Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

It’s no secret that Justin and I love kayaking. A kayaking trip was long overdue as it’s been a while since we last kayaked together. Our last excursion was over two years ago when we visited Put in Bay, Ohio. No, we did not try a tandem kayak (the supposed relationship killer). I have kayaked without Justin in the meantime when I was in St. Thomas with my sister. Yes, that was a tandem kayak. By some miracle, we didn’t want to kill each other.

Kayaking truly allows you to explore spaces that can be relatively inaccessible otherwise. In Put in Bay, we kayaked to Gibraltar Island where we paddled around the rocky cliffs of private land owned by a university. Only a few members of staff and students are permitted to set foot on the island; however, kayakers are allowed to drift around the craggy isle. In St. Thomas, we floated alongside the mangroves to Cas Cay, a wildlife sanctuary that’s a far cry from the crowded cruise port of Charlotte Amalie. And in the 1000 Islands, well, you can likely already tell by the name that there are thousands of locations to uncover.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Justin and I stayed overnight in Kingston and headed out bright and early for our kayaking trip. We drove to Gananoque (pronouned Gan-an-aw-kway) to meet our tour guides at 1000 Islands Kayaking. Upon our arrival, we were delighted to discover that no one else had signed up for a full day kayak tour that day. The tour would be a private one for just the two of us.

Here’s a preview of our kayaking tour in the Thousand Islands:

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We met the owner of 1000 Islands kayaking, Scott, and our tour guide for the day, Kelly. Scott was so enthusiastic about kayaking and the region; his passion for the Thousand Islands was truly evident. Kelly took us out to the pier and talked briefly about the kayaks and paddles we would be using for the day. Before long, we were in the water and paddling away from Gananoque. We were mindful of the larger ferries and boats along the St. Lawrence River. This waterway hosts many larger ships carrying passengers all over the 1000 Islands. Though we did not encounter many vessels, we were certain to always give them the right of way.

Kelly guided us through a basic “Kayaking 101” lesson, showing us a few different types of kayaking strokes. These short lessons were naturally integrated into our kayaking tour as we meandered down the river. Despite the fact that we had kayaked before, we’d actually never been given a formal lesson. It was really nice knowing how to maneuver our kayaks easily when we needed to change our position (if we were about to glide into a rock…or each other). The most valuable part of this lesson was learning how to stop! Kelly was a great teacher who had such a bright and cheerful attitude throughout the day.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

The 1000 Islands is actually comprised of more than 1800 islands in total. The islands are actually the tops of an ancient mountain range that once stood tall in this region before the last Ice Age. When the glaciers melted and water flowed, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River were formed. Most of the mountain range was submerged, leaving some rocky, granite land masses to protrude from the surface of the water. These are the islands that exist today.

Kelly guided us past Sisters Island and Pike Island. We floated along the river, passing many custom designed cottages and buildings on our way. One cottage was designed to look as though it was partially submerged into the water – how funny! Once we were past the larger mouth of the river, we entered much calmer channels. The water was very still with small ripples forming only when our paddles pierced the surface.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

The 1000 Islands are part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It is notable for its biodiversity. This region’s Precambrian rock provides habitat for many rare and endangered species, including many reptiles and amphibians. There are also over 250 species of birds that live in this area. We saw many types of birds while we kayaked, including a variety of geese, ducks, eagles, heron, and even an osprey (a species that nearly died out from pesticide use and whose numbers are slowly increasing due to conservation efforts).

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kelly showed us the remnants of a sunken shipwreck with an interesting tale. Back in the early 1900s, the ship was purposely run aground. At a New Year’s Eve party in the 1930s, the owners celebrated on the ship and decided to sink the ship once and for all. They lit the ship on fire and fled presumably across the frozen water back to land. As we paddled by, we could easily see parts of the ship visible underwater. The water was quite clear throughout our journey.

We continued to paddle around the Admiralty Islands in awe of our beautiful surroundings.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

We kayaked to Half Moon Bay, a small cove at the southeastern portion of Bostwick Island. It is a secluded area with tall, rocky cliffs. Unlike some of the other islands, these cliffs are flat, smoothed by the rushing water during the glacial melt. This cove is a natural amphitheater, and also known as the tallest cathedral. Church services of a variety of denominations are held here on a regular basis. Since the 1800s, people have paddled their small boats into Half Moon Bay to worship together.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario
Half Moon Bay

 

Our kayaking tour continued around Bostwick Island and past Mermaid Island. Our midday destination was Beau Rivage Island where we would eat lunch together.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Lunch at Beau Rivage Island

We informed Scott that we both consumed a vegan diet ahead of time, and he was happy to accommodate our diet. The meal relied heavily on fresh, local produce and could easily be altered into a vegan dish. While Kelly prepared our meal in one of the pavilions, Justin and I explored a section of Beau Rivage on our own. It was a peaceful and quiet island with only a few visitors who traveled there by boat. Camping was permitted on Beau Rivage, though we would only be staying a short while.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario
Beau Rivage Island

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kelly called us for lunch and we were astounded at how amazing this meal looked! It was hard to believe that we transported all of the ingredients stowed away in our kayaks, and Kelly prepared everything so quickly! There were loads of fresh veggies to be placed inside rosemary wraps from a local farmer’s market. The meal used almost all locally produced ingredients from the farms of the Great Waterway region. Some vegetables, such as the lettuce, came right from Kelly’s own backyard garden! She made a zucchini hummus and a quinoa/kale salad. There were also plates of fresh fruits that were perfectly ripe. We were so delighted with this healthy and delicious lunch.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario
Our view while we ate lunch

 

McDonald Island

Scott joined us for the remainder of our kayaking trip. We made one more stop on McDonald Island to catch some glimpses of the tiny beach and the glamping accommodations there. These cabins looked as though they would be a more comfortable alternative to camping, staying indoors within the wilderness. Justin and I aren’t hugely into camping, even though we love spending time outdoors. Glamping seems like the perfect compromise for us and we’re looking forward to trying it sometime.

 

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario
Watch out for snakes! Don’t worry, they’re harmless!

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario
Our guide, Kelly

 

On the way back, we took in the scenery all around us. The 1000 Islands is a breathtaking region and we only skimmed the surface of what it has to offer. Kelly went into great detail about the flora and fauna as we encountered it. She was not only knowledgeable about kayaking and the natural surroundings, but also cared deeply for the environment. It was wonderful spending the day with her. Kayaking in the 1000 Islands was such an enriching experience, both for the physical exercise and the gorgeous nature that was all around.

We highly recommend 1000 Islands Kayaking and their tours. We had a fantastic day, filled with many memorable moments. 1000 Islands Kayaking offers full and half day tours, kayaking lessons, and even a “paddle and a pint” where you go kayaking and then out to a local pub afterwards! We’ll have to return for that someday.

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario

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Kayaking 1000 Islands

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Kayaking 1000 Islands 44.323793, -76.163205 Kayaking in the 1000 Islands1000 Islands Kayaking Co, Kate Street, Gananoque, ON, Canada (Directions)

1000 Islands Kayaking

110 Kate Street

Gananoque, Ontario

Kayaking in the 1000 Islands, Ontario Canada

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Disclaimer: We were guests of The Great Waterway tourism board and were hosted on this tour. Our opinions, as always, are entirely our own.

Have you ever visited the 1000 Islands?

 

Lauren
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Lauren is one half of "Justin Plus Lauren". She loves to travel, take photos, and write all about it! Lauren eats a plant-based diet and seeks out yummy vegan food on her travels. She loves nature, animals, outdoor adventures, coffee, and her cats, Chickpea and Peanut.

18 Responses

  1. Marissa
    | Reply

    Looks like you guys had a blast! Brandon and I miraculously survived the tandem kayak. Although it was a close call 🙂 I actually had a worse experience when I was traveling solo and had to be paired up with this random girl whose arms kept hurting… Next time I will definitely be requesting a single!
    Marissa recently posted…Weekend Travel Guide to ZagrebMy Profile

  2. Meg Jerrard
    | Reply

    Sounds like a fantastic day! I totally agree – Kayaking is the best way to access parts of a destination which no-one else ever sees, so we love jumping in a kayak whenever possible for that reason. The 1000 islands look stunning! I’ll have to add it to my list. And awesome photos – what kind of camera did you use for your photography for the day? Assuming you would need something waterproof just in case of a spill?

  3. Karen
    | Reply

    Fantastic photos. It looks like you had a great time! My husband and I have been considering trying the tandem kayak. I had expressed concern about it being a relationship killer, but he thinks it won’t be a problem. yikes! Thanks for another view on that.
    Karen recently posted…Historic Macau Part 1: Churches and TemplesMy Profile

  4. Escaping Abroad
    | Reply

    Ashamed to say it, but I’ve never been any good in kayak.. I could really use those lessons! Hadn’t heard of 1000 Islands before but they sure look inviting.. Canada always looks beautiful!

  5. Orana
    | Reply

    Looks like a great place for going kayaking in. I find kayaking so tiring! What a great little trip to the 1000 island in Ontario.

  6. Jennifer Ryder Joslin
    | Reply

    The honesty here had me laughing. Totally agree that the tandem kayak is not always the best thing for a relationship 🙂 We love kayaking too though! Such a great way to get a different perspective of a place, and always nice to enjoy a day on the water. The 1000 islands look beautiful!
    Jennifer Ryder Joslin recently posted…Why You Should Add Malvan to Your India ItineraryMy Profile

  7. Jen Seligmann
    | Reply

    Beautiful spot and I can definitely see the appeal in exploring by kayak and getting to see things from almost water level as opposed to being on a larger boat. I’ve personally never done it but would love to give it a go someday.
    Jen Seligmann recently posted…5 Quick Packing TipsMy Profile

  8. Francesca @onegrloneworld
    | Reply

    How cool you got to have the tour to yourselves! Also awesome that you could see a bit of a shipwreck! The 1000 Islands are quite beautiful ^_^
    Francesca @onegrloneworld recently posted…Rum, Mansions and Ocean Views: A Day in Ponce, Puerto RicoMy Profile

  9. antonette - we12travel
    | Reply

    Great post and pics – this place would definitely be one I’d totally enjoy kayaking at. We recently went kayaking in Sweden and did single ones, which I was really happy about since when we do one together, we always seem to flip over, for some reason 🙂 the snake would scare me though, we saw one in the water in Sweden and I nearly freaked out, just a stupid obsession of mine haha

  10. zof
    | Reply

    I’ve only went river kayaking so far….I’d love to try the 1000 islands, your photos are so pretty. Perhaps I could skip the snake, but I could even stand it, if that’s a price for the views. Beautiful nature.
    zof recently posted…Travel Flashback #28My Profile

  11. Toccara
    | Reply

    What a fun and beautiful adventure! Nice that you got a Kayaking 101 lesson, even though you’d been before. Now you’re pros! I see many more kayaking adventures in your future! Thanks for introducing me to 1000 Islands. Definitely something to put on my list… as I also love kayaking! 🙂 Hope I don’t run into any of those ‘friendly’ snakes, though. Harmless or not, they still creep me out!
    Toccara recently posted…Piran: A Coastal Town in SloveniaMy Profile

  12. Mindi
    | Reply

    Your kayaking experience in the 1000 Islands looks awesome. The only thing missing, though, was 1000 Island Dressing with your lunch since it was invented there. Overall, this seems like a great tour of a beautiful part of the world.
    Mindi recently posted…Exploring Downtown Las VegasMy Profile

  13. Claudia
    | Reply

    I love the idea of kayaking. Just the idea though, as I am quite hopeless at it. I have tried it several times – once on a lake here in Sardinia. The day after, I could barely lift my arms to put my hands on my hips!!
    Claudia recently posted…SURPRISE! How I ran into my ex on the pyramid of Coba in MexicoMy Profile

  14. Sophie
    | Reply

    Looks like a peaceful and beautiful place. I tried kayaking once and I wasn’t very good at it!

  15. Ron | Active Planet Travels
    | Reply

    I love kayaking so much. I was thinking about visiting Ontario here in the near future – this sounds like the perfect adventure to take outside. My last trip was down in Florida through Juniper Springs.

    Granted it was rainy the ENTIRE time, but it was a nice refreshing change from the Florida heat & humidity! haha 🙂

  16. kami
    | Reply

    Beautiful! I never really thought of kayaking when visiting Canada but this would be a really good idea actually! And the scenery really reminds me of Finland, so serene!
    kami recently posted…29 most beautiful towns in Central EuropeMy Profile

  17. So
    | Reply

    Hi Justin and Lauren. This just popped up in my home feed and I wanted to comment. I live and kayak along throughout the 1000 Islands and have for a number of years. I’ve also gone on kayaking expedition trips all over the world and some of the most challenging and beautiful spots can be found along those 1000 Islands. Coincidentally, I took a kayaking lesson from 1000 Islands kayaking before I started out in the sport many, many years ago and also highly recommend them. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself here and thank you for highlighting this beautiful area

  18. Danielle Dorrie
    | Reply

    What month did you do this in? Thanks for letting me know about this place. I am in Bangor, Maine, similar latitude, and its’s 30 and snowing – if it’s kayaking and tank top weather there now, I’m getting in my car and driving!!!! Adding this to my list of places to visit. I love Canada!

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