Want to know where to paddleboard in Toronto?

Diana shares her top 6 picks for SUPing with a view in the city.

Wondering where to paddleboard in Toronto? Whether you’re new to stand-up paddleboarding or you’re already obsessed with SUP like I am, here are six SUP adventures in The 6ix (AKA Toronto) that will give you a different perspective of Canada’s largest city.

Before venturing out, check the weather, water levels and conditions, and go with a buddy! Always wear your SUP leash, and PFDs are a must.

1. Kew Balmy Beach (East of Toronto) 

20 minutes from Toronto | Distance from launch to the water: just steps away!

I know you’re not supposed to stare at the sun but just look at that stunning sunrise

This is where my SUP adventures started—I took my first lesson with SUPGirlz and watched countless sunrises here (the best spot to see them in Toronto, in my opinion):

  • It's a beginner-friendly paddling spot—break walls help to create pockets of partially protected areas with calmer water (perfect for SUP yoga!) Lifeguards are present during the summer and it’s also a designated blue flag beach. My #1 recommended place to take first-time SUP lessons.
  • If you have your own board, there are lots of sandy shoreline spots to launch from. I can usually find a parking spot along Hubbard Blvd. but you can save yourself the hassle of looking for street parking by taking transit or by biking here via the Martin Goodman Trail, and then renting a board from one of the many companies based out of the Beaches.
  • Stay close to shore (and where you launched from if you’re a beginner) —paddlers can get caught off-guard when the weather changes suddenly. Watch out for swimmers!
Sunsets are also stare-worthy here too - a win-win for SUP views at Kew Balmy Beach!

2. Scarborough Bluffs – Bluffer’s Park (East of Toronto) 

30 minutes from Toronto | Distance from launch to the bluffs: approximately 1 km paddle.

Get the best view of the majestic Cathedral Bluffs from the water!

  • A beautiful paddling spot on those calm, glassy-water days! 
  • A parking lot with a boat launch is available at the end of Brimley Road and Bluffers Park road (though these lots fill up in the summertime).
  • Keep a safe distance from the bluffs even while on the water—the area is unstable due to erosion and water damage.

3. Humber Bay Arch Bridge (West of Toronto) 

20 minutes from Toronto | Two launch spots and routes to choose from.

Slightly tucked away from the bustling downtown core and surrounded by several parks, the serene and meandering Humber River flows out to Lake Ontario, but not before passing under the Humber Bay Arch Bridge.

  • Easiest route to get to the bridge: launch from Sunnyside Beach (another busy spot in the summertime). Less than 500 m paddle.
  • Longer route to get to the bridge (for those with more paddling experience): launch from the parking lot just north of King’s Mill Park. Approximately 3-km paddle to the bridge (don’t forget you’ll be going upstream on the way back, 6 km in total. I strongly recommend checking water levels and conditions before taking this route. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s website also has more information about the Humber River Watershed
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife in the water, around the marshes and in the air! Toronto Adventures has a great map and wildlife guide, and also offers guided tours of the Humber River and SUP adventures in other locations.
Can you identify the bird in the photo?

Bonus paddle: Just slightly west of the bridge and towards Humber Bay Shores is this cool public art installation created by local artists, Thelia Sanders-Shelton and Julie Ryan!

Don’t wait around if you want to see this handmade sculpture that celebrates Toronto as “a city of love”—it’s made out of driftwood. On the bright side, this view can be enjoyed from land as the sculpture is accessible to non-paddling friends.

4. Marilyn Bell Park & Ontario Place (West of Toronto) 

15 minutes from Toronto | Distance from launch to Marilyn Bell Park: approximately 1.5 km paddle | Distance from launch to Ontario Place: approximately 3 km.

Instead of going west, launch and paddle east from Budapest Park (very close to Sunnyside) towards Marilyn Bell Park, where you can see Canada’s first urban wind turbine. And if you’re up for a longer paddle, Ontario Place is just around the bend!  

  • A break wall protects the area in front of Marilyn Bell Park, making it a perfect spot for practicing sprints (a 500-m straight course). There are dragonboat races that take place here in the summer, so you may want to avoid paddling here during their competition.
  • Watch out for boaters and rowers as there are several marinas and sailing clubs all along this stretch. If you belong to one or have friends that are members, you can cut down the paddle distance.
Even in the fog, our skyline stands out

5. Cherry Beach & Tommy Thompson Park (South-east of Toronto) 

15 minutes from Toronto | Distance from launch to the water: just steps away! | Distance to Tommy Thompson Park: just under 1 km.

Look at all those cormorants

Located in the Outer Harbour of Toronto, Cherry Beach is a popular paddling spot, not just for SUP-ers! With ample parking available, a waterfront dog park, a blue flag beach designation, and lifeguards during the summertime, this place can be bustling with activity (the Martin Goodman Trail also passes right by it). There’s even a music festival here in the summer! Cherry Beach is also a great spot for sunsets.

And just across the ‘street’ is Tommy Thompson Park, considered to be one of the best birdwatching places in Toronto (I believe it—there have been days where you can hear all the birds before you even get there).

  • Cherry Beach is a very beginner-friendly paddling spot—sandy shorelines to launch from (though I wear my water sandals here as it’s rockier than Kew Balmy Beach) with shallow areas in the water.
  • What I (secretly) love about this spot: there’s always a fry truck parked here in case you need a post-work snack before getting out on the water in the summer.
  • Although the Tommy Thompson peninsula offers some shelter, the wind can still make this a choppy paddling spot, so do check weather conditions.
  • Keep in mind that the Tommy Thompson peninsula was built there, so watch out for bricks, rebar, and other potentially hazardous objects around some of TTP’s shorelines.
  • Watch out for swimmers, windsurfers and boaters. There are also sailing classes and races, but don’t worry—there’s plenty of room for everyone here!

And last but most definitely not least…

6. The Toronto Islands 

Approximately 30 minutes from Toronto (a 15-minute ferry ride) | Different launch spots and routes to choose from.

I’m wrapping up this list with Toronto Islands because it’s not only my favourite urban paddling spot, but there are just so many cool things to see! From structures such as bridges and over-the-water amusement park rides to various wildlife (be on the look-out in case that peacock that escaped the Centreville Farm does it again), the Toronto Islands is an awesome place to explore via SUP or any other watercraft.

  • My favourite route: park and launch from Cherry Beach then paddle west. The Eastern Channel, as well as the Toronto Harbour, can get pretty choppy! Be mindful of all the boat traffic too—ferries, sailboats, yachts… Though I don’t mind catching a glimpse of tall ships like the Kajama and waving to the people onboard 
  • Easiest route: take the ferry over and paddle with Toronto Island SUP!
  • The waterways within the island are pretty mellow and calm. Enjoy the tranquil naturescapes that are just a stone’s throw away from the busy downtown core—a gem of a paddling spot in Toronto.
Paddling through the Toronto Islands is part of the SUP4MS route

Bonus paddle: You never know what else you’ll see in the Toronto Harbour!

See video of The Big Duck visits Toronto as part of Canada 150 celebrations.

About Diana Lee

Diana Lee lives for adventure, the great outdoors and SUP! She is a certified ISA and WPA SUP Instructor, a librarian, and a reporter for Get Out There Magazine. Find out what she’SUP to @only1phoenixx on Instagram and Twitter.

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