manitoulin island ontario

Nestled in the heart of Canada’s Great Lakes, Manitoulin Island stands as a testament to nature’s beauty and the rich tapestry of cultural heritage that defines this unique destination.

As the world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island offers visitors an unparalleled blend of serene landscapes, vibrant communities, and a multitude of activities that cater to every type of adventurer.

From its crystal-clear waters to its lush, forested trails, the island invites exploration and discovery at every turn.

Manitoulin Island’s location in Ontario makes it a remarkable escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, offering a tranquil setting that is both revitalizing and inspiring.

The island is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural crossroads, where Indigenous and settler communities coexist and share the land’s bounty.

This harmonious blend of cultures adds a unique layer to the island’s appeal, making it a place where history, tradition, and modernity converge.

What sets Manitoulin Island apart is not just its natural beauty, but also the myriad of activities available to visitors.

Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast eager to traverse the rugged trails, a history buff fascinated by the rich Indigenous culture, or simply someone looking to unwind in nature’s lap, Manitoulin Island has something special for you.

The island’s diverse attractions include everything from hiking and fishing to exploring art galleries and sampling local cuisine, ensuring that every visit is filled with new discoveries and memorable experiences.

Manitoulin Island’s appeal lies in its ability to offer a wide range of activities that cater to diverse interests.

Adventure seekers can challenge themselves on the Cup and Saucer Trail or dive into the clear waters to explore underwater marvels.

Those seeking relaxation can find solace on the island’s pristine beaches or indulge in the local culinary delights that reflect Manitoulin’s cultural mosaic.

The island’s vibrant festivals and events, rich historical sites, and welcoming communities further enhance the visitor experience, making Manitoulin Island a must-visit destination for anyone looking to connect with nature and culture.

Now, let’s take a closer look at 12 amazing things to do in Manitoulin Island:

1. Explore the Great Spirit Circle Trail

spirit trail

Overview of the Trail’s Cultural Significance

The Great Spirit Circle Trail is more than just a path through Manitoulin Island’s stunning landscapes; it is a journey into the heart of the island’s rich Indigenous heritage.

This revered trail offers visitors an extraordinary opportunity to connect with the deep spiritual and cultural roots of the Anishinaabe people, the original inhabitants of Manitoulin Island.

As you traverse this sacred land, you’re not merely a tourist but a participant in a centuries-old story that continues to unfold.

The trail serves as a living museum, where every rock, tree, and waterway has a story, embodying the Anishinaabe people’s profound connection to nature and their ancestors.

Experiences Offered: Guided Tours, Indigenous Ceremonies, and Nature Walks

Guided Tours

Embarking on a guided tour of the Great Spirit Circle Trail is an invitation to see Manitoulin Island through the eyes of its Indigenous peoples.

Knowledgeable guides, who are members of the local First Nations communities, share tales of their history, spirituality, and the land’s significance, offering insights that you won’t find anywhere else.

These tours are thoughtfully designed to respect the environment and cultural traditions, providing a respectful and enriching experience for all.

Indigenous Ceremonies

Participating in an Indigenous ceremony is one of the most profound experiences offered along the Great Spirit Circle Trail.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to partake in authentic ceremonies that may include smudging, drum circles, or storytelling sessions.

These ceremonies are a powerful way to connect with the spiritual essence of Manitoulin Island, offering a moment of reflection, reverence, and connection to the land and its people.

Nature Walks

The Great Spirit Circle Trail also invites visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Manitoulin Island through serene nature walks.

These walks are not just physical journeys but spiritual ones, allowing you to experience the tranquility and majesty of the island’s diverse ecosystems.

Whether you’re exploring lush forests, walking along crystal-clear waters, or marveling at the panoramic views from scenic lookouts, the nature walks on the Great Spirit Circle Trail are an unforgettable way to connect with the earth and oneself.

Exploring the Great Spirit Circle Trail on Manitoulin Island is an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery, reflection, and connection.

It offers a unique blend of cultural insight, spiritual engagement, and natural beauty that captures the essence of Manitoulin Island, making it a must-experience activity for visitors seeking depth and meaning in their travels.

2. Visit Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Nestled amidst the lush landscapes of Manitoulin Island, Bridal Veil Falls represents a natural masterpiece that captures the essence of the island’s pristine beauty.

This enchanting waterfall, with its cascading waters that resemble a bride’s veil, is not only a sight to behold but also an invitation to explore the serene environment of Kagawong, a charming village where the falls are located.

Description of the Falls and the Surrounding Park

Bridal Veil Falls is easily one of Manitoulin Island’s most beloved natural attractions.

The falls drop gracefully over a limestone cliff into a clear, shallow pool below, making it an ideal spot for a refreshing swim during the warmer months.

Surrounding the falls is a beautifully maintained park, complete with picnic areas, hiking trails, and observation platforms that offer stunning views of the falls and the lush greenery that envelops them.

The park’s trails lead visitors through a variety of scenic landscapes, from dense forests to riverbanks, enhancing the overall experience of visiting Bridal Veil Falls.

Tips for Visiting: Best Times to Go, Nearby Amenities

Best Times to Visit: To fully enjoy the tranquil beauty of Bridal Veil Falls without the crowds, consider visiting during the early morning hours or on weekdays.

The falls are particularly mesmerizing in the late spring and early summer when the water flow is at its peak, thanks to the melting snow.

Autumn also presents a spectacular view as the changing leaves provide a colorful backdrop to the falls’ serene waters.

Nearby Amenities: The village of Kagawong, just a short walk from the falls, offers visitors a range of amenities, including quaint shops, local art galleries, and cozy cafes where you can savor local flavors.

Public restrooms and parking are available near the falls, making it convenient for visitors to spend the day exploring the area.

For those looking to extend their stay, there are several accommodation options in and around Kagawong, from charming bed and breakfasts to camping sites, ensuring that visitors can find a comfortable place to rest after a day of adventure.

Visiting Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island is more than just a chance to see one of nature’s wonders; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of Kagawong.

Whether you’re taking a dip in the refreshing waters below the falls, enjoying a picnic with family, or exploring the surrounding trails, Bridal Veil Falls promises an unforgettable experience that highlights the natural splendor of Manitoulin Island.

3. Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail

Cup and Saucer Trail

Among the many treasures of Manitoulin Island, the Cup and Saucer Trail stands out as a premier destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

This trail offers a captivating journey through one of the island’s most breathtaking landscapes, providing panoramic views that are unparalleled in their beauty and scope.

Detailed Guide on What to Expect on the Trail, Difficulty Levels

The Cup and Saucer Trail, with its 12 kilometers of winding paths, includes a main trail and several side trails, including the adventurous 2-kilometer Adventure Trail.

As you embark on this hiking journey, you’ll traverse through dense forests, encounter rare plant species, and navigate rocky outcrops that challenge and invigorate.

The trail culminates at the cliff’s edge, offering hikers a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape from one of the highest points on Manitoulin Island.

Difficulty Levels: The Cup and Saucer Trail caters to hikers of various skill levels. The main trail offers a moderate hike that is suitable for most, with clear paths and some steep sections. For those seeking a more challenging experience, the Adventure Trail presents more difficult terrain, including steep climbs and narrow passages that require careful navigation. It’s important for hikers to assess their skill level and prepare accordingly, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hike.

The Importance of the Trail to Manitoulin’s Natural Landscape

The Cup and Saucer Trail holds a special place in Manitoulin Island’s natural landscape, both for its stunning scenic beauty and its ecological significance.

The trail traverses a part of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve, highlighting the unique geological features and biodiversity of the area.

This escarpment is home to ancient cedar forests, limestone cliffs, and a variety of wildlife, making the trail a vital part of the island’s natural heritage.

Hiking the Cup and Saucer Trail not only offers an opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of Manitoulin Island but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the island’s diverse ecosystems and geological history.

It’s a reminder of the importance of preserving natural landscapes for future generations to enjoy.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking a new challenge or someone looking to immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility, the Cup and Saucer Trail promises an unforgettable experience that highlights the best of Manitoulin Island’s natural wonders.

4. Discover the Underwater World: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Scuba diving

Manitoulin Island, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, also offers a hidden treasure beneath its surrounding waters.

The island’s unique geological formations extend into the lakes around it, creating an underwater world that is as diverse and beautiful as the island itself.

Scuba diving and snorkeling around Manitoulin Island present an extraordinary opportunity to explore this aquatic wonderland, revealing a side of the island that many visitors never get to see.

The Best Spots for Diving and What You Can See

Bridal Veil Falls Kettle: Just off Kagawong, divers can explore the underwater kettle below Bridal Veil Falls. This natural formation was created by retreating glaciers and is now a fascinating dive site, especially after a heavy rain when the waterfall is at its most powerful.

The M.S. Chi-Cheemaun Wreckage: Near South Baymouth lies a hidden gem for wreck enthusiasts – the remnants of the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun. Although it’s a more advanced dive due to its depth and currents, the site offers an intriguing glimpse into the island’s maritime history.

Benjamin Islands: For snorkelers and beginner divers, the shallow waters around the Benjamin Islands offer clear visibility and a chance to see a variety of freshwater fish, sunken boulders, and underwater flora.

These locations, among others around Manitoulin Island, provide a vivid tableau of underwater life, from historic shipwrecks and glacial formations to vibrant aquatic ecosystems.

Divers and snorkelers can expect to encounter a range of freshwater species, including bass, trout, and the mesmerizingly colorful sunfish, as well as unique geological formations that tell the story of the region’s natural history.

Information on Rentals and Guided Tours

For those looking to dive into the underwater adventures that Manitoulin Island has to offer, there are several local businesses that provide rental equipment, including scuba gear and snorkeling sets, ensuring that visitors have everything they need to explore safely.

These establishments cater to both beginners and experienced divers, offering basic snorkeling equipment to advanced scuba gear.

Moreover, guided tours are an excellent way for visitors to discover the best underwater sites around the island.

Local dive shops and tour operators offer a range of experiences, from half-day snorkeling excursions to full-day scuba diving adventures, all led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the local marine environment and safety protocols.

These guided tours not only ensure a safe and enjoyable experience but also provide valuable insights into the ecological significance and history of the sites visited.

Discovering the underwater world of Manitoulin Island offers a unique perspective on the natural beauty and ecological diversity of the region.

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first-time snorkeler, the clear waters of Manitoulin provide an unforgettable adventure that highlights the island’s commitment to preserving its natural treasures both above and below the water.

5. Experience the Manitoulin Island Country Fest

Manitoulin Island Country Fest

Manitoulin Island is not just a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers; it also serves as a vibrant cultural hub, particularly highlighted by the annual Manitoulin Island Country Fest.

This beloved event brings together music lovers from across the country, offering a unique blend of country music performances, community spirit, and the picturesque backdrop of Manitoulin’s natural beauty.

Insight into the Festival’s History and Cultural Significance

The Manitoulin Island Country Fest began as a celebration of country music and has since grown into an integral part of the island’s cultural landscape.

It underscores the community’s dedication to preserving and showcasing music as a form of storytelling and cultural expression.

Over the years, the festival has not only attracted top country music talent from Canada and beyond but has also become a platform for local and emerging artists to perform alongside established names.

Its growth reflects the strong community spirit of Manitoulin Island and the importance of music in connecting people, celebrating heritage, and creating lasting memories.

Highlights of What to Expect: Music Genres, Artists, and Activities

Music Genres and Artists:

The Manitoulin Island Country Fest features a wide array of country music styles, from classic country hits and bluegrass to contemporary country and country-rock.

Attendees can expect performances from award-winning artists and bands, promising a lineup that appeals to all ages and tastes.

The festival prides itself on its ability to blend musical traditions with modern country sounds, ensuring that every performance is unique and memorable.


Beyond the music, the Country Fest offers a range of activities designed to enhance the festival experience.

These include line dancing workshops, meet-and-greet opportunities with the artists, and a variety of food and craft vendors showcasing local products.

For families, the festival provides children’s entertainment and activities, making it a perfect event for music fans of all ages.

Set against the stunning backdrop of Manitoulin Island’s natural landscapes, the Country Fest is more than just a music festival; it’s an immersive cultural experience.

The combination of breathtaking scenery, heartfelt music, and a welcoming community atmosphere makes the Manitoulin Island Country Fest a must-visit event for anyone looking to experience the heart and soul of Manitoulin’s vibrant cultural scene.

Whether you’re a longtime country music fan or simply looking to enjoy a weekend filled with good music, good food, and good company, the Country Fest promises unforgettable moments and a deep connection to the island’s cultural heritage.

6. Fishing in Manitoulin’s Freshwaters

Manitoulin Island fishing

Manitoulin Island, with its myriad of lakes and rivers nestled within the world’s largest freshwater island, is a fishing enthusiast’s paradise.

The island’s pristine waters are teeming with a diverse array of fish species, making it an ideal destination for anglers of all skill levels seeking a memorable fishing experience.

The Variety of Fish Species Available

Manitoulin Island’s freshwater ecosystems are home to an impressive variety of fish, offering anglers the opportunity to catch everything from smallmouth bass and walleye to northern pike and perch.

Lake trout and rainbow trout are also abundant in the deeper, cooler waters of some of the island’s lakes.

The diverse habitats found across Manitoulin, from fast-flowing rivers to tranquil lakes, provide ideal conditions for different species, ensuring that every fishing trip can offer something new and exciting.

Recommendations for Fishing Spots and Local Fishing Guides

Fishing Spots:

Some of the most popular fishing locations on Manitoulin Island include Lake Mindemoya, Lake Manitou, and Lake Kagawong.

Each lake has its unique charm and preferred species.

Lake Mindemoya is well-known for its walleye and smallmouth bass, while Lake Manitou, the largest lake on the island, offers excellent opportunities for catching lake trout and whitefish.

Lake Kagawong, often praised for its scenic beauty, is another great spot for anglers targeting bass and pike.

Local Fishing Guides:

For those unfamiliar with the waters of Manitoulin or looking to maximize their fishing experience, hiring a local fishing guide can be invaluable.

Many guides offer services that include not only expert advice on where to find the best fishing but also provide all the necessary equipment and boats.

Guides can tailor your fishing adventure to your preferences, whether you’re a seasoned angler looking for a specific catch or a beginner eager to learn the ropes.

7. Kayaking and Canoeing Adventures

lake huron kayaking

The serene and expansive waters of Manitoulin Island offer an idyllic backdrop for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts.

With its numerous lakes, rivers, and a stunning coastline along Lake Huron, Manitoulin is a paddler’s paradise.

These waters not only provide a peaceful escape into nature but also unveil the island’s breathtaking landscapes from a unique vantage point.

Best Locations for Paddling Experiences

South Bay and Lake Manitou: For a tranquil paddle, South Bay and Lake Manitou are perfect.

South Bay’s sheltered waters are ideal for beginners, while Lake Manitou, being the largest lake on the island, offers more extensive explorations, with numerous inlets and bays to discover.

Mindemoya Lake:

Another excellent spot is Mindemoya Lake, where paddlers can enjoy clear waters and the chance to visit Treasure Island, the largest island in a lake on an island in the world.

Its calm waters make it suitable for families and paddlers of all skill levels.

Providence Bay and Kagawong River:

For those looking for a bit more adventure, the shores of Providence Bay provide opportunities for sea kayaking, where you can ride the waves of Lake Huron.

The Kagawong River offers a scenic paddle through lush forests, with opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Rental and Guided Tour Information

For visitors who do not have their own equipment, Manitoulin Island caters to your needs with several rental services offering kayaks, canoes, and all necessary safety gear.

These rentals are available at key locations around the island, including Providence Bay, Mindemoya, and Kagawong, ensuring easy access to the water no matter where you’re staying.

Guided Tours:

For those looking to enhance their paddling experience, guided tours are available and highly recommended.

These tours are led by knowledgeable local guides who can take you to hidden gems and share stories about the island’s rich history and ecology.

Whether you’re interested in a half-day excursion or a multi-day adventure, these guided tours can be customized to suit your interests and skill level.

8. Local Art and Culture Exploration

Manitoulin Island art

Manitoulin Island is not just a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a vibrant hub for artists and cultural practitioners.

The island’s stunning landscapes and unique cultural heritage have inspired a thriving arts scene.

Exploring Manitoulin’s local art galleries and cultural centers offers visitors a deeper understanding of the island’s history, traditions, and the contemporary expressions that make it a special place.

Highlighting Local Art Galleries and Cultural Centers

Perivale Gallery:

Situated in a picturesque setting, Perivale Gallery showcases a wide range of artwork from some of Ontario’s finest artists.

With its diverse collection that includes paintings, sculptures, and indigenous art, the gallery provides a comprehensive look into the rich artistic talents found on Manitoulin Island and beyond.

The Ojibwe Cultural Foundation:

This cultural center serves as a gateway to the Anishinaabe culture of Manitoulin Island and the Great Lakes region.

Visitors can explore exhibits on traditional and contemporary Indigenous art, participate in workshops, and attend cultural ceremonies.

The foundation also offers educational programs that delve into the Ojibwe language, storytelling, and crafts, providing an immersive cultural experience.

Kagawong Art Galleries:

The charming village of Kagawong is home to several art galleries, each offering a unique collection of local art and crafts.

These galleries not only display the work of Manitoulin artists but also serve as gathering spaces for the community and visitors to engage with the arts through exhibitions, workshops, and live performances.

Special Events or Workshops that Visitors Can Attend

Manitoulin Island’s cultural calendar is dotted with events and workshops that celebrate the island’s artistic and cultural vibrancy. These include:

The Manitoulin Art Tour:

An annual event that invites visitors to explore the studios and galleries of local artists across the island.

This self-guided tour is a fantastic opportunity to meet artists, learn about their processes, and purchase unique pieces directly from the creators.

Workshops at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation:

The foundation regularly hosts workshops on traditional crafts such as beadwork, basket weaving, and birchbark canoe building.

These workshops are open to visitors of all ages and provide hands-on learning experiences that are both educational and fun.

Music and Cultural Festivals:

Throughout the year, Manitoulin Island hosts several festivals that showcase local music, dance, and art.

These events are a great way to experience the island’s diverse cultural expressions in a festive and welcoming atmosphere.

9. Visit the Assiginack Museum

Assiginack Museum

Nestled in the picturesque town of Manitowaning on Manitoulin Island, the Assiginack Museum stands as a testament to the island’s rich history and cultural heritage.

This museum not only preserves the stories of Manitoulin’s past but also offers visitors an insightful glimpse into the lives of the island’s Indigenous peoples, early settlers, and the development of local communities over the centuries.

The Museum’s Role in Preserving Manitoulin’s History

The Assiginack Museum plays a crucial role in the preservation and celebration of Manitoulin Island’s history.

Housed in a historical building that once served as the Manitowaning Manitoulin District Courthouse, the museum’s collections and exhibits are meticulously curated to showcase the island’s diverse heritage.

Through a wide array of artifacts, photographs, and documents, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the island’s development, from its Indigenous roots to European settlement and beyond.

The museum serves as an educational resource for both locals and visitors, ensuring that the stories and traditions of Manitoulin Island are preserved for future generations.

Must-See Exhibits and Attractions Within the Museum

Indigenous Heritage:

One of the museum’s highlights is its extensive collection of Indigenous artifacts, including beadwork, quillwork, and traditional clothing.

These pieces offer insight into the craftsmanship, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs of the Anishinaabe people of Manitoulin Island.

Pioneer Life:

The museum also features exhibits dedicated to the early settlers and pioneers who shaped the island’s history.

From farming implements and household items to historical photographs, these exhibits paint a vivid picture of daily life on Manitoulin in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Maritime History:

Given Manitoulin’s strategic location in the Great Lakes, the museum boasts a fascinating collection related to the island’s maritime history.

This includes models of ships that once navigated the surrounding waters, as well as artifacts from shipwrecks and the island’s historic lighthouses.

Special Exhibitions and Events:

The Assiginack Museum regularly hosts special exhibitions and events that delve deeper into specific aspects of Manitoulin’s history or highlight contemporary issues and art.

These events often feature guest speakers, workshops, and interactive displays, providing an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

10. Golfing on Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island Golf

Manitoulin Island offers a unique and serene golfing experience that stands out in Ontario’s rich tapestry of golf destinations.

With its picturesque landscapes and tranquil surroundings, golfing on Manitoulin Island is not just about the game but also about enjoying the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere that the island has to offer.

Overview of Golf Courses Available

Manitoulin Island is home to several golf courses, each offering its own unique challenges and scenic beauty.

These courses cater to golfers of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned players seeking to test their skills.

  • Brookwood Brae Golf Course: Nestled in the heart of Manitoulin Island in Mindemoya, Brookwood Brae is known for its well-maintained fairways and greens set against the backdrop of the island’s natural beauty. This 9-hole course offers a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Manitoulin Island Country Club: Located near Gore Bay, this 9-hole course offers panoramic views of the North Channel. With its challenging layout and the natural obstacles provided by the island’s landscape, it provides a stimulating round for golfers of all abilities.
  • Rainbow Ridge Golf Course: This 18-hole course in Manitowaning offers a more challenging experience, with a variety of holes that take advantage of the rolling terrain and natural water hazards. It’s known for its excellent condition and the strategic thinking required to navigate its fairways and greens.

11. Relax at Manitoulin’s Beaches

Manitoulin Island Beach

Manitoulin Island, with its extensive coastline along Lake Huron and numerous inland lakes, offers some of the most serene and beautiful beaches in Ontario.

The island’s beaches are celebrated for their crystal-clear waters, soft sands, and the tranquil atmosphere that invites relaxation and rejuvenation.

From secluded coves to expansive shores with stunning sunsets, Manitoulin’s beaches provide the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation or fun-filled activities.

Overview of Top Beaches and Their Characteristics

Providence Bay Beach:

Renowned for having some of the finest sand in Northern Ontario, Providence Bay Beach stretches impressively along the shores of Lake Huron.

Its long boardwalk, children’s playground, and picnic areas make it a family-friendly destination.

The beach is also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball.

Manitowaning Bay Beach:

Located near the town of Manitowaning, this beach offers a quieter setting with beautiful views of Manitowaning Bay.

It’s an excellent spot for swimming and picnicking, with amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables available.

Kagawong Beach:

Situated near the mouth of the Kagawong River, Kagawong Beach is a picturesque spot known for its scenic beauty and proximity to Bridal Veil Falls.

The beach area is perfect for a relaxing day spent swimming, kayaking, or simply enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Misery Bay Provincial Park:

Although more known for its hiking trails and nature reserve, Misery Bay also offers a unique beach experience on the shores of Lake Huron.

The beaches here are more rugged and natural, ideal for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a day in a more secluded setting.

Best Times to Visit and What to Bring

Best Times to Visit:

The best time to enjoy Manitoulin’s beaches is during the summer months, from late June to early September, when the weather is warm and sunny.

July and August offer the warmest temperatures for swimming.

For those looking to avoid the crowds, visiting on weekdays or during the early mornings and late afternoons can provide a more secluded beach experience.

What to Bring:

When planning a day at the beach, it’s essential to come prepared. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are a must to protect against the sun’s rays.
  • Beach Gear: Bring along beach towels, chairs, and an umbrella for comfort. A beach blanket can also be useful for picnics.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and energized with plenty of water and snacks. Consider packing a cooler for longer stays.
  • Water Shoes: Some beaches may have rocky areas, so water shoes can provide extra protection.
  • Entertainment: Books, frisbees, and beach toys can enhance your beach day, especially if visiting with children.

12. Sample Local Cuisine and Shopping

Manitoulin Island Food

Manitoulin Island is not just a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers; it’s also a treasure trove of culinary delights and unique shopping experiences.

The island’s culinary scene is a reflection of its rich cultural heritage and abundant natural resources, offering visitors a chance to taste fresh, locally sourced dishes and shop for one-of-a-kind items that embody the spirit of Manitoulin.

Introduction to Manitoulin Island’s Culinary Scene

The culinary landscape of Manitoulin Island is as diverse as its natural environment, with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

From succulent seafood caught in the surrounding Great Lakes to organic produce grown on island farms, Manitoulin’s cuisine showcases the best of what the region has to offer.

Visitors can indulge in a variety of dining experiences, from casual cafes and bakeries offering homemade treats to fine dining restaurants serving gourmet dishes with a local twist.

Indigenous culinary traditions also play a significant role in Manitoulin’s food scene, with opportunities to experience authentic Anishinaabe dishes and learn about the island’s Indigenous heritage through food.

Recommendations for Dining and Local Products to Look For

Dining Recommendations:

  • The School House Restaurant: Located in Providence Bay, this restaurant is known for its creative dishes that incorporate local ingredients, offering a modern dining experience in a historic setting.
  • Garden’s Gate Restaurant: Offering farm-to-table meals in a charming country setting near Tehkummah, this establishment is perfect for those seeking organic and locally sourced dishes.
  • Manitoulin Brewing Co.: For a taste of local brews, visit Manitoulin Brewing Co. in Little Current. Enjoy a selection of craft beers that capture the essence of the island.

Local Products to Look For:

  • Maple Syrup: Manitoulin Island produces some of the finest maple syrup in Ontario. Look for local producers at farmers’ markets or specialty shops.
  • Wild Rice: Harvested from the island’s lakes, wild rice is a delicious and nutritious local product that reflects Manitoulin’s Indigenous culinary heritage.
  • Fresh Fish and Seafood: Given its location, Manitoulin Island offers an abundance of fresh fish, including trout and whitefish. Local smokehouses offer smoked fish that is a must-try.
  • Artisanal Goods: Manitoulin is home to many artisans and craftspeople. From handmade soaps and candles to unique jewelry and art, shopping on Manitoulin Island means finding something special that tells a story of the island’s culture and creativity.

Practical Information for Visitors

Manitoulin Island

Planning a visit to Manitoulin Island is an exciting endeavor, offering a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and a wide array of activities.

To ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience, here’s some practical information covering accommodation options, transportation, and the best times to visit based on your interests.

Accommodation Options: From Camping to Luxury Stays

Manitoulin Island caters to all preferences and budgets when it comes to finding a place to stay.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic camping experience under the stars or a luxurious retreat with all the comforts of home, Manitoulin has something for everyone.

  • Camping and RV Parks: For those who love the great outdoors, Manitoulin offers numerous camping sites and RV parks. From waterfront sites to forested campgrounds, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the natural beauty of the island up close. Providence Bay Tent and Trailer Park and Batman’s Cottages and Campground are popular choices offering great amenities and scenic locations.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Manitoulin Island is home to many charming bed and breakfasts, providing a cozy and personal accommodation experience. These establishments often offer a glimpse into local life, with hosts happy to share their knowledge of the island. Places like the Queen’s Inn in Gore Bay or the Rockville Inn B&B offer comfortable stays with delicious breakfasts.
  • Hotels and Resorts: For those seeking more luxurious accommodations, Manitoulin has several hotels and resorts that offer a wide range of amenities. The Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre in Little Current, for example, provides modern accommodations with stunning views of the North Channel.

Transportation: Getting to and Around Manitoulin Island

Getting to Manitoulin:

The island is accessible by road and ferry.

The MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry operates between Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin, offering a scenic route to the island during the warmer months.

Alternatively, visitors can drive to Manitoulin via Highway 6, crossing the swing bridge at Little Current.

Getting Around:

While on the island, having a car is the most convenient way to explore its vast landscapes and attractions. Car rentals are available in larger towns like Little Current.

For the more adventurous, biking is a popular option, though it’s best suited for those prepared for longer distances and varying terrain.

Best Time of Year to Visit Based on Activities of Interest

The best time to visit Manitoulin Island depends on what you’re looking to do:

  • Summer (June to August): Ideal for beach-goers, hikers, and those interested in kayaking, canoeing, or attending local festivals like the Manitoulin Country Fest. The weather is warm, and the island is vibrant with activities and events.
  • Fall (September to October): Perfect for those who love autumn colors and cooler hiking conditions. This time of year is also great for fishing and experiencing the island’s arts and culture scene without the summer crowds.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter transforms the island into a snowy wonderland, ideal for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. While some services may be limited, the beauty of the island in winter is unmatched.
  • Spring (April to May): As the island awakens from winter, this season is best for those looking to enjoy the tranquility of Manitoulin without the peak season crowds. Bird watching and early season hiking are particularly rewarding as nature comes back to life.


Manitoulin Island, a jewel nestled in the heart of Canada’s Great Lakes, offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a diverse array of activities that cater to every visitor’s desire.

From the majestic Bridal Veil Falls and the rugged trails of the Cup and Saucer to the tranquil waters perfect for kayaking and the vibrant local art scene, Manitoulin Island invites adventurers, nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and culinary explorers to immerse themselves in its unique charm.

As we’ve journeyed through the 12 amazing things to do on Manitoulin Island, it’s clear that this destination is more than just a place to visit; it’s an experience that connects you with the essence of the natural world and the cultures that have thrived here for centuries.

Whether you’re hiking through ancient forests, sampling the local cuisine, participating in a traditional Indigenous ceremony, or simply relaxing on one of the island’s pristine beaches, Manitoulin offers a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and engage with something truly special.

Manitoulin Island’s appeal lies not only in its activities and attractions but in the stories, traditions, and people that make this place what it is.

The island’s community is welcoming and proud to share their home with visitors, offering insights into a way of life that is deeply connected to the land and the waters that surround it.

manitoulin island canada

FAQ’s About Manitoulin Island:

What is so special about Manitoulin Island?

Manitoulin Island’s unique appeal lies in its status as the world’s largest freshwater island, offering an unparalleled blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a wide variety of recreational activities.

Its landscapes feature stunning lakes, waterfalls, and forests, alongside charming small towns and vibrant Indigenous communities.

The island is a paradise for nature lovers, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and observing wildlife.

The cultural experiences, including Indigenous festivals and local art, add depth to any visit, making Manitoulin Island a truly special destination.

Does anyone live on Manitoulin Island?

Yes, Manitoulin Island is home to a vibrant community of residents who live there year-round.

The population is a mix of Indigenous peoples, mainly from the Anishinaabe group, and non-Indigenous residents.

The island’s communities are spread out across various towns and villages, each with its unique character and charm.

The residents of Manitoulin Island are known for their warm hospitality and deep connection to the island’s natural and cultural heritage.

How do you get onto Manitoulin Island?

Manitoulin Island can be accessed by road and ferry.

The most scenic route is via the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry, which runs between Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island, providing a beautiful approach to the island during the warmer months.

Alternatively, visitors can drive to the island year-round via Highway 6, entering Manitoulin through the iconic swing bridge at Little Current, which connects the island to the mainland of Northern Ontario.

Which country is Manitoulin Island in?

Manitoulin Island is in Canada, situated in Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.

The island is part of the province of Ontario and is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and rich cultural history, reflecting the diverse heritage of Canada itself.

Can you swim on Manitoulin Island?

Yes, swimming is a popular activity on Manitoulin Island, thanks to its numerous clean, clear lakes and beautiful beaches along the Lake Huron shoreline.

With spots like Providence Bay, known for its fine sandy beaches and shallow waters, and the refreshing waters of Bridal Veil Falls, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy swimming in natural settings.

How many days should I spend in Manitoulin Island?

A stay of at least 3 to 5 days is recommended to truly appreciate what Manitoulin Island has to offer.

This allows sufficient time to explore the island’s natural beauty, including its trails, waterfalls, and beaches, as well as to experience its cultural attractions, such as local art galleries, museums, and Indigenous sites.

Those with more time can enjoy a more leisurely pace and discover the island’s hidden gems and seasonal activities.

Is it worth going to Manitoulin Island?

Absolutely, Manitoulin Island is worth visiting for anyone interested in nature, culture, and relaxation.

Its unique combination of scenic beauty, rich Indigenous culture, and diverse recreational activities make it a memorable destination.

Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors, a deep dive into local culture and history, or simply a peaceful retreat in a beautiful setting, Manitoulin Island offers an enriching and worthwhile experience.

Can you see the northern lights from Manitoulin Island?

Yes, it is possible to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis, from Manitoulin Island, especially during periods of strong solar activity.

The island’s low light pollution and clear night skies provide ideal conditions for viewing this natural phenomenon.

While sightings are more likely in the late fall, winter, and early spring months, they can occasionally be observed throughout the year, weather and solar activity permitting.

How do you spend a day on Manitoulin Island?

A day on Manitoulin Island can be spent indulging in a variety of activities, depending on your interests. Start with a morning hike on the Cup and Saucer Trail for breathtaking views of the island.

Afterward, visit Bridal Veil Falls for a refreshing swim beneath the waterfall. Enjoy a local lunch in one of the charming small towns, such as Gore Bay or Little Current.

Spend the afternoon exploring local art galleries or participating in a cultural workshop.

End your day with a relaxing dinner at a restaurant serving local cuisine, followed by stargazing along the waterfront, where you might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

This mix of outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, and relaxation captures the essence of Manitoulin Island’s diverse offerings.

manitoulin island

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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