Here are some things our beautiful island has to offer. There is a little bit of everything for everyone.
Swallowtail Lighthouse is the first thing you see when you round the corner on the ferry coming into Grand Manan. It is an iconic maritime image and one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. Many have seen it, but you may not know its tragic origins.
In January 1857, there was a terrible shipwreck that occurred on the northern tip of Grand Manan, now known as Ashburton Head. The ship, Lord Ashburton, heading to Saint John from France foundered during a windstorm and had run aground. A crew member, James Lawson managed to escape, climb up the cliffs, and walk a mile to find refuge. He was found collapsed in a barn. The islanders who found him searched for more survivors with only 8 of the 29 crew members surviving. (An interesting fact about Lawson is that after rehabilitating at a hospital for five years in Saint John after a double partial foot amputation he returned to Grand Manan, married a woman from the island and became a shoemaker.)
The horrible accident highlighted the need for new navigational aids in the area. Plans were made and the land was acquired to build Swallowtail Lighthouse. Four acres for $100. The lighthouse was constructed, as well as a dwelling for the lightkeepers. The lantern was lit on July 7, 1860.
The last lightkeeper of Swallowtail was Grimmer Ingersoll. He kept the lighthouse going until 1986 when it became automated. The ownership was transferred to the Village of Grand Manan in 1996. Major repairs were needed but the restoration was just too extensive for the Village and resulted in the creation of The Swallowtail Keepers Society in 2008. It became their mission to renovate and maintain the lighthouse. Since then, there has been some major work completed, including a bridge, walking path and a new light being installed.
Have a Lobster Dinner
When in Rome, eat like Roman's do.... So when on Grand Manan, eat lobster! If you are interested in trying our local delicacy, there are a few options!
You can pick up live lobsters from Grand Harbour Grille (1140 Route 776) and cook them up on the outdoor burner provided at the cottages. Continue reading if you'd like instructions on how to cook them to perfection.
Trapped (7 Norman Rd) is serving up some lobster dip and lobster rolls on their patio this summer. Enjoy a refreshing drink and a delicious lobster snack.
You've got your lobsters and you're ready to eat? The best way to cook lobster is to steam them.
Cover the bottom of your pot with a couple of inches of salted water, bring to a boil and place the lobsters in the pot. Cover them and let them steam for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the lobsters. Don't forget the melted garlic butter! Enjoy!
Interesting Lobster Facts
Lobsters taste with their feet and chew with their stomachs. For human consumers, they are a great source of protein, omega-3s and are low in calories too.
Lobsters never stop growing. If they lose a claw or a leg, it will regrow. A lot of the largest lobsters usually have mismatched claws as they grew back at different times. Lobsters can grow up to four feet and weigh up to 40lbs!
Lobsters aren't red before they're cooked, they come in a variety of colours from pink to blue and nearly every colour in between.
Go Whale Watching
Grand Manan wildlife and whale encounters are so incredible. Did you know our island has been featured three times in National Geographic as a place you do not want to miss? No wonder!
Here’s a little story we like to tell as there’s nothing like personal experience:
“We went on a whale watching tour with Lambert Family Tours with my three-year-old Skyla and friend Becky Mae from British Columbia last August. I was blown away by how many whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, puffins, and other pelagic birds there were. You couldn’t look in any single direction without seeing the ocean teeming with life. We were surrounded by the most whales I have ever seen at any given time in my life (coming from BC I thought was a lot, but this tour far exceeded any of the many whale watching tours I have done on Vancouver Island)! They were breaching, jumping, slapping, and eating. Dolphins were jumping, porpoises were gliding, birds were flying, and seals were doing whatever seals do. We even saw the resident orca Old Tom. It was incredible! I can't fully tell you how incredible this whale watching tour was. You must experience it firsthand! Matt (the owner) did such an amazing job educating us and was super knowledgeable about marine life, and he was very respectful and safe around the wildlife. Let me tell you his boat was super sweet as well....a Zodiac 750! It was comfortable and provided such a smooth and fast ride out to the whales. We felt very safe and in great hands with Captain Matt! There are more than 100 migratory humpback whales who come to the bay. There are also fin whales, right whales, minke whales, sei whales, the odd beluga whale, and once even a sperm whale visited the bay. There are even sharks too – great white, porbeagle, thresher, mako and basking. A few years ago, there was a whole pod of orcas that visited Grand Manan and there is still one resident orca named Old Tom. They’ve also seen leatherback turtles, bluefin tuna, even shearwaters (migratory bird from the south Atlantic – Antarctic) and mola-mola (which I thought were tropical). Being an avid scuba diver and lover of marine life, I was positively shocked that there was so much biodiversity and that the ocean, not so far from my home, was teeming with so much life.”
If you would like more information about the whales and other wild life found in the Bay of Fundy, please visit: www.bayoffundy.com/about/whales
Go to the Beach
There is no shortage of magnificent beaches on Grand Manan. This isn't a complete list of all the beaches, just some of Turning Tide Cottages favourite recommendations:
1. Deep Cove Beach. Located off Route 776 and five minutes south of Seal Cove. There is parking on the road and a path that goes down a hill to the beach. Try to plan this beach visit at low tide. When the tide is out you can access its sandy intertidal beach. There is a freshwater creek behind it. It’s a stunning place regardless of which direction you look.
2. Seal Cove Beach. Located at the end of Seal Cove East Breakwater Road. It is easily accessible with parking near the beach and may have a wheelchair carpet down to the hard packed sand again this year. We are happy to check that in advance of your visit. If you want to stroll along the beach, try to time this beach with low-mid tide as the beach is longer if you do!
3. The Anchorage Provincial Park Beach. Located down Long Pond Road. There are several access points close to the beach and there are two large freshwater ponds on the other side of the road. This is Grand Manan's largest stretch of sandy beach. It's truly stunning on any day and a must do for any visitor!
4. Castalia Marsh Beach. Located down Marsh Road. There are several picnic tables and shaded areas, observation decks and easy access points to the beach. This is a birder's dream beach with beautiful sandy and stony shores to one side and expansive marsh land home to thousands of birds on the other. It’s as incredible as it sounds.
5. Herb McCauley Memorial Field Beach. Located off Route 776 in Castalia. This is a lovely, stony cove with views of North Head, Swallowtail Lighthouse and Long Island.
6. Stanley Beach. Located on Stanley Road. This beach has abundant parking and is easily accessible. It's a large beach nestled into a cove with views of North Head and the wharf. You can watch the busy fishing boats while strolling the sandy shore. This beach is a hot spot for sea glass and shards of China.
7. Whale Cove Beach. Located at the end of Whale Cove Road. This is a stony beach with beautiful views of the nearby weirs. There are often dory boats tied up to the ramp and the Hole-in-the-Wall trail starts on the other side of the cove.
8. Pettes Cove Beach. Located on Pettes Cove Road. This is another stony beach with a beautiful view of Swallowtail Lighthouse. This beach is small and sheltered from most winds. This is a great spot to time with the ferry rounding the corner around Swallowtail. Net Point Trail starts at the parking area for this beach.
Take a Hike
One thing that Grand Manan is not short of is hiking trails, there are trails for every skill level here. Check out Hiking NB for interactive maps of all the hiking trails on Grand Manan and the entire province, it's a great resource for nature seekers. Here is a list of some of our favourite trails on the island:
The Boardwalk at the Anchorage Provincial Park
This boardwalk is much more accessible than most trails on the island. You can push a stroller and/or wheelchair. It starts by the beach and makes its way down to Red Point Road. It wraps through the forest and along the coast with plenty of benches to take in the beautiful ocean views. Be careful if it’s raining or wet out as the boards are very slippery when wet! While you are at the Anchorage, walk the beach and check out the bird sanctuary. There are a few other trails around the ponds, and you can see all kinds of birds!
The Swallowtail Lighthouse Trail
This trail is a must do for anyone coming to Grand Manan at least once. It’s so iconic. You walk across a bridge, and you feel like you’re stepping back in time. Once you get to the lighthouse, you can take a tour up to the top. It's great to do it with your family and friends. Be sure to leave a donation if you’re able for the lighthouse to stay in operation and for upkeep. It’s so appreciated!
The Red Trail
There is a trail that runs the entire span of the western side of Grand Manan called the Red Trail. It runs from Swallowtail Lighthouse all the way to the Southwest Head Lighthouse and is 44 kilometres long. From lighthouse to lighthouse, it takes three days of hiking to hike the entirety of the Red Trail.
Some popular sections of the Red Trail that are easily accessed are Net Point, Hole-in-the-Wall, Eel Brook Falls/Beach and the Dark Harbour Lookout. Each of these trails have an incredible ocean view and have their own unique features.
The trails are maintained by a local collective known as the Grand Manan Trail Association. Every spring, the trail cleaning crew hike all 44 km of the Red Trail with their chainsaws and machetes to clean the trails up. They ask that visitors respect the land, that visitors do not light fires and to ensure any garbage is picked up.
Plan a Sunset Picnic
Grab some fine local cuisine (AKA take out) or pack a scrumptious picnic and check out these epic locations for outdoor dining. The views will make your food taste better too!
1. Southwestern Head: A cute little lighthouse and incredible jutting cliffs with only the ocean on the horizon. We recommend getting fish and chips from High Seas Convenience on the way down to Southwestern Head. Time it with the sunset for an unforgettable experience.
2. The Long Eddy Lighthouse: Another sweet lighthouse, a beautiful ocean view of Maine, and a helicopter pad (which makes for a great photo opportunity). In the summer, you can frequently see whales breaching here. Pick up some tasty food from Sunrise Seafoods, the Seaquel (they have everything you could want and super tasty gluten-free options) or The Old Well House Café (they are open May long weekend - November, they have a delicious and creative menu with awesome coffees and craft beer. You’ll want to time your visit with the sunset if you can as well.
3. Pettes Cove: Featuring a beautiful view of the best lighthouse on the island, Swallowtail Lighthouse, on a pebbly beach where you can listen to the waves gently lap on the shore. Here is another beautiful location to have a picnic. It’s right in North Head, so the closest restaurants would be The Old Wellhouse and The Seaquel. This is a sweet spot that provides the quintessential photo opportunity of the beacon of our beautiful island.
Go to a Park
Grand Manan boasts six fun and unique playgrounds for kids, plus a skatepark. Turning Tide Cottages is only a seven-minute drive from four island parks! Our local parks are the perfect place for tiring out the kids, but also to meet other local families and tourists.
Here is a list of parks from North Head (top on the island) to Seal Cove (southern end of the island):
1. Alexandria Park is Located just two minutes up Whistle Road on the left-hand side. There are quite a few different play structures that are spread across a large grassy area. There is also a baseball diamond further into the park. The play equipment is a bit older and not fancy, but it’s fun! There is an outhouse and trash receptacles available on the premise and the area is enclosed.
2. Herb McCauley Memorial Field is located on Route 776 in Castalia on the left side going down island. It’s a small park with a big view of North Head and Swallow Tail Lighthouse. There is a climbing structure with a small slide, swings and see saw. It's a more recent addition with a picnic table and trash receptacles available. The area is enclosed.
3. Grand Manan Community School playground is located on Route 776. It is the largest play structure on Grand Manan and has a little bit of everything. You can find groups of moms and their kids here on the weekends and while school is out. The large area is enclosed and there is a bench and trash receptacles.
4. The Anchorage Provincial Park is located at the campground on Anchorage Road. You can park at the beach and walk up to the playground or park in the campground at the park. This park offers swings and a play structure, close access to the Anchorage Beach, the Red Point Boardwalk Trail and wild bunnies!! The boardwalk trail is near the beach parking area. On your way up to the playground you will often find bunnies hopping around so feel free to bring a snack for them because they love carrots! There are picnic tables, restrooms and trash receptacles available on the premises.
5. Seal Cove Beach is located at the end of Seal Cove East Breakwater Road. This brand-new park was installed in 2021 right next to the beach. There are two play structures, swings and a geodome. If you get bored of the play equipment, you can go for a walk or a play on the beach. This park offers a picnic table and trash receptacles.
6. Victoria Park is in Grand Harbour on Foster Hill Road. This park has a basketball court, baseball diamond, pickleball court and a shaded area with picnic tables.
7. Grand Manan Skate Park. Located at the Grand Manan Village Community Centre on Route 776.
Have a Meal
Finding a meal on Grand Manan can be tricky, here is a guide to help you track down some grub. Here's our recommended list:
Summer Hours: Weds-Mon 7am-7pm
Classic Canadian fare - breakfast, fish and chips, burgers, pizza, with gluten free options
Summer Hours: Mon-Thurs 8am-5pm. Fri 8am-10pm, Sat/Sun10am-10pm
Unique and delicious menu - breakfast and lunch/dinner, gluten free options, licensed patio, great coffees
Summer Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm
Café grub - paninis, soups, salads, pastries and coffees
Trapped - 7 Norman Rd, (506) 662-3696
Summer Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-7pm
Light fair - dips and sandwiches, licensed patio
High Sea's Convenience - 1930 NB-776, (506) 662-8849
Summer Hours: 11am-6pm
Classic Canadian fare - best fish and chips, burgers, etc