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Start to decompress with this Rice Lake view while you wait for the water taxi

Island Spirits Vacation on Rice Lake

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If you’re looking for an off the grid spring or summer vacation within easy driving distance of Toronto check out Island Spirits on Grasshopper Island in the middle of Rice Lake.

Owned and run by the energetic and enthusiastic Trudy Jo (TJ) Chernuck, Island Spirits is home to several off-grid eco-cabins and a number of campsites scattered around the island. Think rustic with a lake view, along with all sorts of unexpected cool things to do.

The retreat, on Grasshopper Island, Rice Lake, Ontario
The retreat on Grasshopper Island (Photo credit: Trudy Jo)
Start to decompress with this Rice Lake view while you wait for the water taxi
Start to decompress with this Rice Lake view while you wait for the water taxi

Island Spirits appeals to a broad range of the population – from grandparents with their grandchildren to couples to bachelor and bachelorette weekend parties.

As TJ says to me “in 11 years I have never had a complaint.” In fact she says “she is one of the few places that actually welcomes the bachelor-bachelorette parties and everyone on the island gets along.”

How do you combine the party scene with families and have a successful vacation at Island Spirits?

Grasshopper Island is a private 25-acre island. There’s plenty of space so cabins and campsites aren’t on top of each other.

In fact they’re spread around the island so everyone has privacy. John and I stayed in one of the eco-cabins at the far end of the island that slept six.

We had no one near us. In fact just metres from our front door we had a lovely sandy area with chairs to enjoy a sunset or a swim. Our cabin had a private solar shower and close by was an outhouse.

Our cabin on Grasshopper Island
Our cabin on Grasshopper Island

What is there to do on the island?

You’ll be surprised at the number of things to do on the island, assuming you want to do more than curl up with a good book on the dock.

The biggest draw for kids – and a lot of the adults are the farm animals. Last year there were a couple of alpacas, pigs, goats, bunnies and lots of hens so you could get fresh laid eggs.

The alpacas will keep everyone amused
The alpacas will keep everyone amused
 Don't forget the carrots
Don’t forget the carrots
There are assorted animals on the island including goats, rabbits, and egg laying hens
There are assorted animals on the island including goats, rabbits, and egg laying hens

A trail around the island allows opportunities to stretch your legs and find a private dock – some of which are accessed via a rope down a steep bank.

Panorama shot of the island
Panorama shot thanks to Cori Arthur
There's a trail that takes you around the entire island
There’s a trail that takes you around the entire island
Your own private dock when you get to the end of the rope
You’ll have your own private dock when you get to the end of the rope

Some other cool things to do at Island Spirits

Whip up a pizza and cook it in a 100 year old fireplace that’s been converted to a pizza oven. All other cooking is done on a BBQ, over a fire or on a camp stove.

There's a pizza oven for those so inclined
There’s a pizza oven for those so inclined

Go swimming, fishing or kayaking with boats provided. Eat ice cream on Saturday. Get your photo taken in old bath tubs. Read the signs scattered around the island that attest to TJ’s sense of humour.

I particularly love these words. Seize the moment. Remember the women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.

Mix and match chairs on all the docks
Mix and match chairs on all the docks
Ice cream is very popular on the weekends
Ice cream is very popular on the weekends
There is a variety of self-propelled watercraft available
There is a variety of self-propelled watercraft available

It’s all about the fun at Island Spirits

The bottom line is TJ wants you to come and have a good time. As she says “Experience pure FUN; anything goes.” Leave the stress of the big city behind. Unplug (though there is WiFi sometimes). Enjoy the sunset and your friends and family.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake
Enjoy a Rice Lake sunset
Our cabin was at the quiet end of the island with this set up in front of it

How do you get to Grasshopper Island?

One return ferry ride is included with your reservation if you stay on the island. You launch from Cedar Bay Resort on the mainland, about a 90 minute drive from Toronto. 

When you reserve you are asked to text or call TJ once you turn off Highway 401 as you’re only 30 minutes away at that point. The ferry is passenger only and there are wheelbarrows to help move your gear.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake
The ferry to the island

When does Grasshopper Island and Island Spirits open for the season?

Opening time is the last weekend of April and the island stays open until the end of the third week of September. You can make reservations here. 

A full list of what to bring with you is available on the website. TJ tells me she has a new type of farm animal coming this year but it’s a surprise. You’ll have to visit to find out.

For more information visit the their website.

Further reading on things to do in Ontario in summer

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A getaway to Island Spirits on Rice Lake in the Kawarthas

Thank you to Northumberland Tourism for hosting my visit. It was great fun and a real getaway. Thank you also to TJ for an awesome breakfast with freshly laid eggs.

 

 

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