You get to the Toronto Islands via a double-deck ferry boat that departs from the Toronto Ferry Docks located at the foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay, just West of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. The walkway to the entrance is marked with banners.
The adult fare is $6.50 (accurate as of Aug-2009) and includes return trip. Generally, during the summer the ferry runs every 1/2 hour. Check the ferry schedule to see the exact departure times from both ends of the ferry service.
Ferry Schedules: Spring (from April), Summer (from June), Fall (from Sept.), Winter (from Oct.). Note: There is no ferry service to Centre Island during the winter.
Note that there are three ferry destinations (Ward's Island, Centre Island, and Hanlan's Point). After you pay your fare and pass through the entrance, be sure to wait at the "Centre Island" gate and get on the ferry labelled "Centre Island".
When you board the ferry, there are stairs directly in front of you that lead to the upper open deck; you can sit up there or stroll the deck and take photos of the Toronto skyline from the ferry. Or if the weather is a bit chilly, you can go to the main deck which is enclosed.
The ferry capacity is 1000 people and is generally not packed on the way to the island. However, on your return trip you will find that the ferry is generally packed. So on the return trip try to get in line early so that you can go to the upper open deck; the lower deck may feel a bit claustrophobic with so many people.
Bicycles are allowed on the main deck of the ferry (for safety there is a limit on the total number of bicycles). If you have small children or picnic/BBQ equipment, you may want to remain on the main deck.
There are two small Men/Women washrooms located in the central core on the main deck. Note: Before leaving the Island for your return trip to the mainland, you should use the washrooms located behind the covered snack bar adjacent to the ferry dock. It is about a half-hour wait for the ferry, so visit the washrooms before getting in line as the queue will be very crowded and difficult to exit and return.
Video: Toronto Island Ferry (1:22)
Once you arrive at the Island, there is plenty for you to see and do. Before your trip, you should print out the Map of Toronto Island Park. This map is available as a brochure at the information booths on the mainland and on the Island. There is a also a very large map posted up on the island and is directly in front of you after you exit the ferry dock.
For small children, the favorite place to visit will be the Centreville Amusement Park. Small wagons are available for rental on the Island; as you exit the dock, turn left and you'll see the wagon rental booth. There is also Far Enough Farm, an animal farm that has two retired horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, peacocks, rabbits, emus, and pheasants.
For older children and adults, there is a Bicycle Rental where you can rent a bicycle, tandem bicycle, or two-person or four-person quadricycle. You may want to bring your own bicycle helmet with you as none are available there. Note that the Bicycle Rental is located on Toronto Island (beside the outlook pier) and may be too far for seniors to walk.
Washrooms are located throughout the park but are not well marked by signposts and some are far between. Print the Map of Toronto Island Park yourself or get a copy of the map from the information booth. The covered snack bar adjacent to the ferry dock has washrooms behind the building.
Video: Centre Island / Centreville Amusement Park (1:09)