Like water views? LOTS of water views!? Then you need to visit Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada! Nestled in the Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan is a bird-watcher’s/hiker’s/photographer’s/cyclist’s/kayaker’s/ boater’s/bum-around-and-do-nothing person’s dream vaca!
If all you do is stand and stare at the break-taking vistas of ocean, beaches, lighthouses, fishing boats, pleasure boats, and drink in that fresh, salty air, then “Mission Accomplished” as far as your visit is concerned!
Getting there is easy-peasy. Just Google Map or set your GPS and you’re set to go! Once you get to the ferry terminal in Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick, it’s a beautiful, breath-taking 1 ½ hour trip across The Bay of Fundy. Please call or book on-line for reservations at least the day before but personally, I’d book the day I knew I was going asap. There are two ferries: The Grand Manan V and The Grand Manan Adventure. Here’s the site for more info on the boats & schedules: http://grandmanan.coastaltransport.ca/schedule.html
It is advisable to take your own vehicle but walk-ons are great if you’re hiking/backpacking or cycling. There are no rental cars or public transportation and I don’t believe anyone has a taxi service anymore. You’ll just need to hitch a ride if you’re hoofing it to your accommodations but it shouldn’t be a problem! Here’s a handy page for where to stay: http://www.grandmanannb.com/accomm.htm
Google Map the island and have a look at all the villages and get an idea of the size of the island. Once you’re on the ferry, you will be given a handy tourism guide that will feature some of the places of interest. The map on the front of the hand-out features all the places of interest and inside is the key to the numbers on the map. I highly recommend the Grand Manan Museum as this will give you a great starting point in getting to know the island’s history.
LOTS of fun things to do and see on Grand Manan! You won’t be bored or disappointed when you book a couple of the activities listed on the back of the tourism hand-out. Everything from whale watching, island boat tours, Grand Manan Art Gallery, golfing, GM Farmer’s Market (Sat. from 10:00-12:30/see my blog on the market), unique shopping, GM Museum and the Sardine Museum & Herring Hall of Fame (actually is really interesting and cool!) and a host of lighthouse vistas, beaches to experience and one of my fav things,….kayaking (I’ve gone twice and saw things from the water, up close that were amazing!) and my other fav things to do is beachcombing!
Oh, and you have to try some dulse! Roland’s Sea Vegetables on Hill Rd and other venues on the island is where to buy. Now, if you’d like to “try before you buy” the Sea Shell Restaurant has some dulse that you can sample. Personally I eat one piece a year and that’s my quota! They also carry a few bags to sell as well. They’re just up from the ferry as you drive off, on the right. Great fish and chips btw!
As far as “where to eat” is concerned, that’s really a personal preference and we’ve not eaten at all the restaurants. There’s everything from fine dining to take-out. Here’s the personal, recommended list where we’ve eaten:
The Sea Shell Restaurant (as I’ve mentioned above). Not fine dining mind you but you’ll get the “recommended by the locals “ for their food (two people suggested it to us!). They have a great menu selection for a diner, great service and the fish and chips are really good! The fish was flakey and the batter was not greasy. Great fries too! They have a patio out back and if you’re lucky you’ll see the kitten tree! ( two mumma cats and their offspring were entertaining us and the kittens would run up a tree….thus the “kitten tree”!)
Galloways Family Restaurant in North Head (right beside The Surfside Motel) has great food, great service and a view to die for looking out on the water! Lovely patio out back for the al fresco crew. They have a great variety on their menu with many choices even for fussy eaters!
Greco Pizza (in the Save Easy/gas bar/drive through coffee) makes terrific, yummy pizzas and also has donairs, oven subs and a great variety of other menu items. We ordered a medium, 3 ingredient with medium garlic fingers for supper one night and had enough left over for lunch the next day.
Also, the Save Easy grocery store has many take-out foods that are a great option for people on a budget or feeding the tribe.
Shopping is very unique on the island. You won’t find the typical “cookie cutter” stores with the same clothing, jewelry and sundry items. Each store is different and unique in its own character. I went to The Cheeky Magpie (154 Route 776) in North Head and found beautiful clothing, jewelry , yarn and many other items I wanted to buy but I went on the last day of my vaca and my budget was pretty well shot by then….sad face here….The Magpie is many stores within a store so lots of variety and great prices too! Next year I’ll make sure I have Christmas present $$ to spend at The Magpie!
If great artwork is your thing then you’ll not be sorry you bought a prized work of art on Grand Manan. Grand Manan is blessed with truly talented artists from painters, carvers, potters, jewelry makers and many other artisans. The GM Farmer’s Market features many local artists and you can view many pieces in a short time. Just keep an eye out for signs along the way as you drive the island for artist’s homes & galleries outside of the farmer’s market day. I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed in your choices of great art/craft work! Again I say, very unique and nothing that’s “run of the mill” when you choose any art work from Grand Manan.
So in a nut-shell, leisurely explore the island from head to toe, watch a couple of sunsets (Dark Harbour or Long Eddy Point Light), go on a whale watching tour (the whales will give you a show to remember!), bird watch ,kayak and do a whole lot of looking out to sea! Oh, and it’s good for your health too to go to Grand Manan as you’ll start to feel stress-free the minute you walk on the boat!