In the mood to experience some beautiful islands? There’s no need to travel very far to do so—in fact, you don’t even need to leave the country. Believe it or not, Canada has plenty of amazing islands of its own, from a remote archipelago with plants and animals you won’t find anywhere else, to a secluded islet with white sand beaches and wild horses. Here are some of this nation’s most fascinating islands to discover.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, this archipelago off the northern coast of British Columbia is sometimes called “Canada’s Galapagos” because of the impressive number of unique flora and fauna that can be found here. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, on the southern end, has been named the top park in North America by National Geographic Traveler for its natural beauty and abundance of Haida art and culture. Hot springs, pristine beaches, and majestic cedar totem poles are just some of the marvels that await on these islands.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland
This island was recently revitalized by multimillionaire and Fogo Island native Zita Cobb’s Shorefast Foundation, making it a haven for artists and architecture buffs. Breathtaking structures like the luxe Fogo Island Inn, plus four artist studios dotted around the island, were designed by Newfoundland native Todd Saunders and stand in stark contrast to their dramatic, rugged backdrops of craggy rocks and crashing waves. In addition to scenic walking trails that lead to various parts of the island, you may also spot herds of caribou, humpback whales, and drifting icebergs during your time here.
Sable Island, Nova Scotia
Situated 300 km southeast of Halifax, this small, narrow, and crescent-shaped island is definitely the most remote part of the province. It’s home to approximately five people year-round, as well as to a population of Sable Island feral horses, who freely roam the windswept beaches, dunes, and bogs. The island is protected and managed by the National Park Reserve of Canada, so permission must be granted for a visit, and it’s not an easy (or cheap) place to get to—you have to charter a small plane or join a tour—and there’s no runway, so poor weather and unsafe landing conditions can cause delays. Still, the effort is well worth it.
Bonaventure Island, Quebec
Known as l’île Bonaventure in La Belle Province, this island located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a paradise for bird lovers and the jewel of the Gaspé Peninsula. It became a bird sanctuary in 1919, and is one of the largest and most accessible in the world. It’s been home to more than 200 different species of birds, including approximately 120,000 Northern Gannets in the summer. The iconic limestone Rocher Percé (pierced rock), one of the world’s largest natural arches, can be viewed from here, or you can catch a cruise for an even closer look.
Baffin Island, Nunavut
Canada’s largest isle and the world’s fifth biggest, this grand northern landscape is home to many varieties of wildlife, including polar bears, lemmings, Arctic foxes, hares, and wolves. Baffin Island is also the perfect place to spot beluga and bowhead whales, seals, walruses, and narwhals at the floe edge. Iqaluit is where one can partake in Inuit culture and traditions; where else can you learn how to build an igloo or stay in one overnight? These are certainly once in a lifetime experiences you’re unlikely to forget.