This beautiful stretch of Ontario is entirely linked by water – from Cornwall on the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario’s Kingston and on to Belleville on the Bay of Quinte. There’s also the Rideau Canal and thousands of other lakes and rivers dotted throughout. With all this water, we’ve mastered how to have a whole lotta fun on it and in it.
South Eastern Ontario, known for clear blue lakes is set among vacation amenities and destinations; making it one of the best places for boating. Rent a boat and travel at your own pace. See history-filled shorelines from a different perspective as you sail past. Houseboat rentals are all about relaxing on a broad deck in the sun and jumping into clear, freshwater to cool off.
Take a trip through history and cruise the 1000 Islands or Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site the Rideau Canal National Historic Site. If speed is your thing, pick up the pace and take in the 1000 Islands Poker Run. The gusts off Lake Ontario make Sandbanks Provincial Park an ideal spot to trim the jib for some of the best recreational sailboating in Ontario.
No trip to South Eastern Ontario is complete without seeing the 1000 Islands on the water. The 1000 Islands – tiny tree-covered islets and mansion covered islands – are a place like no other. Set like jewels between Kingston and Brockville, Ontario on the St. Lawrence River, they invite boaters to come and discover hidden coves and beaches where buccaneers once sailed. A must-see is the opulent Boldt Castle on Heart Island, worth circling past before docking to take in all the architectural features, including a stone arch and gazebo. Don’t forget your passport if visiting the castle. It is on American soil.
If you’re unsure of your sea legs, Ontario boat rentals can be as simple as a ride ‘round the lake in a canoe or paddleboat.
You can enjoy the water here even if you aren’t on it or in it! Take a stroll or cycle on one of our paved waterfront paths or take a leisurely scenic drive and enjoy the views. Find a dock, throw in your line and see if the fish are biting. Stop for lunch at a patio overlooking the water and bask in the cool breeze coming off the lake. After lunch you can get ice cream and sit waterside, watching as boats cruise by. Then during the evening head to one of South Eastern Ontario’s theatres such as the Thousand Islands Playhouse; Canada’s only dockside theatre, and enjoy a performance. There’s so much to explore waterside.
This regions endless waterways makes the sport of fishing extremely popular. Try to hook a walleye, muskellunge, perch, salmon, trout or bass. Take on a pike as they put up a great fight on the end of your line, even try to catch the elusive Musky.
South Eastern Ontario is a four-season fishing destination; some of the best ice fishing in Ontario happens here. Winter angling hot spots not to be missed are The Bay of Quinte (Canada’s walleye capital), where according to local anglers, reeling in a 10 to 12 lbs walleye is just part of a day’s catch. The Cornwall and SDG Counties area is one of the region’s best-kept secrets, with lots of spots to drop a line and catch a big one.
Frontenac County and Lennox and Addington have over five-thousand lakes and rivers. You could fish in a different lake every day for 12 years and still not have dropped your line in every lake in this region. Whether onshore or by boat, fishing in this area will create unforgettable memories and even perhaps lead to a few great fish stories.
Our abundance of lakes and rivers make this area a paddler’s paradise. No matter where you paddle, civilization is always near. Take a break and explore the colourful shops, restaurants, and historic sites.
Kayak or canoe along the clear blue waters of the Rideau Canal. Its calm waters and natural sights make this an ideal route for all ages and skill levels. Travelling the whole length will take you a few days and carries you through lakes, open rivers, marshes, and narrow channels. Rideau Tours offers boat tours and bike, kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals; “Signature experiences” that guests can purchase to enhance their visit to the Rideau region. All of these exciting experiences showcase the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the best times to go kayaking on the Rideau is in May/June and September/October. During these months, there are fewer power boaters on the water, cooler temperatures and a wider selection of B&Bs and country hotels with availability. Alternatively, if you feel like getting back to nature, each lockstation along the canal offers overnight camping with a purchase of overnight mooring.
Celebrate the warmer seasons with one of the many cruise options available. Whether you want to explore the region peacefully or with the wind whipping your hair back; a variety of cruise operators have the right ride for you. The 1000 Islands & the Rideau Canal are two of South Eastern Ontario’s most popular places to set sail.
Operators in Kingston, Brockville, Rockport, Gananoque, and Merrickville offer a variety of experiences for you to choose. Types of cruises span from sightseeing and entertaining to historic interpretation and stories of days gone by. Looking to explore historic islands on foot? We have island hopping cruises that will allow you to do that too. Don’t forget, more robust cruises even offer lunch and dinner options that are perfect for a romantic dinner or to add in a bit of musical entertainment and dancing.
Scuba in South Eastern Ontario has been said to be ‘the world’s best, fresh water scuba diving’. The hub of all things diving stems from the Brockville and the 1000 Islands region; nicknamed the Caribbean of the North because the waters are fresh and clear. This area offers, out of the ordinary opportunities to explore dozens of historic and archaeologically rich underwater sites, many of them century-old shipwrecks. The wrecks are scattered along the St. Lawrence river bottom; which divers can ideally see in the 68-72 degree thermocline-free waters.