toronto, head to the nearby cliffs of Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area. There are three designated spots and more than 200 routes for rock climbers to test their real-world skills, while taking in stunning views of the surrounding escarpment.
Hang Glide North of Pickering
Ever dreamed of flying? Hang gliding might be the closest you ever get, but the good news is, you don’t need a massive mountain peak to get started. Head to High Perspective in the flat fields of North Pickering, where they’ve built a custom hydraulic winch and tow line to pull you into the air. If it’s your first time and you’re feeling nervous, rest assured that founder and chief flight instructor Michael Robertson has flown hang gliders for more than 45 years, and has about 30,000 flights under his belt. You can also fly solo, though you’ll have to go “ low and slow” or put more time in and take a course. No matter which route you take, you won’t soon forget the remarkable feeling of soaring thousands of feet above the ground in nothing more than a few harnesses and a glider.
Explore The Caves of Collingwood
Collingwood might be best known for the nearby Blue Mountains, but it’s also home to a huge network of scenic caves. With 18 unique geological features, the site includes self-guided walking trails that will bring you through caves and caverns carved millions of years ago by glacial ice. Along the trail, you’ll descend into crevasses up to 70 feet deep, including areas where snow often remains until early summer. You’ll also reach the edge of massive limestone cliffs overlooking 10,000 kilometres of countryside, including the seemingly never-ending blue expanse of Georgian Bay.
(Main photo: Ben Stanfield)