From Vancouver Island on the west coast to Prince Edward Island on the east coast and the Arctic archipelago in the north, Canada has thousands of beautiful islands worth visiting. Want to make island hopping a full-time travel goal? With at least 30,000 islands found between our three coasts, there’s plenty of new terrain, wildlife and regional culture waiting to be discovered. Consider these nine Canadian islands to kick off your island explorations.

Note: Please be a responsible traveller. Stay home if you don’t feel well and make sure holiday plans follow the latest provincial guidelines for travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bowen Island, British Columbia

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Get out onto the water with Bowen Island Sea Kayaking and enjoy one of summer's best activities + breathtaking views. The experienced BISK team offers a variety of regularly scheduled outings including the popular sunset, Pasley Islands and Howe Sound tours. Kayaking and paddleboarding are the perfect outdoor activities where you can practice physical distancing. If you're an experienced paddler, Bowen Island Sea Kayaking also offers rentals. Contact them today to plan your Bowen Island adventure. Catch those summer rays and ocean waves. @bowenislandseakayaking #bowenisland #explorebc . . . . #canada #explorecanada #vancouver #pnw #pnwonderland #salishsea #howesound #beautifuldestinations #westcoast #beautifulbritishcolumbia #kayaking #kayakingadventures #neverstopexploring #getoutside #islandlife #adventure #summervibes #summertime #summerfun

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Best season(s) to visit: Year-round

From the main harbour at Snug Cove, all paths lead to this southern Gulf Island. Hike the 9 km Killarney Lake Loop to see great blue herons and red-tailed deer or rent a sea kayak to explore the island’s craggy shoreline. Head to uptown Bowen to wander the Arts Pacific Gallery or the Gilt Studio Gallery displaying local island and B.C. artists, and definitely indulge in a cold pint on the patio at Bowen Island Pub.

How to get here: B.C. Ferries offer multiple daily trips to from Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) to Bowen Island, fares from $10.45 (20 minutes).

Don’t miss: Browsing the tinctures, capsules and edibles available at Happy Isle Cannabis Company for post-exploring wellness. There are also several topical CBD products for those wanting natural remedies without the, uh, side benefits.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland & Labrador

Best season(s) to visit: Summer, fall

Get island-oriented tackling the Joe Batt’s Point Trail, a five-kilometre hike along the coastline to see tickles (local parlance for a short narrow strait of sea) and neighbouring Change Islands. Arriving at the town of Joe Batt’s Arm, there’s many heritage buildings like the Archibald Brown Store or Brett House. In the town of Fogo, there’s more Insta-worthy buildings, including the memorable Fishing Union structure, while nearby Brimstone Head is a must for the unforgettable sea views from its lookout.

How to get here: Newfoundland Labrador Ferry operates multiple daily trips from Farewell to Fogo Island, fares from $8.50 (50 minutes). Flights available three times a week from EVAS Air Charters.

Don’t miss: The Fogo Island Inn, a five star modern boutique hotel filled with local artistic creations and featuring a locally-foraged and sourced cuisine at its restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue.

Wolfe Island, Ontario

Best season(s) to visit: Summer, fall

Welcome to the largest isle of the Thousand Islands, one of over 1,800 islands in this archipelago connecting Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Bring a bike to explore the island’s many cycling routes, either pedaling to see the island’s wind farm of over 80 wind turbines, or going off-road through the rolling hills of farmland. Peruse the village of Marysville for sweet and savoury options from the Wolfe Island Bakery or locally-made creations from the Wolfe Island Gallery.

How to get here: Wolfe Islander III is a free ferry between Kingston and Wolfe Island running multiples times a day (20 minutes).

Don’t miss: An easy hike around beautiful Big Sandy Bay to see the island flora and wetlands. In the summer months, go for a swim on the only sandy beach on the island. (Summer 2020 note: trail is open, beach is closed.)

Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec

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📷 @bobosursonile⠀ Les Demoiselles ont vraiment un charme indéniable! Ces collines dégarnies et arrondies surplombent la mer et vous offrent des points de vue à couper le souffle sur La Grave, la Baie de Plaisance, l'Île d'Entrée et l'infini de la mer bleue. ⠀ .⠀ Les Demoiselles really have an undeniable charm! They sit high above sea level and they provide breathtaking views of La Grave, Baie de Plaisance, Entry Island and the wide open blue sea. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #fousdesiles #ilesdelamadeleine #quebeccotemer #quebecbythesea #quebecmaritime #bonjourquebec #explorecanada #explorezsansfin #quebec #canada #magdalenislands #paysage #landscape #nature #hills #butte #sunset #coucherdesoleil #green #vert #sea #mer #vacances #holiday #jouerdehors #hike #hiking #randonnee

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Best season(s) to visit: Year-round

A group of eight islands in the Gulf of St Lawrence, this windswept landscape is fixated on adventure. The Sentiers entre Vente et Marees was created in 2015, a challenging 230 km trail inspired by Spain’s Camino de Santiago, through natural and groomed trails, beaches and back roads. There’s also La Route verte, a cycling trail including lighthouses, parks and coastline views, while it’s also possible sea kayak and in winter, explore by snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. In Cap-aux-Meules, make a stop at Boulangerie Madelon for its fair-trade coffee and fresh out of the oven treats.

How to get here: Air Canada offers flights via Quebec City; ferries operate seasonally from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (not in operation for summer 2020).

Don’t miss: In Havre-aux-Maisons, family-owned Miel-en-Mer farm offers tours to learn about the bee hives and sample honey and mead, naturally-flavoured by island wildflowers.

Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Best season(s) to visit: Year-round 

Known for popular hikes like the Michigiwadinong, a.k.a. the Cup and Saucer, with its breathtaking views of the island, or the descent to see Bridal Veil Falls, where it’s possible to swim below the 11 metres high of cascading water, this is the largest freshwater island in the world. Gordon’s Park welcomes cyclists to explore the coastline or through the forest and stargaze from this dark sky preserve. Spend time at friendly Gore Bay for small town retail distraction at boutiques, cafes, farmers markets and craft brewery.

How to get here: Drive via Highway 6 from Espanola over the bridge or in summer months on the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula from $17.20 (two hours).

Don’t miss: Learn about the Anishnawbek people (Ojibwe, Odawa, Pottawatomi) with a Great Spirit Circle Trail Tour like a drum-making workshop, foraging for tea or wilderness adventure with Indigenous guides.

Ile aux Lievres, Quebec

Best season(s) to visit: Summer

Escape to this isle in the St. Lawrence Seaway, a bird sanctuary and perfect place for a tech detox. Budget-friendly travellers can camp in designated areas on this small isle, while those who need some mod-cons can choose from Auberge de Lievres or its private cottages. The island may be only 13 km, but there are 45 km of trails through the forest to deserted beaches, while astronomy is the nightly entertainment at this unofficial dark sky zone.

How to get here: Boat service to the island is from Riviere-du-Loup and provided by the La Societe Duvetnor. (30-40 minutes)

Don’t miss: A boat tour to nearby Pot-du-Phare island with La Societe Duvetnor, for a day hike to see the lighthouse and the marine bird sanctuary.

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Best season(s) to visit: Year-round

Water lovers will appreciate access to the surrounding Strait of Georgia by kayaking or stand up paddle boarding or go whale watching to see the region’s resident orca population. Consider the main trail of Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park for an easy hike or go big with the Channel Ridge Trails, a 15 km hike. April through October, the weekly Saturday Market in Ganges showcases island arts, crafts and products, and there’s many options to experience island cuisine like food trucks, island farm stands, locally-made libations and seaside restaurants.

How to get here: B.C. Ferries daily from Tsawwassen to this southern Gulf Island from $17.70 (three hours), while Harbour Air offers daily seaplane flights from Vancouver.

Don’t miss: A dose of rainforest me-time at Solace Organic Spa, offering holistic therapies with locally-made aromatherapy skincare and access to a forest hydrotherapy circuit.

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia 

Best season(s) to visit: Year-round

Tick this off the list first: drive the Cabot Trail, a 300 km route with unforgettable views and access to Cape Breton Highlands National Park, to camp, sea kayak, stand up paddle board, cycle or hike. Definitely include a whale watching tour on the north coast’s Bay St. Lawrence, feeding grounds for dolphins, pilot, minke, humpback and fin whales, as well as eagles and cormorants. And never say no to an evening invitation in Baddeck for a ceilidh, to hear the island’s distinctive fiddle music.

How to get here: The Trans-Canada Highway connects from mainland Nova Scotia or direct flights to Sydney from several cities on Canadian airlines.

Don’t miss: Eat lobster – local fishers sustainably harvest their annual catch and July 2020 was the debut of Lobster-Licious Festival with 19 island restaurants offering one of a kind lobster dishes.

Baffin Island, Nunavut

Best season(s) to visit: Year-round

As the largest island in Canada, this Arctic isle is a gateway to the rare landscape of the northeast. Learn the history of the Inuit peoples with a visit to Qaummaarviit Territorial Park, a rocky island with the archeological artifacts of the ancient Thule culture or spend time in Cape Dorset, to meet Inuk carvers, weavers and painters. There’s plenty of wildlife too: polar bear, muskok, caribou and whales – beluga, bowhead and the rare narwhal, which migrate along the north shore of the island every May and June.

How to get here: Flights from southern Canadian cities (Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal) via regional airlines.

Don’t miss: Bring your layers – during winter this island is a prime viewing area nightly for the aqsamiit, a.k.a. the Aurora Borealis, thanks to minimal cloud cover during the coldest months.


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