Land Ahoy!: A day on Toronto Islands

phot looking at animal pens at Riverdale Farm
Riverdale Farm
It’s official, we are in the last half of summer. With August being two weeks away I’m certain all of us are thinking about the arrival of the fall semester. I’m also certain that many of us are recounting what we’ve done so far in the past months so as to plan accordingly for the remaining tank top days of the summer season. For myself, the summer has been a blur of problem sets, readings, and attempts at healthy life balances. I’ve hung out with friends, had many park days and in just the past week have set out to be the very best Pokemon trainer like no one ever was. What my summer hasn’t been is a day at the beach!  Well until this past weekend when I set out to explore Toronto Islands for the first time in what can only be described as forever and a half. Toronto Islands. What a magical staycation destination for students looking for a budget and summer school friendly weekend getaway. My trip there this time was enhanced by meticulously planning my Toronto Islands trip around the Festival of India! Which was amazing.
photograph of toronto skyline from lake ontario
Toronto Skyline
Now, the initial thing that took my breath away during my trip to the islands is the amazing water view of Toronto’s skyline. It is gorgeous both in the day time and when it’s lit up at night. The view is a  familiar one to say the least, familiar due to its popularity on Instagram, however to see it in person justifies the reason why taking a photo of it has become a rite of passage for Toronto Instagrammers. Be still my beating heart, your love for Toronto can only get stronger. My Toronto Islands getaway started with Centre Island. A highly touristy area with beautifully landscaped gardens and beautifully manicured grass to lay down on. The temperature on the island was perfectly cool due to the summer breeze from the lake and the atmosphere was electric because of the Festival of India.
Photo of a line up of people waiting to receive food at the festival of india food tent
Waiting to feast
The Festival of India had much to offer. My first stop was to have lunch, which was free making it the best lunch on the island. The line-up for food was long but moved quickly, and the free feast signage helped to ease anxiety because at a feast food does not run out! My lunch consisted of some delicious curry, rice, a yogurt dish, roti, and a sweet dish that was reminiscent of honey and almonds. Of course, I couldn’t be at a Festival of India without finding some highly affordable Indian sweets, which lead me to a reasonable purchase of gulab jamun.  My stomach was satisfied. After the feast I set out to explore the different tents that were around which ranged from picture framing services to fashion booths and even a booth that offered spiritual lectures discussing extremely deep topics such as “What is the purpose of life”. There was also a booth that held a samosa eating contest, but my plan for more free food was thwarted by an age limit of not being an adult. I would’ve won too! My much larger hands, mouth, stomach and voracious appetite for samosas would have left all of my tiny would-be competitors in the dust.  But alas no, it would have been unfair they said, but in my honest opinion, it would have been the perfect time to teach those children a life lesson about fairness (j/k).
a photograph of multicoloured tents behind a tree in the main area of the festival of india
Colourful Tents
The Festival of India left much to look forward to for next year, which I definitely will be coming to. But my end goal was to be set up at Hanlan’s point to enjoy the company of friends on a clothing optional beach (just to put it out there I opted for clothing). So I hiked the long hike from Centre Island to Hanlan’s point, but not before getting a free watermelon at the watermelon booth and taking a turn through the hedge maze!
A photo of boats floating along lake ontario against the beginnings of a sunset
Lazy beach view
I could go on and tell you about the relaxing time I had on the beach, but the thing about beach days are that you take time to do nothing and just relax. You devote time to forget about all the worries, stress and anxiety that comes with being a student and instead opt to lay on the sand and think nothing more beyond snacks and naps. It’s relaxing, affordable and can be as social or not social as you want it to be. But if you really want to know, I spent a good 5 hours in and out of naps while eating snacks like a sloth. So what are your favourite affordable ways of relaxing in the summer? Let me know in the comments below!
A photograph of the Toronto skyline lit up at night from the ferry on lake ontario
Toronto at night

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