The Québec maritime Blog
Are you starting to plan your vacation to the Îles de la Madeleine? Read on to find out everything you need to know to ensure a memorable trip to the Islands.
The Îles de la Madeleine are an ideal vacation destination for those who want to combine relaxation with outdoor activities, a dash of culture and tasty food. Since the Islands are located far from the mainland, they are bound to be seen as somewhat exotic. Although they are part of the province of Québec, they are closer to Prince Edward Island, and most travellers opt to take the ferry from there to the Islands. Ringed with long white-sand beaches and striking red cliffs, the archipelago definitely qualifies as one of Canada’s most unique destinations!
How to get there
The ferry from Souris, Prince Edward Island, will take you to the Islands in about five hours. Departures are several times a week (more frequent in high season). Reservations are required and you should make them well in advance, especially if you’re travelling in July or August.
You can also try something different and take a CTMA cruise to the Islands. Offered from mid-June to late September and departing from Montréal, this cruise lasts 8 days and 7 nights, including 3 days on the archipelago and at least one stopover on the mainland. You won’t have to worry about accommodations, since you’ll be sleeping on the boat. Read this blog post about the cruise for more details.
Another option is to fly to the Îles de la Madeleine and rent a car once there.
Exploring the Islands
There are only about 110 km (70 mi.) of roads on the entire archipelago, including the 85 km (55 mi.) that make up the main road, Route 199. You can obviously drive from one end of the archipelago to the other in less than two hours, but the secret to making the most of what the Islands have to offer is to take your time and stop as soon as something piques your interest. As we suggest in this road trip itinerary, one option is to spend a whole day exploring each island. For a more leisurely tour, you can also cycle around the Îles de la Madeleine.
The Islands are nature’s playground, so don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a host of outdoor activities that will get you moving or help you unwind. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, you have many options to choose from.
Sea kayaking is a great way to admire the impressive cliffs of the archipelago from a different angle. Guided excursions are available for all levels.
The nearly constant wind on the Islands provides ideal conditions for many outdoor activities. Why not try out kitesurfing during your visit? Aérosport Carrefour d’Aventures will teach you the basics so you can enjoy this sport in complete safety. Another option is sand yachting, which allows you to experience the thrill of harnessing the power of the wind while staying on dry land.
You can also explore the Islands’ many hiking trails, which offer opportunities to admire the scenery and observe wildlife, particularly seabirds. While walking along the coast, you may well spot a seal!
Finally, the Islands are famous for their many white-sand beaches where you can bask in the sun, build sandcastles and go for a dip in the sea.
Island culture and heritage
The Islanders’ Acadian heritage can be heard in their lilting accents, which adds charm to your visit. Several museums recount the history of the English- and French-speaking people who settled this land and the major role of the fishing industry. Don’t miss the La Grave heritage site, which bears witness to the past with its traditional character and architecture.
The Islanders are also known for their sense of fun! Be sure to participate in the many events that pay tribute to their roots, their talents and their connection to the sea.
Artisans: Expect the unexpected!
There are talented people in abundance on the Îles de la Madeleine. Sand and sea are not only associated with beaches but also inspire local creators. The sand artisans at Atelier Côtier produce sand art of all kinds, while the glassworkers at Verrerie La Méduse use local sand to make stunning glass art that pays tribute to their maritime environment. Visit the studios and workshops of artists and artisans throughout the archipelago—you never know what you’ll discover!
Since fishing is one of the main commercial activities on the Islands, be sure to look out for regional food products labelled Le Bon Goût Frais des Îles de la Madeleine (which means “A Fresh Taste of the Islands”), a true indicator of authenticity and freshness. Behind these products are people who are passionately devoted to their craft, including Johanne Vigneau, chef/owner of the La Table des Roy restaurant and the Gourmande de Nature boutique and workshop, which is dedicated to the culinary arts. Local products not to be missed include the famous Island lobster, craft beers from the À l’Abri de la Tempêtre microbrewery and Pied-de-Vent cheese. Read this blog post for more foodie recommendations.
Where to stay on the Islands
When visiting the Îles de la Madeleine, it makes sense to pick a home base and make day trips from there to explore the archipelago. The Islands offer many options, ranging from bed and breakfasts and hotels to campgrounds. You can even choose to spend the night in unusual accommodations. Wherever you decide to stay, you will quickly notice that each establishment reflects the personality of its hosts. It’s also a good idea to book early, given the popularity of this destination. Consult our directory to see some of your options.
The beauty of the Islands, the many activities on offer and the genuine warmth of the Islanders will make you fall in love with the archipelago. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your vacation in the Îles de la Madeleine!