Ready for adventure? We’ve roamed the world’s oceans and lakes to compile this look at eight of our favorite island escapes, from lounging in the palm trees of the South Pacific to paddling with whales in the Bay of Fundy and gazing at grizzlies in Alaska. We’ve also included one escapade that’s so daring, it may never be repeated.
Wedged between the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy is notorious for its massive tides, rising and falling up to 50 feet every 12 hours. At the mouth of the Bay hides a relatively unexplored archipelago of islands, shrouded by the fog that so often blankets this area. The Fundy Isles are sparsely populated—colourful fishing villages, herring weirs and lobster traps dot their coastlines. As the tide ebbs and flows around the islands, rich nutrients are stirred from the ocean floor creating an ecosystem that plays host to a vibrant community of marine life, including at least eight species of whales. Bruce Smith, who has been paddling these waters for over 20 years with his company Seascape Kayak Tours, confirms this complex food web “supports what scientists have identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.”
The eastern shore of Deer Island provides the perfect jumping off point to explore the magic of the West Isles. Deer Island is only accessible by ferry from mainland New Brunswick or via Campobello Island if arriving from Maine. Spend a day paddling the rocky shoreline, then make the two-kilometer crossing to undeveloped Casco Bay Island and choose a beach to set up camp. Enjoy sweeping views of the iconic Head Harbour lighthouse and access to the Isles’ best paddling and wildlife viewing. Don’t let the tranquility fool you; the southern tip of Deer Island is home to Old Sow Whirlpool, the largest in the western hemisphere. To the north, a tricky web of tidal currents race between the islands. Proficiency with chart, tide tables and compass are crucial when navigating these chilly waters. —Harry Daley
If you go: August and September provide the best weather and wildlife viewing opportunities. Based on Deer Island, Seascape Kayak Tours (www.seascapekayaktours.com) offer sunset, half-day, day and multi-day tours in the West Isles.
This article was originally published in Adventure Kayak, Volume 16 • Issue 3. Read this issue.