Situated inside the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the 1,000 Islands Archipelago (also Thousand Islands) gets its name from over 1,000 islands that dot the waters. The name is a bit misleading, however, as the total number is nearly double–1,864 to be exact. Perhaps most impressive is that the islands are compacted within 50 miles of seaway stretching eastward from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. As outlined below, that’s a lot of recreation in a tight amount of space.
The water of the Saint Lawrence Seaway is equally divided between the United States and Canada along an imaginary line. The islands, on the other hand, tend to favor the Canucks. Over two-thirds of the archipelago rest inside Canadian waters. But don’t let international boundary lines keep you from experiencing the whole of the Thousand Islands (although forgetting your passport may do that for you; two words: fanny packs).
Zigging and zagging between the islands will uncover a wealth of small-scale adventure, including but not limited to dining at any one of the many island restaurants. Swimming on the island beaches is another preferred pastime (which may have something to do with the abundance of water in the area). The Thousand Islands is a great example of international harmony as you’ll often see both U.S. and Canadian flags flown at the various eateries, shops, and museums of the region.
Speaking of museums, the history buff will not leave the archipelago unquenched. Into military history? Plenty of sites for you to visit, such as Forts Henry and Wellington. Prefer the homes of famous Thousand Islands residents? Look no further than Boldt Castle on Heart Island. Are trusty, old-fashioned museums more your style? The aptly-named Thousand Islands Museum in Clayton, New York, is one of many. Seriously, Thousand Islands has it all. Historical sites in addition to museums on both Canadian and U.S. sides will help you feel like you’re walking into the past (but not really, because time travel isn’t possible).
While there is more to do than you’ll be able to squeeze into a single trip, enthusiasts who yearn for local flare should be advised that much of what constitutes recreation isn’t necessarily unique to the archipelago. Regardless, they can still be a great way to experience the region. Activities such as hot air ballooning, for instance, are extremely popular on the State-side of the seaway. The sheer bounty of breathtaking views afforded by ballooning nevertheless make it a requirement for any traveller who wants to see the Thousand Island area with the best possible view. Just don’t forget your camera.
In the same vein, golfing is a great means for seeing more of the pristine Thousand Islands outdoors that will surround you. Hiking, camping, and generally exploring the respective mainlands remain consistently popular with tourists, as well. When it comes to the water, however, the nature lover and adventurist have the biggest opportunity to indulge themselves.
If you’re into that sort of thing, shipwreck diving is a unique way to explore the past of the area while testing international waters. If you prefer to hunt minus the “looking for crashed boats” part, then you’re in luck. Chartered hunting trips can help any licensed hunter scout for duck, geese, and other waterfowl. Anyone hoping the fish are biting will be well-served, too, as several charters are readily available to take enterprising anglers out on the seaway.
Naturalists who love to capture their surroundings for posterity will want to make at least two stops on their Thousand Islands getaway: the Thousand Islands Bridge and the 1,000 Island Skydeck. The Thousand Islands Bridge is an international causeway connecting the divide between the neighboring countries, but it is also a magnet for anyone looking to get a great view.
Even better than the bridge is the 1,000 Island Skydeck on Hill Island. Hill Island is famous as the “international” portion of the Thousand Island Bridge, the first parcel of land north of the imaginary dividing line. What better way to celebrate your entry into Canada than with a panoramic shot of the islands? But remember to bring your passport. Hill Island border agents will insist on seeing one (Two words: fanny packs).