The word “Beausoleil” translates into “Beautiful Sun” and that’s exactly what this southeastern Georgian Bay Island offers boaters throughout the summer months.
Beausoleil Island is 8 km long and the largest island within the Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Being situated on the edge of the Canadian Shield, the island’s unique topography combines beautiful bare rock and windswept pines on its northern shores with hardwood forests and wetlands on its southern shores.
A walk along any of the well maintained hiking trails or shores will showcase this diverse island and the variety of different species that reside here.
Within close proximity to most southern marinas on the Bay, Beausoleil is a very popular choice for local boaters. The island has many protected anchorages surrounding it, some of which also have day and overnight docks for a fee. On-shore facilities include washrooms, garbage drop off, picnic sites, covered gazebos for dining, and fire pits. And if your boat can’t hold all your guests, bring your camping gear as the island offers plenty of sites. Need to feed those guests? No problem! There are local restaurants in nearby Honey Harbour that you can dinghy to for dine-in or take-out, and also some stores to re-provision groceries and liquor. And if you tire of the guests, there is even a ferry shuttle that runs between Honey Harbour and the island called the “Day Tripper”, just check in advance for times and reservations.
This island holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. When I was a child boating on the Bay with my parents, this was my all time favorite place to visit. I loved the sandy beaches and warm water, exploring the trails, meeting other boating kids, and back in those days the park staff would run a movie on the beach for all the kids to watch on Saturday nights.
And during the pandemic lockdown this spring, Beausoleil was my escape! At that time recreational boating was not allowed but fishing was, so outfitted with fishing license, rod and tackle, my partner and I would launch our dingy from the local town dock and travel on sunny days in May to Beausoleil Island.
On a “normal” May weekend, this particular dock would be lined with boats plus many others anchored in the water beyond. Being here like this was both a weird and wonderful time…eerie that on a sunny hot day in May, the docks were deserted but wonderful that we had the whole island to ourselves to explore and enjoy. Well almost to ourselves….LOL….a friendly visit from the park rangers can always be counted on at Beausoleil! Along with a bear or two 😱
Beausoleil is also home to two YMCA camps, one of which my grandmother attended 100 years ago (!!) as a child in the 1920’s. Up until her demise in 2005 at the age of 90, she could still sing the camp song to me! And the camp remains operational, just closed until the pandemic subsides.
The history of the island is amazing and actually dates back thousands of years. Due to the amount of artifacts, hunting and other ancient tools located from digs, archaeologists believe this island was used as a summer camp by hunting and gathering cultures thousands of years ago. As you hike the trails some of this fascinating history is on display along with historical depictions. Below is one from a northern situated anchorage – Frying Pan Bay (excuse the pine needles in the pic!)
In 2011 the island was designated a National Historic site in Canada.
Beausoleil is one of my favorite islands on the Bay and every time I visit, I see new beauty in her. And no matter what direction the wind is blowing, boaters can always find a safe harbor on Beausoleil Island to set their hook.