Ontario’s South Coast : Beaches, Boats and Zip-Lining

Having grown up in Norfolk County, I’ve always taken the coast of Lake Erie for granted. I could always appreciate the beauty of the crystal blue waters and seemingly tropical beaches (seriously–did you know that we have palm trees in Canada?!), but it was something that I saw on a normal basis and it didn’t intrigue me in the same way as a first time visitor.

That might be why I always enjoyed bringing in friends for a visit, specifically friends from an international background. I have played tour guide to my hometown area more times than I can count, and will probably continue to do it for years to come. I love seeing the area through a whole new set of eyes; as a tourist, I no longer take it for granted.

I’d definitely suggest the following as a basic itinerary for anyone visiting the Norfolk County area.

Last weekend, I invited Karin and Kieran down from Toronto for a weekend visit on the lake. I had a rough itinerary in mind, but really just wanted to play it out and see where we ended up. On their first night, I showed them around the picturesque ponds of my hometown of Waterford and took them to our only restaurant (my town only has about 4000 people) for dinner.

The next day, we headed off to the lake; first stop: Port Dover. I also consider this as “my town”, because my Dad lives here. I showed them around to all of my favourite places, we did a little shopping, had lunch on the beach-side patio and went for  a walk down the pier.

After a couple of hours, we made our way to Turkey Point. I wanted to give them an idea of what the beaches were like on the South Coast (knowing that they had only really ever been in Northern Ontario), so we spread out our towels and laid on the sand. The people around us were swimming in the lake, playing beach ball in the sand and tanning in the warm sun. I would have loved to have taken them to Long Point, but we were now on a tight schedule, due to a last minute booking…

We were off to a zip-lining adventure with Long Point Eco Adventures! It was something I had been hoping to do, but we made the final decision at lunch when we called them to see if they could fit us in. They could.

After a quick drive from Turkey Point beach, we pulled into the long lane way of Long Point Eco Adventures, and parked in the lot. From there, I got my first view of the large observatory dome, and the wilderness suites over a small hill. They looked just like all the photos I had seen on their Facebook page, and now I wanted to stay there even more. Maybe next summer ;]

We walked up to the main building and were greeted by a friendly team that handed us our waivers and told us we could wait out on the picnic tables for our guides to prepare the gear. The tables had an awesome view of the Long Point Bay World Biosphere and Turkey Point Marsh. Soon, our guides were ready, so they collected us and we were on our way to the gear room.

They lined us up in front of the gear, and showed us how to put everything on. We each stepped into our harnesses and they proceeded to tighten each strap. What came next, was the only negative to the whole experience…. crocs. I couldn’t help but laugh when putting them on my feet, as I had never worn a pair of crocs in my life. It was my fault for forgetting to bring proper footwear, so I would have to deal with the punishment :p

Before I knew it, I was standing on a wobbly tree stump on the edge of a very tall platform, with nothing in front of me but wide open space and the ground below. “You can go”, my guide announced. And with that, I jumped off the edge. Suddenly I was flying through the air with the ground whirring by beneath my feet. I kicked them around at the utter enjoyment at the feeling of freedom. Sure, I may have been expertly strapped into my harness that was attached to the line, but it truly felt like I was flying.

Photo by K and K Adventures

The thrill from skydiving is awesome, but the fact is.. you’re falling. There just something about moving at high speed, horizontally, through the trees that makes me feel like a bird. You can’t really compare zip-lining to anything else, and because of that, it’s probably one of the most exciting things that you can experience.

After everyone else had completed the first zip, we were on to the next. Unlike my first ever zip-lining experience the month before, this course was comprised of several lines over the span of a two and a half hour tour. In total there were eight lines, fourteen platforms and two long suspensions bridges before the finale of a forty foot rappel drop. It was not just one single thrilling zip, it was a course of endurance, participation and adrenaline.

We zipped from platform to platform, gaining a little more confidence with each line. Eventually, we were leaning off the edges at a 45 degree angle over the forest floor below. It felt like good practise for the CN Tower edge walk, and we all tried it with no hands, too.

Some platforms involved ladders, and they all hugged around a large tree. Everything was made naturally and was eco-friendly. The wood was from trees that needed to be removed to stop an invasive bug population, and nothing was attached in a way that would hurt the tree or prevent it from growing.

The zips ranged from a few seconds to an exhilarating 750 ft and over 30 seconds in length. We spent a solid two hours flying through the forest, jumping along the suspension bridges (which were an entirely different thrill of their own) and climbing the platforms. Finally, it came to an adrenaline filled culmination… the 40 ft rappel drop.

For those that are afraid of heights, this might come as bad news; the only way down is to drop yourself 40 ft to the ground below. But, don’t worry! You are completely safe and have full control over how fast you drop. Want to take it an inch at a time? No problem. However, for thrill seekers like myself, it is worth it to just let go and drop at full speed.

Photo by K and K Adventures

After a sanity questioning 180 degree spin over the side of the platform ledge, you must step backward into the mid-air behind you. At this point, the only place you can go is down. Zzzzzzzip. Ground. Sigh. “Can we do that again?”

Overall we had an awesome time on the two hour zip-lining and canopy tour. We couldn’t stop talking about it the whole way back to the car, and then for the entire ride over to Port Rowan. We were high with adrenaline and probably just about ready to do it all over again.


The weekend wound down with a night on the boat and a trip out to Pottahawk Island the next day. We had a BBQ dinner beneath the clear night sky that opened up to millions of sparkly lights, dozens of shooting stars, and the Milky Way. We waded in the ankle deep sand bars and swam in the warm clear waters of Lake Erie. By the time the weekend was over, I had definitely come to appreciate my hometown area again. I’m proud to be from Ontario’s South Coast of Norfolk County :]


Check out Karin & Kieran’s accounts of the weekend:
Zip it Good! Zip Lining in Norfolk County, Ontario
Lake Erie – Sandspits, Palm Trees and Stargazing 

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5 Responses to “Ontario’s South Coast : Beaches, Boats and Zip-Lining”

  1. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    August 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Looks like your side of the lake is better than ours 🙂
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Travel the World Through Food

  2. Deb
    December 3, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Hey, we have a lot in common. I grew up in Oxford County, but spent a lot of time in Norfolk. We had a boat at Turkey Point growing up and I spent my teenage years cruising the strip there and then driving to Port Dover on Sundays to see what was going on. I heard about the Long Point Eco Adventure. We spent so many summers hanging out at friends cottages there. Great memories. My brother still keeps his boat at Port Rowan, It’s funny, he finds it odd that there’s an eco-park with luxury tents…why would people go there for a vacation, it’s cottage country. but I was saying that people from Toronto who need to get out of the city love this sort of thing! It’s great to see Lake Erie developing into an eco-destination and giving an alternative choice to the Muskokas or Georgian Bay. I gotta go there next summer for sure!

    • Seattle
      December 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

      Woah–that’s so cool! There’s always been so many travel bloggers from Toronto, but I never knew anyone else that came from the Norfolk/Oxford/Brant area. I pretty much did the same thing on my weekends, haha. Yeah, I think you’re right, the tents appeal more to people from the city (although I’d love to try them too!). Maybe travel massive should make a road trip to the South Coast next summer :p

  3. Anthony
    June 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Awesome pictures and nice place for the adventure i love to visit this place with my family.

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