Biking is the Way to Go!
I don't really do a lot of biking, maybe two days a week to work and back on my cheap old bike from the local grocery store! It is only 18 km total distance each way, but it does involve a very long climb up out of the Saint John River valley when I am headed home. That exercise really helped my legs for the more modest hills on Grand Manan. The island is not very big, so I figure we only biked between 80-100 km during the whole trip. We packed everything that we needed for 3-days into relatively small back packs and we were off! Of course it helped that we were staying in lodgings instead of trying to carry our own camping gear! This photo was taken near the end of our three days, just outside the ticket office with the ferry waiting in the background to the right.
Grand Manan Ferry Service
A pleasant ferry ride that takes about 2 hours. There are numerous scheduled ferries, in the summer season you can catch one just about every coupld of hours. Passanger fare is about CAD$10.00.
One warning tho, if you're prone to seasickness and the weather isn't great, you might want to wait til it improves. Aboard the ferry are some pretty impressive pictures of crossings done in poor weather!
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
Upper Deck Whale Watching
Just like on the 1995 trip, the sun cooperated on the homeward bound voyage and we were able to stay top-side at the stern for the entire 1.5 hour trip. The sun was shining as we left North Head and we soon spotted the two whale watching schooners that had set out from the harbour earlier in the day.
The gaff-schooner D'Sonoqua was some distance off our starboard side so we kept a close eye on her. Sure enough, it was not long before we saw many tell-tale whale spouts erupting from the water in front of the vessel. Using my 10x binoculars, I had a good view of what looked like large Fin whales doing their thing before diving.
All the main roads on the island are paved and they have good unpaved shoulders if you need to get off the main part of the road. The small villages of Grand Harbour, North Head and Seal Cove also have a paved shoulder on one side of the road which makes biking through them easier.
Traffic was not too bad either and the drivers were courteous, giving us a wide berth if there was no on-coming traffic. Using our mirrors, we could spot when a conflict like that could arise and we would move off onto the shoulder in those cases.
The scenery is constantly varying as you bike along, from forests to beaches to villages. A real nice place to bike around (when the sun is shining as it did for us!). This photo was taken between Seal Cove and the turn off to the Anchorage Provincial Park.
The 'Grand Manan V"
Here is the same boat 10 years later, as it is rounding Swallowtail point as it leaves North Head for Black's Harbour. Russell and I were sitting on the headland of Swallowtail Light when I took this photo. During this trip, we drove the car to Black's Harbour, where we left it in a free parking lot beside the wharf. There is no charge to take the ferry across to Grand Manan, you pay for the round-trip before you board for the return trip. In our case, the total fare for one passenger plus a bike was C$13 each (about US$9.50).
Take a Ferry Cruise
Grand Manan can be reached only by air or by a ferry service from Black's Harbour on the mainland coast of New Brunswick. We were up early for the drive from Fredericton and were there in time for the 9:30 AM departure of the 'Grand Manan V'. This 3800 gross ton, 75 metre ferry can carry 300 passengers and 64 automobiles/semi-trailers. She was built in Holland in 1990 and, during the summer months, the older and smaller 'Grand Manan IV' is used to help with the extra tourist traffic. We had a beautiful sunny morning for our 1 hour 40 minute crossing and we spent the time on deck observing the surroundings. Not long after our departure we passed by the low-lying series of rocks known as The Wolves for the havoc they have played on shipping over the years. We were lucky to get an early start on our whale watching because we managed to spot some spouts during the crossing - out came the binoculars for a closer look! During the past summer, there were a combined 7 daily departures by the two ferries, starting at 7:30 AM with round-trip fares of US$7 per adult and US$21 per car. Ferry service to the island first began in 1884.
- Family Travel
- Whale Watching
- Hiking and Walking
Only One Way On or Off
There is really only one way on or off of Grand Manan - the Grand Manan Ferry.
This ferry system - actually 2 boats - provides a safe, relatively quick (1.5 hr) trip from Blacks Harbour, NB to the island of Grand Manan. The ride to the island is free, but it will cost you to get back! The fees vary according to vehicle type, but they are about $CDN38.00 for a car and $CDN9.00 per person.
If it's not too cold outside, the deck is a great place to pass the time getting across.