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Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience 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.

Island Spirits Retreat, Grasshopper Island, Rice Lake, Ontario

Island Spirits Retreat, Grasshopper Island (Photo credit: Island Spirits)

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

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

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?

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.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

Our cabin on Grasshopper Island

What is there to do at Island Spirits?

You’ll be surprised at the number of things to do at Island Spirits, 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.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

The alpacas will keep everyone amused

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

Don’t forget the carrots

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

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.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

Panorama shot thanks to Cori Arthur

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

There’s a trail that takes you around the entire island

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

You’ll have your own private dock when you get to the end of the rope

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.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

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.

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

Mix and match chairs on all the docks

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

Ice cream is very popular on the weekends

Island Spirits: An Off the Grid Vacation Experience on Rice Lake

There is a variety of self-propelled watercraft available

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 Island Spirits ferry

When does Island Spirits open?

Island Spirits opens the last weekend of April and 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.

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 just laid eggs.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Joe Inch says:

    We used to visit Rice Lake as kids and have great memories of being there. It is most likely our calling Vancouver home now in part to those wonderful memories. Hats off to Tj and you Leigh for making the Island one of Canada’s little hot spots (and off the grid, how cool is that Eh?) Keep up the good work!!!
    Joe.

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