Discover the Enchanting Beauty of Magdalen Islands: A Comprehensive Guide

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

These islands are located in the middle of the Gulf of St.Lawrence, offering stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape.

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

Table of Contents

1. About The Magdalen Islands

The Magdalen Islands (Iles de la Madeleine) are a small archipelago 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
Magdalen Islands
Photo by user32212 on Pixabay

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 uniquely blends natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. It is renowned for its unspoiled beauty, pristine beaches, charming lighthouses, red sandstone cliffs, and stunning sunsets.

On the shores of the islands, you observe the annual migration of the gray seals – one of the main attractions of the Magdalen Islands.

The Magdalen Islands offer a variety of activities for visitors. On the island, you can also enjoy hiking, cycling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

2. The 8 Main Islands

2.1. 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 in the Anchepelogio.

Havre-aux-Maisons Island has beautiful beaches, making it 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 the best location for water sports, and the Ecomuseum is one of several historical places that chronicles the islands’ history.

2.1.1. Must See Attractions In Havre-aux-Maisons

2.1.1.1. 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 fun experience at the beach. There are many eateries and cafés close by, and driving to the beach is simple.

2.1.1.2. Cap-aux-Meules Lighthouse:
Cap aux meules Lighthouse also called Borgot lighthouse in Magdalen island in Quebec, Canada during summer season
From Depositphotos

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.

2.1.1.3. Ecomuseum:

This museum showcases the history of the Native American settlements, the arrival of French and English settlers, and the rich Acadian culture of the islands.

2.1.2 Top Things to Do in Havre-aux-Maisons

2.1.2.1. Take a Hike:

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

2.1.2.2. Visit the Havre-aux-Maisons Beach:

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

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

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

2.1.2.4. Smoked Herring:

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

2.2. Havre-Aubert (Albert Harbor)

Red cliff in Havre Aubert with waves in the ocean in the St-Lawrence golfe
From Depositphotos

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 colorful buildings and cobblestone streets and meet friendly locals.

There are many restaurants, cafes, 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.

2.2.1. Top Attractions In Havre-Aubert

2.2.1.1. La Grave Lighthouse:

The La Grave Lighthouse is one of the most iconic attractions in the region.

The La Grave is a large, flat-topped, rocky island that rises from the ocean floor. It has been safely directing ships into the harbor 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 harbor and the surrounding area.

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

2.2.1.2. Le Site D’autrefois Inc:

Le Site D’autrefois Inc. is a fascinating destination to see. It is 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, as it has many relics of the French and British colonial eras and objects from the 19th and 20th centuries.

2.2.1.3. Centre Culturel de Havre-Aubert:

The Centre Culturel de Havre-Aubert serves as the neighborhood’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.

2.2.2. Adventurous Things to Do on Havre-Aubert Island

2.2.2.1. ATV Tours:

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

2.2.2.2. Diving:

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

2.2.2.3. Horseback Riding:

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

ÎLE DU HAVRE AUBERT - ILES DE LA MADELEINE

2.3. 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.

2.3.1. Top Attractions to Visit on Grande-Entrée Island

2.3.1.1. Plage du Bassin Est:

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

It is also a home to various seabirds – a popular bird-watching spot.

The waters are perfect for fishing and are known to be teeming with fish.

2.3.1.2. Seal Interpretive Center:

The Seal Interpretive Center is a fantastic place to observe seals and their habitat. You can also learn about their behavior, diet, and other interesting facts.

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

2.3.1.3. 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.

2.3.2. Best Things to Do on Grande-Entrée Island

2.3.2.1. Visit the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse:

This historic lighthouse is the oldest in Quebec City. Here, you can get stunning views of the St. Lawrence River.

Canada, Quebec, National historic site of Pointe au Pere
From Depositphotos
2.3.2.2. Hike the Nature Trail:

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

2.3.2.3. Visit the National Park:

This protected area is home to various wildlife and is the best spot for hiking and camping.

2.3.2.4. Try Fishing:

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

2.4. Grosse-Île (Big Island)

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

Grosse-Île Island is a fascinating place on the Magdalen Islands. You can experience the sandy beaches, sandstone cliffs, and stunning views of the St. Lawrence River.

Overnight on Canada's SECRET Island

2.4.1. Best Places to Visit in Grosse-Île Island

2.4.1.1. The Irish Memorial National Historic Site:

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

2.4.1.2. The Grosse-Île Lighthouse:

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

2.4.1.3. 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 will get a spectacular view of the ocean and the surroundings when you get there.

2.4.2. Exciting Things to Try on Grosse-Île Island

2.4.2.1. Enjoy the Local Flavours:

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

You can indulge in seafood and traditional Quebecois cuisine in a top-notch dining room.

2.4.2.2. Old Harry Beach:

Take a short walk on the sands of Old Harry Beach

2.4.2.3. Salt Mine Museum:

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

2.5. 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 has many museums and galleries where festivals and events occur.

POINTE AUX LOUPS - ILES DE LA MADELEINE

2.5.1. Best Places to Explore in Pointe aux Loups Island

2.5.1.1. 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.

Visitors can take a tour of the grounds and the lighthouse. You may discover more about the past of the lighthouse and the neighborhood.

2.5.1.2. Pointe-aux-Loups Islands National Park:

The Pointe-aux-Loups Islands National Park is beautiful to take in the natural scenery.

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

The PointeauxLoups Islands National Park has the Pointe-aux-Loups Lighthouse and the Pointe-aux-Loups Fort.

2.5.1.3. Pointe-aux-Loups Beach:

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

It’s the perfect spot to spend lounging in the sun, swimming in the refreshing waters, or even just taking in the breathtaking views.

2.5.2. Awesome Things to do in Pointe aux Loups Island

2.5.2.1. Visit the Pointe aux Loups Island Museum:

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

2.5.2.2. Visit the Pointe aux Loups Island Art Gallery:

This gallery features a variety of artwork from local artists.

2.5.2.3. Go Cycling:

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

2.6. 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.

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

2.6.1.1. 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 coastline.

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

2.6.1.2. Parc des Buck:

The park also features a boardwalk winding through, a beach to relax and take in the stunning views of the ocean, and many picnic areas and playgrounds for families and friends to spend time together.

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

2.6.2.1. 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

2.6.2.2. The Borgot Lighthouse:

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

SENTIER DU LITTORAL - ÎLE DE CAP AUX MEULES - ILES DE LA MADELEINE

2.7. 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 highest point in the archipelago and is not linked to the other Magdalen Islands.

2.7.1. Top Places You Must Not Miss in Entry Island

2.7.1.1. Big Hill:

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

Nature enthusiasts like visiting this place.

2.7.1.2. 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 the water is home to various whale species.

Entrance Island Lighthouse, Entrance Island, Gabriola Island , British Columbia, Canada
From Depositphotos

2.7.2. Blissful Things to Do in Entry Island

2.7.2.1. Picnic:

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

2.7.2.2. Watch Seals:

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

2.7.2.3. 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.

2.8. 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 has charming towns and villages where you can buy mouthwatering seafood, regional crafts, and many souvenirs.

2.8.1. Brion Island’s Top Attractions

2.8.1.1. 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.

2.8.1.2. Visit the Lighthouse:

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

2.8.1.3. Sea Kayaking:

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

Magdalen: The Island of Shipwreck Survivors | Legends of Magdalen | Timeline

3. How to Get to The Magdalen Islands?

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

3.1. 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 to the islands operated by Air Canada, Air Transat, and Pascan Aviation.

The average flight lasts around one hour and fifteen minutes.

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

Taking a boat from Prince Edward Island is the best way to get to the Magdalen Islands. 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.

Tips to Get the Most of Your Ferry Experience

  • If you don’t arrive one hour before departure, your seat will be on the waitlist.
  • As soon as you arrive on the boat, proceed to the Ferry deck and queue 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 meals and snacks are available on board, but 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. The islands are small and easy to navigate; you can get around by bike or on foot.

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.

On the island, Only government-owned liquor stores are allowed to sell alcohol, and their hours of operation are limited.

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

4. Where to Stay in Magdalen Islands?

4.1. Château Madelinot:

Screenshot from Château Madelinot
Screenshot from Château Madelinot

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

The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a picturesque lake, making it a perfect spot for a soothing getaway.
It has an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a fitness center, with free wifi and a parking plot.

4.2. 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.

4.3. 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 that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

5. 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.

6. Frequently Asked Questions

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

The best time to visit the Magdalen Islands is from June to August 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 islands have climate change of an average of 1,100 mm (43 in) of precipitation per year, with an average temperature in the summer around 20°C (68°F), while in the winter, it can drop to -10°C (14°F).

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 feature stunning vistas and wildlife and a sense of tranquillity that is hard to find elsewhere.

So, if you are around, don’t miss the chance to observe the magic of nature.

8 Best Places To Visit Near Magdalen Islands

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