Contributor Review – Rachel Flint
Local Expert. Visited 2023
Gentle waves, hot sun, sand dunes, upbeat music. This laid-back atmosphere seems like something you’d find on a tropical vacation, but it’s within Canada’s largest urban centre. Although a little quiet during non-peak times, the vibe at Hanlan’s Point Beach draws in a diverse crowd where anyone can fit in and enjoy not having to wear clothing. This is one of the busiest nude beaches in Canada.
The clothing-optional portion of the beach is a 1 km stretch of freedom within the city. The rest of the beach is clothing mandatory. Hanlan’s Point is one of three interconnected Toronto islands in Lake Ontario. Aside from the ability to be nude, be sure to take advantage of the many activities that Hanlan’s Point has (clothing required): baseball/ volleyball/ tennis courts, firepits, a bike trail, birdwatching, and a lighthouse. The beach’s best secret? With its west-facing view, it is one of the best places in Toronto to view the sunset.
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If you like a crowded, upbeat atmosphere, the best time to visit Hanlan’s Beach is during long weekends in the summer (like Canada Day on July 1 and Labour Day on September long weekend) when the beach is filled with adults of all ages. Loud music, dancing, beach volleyball, frisbee, and hundreds of people sporting various levels of clothing. During non-peak times, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and people tend to sunbathe on their beach towels and walk along the sand. Whenever you visit, be sure to bring an umbrella to block the hot summer sun or sit at the back of the beach along the tree line. Local Torontonians can come off as shy or reserved, but if you initiate a conversation on the beach, chances are they will be friendly and invite you to join in their games or relaxation!
Three Toronto Islands are connected and are all worth a visit. Before heading to Hanlan’s point, take the ferry over to Ward Island to rent a kayak and swim in the calm water. Then walk over to Centre Island to ride a tandem bike and stop by Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co for their pulled beef brisket. Once you’ve filled up on food, head over to Hanlan’s Beach, take off your clothes, enjoy the afternoon and stay for the beautiful sunset.
The water near the shore tends to be shallow and safe for swimming, but always consider the temperature of the water, the speed of the current, and your own swimming ability. Lifeguards are present to ensure the safety of everyone.
Outside of the clothing optional area, nudity is not accepted on the rest of the beach or the other islands. Make sure to bring along shoes or flip flops for navigating the pathway between the ferry dock and the beach. The last ferry runs at 11pm.
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Most people get there by ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, located along Toronto's harbourfront. During the summer, ferries run every 30 minutes and tickets can be bought in-person before boarding or online for $8.70 for the round trip. Note, the last ferry leaves Hanlan’s Point at 11pm.
Parking near the ferry terminal is very expensive and can be difficult to find, so taking public transit to the ferry terminal is strongly advised (go to Union Station and walk 10 minutes). A more expensive alternative to taking the ferry is a water taxi. There are several water taxi services along the harbourfront (but not at the ferry terminal). Depending on the vendor, they cost around $12 for a one-way ticket.