7 ways to explore the 1000 Islands from Kingston

By Abbey McCauley

Kingston, Ontario is where the natural wonder of the 1000 Islands is revealed. Nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, this archipelago of islands presents a world of nature to be explored.  

Cruise along the gentle waves, cast your fishing line, or paddle your way through peaceful coves. As the largest city in the 1000 Islands region, Kingston is a place where you can find comfort, rest, and fuel after an adventure discovering the area.  

Read on to learn seven ways you can experience the 1000 Islands from Kingston. 

1. Cruise the waterways

If there is one thing you do while visiting the 1000 Islands, it is a cruise. What sounds better than sipping on a beverage while gliding through the water with magnificent views all around you? Kingston has a variety of cruise options leaving from the downtown Crawford Wharf.  

Kingston 1000 Island Cruises offers daily sightseeing and dining cruise options. Their cruises feature live entertainment and commentary, sprinkling in history and folklore of the scenery. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has overnight cruises on their classic M/V Canadian Express ship, an ideal setting to explore the waters of the 1000 Islands. All their cruises either begin or conclude in Kingston.  

Kingston Waterfront Pathway

2. Cycle the shores

The views of the 1000 Islands can be seen while riding your bike along the Kingston waterfront pathway. You can also cycle the largest of the 1000 Islands, Wolfe Island. You can take the free ferry from downtown Kingston to Wolfe Island in 20 minutes. There are four great bike routes on the island, leading you through rural communities and conservation areas. Stop at Big Sandy Bay Beach on your ride for a peaceful picnic or swim.  

Bring your bike and stay at one of Kingston’s bike-friendly accommodations. You can also rent a bike from Ahoy Rentals and i-Cycle Electric Bike Company 

Neptune and Salacia diving

3. Dive underwater

The 1000 Islands’ waterways have an intriguing past to be discovered below the surface. It is believed that there are over 400 shipwrecks in the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the neighbouring St. Lawrence River. Approximately 100 shipwrecks are directly in Kingston waters, making for excellent dive sites.  

Kingston offers diving charters and services for tourist scuba divers. Neptune & Salacia Diving has boat charters seven days a week, on Canada’s first accredited PADI Open Water Dive Boat. With over 60 years of combined diving experience, Pat’s Dive Charters provides exceptional diving chartering to two wreck sites per dive.  

Ahoy Rentals

4. Journey by boat

Lake Ontario’s shoreline has many secret inlets and beaches waiting to be discovered. What better way to explore them than by boat? Paddle in a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board from Ahoy Rentals on Kingston’s waterfront. If you’re looking for something with more speed, rent a Sea-Doo from Treasure Island Marina.  

If you are visiting Kingston by waterway, you can moor your boat at Kingston’s Confederation Basin Marina or Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and stay a night at one of Kingston’s waterfront accommodations. View the City of Kingston’s website for more information on boating.  


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5. Catch a fish

Calling all anglers! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or beginner, the 1000 Islands will captivate you with its diverse fishing opportunities. This area is known for bass, northern pike, muskellunge, trout, salmon, and walleye. Kingston has a range of fishing charters; all you need is an Ontario fishing licence to enjoy fishing in the 1000 Islands.  

Blue Rock Charters, Nickel’s Fishing Charters, Limestone City Fishing Charters, and Kingston Sport Fishing all offer multi-species fishing charters leaving from the Kingston waterfront throughout the summer. Visit their websites for more information on their charters.  


6. Hoist a sail

Kingston is considered the freshwater sailing capital of the world. Its reputation comes from its exceptional wind and wave conditions throughout the summer, which led to the city being chosen to host all the sailing events of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Kingston is also the home to CORK, which hosts sailing regattas and championships every summer. Experience world-class sailing in Kingston on the 1000 Islands waterways.  

Kingston Yacht Club teaches multi-day sailing lessons throughout the summer, with programming options for all ages. Skippered sailing charters aboard a 26-foot sailing boat are offered by Ahoy Rentals. Choose from a sunset sail or a picnic sail with food by Pan Chancho Bakery. Kingston Sailing Tours also has sailing tours with half day, full day, or sunset charters. Overnight multi-day charters are available through Kingston Sailing Charters. Whichever you choose, you will enjoy your time on the water.  

Treetop Trekking 1000 Islands

7. Take a day trip

If you travel east of Kingston along the St. Lawrence River, you will discover Gananoque and more of the 1000 Islands. There are many popular excursions in the area which are accessible from Kingston.

Thousand Islands National Park

Journey to the picturesque granite islands and windswept pine trees of Thousand Islands National Park. Experience the magic of historic wilderness by kayaking or hiking, only 45 minutes from Kingston.

Treetop Trekking 1000 Islands

Climb, swing, and zip through the forest canopy at Treetop Trekking 1000 Islands. Drive 40 minutes from Kingston for an unforgettable forest excursion.

Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course

Golf on the landscape of the rugged Canadian Shield with high granite cliffs, tall white pines, and scenic elevated tee offs. This lush forest course makes for great golf, only 35 minutes away from Kingston.

Wolfe Island

Travel via ferry from downtown Kingston to the historic Wolfe Island. Once you arrive, you can journey by shuttle from the ferry dock to Marysville. Explore the downtown shops, farmers’ market, art gallery, and museum – all while taking in the view of the water. Eat farm-to-table food from Hotel Wolfe Island or indulge in pub-style food at Wolfe Island Pub & Pizzeria.

Visit Kingston’s day trip site for more information on day trips from Kingston to the 1000 Islands.


At the end of your 1000 Islands adventure, jump back into Kingston to experience our vibrant nightlife. Dine at our restaurants, cafés, and pubs, and enjoy the summer patio scene.