Up until recently, Dave and I have been lacking in our Ontario travels. We aren't sure why we always looked outside our country for adventure, but we're glad that we finally opened our eyes to everything our home province has to offer.
Lately, we've often said “it took traveling the world to make us finally appreciate our own backyard.” It's been an amazing adventure spending the summer exploring Ontario and one of the highlights was checking out the sights on Manitoulin Island.
Located on Georgian Bay in Lake Huron, it's the largest freshwater island in the world. Just think of exploring 2766 km2 (1167 square miles) of pristine landscape. Part of the Niagara Escarpment, Manitoulin Island offers some amazing nature experiences, and here are our top picks for what you can't miss.
Things to do on Manitoulin Island
5. Bridal Veil Falls
Even our bank teller told us that we have to go to Bridal Veil Falls. It's the number one attraction for everyone traveling to Manitoulin Island. Located right off the road and just a short walk down well-maintained metal stairs, it's a perfect spot for a dip.
Kids loved playing under the falls and Dave and I loved walking behind them to take photographs. Since it's so popular it's quite crowded, but we waited around for the people to clear out and by late afternoon we had it all to ourselves.
4. Eat at the Old Schoolhouse
A vacation wouldn't be complete without a great meal and the best we had was at the Old Schoolhouse. Located in Providence Bay, this fine dining restaurant is set in an old one-room school house dating back to 1898. The ambiance is relaxing and quiet with soft lighting and music making for the perfect evening out.
Chef Greg Niven moved to Manitoulin with his wife Heather in 1996 after honing his skills in Toronto and has never looked back. The French inspired menu offers a touch of class to your Manitoulin vacation at reasonable prices. Make sure to save room for the B52 Crème Brûlée it's delectable.
Make sure to reserve a table, this place fills up! See Website: The Old Schoolhouse Restaurant
3. Sunset Canoe
If you happen to visit at the right time of the month, you can paddle the North Channel under the full moonlight. We were a bit late for the full moon and the weather was a bit rough, so we instead made our way to Otter Lake with Aboriginal Guide Falcon to canoe under the stars.
When visiting Canada, you must give canoeing a try. By booking a trip through the Great Spirit Circle trail, you'll have the chance to canoe with an expert and hear their stories about the vessel that the First Nations introduced to the fur traders and early European explorers.
2. The Great Spirit Circle Trail
Speaking of the Great Spirit Circle Trail, you cannot visit Manitoulin Island without stopping in at the Great Spirit Circle Trail head office on Hwy 552 in M'Chigeeng. There are seven reserves on Manitoulin and the GSCT offers tours and information on the history and traditions of the Anishinabek people.
We spent a great deal of time on the Great Spirit Circle Trail taking part in drum making, an aboriginal feast, watching traditional aboriginal performances and visiting the Ojibway Cultural Centre. It's a fascinating, fun and informative experience. Don't miss it!
Check out packages at The Great Spirit Circle Trail
1. Cup and Saucer Trail
It's the quintessential hike of Mantioulin Island. Heck, it's one of the Quintessential hikes of Ontario! The Cup and Saucer trail surprised us with its rugged terrain and vast views. It starts in a parking lot off the main road and within a couple hundred metres (600 feet or so) the steep rocky climb begins.
Beginner hikers may find it challenging, but stick with it, the payoff is worth the climb up roots, over boulders and through the muddy trail after a rainy night. We didn't expect the views to be so staggering. Climbing up to the second lookout took us up 70 metres (210 feet). The star of the show is the overhanging rock plunging into the valley below.
Looking over the escarpment, lakes, and wetlands is a sight that will take your breath away. We could have spent hours taking photographs of the view.
You can hike this on your own, or take a tour. We highly recommend taking a tour with the Great Spirit Circle Trail. You will learn about native flora and fauna and local customs and legends of the First Nations people.
For more information on Manitoulin Island and the surrounding area visit Northeastern Ontario Tourism.
- Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre – Little Current: The conference centre also has an excellent dining area with patio overlooking the harbour.
- Anchor Inn – Little Current
- Season Family Restaurant – M'Chigeeng
- Gary's Family Restaurant – Little Current
Our trip was provided by Outdoor Ontario as part of the Best of Ontario Outdoor Contest.