toronto island sup

Toronto Island Sup is the place for stand up paddleboarding just a ferry ride away

Forget biking or kayaking, stand up paddleboarding has to be one of the best ways to see the chain of small islands that is Toronto Island.

Even if you've been to the island a hundred times before, exploring the waters of the inner harbour in and around the archipelago just across the lake from Toronto's downtown is an entirely new experience atop a paddleboard.

toronto island sup

Toronto Island Stand Up Paddle Boarding offers lessons and rentals by the hour. 

Toronto Island Stand Up Paddle Boarding (TISUP) has been offering island visitors lessons and rentals since 2014. If you've got some paddling experience and can swim, you can rent a board by the hour and take your very own self-guided tour.

toronto island sup

Just head to Algonquin Bridge on Ward's Island where you'll get set up for your rental. 

For those with no experience at all, there are lessons available with one of the certified SUP instructors where you can learn proper techniques and get more comfortable on the board before embarking on your own adventure.

toronto island sup

A one-hour rental is $30 with an additional $10 for every added hour after that. 

Although this was my first time paddling while standing up, we arrived near Algonquin Bridge on Ward's Island and the starting point for all TISUP-related activities, with our e-waivers signed for an hour's rental.

toronto island sup

A map at the starting point shows you the points around the island you can explore while on a board. 

You can choose from one ($30 per person) to five hours ($70 per person) when you're renting a board. One hour gives you just about enough time to visit Sunfish Cut and Turtle Alley and leaves you with more than hours in the day to soak up some sun on one of the beaches afterward. 

toronto island sup

Every rental includes a screening beforehand to make sure you know the basics of paddling. 

There's a brief screening before you're able to go on your way. But as long as you're able to swim should you fall overboard and you know the basics of paddling, SUP is a breeze even for first-timers.

toronto island sup

To stand up, start on your knees and slowly plant your feet a bit forward on the board one at a time. 

Listen closely during the instructor's 10-minute spiel; learning how to safely stand up (start on your knees and from there plant your feet a bit forward on the board one at a time), stop, and turn around will help you on your journey.

toronto island sup

SUP is an easy sport to learn for first-timers. 

Crystal is the staff member walking us through our first paddleboard experience on this particular Thursday afternoon and she's incredibly patient as we shakingly make our very first attempt to stand upright. 

toronto island sup

Practice stopping and turning around a few times before going on your way. 

Balancing is easier than expected though. And after trying a few turns and stops by pushing the paddle back against the current, we're ready to go out into the open waters. 

toronto island sup

Head west from the starting point to begin your explorations around the island. 

No matter how long you're planning on being on the water, every paddleboarder is directed to head west first toward Sunfish Cut. Even though you might've never heard that name before, you likely have a photo there at this scenic point from a past visit to the island. 

toronto island sup

The first section of the paddle is passing by boats and floating homes as you make your way to Sunfish Cut.

Before reaching the photo-op, you'll be passing a number of boats and floating island homes docked along the shores of Algonquin Island across the calm lagoon from Ward's. It's fun to imagine what life is like for longtime islanders living in one of these and I've definitely never gotten this close-up on foot. 

toronto island sup

Sunfish Cut offers an incredible view of the Toronto skyline. 

You've hit Sunfish Cut when the Toronto skyline comes perfectly into view. Although we're paddling on a quieter weekday, I can see this spot getting pretty congested with photo takers, even on the water, on the weekend. Good thing TISUP provides $1 dry bags to hold your phone.

toronto island sup

Head under the footbridge west of Sunfish Cut to get to Turtle Alley. 

Spend the majority of your time there snapping the perfect paddleboard picture or continue onwards to get to Turtle Alley. Journey under the footbridge to get to this area where you're likely to spot, you guessed it, turtles, as well as other wildlife. 

toronto island sup

You'll be paddling among wildlife with lots of ducks, swans, turtles and fish sharing the lake. 

The incredibly serene area is full of ducks (we're told the baby and teenage ones are particularly known to hop aboard so be ready), swans, and large bluegill, punkinseed, and yellow perch swimming by the weedy bays just under your board. 

toronto island sup

There are plenty of picnic areas just off-shore where you could rest for a while. 

If you're looking to make the day of it, you could always pack a lunch to pop in a dry bag and pull up on one of the private spots along the shore to rest your arms and take in the view. 

With so much to see, I'll definitely be back for another paddle this summer, but probably for an illuminated late-night paddle or yoga session onboard next time around. 

Photos by

Fareen Karim


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