Whether or not you are a first-time visitor to Toronto or not, the 12-minute ferry ride alone across Toronto Harbour to "the Island" (actually three interconnected islands: Wards, Centre and Algonquin) is worth the $7.00 (return fare is included). You are now a refugee from the city's air and noise pollution. The immediate spa-like soothing of the senses as tonic breezes, twinkling sun and dramatic mainland vistas combine is irresistible. Disembark at Ward's Island and you can easily ferret out the Wards Island residents' beach (rent a bike or quadricycle on the Island to cover its approximately 3-mile length on the wide paved dedicated bike paths) or wander the lanes on foot and spy upon gently decaying 75-year old "cottages" and spiffed-up modernized ones in this artsy, alternative (year-round) community of about 300 families. Centre Island offers a small, tasteful amusement park (a limited number of fast-food franchises) for children, canoe and kayak rentals available to navigate the lagoons, and a charming old-fashioned farm but the supervised, pristine (by North American standards) enchanting beaches of Centre Island and Hanlan's Point (including one which is clothing optional) are the real draw for the explorer. Acres of manicured lawns and gardens are ideal for picnics, lounging, sun-bathing and dreaming. An ancient lighthouse, a turn of the century church, paths meandering through the sand dunes, three private marinas, old piers, hint at the storied past of this destination gem whether you are travelling alone or with companions, young or older. Frequent ferry service from three different embarkment points on the Island assures your safety and itinerary. Several unadvertised (except on a local bulletin board) B&Bs offer exceptional value and East-Coast hospltality (research them on-line) on Algonquin Island and Wards' Island respectively. I can offer two highly favourable testimonials for two different properties--one offering a lakeview upper balcony in a restored Victorian homestead situated on the "boardwalk"; the other included all the mod cons (stainless steel Miele appliances, marble bathroom, gourmet breakfast AND rental kayaks, beach accessories--umbrellas, blankets, seagrass mats-- and bicycles) hidden behind a garden fence, guaranteeing utmost privacy. Two superior light dining options: The Rectory Cafe and the more daring Island Cafe (both licensed, both indoor and outdoor seating) assure that travellers won't leave the Island de-hydrated or hungry.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.