For the first time during this 2 week road trip in New Brunswick, we take the ferry. Head to Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. A peaceful island with its fishing villages, steep cliffs and magnificent lighthouses. Here is everything you need to know about Grand Manan Island as well as the travel journal of our stay on Grand Manan Island.
First, Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy
The largest island in the Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan Island is located at the meeting point between the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine. 34 km long and 18 km wide, it is home to around 2,000 inhabitants. People who live for the majority in the villages of the east coast. While the west coast is marked by high cliffs. Deserted beaches, hiking trails, cycling, lighthouses, whale watching, magnificent sunsets, steep cliffs or even museums, it is impossible not to fall in love with Grand Manan Island.
Discovery of Grand Manan Island: our travel diary
We begin our discovery of Grand Manan Island by the southern part of the island. More exactly in Southwest Head where there is a lighthouse of some kind and especially magnificent cliffs. 2 trails start from the lighthouse: Flock of Sheep and Hay Point Trail. We take the Hay Point Trail for a few hundred meters, which runs along the cliffs and offers breathtaking views of the Bay of Fundy. Several seals even do us the honor of accompanying us. We then go up quietly, making stops on Deep Cove Sand Beach, a beach with beautiful waves, at Red Point, at The Anchorage a provincial park with lookouts for bird watching and then at The Thoroughfare from which it is possible at low tide to walk to Ross Island. This is also where the renowned Sunrise Seafood restaurant is located.
We then cross the East or West Island to see the small airport of Grand Manan and especially Little Dark Harbor. A small port which is the first conservation port for Atlantic salmon. Little Dark Harbor is very quiet with its little houses on the water’s edge and its huge surrounding cliffs.
North Head is home to the jewel of Grand Manan Island and one of New Brunswick’s icons: Swallowtail Lighthouse. A magnificent lighthouse with several buildings on an almost island that can be reached via a footbridge. Only access to the interior of the lighthouse is chargeable ($ 2).
After having taken the eyes with the Swallowtail lighthouse, we will see one of the other emblematic places of the island: Hole In The Wall. Accessible for free on foot via the Red Trail or for $ 10 by vehicle via North Head Campground & Park, the Hole In The Wall is a hole the ocean dug 10,000 years ago into the cliffs. Finally nothing very impressive. We will see one of the other lookouts in the park, Bull’s Eddy Deck from which we can see (from a distance) the Swallowtail Lighthouse. Again nothing very impressive. In the end, the North Head Campground & Park did not convince us.
To end our discovery of northern Grand Manan Island, we go to The Whistle (Long Eddy Point) lighthouse. A beautiful lighthouse with a helipad and a panoramic lookout on the Bay of Fundy. The perfect place to watch the sunset from Grand Manan. Unfortunately, during our 2 evenings on the island it was raining no colors for the sunset. But seals!
As the weather is still nice and clear, while Elo tries to see whales from Long Eddy Point, I go for a run on the Ashburton Head and Whale Cove trails. Marked but unmaintained trails that run along the cliffs, cross small waterfalls and offer magnificent views (The Bishop). Many hiking trails are marked on the island and it is a priori possible to hike all around the island.
What else to do on Grand Manan Island?
Several companies including Sea Watch Tours and Whale Camp offer whale watching trips from Grand Manan Island. Otherwise, the island is home to a golf course, a museum (Grand Manan Museum) or even art galleries. Finally, from Grand Manan Island it is possible to reach White Head Island free of charge by ferry, where there is a lighthouse, a beach and hiking trails.
How to get to Grand Manan Island?
A single company provides the link between Grand Manan Island and the mainland, it is Coastal Transport. Every day from 7:30 am and then every 2 hours a ferry makes the route Blacks Harbor – Grand Manan (North Head). The crossing lasts 1h30 and costs round trip $ 12 per person + $ 30 per car or $ 9 per meter. We paid for our 7m RV: $ 87. Reservation recommended and you must, even if you have a reservation, arrive at the port 45 minutes before departure, otherwise your reservation will be canceled.
Where to sleep to discover Grand Manan Island?
Grand Manan Island is home to 28 hotels / B & B’s, 2 campsites and a few freecamps. In our RV, we spent 2 nights at the Long Eddy Point Lookout (Whistle). A small location a few meters from the Northern Head Lighthouse with an unobstructed view of the Bay of Fundy. The ideal spot on Grand Manan Island to watch the sunset. Be careful, however, of the wind and the foghorn of the lighthouse which rings every minute when there is fog.
Regarding hotels / cottages / B & B’s, we recommend the Compass Rose Heritage Inn, a small blue house by the water. A local and authentic B&B with a breathtaking view of the Bay. Double room with private bathroom, wifi, sea view and breakfast from $ 127 per night with free cancellation.
In conclusion, my opinion on our discovery of Grand Manan Island
Despite mixed weather, I fell in love with Swallowtail Lighthouse and the cliffs at Southwest Head. 2 magnificent and unmissable places on Grand Manan Island. I didn’t expect there to be so many houses and people on the island. Taking our time we were able to tour the island in one day but didn’t have time to hike any more. I would have liked to have done the entire Hay Point Trail and why not go for a walk on Ross Island. In any case, I highly recommend that you spend a day or two on Grand Manan Island during your trip to New Brunswick.
And you, what did you do on Grand Manan Island?
Next stop on our 2-week road trip in New Brunswick: