If you’re craving an island escape this summer, you don’t have to look far. Some of the most stunning, captivating islands in the world are right here in Canada, which means adventure is right at your doorstep. So pack your bags, head to your nearest ferry, and get ready to do some serious exploring before the season ends. Crystal blue waters, hidden waterfalls, and lush rainforests all await!
Here are 11 stunning islands you won’t believe are in Canada.
Situated in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Island is a grand wild landscape – and the largest island in Canada (and fifth largest in the world!). Its dramatic fjords, towering mountains, and vast glaciers create a picturesque scene, captivating the attention of adventure-seekers across the country.
It also happens to be the homeland of the Inuit, who have thrived in the harsh, rugged environment of the island for generations. Visitors have the opportunity to embark on Arctic expeditions and polar sea adventures through Sirmilik National Park, AKA the “Yosemite of the North.” And if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch the mesmerizing Northern Lights!
Where: Nunavut territory
Home to the surf capital of Canada and BC’s provincial capital, Vancouver Island is one of the most popular, accessible, and diverse island experiences on this list. From the rugged coastline to old-growth forests, there are plenty of natural attractions to explore, including the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Victoria’s Butchart Gardens, hiking and kayaking in Ucluelet, and whale-watching tours.
Where: British Columbia
The largest and most popular of BC’s Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is truly a coastal gem – home to breathtaking sandy beaches, a diverse arts scene, and delicious, locally sourced food. Visitors can check out their buzzing outdoor Saturday market with over a hundred vendors (April to October), and hike exciting trails up Mount Maxwell and through the forests of Ruckle Provincial Park. Oh, and fueling up with local cheese at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company.
Where: British Columbia
This group of islands is nestled off of the northern coast of BC, renowned for its rich Indigenous heritage and cultural experiences. The Haida people have called the region home for thousands of years, and visitors can experience their culture through towering totem poles, Haida artistry, and of course, the pristine natural beauty that awaits them. A blend of dense rainforests, sandy beaches, and majestic mountains, the archipelago is a haven for unique wildlife. Visitors can spot bald eagles, whales, and a variety of seabirds – whether they want to kayak or surf, go on a boat tour or hike, or just explore at their leisure.
Where: British Columbia
Situated in Lake Huron in Ontario, Manitoulin Island is the definition of a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The largest freshwater island in the world, Manitoulin has plenty of serene lakes, lush forests, and rocky cliffs to help you unwind away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Visitors can explore multiple hiking trails with breathtaking vistas, hidden waterfalls, and go for a dip in crystal blue waters.
Known as Canada’s southernmost populated island, Pelee Island is a popular place to visit for its swimming, fishing, boating, and rare nature sightings. The quiet and friendly island is especially beautiful in the summertime when the pristine Lake Erie waters and lush trails are best enjoyed. The island is also home to a marina and campground, as well as shops, restaurants, galleries, and a performing arts venue.
Where: Lake Erie Islands
Situated in Thousand Islands National Park, this Ontario island is best enjoyed as a multi-day camping trip, but you can also island-hop by kayak, canoe, or paddleboard or choose your own adventure via its many paddling routes. From storied sunken ships to historic castles, there’s plenty to see here.
Located off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Bell Island stands as a captivating destination steeped in history and natural beauty. Renowned for its rugged cliffsides, pristine beaches, and rich mining heritage, visitors can explore 19th-century mines via guided tours, hike the 29 km Gregory Normore Coastal Trail, and attend a number of community-wide events throughout the summer.
Where: Newfoundland and Labrador
Known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” Sable Island’s shifting sandbars and strong currents have resulted in numerous shipwrecks throughout history. The crescent-shaped island is the epitome of untamed wilderness, home to the world’s largest population of wild horses. Visitors can go on whale and bird-watching tours, hike through backcountry trails, and even go on guided fossil, mineral, and gemstone tours.
Where: Nova Scotia
“Small-town charm” might as well be Prince Edward Island’s middle name. The charming island province is known for its beautiful red sandy beaches, rolling green hills, and picturesque lighthouses – as providing the backdrop of the beloved novel “Anne of Green Gables.” Visitors can explore the locations that inspired the story, as well as enjoy world-class lobster and fresh seafood offerings.
Where: Prince Edward Island
Last but certainly not least, we come to the Magdalen Islands in Quebec. Nestled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the group of islands offers a unique natural landscape, characterized by steep red cliffs, sand dunes, and turquoise waters. The enchanting coastal beauty attracts visitors far and wide, who flock here to enjoy kayaking, windsurfing, and beachcombing.
The local culture is deeply rooted in Acadian traditions, so this is also a great spot to learn more about Acadia. Visitors can explore charming fishing villages, try new seafood cuisine, and check out their many historical lighthouses.
So there you have it – these are some of the most scenic, adventure-worthy islands in Canada – and dare we say it, the world! Happy exploring!