No Boat? No Problem!

Whether your boat is in the shop or you don't yet have your own, have no fear! Get out on the water in Ontario this year with these four summer solutions.

several boats along a misty dock at sunrise

The boating season in Ontario is short, and the fair weather season is even shorter. Making the most of that tiny window of summer usually requires a way to get out on the water. There are several non-motorized ways to get yourself out there—Ontario is known for its world-class paddling—but if you’re looking for a way to get from point A to B in a relatively fast fashion, you likely don’t want to be in a kayak or canoe. Paddling also isn’t optimal for many families or larger groups.

If you’re already a boat owner, it can be hard to accept when you no longer have access to the water as usual. For instance, the reason I’m writing this piece is because my boat is being repaired as we speak. Not willing to wait, I decided it was time for me to get creative in order to get back out there, faster than I could get my boat back. I needed to find other options. 

While there are several reasons you may find yourself without a boat this summer, such as expenses, your boat is in the shop, or if you’re not quite ready for boat ownership, here are some creative ways to get out on the water this season.

1. Houseboating In Ontario

A houseboat with six people standing on deck and several colourful PWCs floating next to it on the blue lake. A Canada flag flies from the roof.
Why leave the water at all? // Lac Seul Floating Lodges

Perhaps a more unique way to (literally) be out on the water as much as possible is to look into houseboating. Houseboating opportunities can be found all over Ontario, and they really are just like a second home — just on the water. Many houseboats offer small fishing boats, and some even have upgrades available so you can get as serious or as relaxed as you want with your tow-behind boat.

A major plus to houseboats is getting yourself and the whole family (or a group of friends) out on the water for an extended period of time. Whether a weekend or a week, you’re sure to make the most of your time on the water. Some options to choose from:

2. Boat Rentals and Getaway Adventures In Ontario

an aerial view of Tomahawk Resort; a forested island with rock shores surrounded by dark green lake water
Plenty of lodges offer boat rentals, making them a perfect option. // Tomahawk Resort

Perhaps the most obvious way to get out on the water is simply by renting a boat. Most companies go by daily, weekend or weekly rentals making this the most accessible and straightforward method. It really depends on what you want out of your boating experience, as a large part of these companies specialize in fishing boats with a handful offering boats with other recreational uses.

Some of the outfitters below also have American Plan accommodations available, which is where you pay for the use of the boat, lodging, food and possibly even a guide if you wish! But don’t worry, you don’t need to be an American to purchase an American Plan (see also: housekeeping plans).

  • Tomahawk Resort in Sioux Narrows — rent a boat, or stay there with a camper/trailer as well while you enjoy your time on the water hassle-free, all on Lake of the Woods!   

  • Diverse Boat Rentals in Tiny — this establishment rents everything from jet skis to bowriders on Georgian Bay.

  • Dog Lake Resort in Thunder Bay — an excellent example of a wilderness resort nestled amongst sandy beaches and rocky shores, this is an American Plan or Housekeeping Plan resort.  

  • Sail La Vie Boat Rental and School in Innisfil — great rental options, and they also offer cruises and courses.

3. Guided Boating Trips In Ontario

a silver motorboat beached in glassy green lake water at a pebble shorline, under a bright blue sky. Green conifer trees are in the background.
Hire a guide to show you the best insider boating spots. // Photo credit Neil Leduc, Affinity Angling

A guide won’t just take you fishing. You can hire a guide to take you sightseeing, enjoy the sunrise and sunset views, scout out some pictographs found all over the north, learn about the lake's history, and photograph the beauty of the Canadian Shield. You can also stretch your wings and go bird watching from a boat — ask the guides to help you spot species like bald eagles, terns, osprey, pelicans, sandpipers, lots of waterfowl and so many more.

Just need a few days on the water to scratch that itch? Hiring a guide will get you on the water, and onto some of the best fishing spots if you so desire! Don’t forget about the added bonus of shore lunch. Here are some great guides to try:

two people fishing, standing in a boat on a cloudy day. There is a fish on one person's line and the other person is catching it in a net.

4. Sightseeing Tours By Boat In Ontario

As an added bonus, you could consider this alternative to getting out on the water.

Similar to a guide, but different — sightseeing tours often host larger groups and are short and sweet options. You won’t believe some of the sights that can be seen in Ontario: some are otherworldly, and some feel coastal.

These delightful half-day water experiences are ideal for everyone!

a group of people in red sailing suits on a sightseeing boat on a sunny day. Tree covered cliffs are in the background.
Sail Superior can take you on a tour of some incredible Ontario sights.

Happy boating!

About Alyssa Lloyd

Alyssa Lloyd is a photojournalist based out of Kenora working with Ontario's Sunset Country. The outdoors has been the center of her work and personal life for as long as she can remember. As an angler, Alyssa spends most of her time time chasing multiple species on both conventional and fly gear. 

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