Things You Need to See in Grand Manan
Rise and shine at 7am on a sunny Friday morning. Double check my bags and cooler and pop outside to seat myself on top of my packed up tent, awaiting the rental car to swing by. I’ve been through New Brunswick more than a few times but have never stopped in to actually say Hello. The focus of this trip was to get to Grand Manan Island which I had never heard of until recently. While our drive was long and exhausting, it was also one of the silliest, most entertaining and exciting ones I’ve ever taken.
So what kind of things can you do on an island, you ask?
Take The Grand Manan Ferry
The first one is kind of necessary but none the less very cool. Coming from Halifax, I’ve been on ferries. They’re the norm here so taking them didn’t seem special to me. When we drove up and saw it docked, I had to do a double take. It was huge! They call this cruise ship a ferry? The reason I say this one is necessary is because other than a plane, it’s the only way to get to Grand Manan. The hour and a half long trip wont be a bore though, as there are plenty of things to keep you busy more or less, and incredibly great scenery. I’m a little ashamed to admit as a Maritimer I fell seasick for a good half hour until I switched booths and laid down (I was better on my way back, I promise) This ferry has a cafeteria, multiple televisions, comfy chairs, an arcade, animal storage and an observation deck. Additionally, you’re able to take your vehicle on the ferry, which is a great convenience!
Stay A Night At The Marathon Inn
There are a few inns on the Island but you have to make sure you spend at least one night at the Marathon Inn. This place is hidden up a little road, right past the Post Office, but once you turn that road, you know you’ve got the right place. It stands tall and magnificent. A large white chateau beams down upon you, with bright red welcoming doors. The inn is also associated with Hostelling International which means there may be a discount if you’re a member. This stay was my very first stay in a hostel. Gee, if every hostel is like this, why aren’t more people doing it, right? Jim greeted us at the front desk and got us settled in, he also prepared a mean bacon & eggs breakfast (which was complimentary, I might add!) The Marathon Inn is gorgeous inside and outside, it’s has a comfortable homey feeling to it and the dorms are very large. We were a little early in tourism season, so the Hostel was pretty quiet. There are also your typical hostel necessities, such as wifi, laundry and a phone. As well as an outdoor pool, a little later in the Summer!
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I’m quite picky with food. I’ll try anything once though, but like to stick to pretty basic meals. The North Head Bakery is a quaint little shop, that you’ll have a hard time passing. It’s got a bright red sign out front, and an amazing smell luring you in. Inside is very pink and has a bit of a 50’s look to it. The staff are very friendly and seem have a close relationship with the locals. I decided to grab a corner slice of the fresh Oregano Parmesan pizza and an apple turnover. They both looked so carefully crafted and tasted even better. The turnover fell apart gracefully in my mouth. I know I’m talking about this food a little romantically, but this was pretty much a love affair between this pizza, turnover and myself. There are only so many words I can use to describe it. I would say it’s worth it, to head to Grand Manan just to check out North Head Bakery. That’s how good it is!
Go Cliff Side Camping
It’s not as scary as it sounds. For our last night on the wonderful Grand Manan Island, we decided to try a little camping. We found ourselves at Hole in the Wall Park and Campground. I haven’t been camping since I was about 12 years old, so I was pretty pumped to get this on the go. We were met by David, who we followed behind him on his 4 wheeler, to take a look at the sites. He spoke of an amazing view we’d have if we took a spot on a cliff. I didn’t think he actually meant a cliff though. Guess what? He did mean an actual cliff. David showed us around to a few of his favorite spots and we decided on what looked like the most dangerous one, but with a breathtaking view. After we chose our site, we headed back to speak with the campground owner Kaye. She offered us cold ice tea and chocolate, and we sat down and chatted about the history of the site, and island itself. David and Kaye are so passionate about their campground and it’s easy to see why, after spending a night there. The sounds of whales, along with the beautiful sunrise wake you up with a smile. We roasted hotdogs, listened to some good ol’ Matt Mays and enjoyed the view. When visiting, make sure you do take time to do some of the trails around, and see the actual “Hole in the Wall.” I plan to have a post in the upcoming weeks to explain how stunning it really is.
There is so much more on the Island to do, you just have to find it. It really is like a little hidden paradise. The people are friendly and active, and there are farmers markets weekly. Don’t forget to check out my First timer’s Kayaking Experience, because that is something you cannot miss when you’re in Grand Manan. Any other thoughts or things to see are welcome!