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This Ontario Island Has Sandy Beach Shores & Historic Ruins That Transport You To Ireland

It's like stepping into a time machine.

Ottawa Staff Writer
Couple walking through dry stone walls on Amherst Island. Right: Sandy island beach in Ontario.

Couple walking through dry stone walls on Amherst Island. Right: Sandy island beach in Ontario.

Ontario boasts a bunch of beautiful islands, but this one will transport you back in time to 1800s Ireland. You can explore vast farmland and marshy conservation areas that lead you to historic ruins and clear water beaches.

Amherst Island is located on Lake Ontario, a short (about 20 minutes) ferry ride from the town of Bath. It is full of history and was home to many Irish immigrants who left their mark with traditional stone walls.

The island boasts the largest known collection of Irish dry stone walls in Canada. When the Irish immigrants settled here they brought their traditions and way of life with them, surrounding their properties with stacked pieces of stone.

The wall ruins are found across the island and you can visit a collection called Feidin Walls in Stella, the island's main town. The ruins include a Celtic Cross stone structure where (twice a year on March 14 and Septmeber 27) you can see a unique alignment with the sun.

You can also keep your eyes peeled for the carved Claddagh stone. There is a self-guided tour booklet of the stone walls that you can pick up at the Neilson Store Museum.

A number of beaches and waterfront parks can also be found on the island, including the sandy shore in Sand Beach Wetlands Conservation Area. It is a 54-acre plot of important wetlands and dune habitats with hiking trails and beach access.

There are two pathways to the beach shore, from the parking lot and across from the viewing platform. The island has other beaches you can visit such as Back Beach Park and Lanes End Park, which are more rocky than sandy but are still lovely spots to relax and take a dip into the blue lake waters.

The island is not just a tourist destination and you'll find a number of quaint shops, art studios and other businesses (check out Topsy Farms) since people live there year-round. This means that the Millhaven Ferry travels to the island throughout the year.

Amherst Island

Price: Free for pedestrians, $10 ferry fee per vehicle

Address: Amherst Island, Loyalist, ON

Why You Need To Go: You can step back in time with a road trip to this beautiful island full of blue water beach views and historic stone walls.

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Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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