I visit one of the Toronto Islands on the last Monday and Wednesday of the trip. You access the islands from the Jack Leyton Ferry Terminal. The beaches are not on the mainland of Toronto. They are on the islands of the inner harbour.
I visited Hanlan’s Point Beach (on the ride side of the above map) both times. There were three ferry routes, and I picked that one almost at random. I found out very quickly that Centre Island was geared towards families and kids, and there’s a lot going on, including an amusement park. The line I saw for Centre Island was crazy, and I just decided against it, regardless of how much there was to do there. I can’t quite remember how I chose between Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. It may have been that the line for Hanlan’s Point was much shorter and/or that that ferry was leaving sooner. Regardless, that’s the one I chose. The ferry ride was pretty chill and relaxing, and it was about 20 minutes from dock to dock. The ferry runs about every 45 minutes (varying at some points in the day).
On the Island
So, something important to note is that Hanlan’s Point has a clothing optional section, and that’s the area I decided to go to– because why not! I was in a new country, on an individual quest, and had a chance to see something different. So, I went for it. I think it was about a one kilometer walk to the beach from the ferry dock.
So, you can’t take any pictures in this section– for understandable reasons. So I don’t have any pictures from this section. But, Lake Ontario was really pretty, and the beach was nice. So, let’s get to the real questions that are bound to be asked–
Was everyone naked? People were in varying stages of dress. Probably 1/2 of people were completely naked – more males than females. A lot of females wore bottoms but went topless. Some people remained in normal swimming gear.
Is it sexual? Bottom line is no. From what I understand and learned, clothing-optional and nude beaches provide a lot more for that. They promote body confidence, bodily autonomy, freedom, and many other values. These were just the ones I picked up on. I did find out that at least at Hanlan’s, it’s relatively normal for people to engage in sexual activity in the bushes. I was relaxing in the sun on either my first or second day there, and there was this couple next to me, and they were getting pretty handsy. Before I knew it, there were handjobs happening, two feet from me. Awk. So, I would say if you attend with a partner (or even if not), sometimes it can become a sexual experience, but for many people, it didn’t seem like that. Which leads to the next questions…
Are all the guys hard? Awk but you know you might be wondering it. To be honest, 99% of them, no.
Do you look at people, or do you look away? This is one of the hardest things to know on a clothing optional beach: where do you put your eyes! From what I learned from researching, you should treat people like they’re wearing a bathing suit. You wouldn’t avoid glancing at someone’s top or bottoms as they walk by, but you wouldn’t gawk at them after or hold your glance for too long. This is basically how it is when people are nude. People who are naked know that they’re exposed and people are going to see them in passing, but ultimately, it should be noticing and passing glances like in normal life, and nothing more. A nude beach is a place to celebrate bodies, not act shamed around them.
Do people stare at you? This is where we have to talk about the people who don’t really respect the courtesy of the beach. Sometimes people do stare for too long, sometimes you do overhear people talking about “all the titties on this beach,” and sometimes people don’t respect the no photography rule. Some people are creepers, but it’s pretty mild. There’s some staring and some people sexualizing it, but it’s really not the norm and is not at all in your face.
Did you go nude at the beach? That’s an answer that is going to stay in Toronto 😉 I really took this as an opportunity to make a choice about my bodily autonomy. I felt so empowered knowing I had the choice to stay completely clothed, completely naked, or go anywhere in between. Maybe I went butt naked and dived right into Lake Ontario, maybe I wore my skirt and a bra and worked on my tan, maybe I stayed fully clothed and just enjoyed the beach while observing a different kind of culture. Who knows? That choice was mine, and it’ll stay in Toronto.
I ended up making a few friends for the day on the second day back. I had a great time talking with them and learning more about Toronto and all of us sharing stories about where we were from.
I really enjoyed the beach on the first day because I wanted to just take a day and relax, and I found such benefit in it that I went again.
The one downfall was that I got brutally sunburned! I did put on sunscreen, but I stupidly missed large sections of my body. So, not only did I have a sunburn, but an uneven one at that!
I stayed for probably five or six hours each time. It was a great experience, and I had a lot of time for self-reflection and learning from a new experience. One of the greatest things about traveling!