I was first introduced to kayaking on a trip out to Ontario from England, years ago. We stayed at a vacation rental cottage on a small lake and the cottage came with two kayaks, paddles and life jackets. We’d never kayaked before and although it was a little nerve wracking getting in the first time, I was amazed at how stable the kayaks were, and what fun we could have with them. We explored the lake and all the little inlets; came across a pair of loons nesting; snapping turtles sunning on a log, and on one amazing day, came around a bend in a small bay to see a young moose just getting out of the water. It was one of those hidden gems we never expected to see on that amazing vacation.
Lots of lakes and rivers
Ontario has 250,000 lakes and thousands of miles of navigable rivers so there are many locations and opportunities for a kayaking or canoe trip. From a half-day paddle around one of the inland lakes, finding tiny inlets to explore and wildlife to see, to a longer camping and portaging trip in a National or Provincial Park, there is something for everyone. Renting a waterfront cottage is a great option as many of these vacation rentals offer non-motorised boats included in the rental rate. That could be a paddleboat, canoe, row boat or if you’re lucky, a couple of kayaks.
Best places to kayak
The smaller lakes are ideal for kayaking and if you can find a no-motor lake, even better because there’s no risk of being buffeted by wake from passing motor boats. Ontario’s rivers are perfect for this activity but be prepared to ‘portage’ which means you have to take the boat out of the water and carry it around an obstacle – perhaps a dam or shallow rapids. Sea kayaking in Georgian Bay and around the Bruce Peninsula is also an option for more experienced enthusiasts. Cottages in Muskoka, the Kawarthas, Parry Sound and Eastern Ontario are all likely to have suitable watercraft.
Finding a cottage to rent
There are thousands of cottages offered for rental usually from spring (mid-May) to fall (early October). You’ll get a much better deal and more choice outside the high season weeks in July and August, and will also be able to book a weekend or mid-week break which is not usually available in the summer. Rental agencies will have personally vetted each cottage and can usually give you more information on the kayaking opportunities in the area, although there are plenty of privately advertised cottages available too. Don’t forget to confirm what watercraft is available for your group and whether life jackets are supplied for you to use. If they are, you are responsible for making sure they are a correct fit or you may be liable for a fine.
Enjoy your Ontario kayaking trip – it will be an experience you’ll never forget.