SUP Explorer – The Best Places to Stand Up Paddle Board
What is my top recommendation for standup paddleboarders in Toronto? For sure it’s Cherry Beach Park! Located on the north shore of Toronto’s Outer Harbour, Cherry Beach (originally called Clarke Beach Park) is known for a nice stretch of beach, a classic lifeguard station, decent washroom facilities, an off-leash dog park, and Mr. J’s chip truck for those pre- and post-paddle munchies. It’s easily accessible by bike, bus, or car, and has something for paddlers of all levels. Beginners can stay close to shore, under the watchful eye of the lifeguards in the summer, and more experience paddlers can venture further as it’s a great launch spot for those wanting to explore Tommy Thompson Park (aka the Leslie Street Spit/Leslie Spit) and the Toronto Islands.
Cherry Beach is popular with many water sport communities, namely open-water swimmers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, kayakers, and, of course, SUPers! On my latest outing, I waved hello to a couple of kitesurfers on my way to the Leslie Spit. The winds were strong and blowing from the southwest that day. I was prepared as I enjoy challenging, choppy conditions, but this is something to be aware of if you do decide to paddle here. Cherry is relatively protected from most winds, but can get wavy on a strong, sustained west or southwest wind.
From Cherry, I was able to cross over to Tommy Thompson and observe a stretch of land that is a migratory stop and breeding spot for many birds, especially cormorants. A few winters ago, I had the good fortune of seeing a pair of snowy owls. Ducks and swans were out on this sunny day, along with a lone coyote, probably hunting for its next meal.
The trip back to Cherry rewarded me with a great view of the city skyline, peaceful and gorgeous from the water. Heading due east brought me near the Toronto Windsurfing Club (TWC) and the various other boating and sailing clubs which are much more active in the warmer months. Around the corner from the TWC is a smaller bay, which is a quiet area to practice SUP skills, as long as you are mindful of any boat traffic.