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101 Budget Friendly Guide to Magdalen Islands

The Îles De La Madeleine, popularly known as the Magdalen Islands, is one of the hidden gems of Canada.

Located directly in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, these islands offer stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape.

The Magdalen Islands’ natural scenery is mesmerizing. You can even take a boat tour to see some of the islands’ wildlife or take a kayak tour to get a closer look at the island’s beautiful coastline.

There are many exciting things to do and many trails to explore.

The Îles De La Madeleine is a perfect vacation destination if you enjoy beautiful beaches, exotic foods, and fascinating historical buildings and culture. 

1. About The Magdalen Islands

The Magdalen Islands, also known as Iles de la Madeleine, is a small archipelago located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the eastern coast of Quebec City, Canada.

The archipelago consists of eight major islands and several tiny islands. These eight islands form a croissant when seen from above. Most of the year, sea ice covers the islands’ entire perimeter and can gain sea level rise to protect the island from winter storms.

The eight main islands of the Îles De La Madeleine are: 

  • Havre-aux-Maisons (Houses Harbor)
  • Havre-Aubert (Albert Harbor)
  • Grande-Entrée (Big Entrance)
  • Grosse-Île (Big Island)
  • Pointe-aux-Loups (Wolf Point)
  • Cap-aux-Meules (Cattle Point)
  • Ile d’Entrée (Entry Island)
  • Brion Island

The Magdalen Islands have a long history that begins with early Native American villages, which French and English people eventually populated. The Acadian legacy of the islands is strong, and French is widely spoken among the locals.

The Îles De La Madeleine are renowned for their unspoiled beauty, pristine beaches, charming lighthouses, red sandstone cliffs, and stunning sunsets.

One of the main attractions of the Magdalen Islands is the annual migration of the gray seals, which can be observed from the shores of the islands.

The Magdalen Islands offer a variety of activities for visitors, including hiking, cycling, and water sports, such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

The Magdalen Islands have a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. 

Magdalen Islands
Photo by user32212 on Pixabay

2. Havre-aux-Maisons (Houses Harbor)

Sloped towards the sea, Havre-aux-Maisons Island is full of natural beauty. Its landscape is treeless and filled with colored homes on the slopes of the hills.

It is the second-largest island among the Magdalen Islands.

Havre-aux-Maisons Island has beautiful beaches, making them the ideal location for swimming, tanning, and beachcombing. It has several picturesque lighthouses, including the Cap-Aux-Meules Lighthouse, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

In addition, there are many exciting activities to try. The town is a favourite location for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, and cycling.

The Ecomuseum is one of several historical places that chronicles the islands’ history.

2.1. Must See Attractions In Havre-aux-Maisons

These aesthetic attractions in Havre-aux-Maisons will steal your heart!

2.1.1. Dune du Sud:

High dunes surround the Dune du Sud (in English, “South Beach”).

The southeast side of the Grande-Entrée and the northeast side of the island of Havre aux Maisons are bordered by Dune du Sud.

Camping is a lot of fun at the beach. There are many eateries and cafés close by, and driving to the beach is simple.

2.1.2. Cap-aux-Meules Lighthouse:

This Cap-aux-Meules Lighthouse is known for its iconic red and white striped tower and stunning views of the surrounding area. It is a popular spot for photo opportunities.

2.1.3. Ecomuseum:

This museum tells the history of the Îles de la Madeleine, including the Native American settlements, the arrival of French and English settlers, and the rich Acadian culture of the islands.

2.2 Top Things to Do in Havre-aux-Maisons

2.2.1. Take a Hike:

Discover the area’s pathways and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2.2.2. Visit the Havre-aux-Maisons Beach:

Enjoy a day of swimming and tanning in the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s warm waters.

2.2.3. Visit the Havre-aux-Maisons Art Gallery:

Take in the area’s rich hues while admiring local artisans’ artwork.

2.2.4. Smoked Herring:

Before leaving the City Hall, visit Le Fumoir d’Antan to taste smoked herring in the beautiful dining room.

3. Havre-Aubert (Albert Harbor)

The most wooded of the Magdalen Islands is Havre-Aubert. This southernmost island offers various outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, gorgeous beaches, and red sandstone cliffs.

The village itself is full of charm and character. It will be easy to see why Havre-Aubert is a popular tourist destination when you see its colourful buildings and cobblestone streets and meet friendly locals.

There are many restaurants, local businesses, cafes, and shops to explore, as well as a variety of art galleries and museums.

In addition, Havre-Aubert Island is home to several breathtaking beaches and the famous La Grave site.

The beaches become fascinating when the sun sets over the horizon and the stars emerge.

la grave
by edcorey/UnlimPhotos

3.1. Top Attractions In Havre-Aubert

Your visit to Havre-Aubert island is incomplete if you miss out on these iconic attractions!

3.1.1. La Grave Lighthouse:

The La Grave Lighthouse is one of the most iconic sites in the area.

The La Grave is a large, flat-topped, rocky island that rises from the ocean floor. It has been safely directing ships into the harbour since 1859 and is one of the oldest lighthouses in the area.

The La Grave Lighthouse is a magnificent building with a height of more than 50 feet. You can climb the stairs to the tower’s summit to obtain a breathtaking perspective of the harbour and the surrounding area.

The stunning views from the top of the tower make the la Grave Lighthouse a favourite location for photographers.

3.1.2. Le Site D’autrefois Inc:

Le Site D’autrefois Inc. is a fascinating destination to see.

It has numerous relics, including those from the French and British colonial eras and objects from the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is also a living museum where you can learn about the history and culture of the Magdalen Islands.

It is the best place for you if you want to know about the history and culture of the Magdalen Islands. 

3.1.3. Centre Culturel de Havre-Aubert:

The Centre Culturel de Havre-Aubert serves as the neighbourhood’s center, offering various activities and events. The center presents theatrical productions, musical events, and art exhibitions.

Additionally, you can view the center’s permanent collection of artworks and antiquities featured by regional and worldwide artists.

This is your best choice if you enjoy theatre, music, and art programs,

3.2. Adventurous Things to Do on Havre-Aubert island

3.2.1. ATV Tours:

Take a guided tour of the island’s trails and explore its remote areas.

3.2.2. Diving:

Take a plunge and explore the island’s rich underwater world.

3.2.3. Horseback Riding:

Saddle up and explore the island’s trails on horseback.

4. Grande-Entrée (Big Entrance)

The Grande-Entrée Island of the Magdalen Islands is famous for its spectacular views. Miles of white sand beaches, rolling hills, sandstone cliffs, and crystal-clear oceans make it the best place for a soothing gateway.

4.1. Top Attractions to Visit on Grande-Entrée Island

4.1.1. Plage du Bassin Est:

Plage du Bassin Est is a stunning stretch of white sand beach surrounded by crystal clear waters.

The beach is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. It’s also a popular spot for bird watching, as it is home to various seabirds. 

The beach is also a well-liked spot for fishing, as the waters are known to be teeming with fish.

4.1.2. Seal Interpretive Center:

The Seal Interpretive Center is a great place to learn about seals and their habitat.

You can observe the seals in their natural environment and learn about their behaviour, diet, and other interesting facts.

The center also offers educational programs and activities for children and adults. 

4.1.3. La Pointe de l’Est:

Located at the eastern tip of Grande-Entrée Island, La Pointe de l’Est is a stunning spot for whale and bird watching.

4.2. Best Things to Do on Grande-Entrée Island

4.2.1. Visit the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse:

This historic lighthouse is the oldest in the province of Quebec and offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River.

4.2.2. Hike the Grande-Entrée Nature Trail:

This 4.5 km loop trail is perfect for a stroll and offers stunning views of the island and its surrounding waters.

4.2.3. Visit the Grande-Entrée Island National Park:

This protected area is home to a variety of wildlife and is the best spot for hiking and camping.

4.2.4. Try Fishing:

The Grande-Entrée Island is also a popular fishing port. Cast your line out to see if you can capture any neighbourhood fish.

5. Grosse-Île (Big Island)

Grosse-Île is home to English-speaking Madelinots and is a National Historic Site of Canada. It is a place where you will find both beauty and history.

Grosse-Île Island is a fascinating place on the Magdalen Islands. You can explore the island’s natural beauty, including its sandy beaches, sandstone cliffs, and stunning views of the St. Lawrence River.

5.1. Best Places to Visit in Grosse-Île Island

These are the best places to visit in Grosse-Île Island to find both beauty and history!

5.1.1. The Irish Memorial National Historic Site:

This site honors the tens of thousands of Irish immigrants that came to Grosse-Île Island during the 19th century. It has a cemetery, a memorial chapel, and a museum.

5.1.2. The Grosse-Île Lighthouse:

This iconic lighthouse was built in 1854. It offers stunning views of the island and the river.

5.1.3. Plage de la Pointe-aux-Loups:

This rocky beach is a breathtaking natural marvel that will leave you speechless.

A tiny bridge leads to the beach on the island’s western side. You’ll be greeted with a stunning view of the ocean and the surroundings when you get there.

5.2. Exciting Things to Try on Grosse-Île Island

5.2.1. Enjoy the Local Flavours:

Grosse-Île is home to various restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

You can enjoy a variety of local dishes, including seafood and traditional Quebecois cuisine, in a top-notch dining room.

5.2.2. Old Harry Beach:

Take a short walk on the sands of Old Harry beach

5.2.3. Salt Mine Museum:

Visit the salt mine museum and learn more about the formation of the Magdalen Islands.

6. Pointe-aux-Loups (Wolf Point)

The Pointe-aux-Loups Island is the smallest among the other Magdalen Islands (aside from Brion). The island is renowned for its beautiful coastline vistas.

The cultural attractions of Pointe-aux-Loups Island are very well known. The island is home to many museums and galleries, along with several festivals and events.

6.1. Best Places to Explore in Pointe aux Loups Island

6.1.1. Pointe-aux-Loups Lighthouse:

The Pointe-aux-Loups Lighthouse greatly influences the history and culture of the area. It has offered a secure path through the dangerous waters of Saint Lawrence for centuries.

Public tours of the grounds and the lighthouse are available to the general public. You may discover more about the past of the lighthouse and the neighborhood.

6.1.2. Pointe-aux-Loups Islands National Park:

The Pointe-aux-Loups Islands National Park is a wonderful location to explore and take in the scenery.

Several islands make up the park, and a system of pathways connects them. You may go riding and trekking on these pathways.

The Pointe-aux-Loups Islands National Park is home to various historic locations, such as the Pointe-aux-Loups Lighthouse and the Pointe-aux-Loups Fort.

6.1.3. Pointe-aux-Loups Beach:

This beach is known for its stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and its white sand and crystal-clear waters.

It’s the perfect spot for a summer day spent lounging in the sun, swimming in the refreshing waters, or even just taking in the breathtaking views.

6.2. Awesome Things to do in Pointe aux Loups Island

6.2.1. Visit the Pointe aux Loups Island Museum:

This museum offers a fascinating look into the island’s history and people.

6.2.2. Visit the Pointe aux Loups Island Art Gallery:

This gallery features a variety of artwork from local artists.

6.2.3. Go Cycling:

Rent a bike and explore the island’s many trails and roads.

7. Cap-aux-Meules (Cattle Point)

The most central island in the Magdalen Islands, Cap-aux-Meules Island, is a popular tourist destination because of its red sandstone cliffs and beautiful boardwalks.

You can explore the islands’ varied topography, ranging from the rocky coastline to the interior’s rolling hills.

7.1. Must-see Places in Cap-aux-Meules

7.1.1. In Sea Excursions:

During the tour, you’ll see various marine life, including seals, dolphins, and whales.

You’ll also get to explore the island’s many coves and lagoons and take in the stunning views of the surrounding coastline.

The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly, providing interesting facts and stories about the island’s history and culture.

7.1.2. Parc des Buck:

The park is home to various wildlife, including bald eagles, seals, and many more.

The park also features a variety of trails, including a boardwalk that winds through the park to explore the area safely and comfortably.

The park also has a beach, which is a great place to relax and take in the stunning views of the surrounding ocean.

It also has a variety of picnic areas and playgrounds, making it a great spot for families to spend time together.

7.2. Wonderful Things to Try on Cap-aux-Meules Island

7.2.1. Club Nautique De Cap-aux-Meules:

Try sailing in the blues of the island. The club also organizes sailing races and regattas throughout the year.

7.2.2. Explore the Lighthouse:

Climb to the top of the Lighthouse for panoramic views of the island and the surrounding waters.

7.2.3. The Borgot Lighthouse:

Visit the Borgot Lighthouse at the tip of Cap Herisse. The Borgot Lighthouse is a great spot for clicking aesthetic photos.

8. Île d’Entrée (Entry Island)

Entry Island is a tranquil, small island with a population of slightly over 400. The island is similar to Grosse-Île in that it speaks English.

The Island is the archipelago’s highest point and is not connected to the other islands of the Magdalen Islands.

8.1. Top Places You Must Not Miss in Entry Island

8.1.1. Big Hill:

The Big Hill is a wonderful location to discover and enjoy the island’s splendor. The views from the top of the hill are breathtaking, with the ocean on one side and the green forest on the other.

Nature enthusiasts like visiting this place.

8.1.2. Phare de l’Île-d’Entrée:

The lighthouse is a well-liked tourist destination. You can climb the tower to gain a beautiful perspective of the island and its surroundings.

The lighthouse is an excellent place to go whale watching because it is home to various whale species.

8.2. Blissful Things to Do in Entry Island

8.2.1. Picnic:

Enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the island’s many beaches.

8.2.2. Watch Seals:

This island is a perfect spot to observe newborn and young pups of seals.

8.2.3. Enjoy the Local Cuisine:

The island is home to various delicious seafood dishes. From fresh-caught lobster to succulent mussels, the freshest seafood of Entry Island is sure to please you.

9. Brion Island

Brion Island is now uninhabited and serves as an ecological reserve. It’s a small island, around 16 kilometers off the Grosse Iles coast.

The island is also home to charming towns and villages where you can buy mouthwatering seafood, regional crafts, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

9.1. Brion Island’s Top Attractions

9.1.1. Explore the Red Dunes:

Brion Island is home to some of Canada’s most stunning red dunes. Take a hike and explore the unique landscape.

9.1.2. Visit the Lighthouse:

Visit the historic lighthouse of Brion Island to learn more about the island.

9.1.3. Sea Kayaking:

Brion Island is a great place to explore by sea kayak. Paddle around the island and explore the coastline.

10. How to Get to The Magdalen Islands?

If you like gorgeous beaches, historical places, exquisite seafood, and charming villages, you do love to know how to get to the Magdalen Islands.

10.1. The Easiest Way Is by Air

Air most easily reaches the Magdalen Islands. Major Canadian cities, including Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax, have frequent flights operated by Air Canada, Air Transat, and Pascan Aviation to the islands.

The average flight lasts around one hour and fifteen minutes.

10.2. The Best Way Is to Take a Ferry from Prince Edward Island

The best way to get to the Magdalen Islands is to take a boat from Prince Edward Island. The boat takes around five hours from Souris, PEI, to the Magdalen Islands.

The most well-liked ferry service is the CTMA ferry, which leaves from Prince Edward Island, The ferry dock, and travels to the Magdalen Islands in about five hours. It is also the nearest port to take a ferry.

10.2.1. Tips to Get the Most of Your Ferry Experience

  • Your seat will be put on a waitlist if you don’t arrive one hour before departure.
  • As soon as you arrive on the boat, proceed to the Ferry deck and queue up at the ticket counter. To avoid confusion with latecomers, you must line up for your ticket. You will pay for your flight (one way only) and receive a boarding permit that you will require to exit.
  • There is only a vending machine for food after you enter the terminal. Many options are available on board for meals and snacks, but you’ll need to come prepared if you plan to dine at the airport.
  • Once you’ve arrived on the islands, there are plenty of ways to get around. You can get around by bike or on foot, as the islands are quite small and easy to navigate.

Insider Tip:

19 is the legal drinking age in Prince Edward Island. Alcohol consumption and purchase in public areas are prohibited, as is giving alcohol to minors.

Only government-owned liquor stores are permitted to sell alcohol, and their hours of operation are limited.

Additionally, the liquor shop is closed on Sundays or public holidays.

11. Where to Stay in Magdalen Islands?

11.1. Château Madelinot:

It is a stunning example of French-Canadian architecture, with its white stone walls, red-tiled roof, and intricate woodwork.

It offers free wifi and parking. It also has an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a fitness center.

The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a picturesque lake, making it a perfect spot for a soothing getaway.

11.2. Domaine Du Vieux Couvent:

The Domaine Du Vieux Couvent is a historic property that provides visitors with a luxurious and comfortable stay. Each room is decorated beautifully and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

This 4-star hotel is smoke-free and offers free wifi, parking, and breakfast.

11.3. Auberge des Îles:

Auberge des Îles is a cozy and inviting place. This inn offers a variety of delicious meals, from traditional French-Canadian cuisine to seafood dishes.

It offers stunning sunsets and ocean views. It is a place that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

12. Best Places to Eat in the Magdalen Islands

A food trail in the Magdalen Islands is the perfect way to experience the unique culture and cuisine of the region. 

La Maison des Pêcheurs, Quai 360, Les Pas Perdus, and Gourmande de Nature are some of the best places to eat.

Magdalen Islands
Photo by Mohau Mannathoko on Unsplash

13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Magdalen Islands?

The best time to visit the Magdalen Islands is during the summer months, from June to August.

This is when the weather is warmest, the days are the longest, and the beaches are at their most beautiful.

Q2. What Is the Climate Like on The Magdalen Islands?

The global average temperature in summer is around 20°C (68°F), while in winter, it can drop to -10°C (14°F).

The islands have climate change of an average of 1,100 mm (43 in) of precipitation per year, with the majority falling in the summer months.

Q3. Are There Any Special Events or Festivals on The Magdalen Islands?

Some of the most popular events include the Magdalen Islands Festival of Sea, the Magdalen Islands International Kite Festival, and the summer festivals.

Final Words

The Magdalen Islands are a must-visit for a breathtaking natural setting. These islands offer stunning views, abundant wildlife, and a sense of tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. So check them out for yourself and see what all the fuss is about!

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