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The New York side of the St. Lawrence River - seen on a 1000 Islands Helicopter tour

1000 Islands Helicopter Tours for a Bird’s Eye View

I admit to loving anything with the word heli in it. For some bizarre reason, this year the universe has decided it’s to be the year of the helicopter for me. Back in May I tried heli-yoga – and I can tell you its much more fun doing it in the mountains than in any gym. It’s definitely a treat to be whisked to a mountain ridge in mere minutes when you go heli-hiking in the Bugaboos. And 1000 Islands helicopter tours are way more exciting than anything you’ll do in a motor boat.

 Fly past fancy cottages called Millionaires Row on the New York State side
Fly past fancy “cottages” called Millionaires Row on the New York State side

1000 Islands helicopter tours provide a bird’s eye view

But excitement is not the only reason to do the 1000 Islands helicopter tour. It’s the best way to get an overview of the area – especially when you’re going out on a three day kayaking tripYou get a mental picture of where you’re going. And if you’re short on time, you can’t beat a helicopter tour.

When you’re in a boat – be it a kayak, a sailboat or a small cruise boat you’d don’t get the full sense of the beauty, size and sheer number of islands in the 1000 Islands. But in a helicopter, cruising at 180 km/hour you are good and truly wowed by it all.

What are the 1000 Islands?

The 1000 Islands, are actually a group of 1,864 islands in the St. Lawrence River located between Brockville and Kingston on the Ontario side and running across the river to include a similar distance on the New York State side.

In Canada, Gananoque is the major base for accessing the islands. If you want to see Boldt Castle (built “as a display of love for the wife of George Boldt,” the owner of New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.)

On a boat tour you need to allow five hours – two hours are for the tour of the castle and you must have a valid passport to visit.

On a 1000 Islands helicopter tour you’ll get the lay of the land and a good aerial view of the castle within eight minutes of flying on a 20 minute tour. For some people that’s enough.

John and I are ready to go on a helicopter tour in a very quiet helicopter with a piston engine
John and I are ready to go on a helicopter tour in a very quiet helicopter with a piston engine
A bird's eye view within seconds so you get the lay of the land from the air
A bird’s eye view within seconds so you get the lay of the land from the air
Why You'll Want to do a 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour
Parts of the St. Lawrence River almost look tropical; clear water thanks to a zebra mussel invasion
A 1000 Islands helicopter tour takes you over McDonald Island
McDonald Island is the large island in the foreground that we visited for a night on our 3 day kayaking trip
The New York side of the St. Lawrence River - seen on a 1000 Islands Helicopter tour
The New York side of the St. Lawrence River
A 1000 Islands helicopter tour offers great views of Boldt Castle
Boldt Castle from the air
Gordon Island - one of our overnight kayaking destinations from the air
Gordon Island – one of our overnight kayaking destinations from the air

Pick the length of your 1000 Islands helicopter tour 

Although you can reserve a helicopter flight, it’s also possible to drive up to the heli-pad and wait for the next flight. You can book a 10, 20, 30 or 60 minute tour. Jordan, our pilot told me the 20 minute tour was the most popular one.

It was the one we did and the right amount of time to get a good overview. The helipad is located just off Highway 401, at the Highway 32 exit, just minutes from downtown Gananoque.

Our helicopter pilot - Jordan Mol
Our helicopter pilot – Jordan Mol

Thank you to Jordan for answering all our questions and to 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours for the complimentary flight.

For more information on booking a flight visit their website.

Further reading on things to do in southern Ontario

Pin the photo below to save to Pinterest.

A bird's eye view on 1000 Islands helicopter tours

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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