A Guide for Boating in Toronto if you Don’t Own a Boat

We're all on boats

Reprieve when it’s hot in the city can come from getting away from land and spreading your arms wide on the starboard bow of a boat.

If your day job doesn’t offer the extra cash for a yacht to park in your apartment, head down to Lake Ontario and take advantage of the next best thing to owning a boat or having a friend who owns a boat – renting a boat. Find your sea legs and consider one of these options:

See the city from the lake

There are countless options to see the city from the water – some involve dinner and some involve fireworks. Cruises can be private adventures for birthday parties or office gatherings, or public outings so you can see the city the way tourists do, alongside those visitors.

Mariposa Cruises
Toronto Cruises
Harbour Tours
Heritage Coast Charters
Yankee Lady
Pioneer Princess
Charter Miss Toronto
Jubilee Queen
Cruise Toronto

Set Sail

Join a cruise that is lined up with special events in Toronto, enjoy a wine and cheese evening or learn to sail so you can take in a weekend regatta. Rentals usually require prior sailing experience so you don’t end up floating out to sea but there are plenty of options to get you out on the water.

Gone Sailing Adventures
Sailing Fanatics
Harbourfront Sailboat rentals and lessons
Mooredale Toronto Sailing Club
Westwood Sailing Club
Toronto Island Sailing Club
St. James Town Sailing Club
Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club

Channel Jack Sparrow on a Tall Ship

Tall ships in the waters of Lake Ontario offer a unique experience that is sometimes interactive when passengers are asked to help hoist the sails. The Tall Ship Festival happens in Toronto from July 1 – 3 in 2016, or you can check out a ‘sailing through time’ tour or BBQ on the majestic ships.

A photo posted by PirateLife (@piratelifeto) on

Tall Ship Cruises Toronto
Nautical Adventures
Toronto Brigantine
Pirate Life

Paddle boats…or Pedal boats, if you prefer

If you’re looking for a ride that keeps you close to shore and gives you a serious calf workout, a paddle boat might be just the vessel you need. Bonus – you’ll get to see the sights while having a relaxing float, but also be stealth enough to potentially get you up close and personal for great shots of wildlife.

Harbourfront Centre
Toronto Islands Boat House
Centreville Amusement Park

Practice your J Stroke in a Canoe (or kayak)

Tap into your inner peace while you paddle along the water watching the sun rise or set. Go solo, bring along a friend to tour the waters, join a guided tour or get suggestions of where to go and what to see from one of the following operators when you rent.

Toronto Adventures
Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre
Toronto Islands Boat House
The Complete Paddler
Mountain Equipment Co-Op

Cheers to Booze Cruises

‘Water on the water and beer on the pier’ isn’t as essential a mantra when someone else is driving. Join fellow revelers in dining, dancing and indulging at special events onboard booze cruises throughout the summer. If you’re reading this before June 30th, the Toronto Boat Cruise – when thousands of people on multiple boats dance to the same music – is an option.

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Empress of Canada
River Gambler
Stella Borealis
Enterprise 2000
Craft Brew Cruise

Sweat it out in a Dragon Boat

Teams are still recruiting for bodies to get on board dragon boats this season. Dragon boating offers racers the chance to raise awareness or money for charity, be a part of a community or just get feisty on the water.

A photo posted by TIDBRF (@todragonboat) on

Rusty Dragons Adventures
Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club
Dragon Boat Community
Sunny side Paddling Club
GWN Dragon Boat

Satiate your need for speed in a Power Boat

But if money is super tight, there’s always the chance to feel the wind in your hair on the big blue lake via a ride on the Toronto Island Ferry.

Harbourfront Centre Sailing and Powerboating

(Main photo: Sam Javanrouh)