By Katrina Armstrong
Some of us live in downtown Toronto and work hard. We work in industries where we don’t really have a chance to get away during the summer For example, at my company summer is the busiest time of year and no one is allowed to take vacation time between May and September. As a result, we feel trapped and stuck in a busy urban center. Well, not anymore. Just a seven-minute ferry ride away from downtown is the Toronto Island. Best known for Centreville, a children’s amusement park; Ward’s Island, a contentious area where people live; and the ever (un)popular Toronto Island Airport, Toronto Island harbors something spectacular, relaxing, and even a little sexy: Hanlan’s Point Clothing Optional Beach.
For the low, low price of $6.50 (round trip!) one can hop on the Hanlan’s Point Ferry to roller blade, bike, and go boating along the central/eastern part of the island. Nestled in a cozy section approximately one kilometer from the dock you start to hear a buzz just west of the path’s location. You then follow the signs pointing to the “Clothing Optional Beach.” Obviously, for the novice nudie, this can be a bit scary.
I know the first time we went last summer, we were expecting lots of “weird, creepy old people and swingers looking to get laid.” To this I say, relax. No one is there to cruise you, unless you are a gay man, in which case, it’s not so much cruising as parading your goods for all to see. And as a straight girl, the eye candy is spectacular. Moreso than in previous years, when the beach was much more about seediness and sex than it is now.
Upon your procurement of a prime spot on the sandy beach, you set up shop. People have been known to disguise cocktails and as per any good Canadian beach locale, there are always a few special scents hitting your nostrils. Just outside of the second major entrance point is a cantina that serves alcohol and provides washrooms so you aren’t isolated when nature calls.
Here’s where it gets much less tricky than you would imagine. You do NOT have to be naked to be on the nude beach, nor should you feel any sense of awkwardness there. Oddly enough, the nudity isn’t even on the radar. And loud, over-the-top children with parents too tired to care? Not present. Is this heaven? I think it is.
Obviously, if you are shy, immature, or unable to handle nudity, this is not the place for you. Sometimes, there are even (GASP!) transsexuals on the beach—so if you’re not down with seeing someone shaking all of what God and his surgeon gave him (or her), this is not the place for you. If you are laid back, relaxed, and looking for a quick afternoon out of the city with beautiful views, almost like a near-cottage-experience, this is the place for you. (And remember, it’s almost entirely Kid-Free!)
You can rent kayaks, beach chairs, and umbrellas and have a lovely picnic on the beach. And with the ferry leaving every 30 minutes to and from the island, you can pretty much get there and back whenever you want!
For those of us without the luxury of cottages (or friends with cottages), time and money, Hanlan’s Point is a great option for Summer in the City. And for those of you who don’t mind a little full frontal, it’s a great place to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.