There’s Plenty to See and Do on Grand Manan

Visiting the Bay of Fundy islands of New Brunswick will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your trip down east. The islands of Grand Manan, Deer Island and Campobello are all easily accessible by car and ferry and each has a unique flavour. The largest island Grand Manan has much to offer in the way of very unusual vacation possibilities.

The ferry to Grand Manan departs from Blacks Harbour which is roughly halfway between Saint John and Saint Andrews. If you have bicycles you might consider leaving your car at Blacks Harbour. Bikes are easy to manage on the ferry. You more or less get priority service and will never have to line up with the cars and worry whether there will room for you on a ferry.

When you get to the Grand Manan you will find the roads are good for cycling and can try out one of the 18 hiking/cycling trails that together cover 70 km (43 mi.). These trails give you access to much of Grand Manan which is only 28 km (15 mi.) long and 12 km (7 mi.) wide.

On the voyage from Blacks Harbour to Grand Manan keep an eye out for breaching whales and porpoises and dolphins. On some days the ferry is a pretty good whale watching excursion.

While your visit to Grand Manan can be a day-long adventure there is so much to see that it is recommended that you stay overnight in one of the several inns and bed and breakfasts or if you are camping at Hole-in-the-Wall Park & Campground or The Anchorage Campground in a provincial park.

Grand Manan being part volcanic basalt and part sedimentary-metamorphic rock is an ideal place for the rockhound to check out the beaches and exposed cliffs. Amethyst, agate and zeolites can be found on the seashore where also there is a good chance you will pick up some sea glass to add to your collection.

For the lighthouse enthusiast Grand Manan is perfect. You will already have seen the Pea Point Light at Blacks Harbour and the Southern Wolf Light about halfway across on the ferry. Immediately on your arrival you will see the Swallowtail Light and if you travel around the island there are many other lighthouses that you can inspect closely and others that can be seen off in the distance marking rocks and shoals.

A good way to begin a nature tour of Grand Manan is to stop by the natural history museum at the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station in North Head just across the street from the ferry ticket office. Here you will get your bearings for bird watching activities and adventures out on the sea.

Guided sea kayaking expeditions are offered by Adventure High. This company has some very unusual seaside cabins where you can really get to know the scenery and wildlife of the island. Adventure High also rents bicycles for your tour of an island trail.

Whale watching excursions on Grand Manan take you to some of the world’s most heavily populated whale grounds in the world. Off Grand Manan there are large numbers of finback and minke whales and you will see many dolphins and porpoises as well. See Whales-n-sails and Sea Watch Tours for their rates and schedules.

Whale watching expeditions also include a trip out to Machias Seal Island where there are large populations of puffin, arctic tern and razorbill auk. If this is your only encounter with the birds of Grand Manan you should know that with only a little more effort you can see a lot of the island’s 363 species at Castalia Marsh.

For more information, check out Things to do and see on Grand Manan.

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