10 Cool Places on Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin island is an enchanting place. With a rich expanse of fascinating historical villages and stunning natural landmarks, you will never run out of things to explore. From the people who love to visit Manitoulin, to the die-hard residents who hold the island close to their hearts - this is for you.
1. The Cup and Saucer Trail (M'Chigeeng)
Located just west of Little Current is the highest vantage point of Manitoulin—and the island’s favourite hiking spot—the Cup and Saucer trail! There are several different paths to choose from, stretching across 12 km and varying in difficulty. The quirky name comes from the rock formations—the jutting-out edge of the Escarpment makes a great cup, and the rock it sits on acts as the saucer. The beautiful lookouts and sprawling landscapes are a staple of any Northern Ontario summer.
2. Bridal Veil Falls (Kagawong)
This beautiful waterfall resides in Kagawong, where Lake Kagawong flows into Lake Huron. It has gained gleaming popularity for good reason: the breathtaking view can be appreciated from many angles—with the help of a sweeping steel staircase that brings you to ground level. You can walk behind the falls and enjoy the gentle spray of water on your face, or you can continue onto the riverside trail to further explore the nature and wildlife that inhibits the falls.
3. Ten Mile Point (Sheguaindah)
You can find this amazing lookout spot about halfway between Sheguaindah and Manitowaning. The panoramic view across to the La Cloche Islands is mesmerizing. The great, big blue water stretches out in front of you endlessly. Who knew something could be so blue? Walk down the pathway to the shore to get a good look at the 400-million-year old rock formations of the Niagara Escarpment - the United Nations has declared it a World Biosphere Reserve.
4. Misery Bay Provincial Park
The only operating day-use provincial park on the island, Misery Bay has a lot to offer—whether you want to explore the 15km of hiking trails or learn about the unique surrounding nature at the information center, the south shores of Manitoulin are definitely worth the trip. The reserve sits on a flat foundation of alvar, a limestone plain that floods in the spring and produces a habitat that welcomes plants and animals often seen in the prairie grasslands. They watch over animals like the Blandings Turtle, which are federally protected.
5. South Baymouth Range Lighthouses
The first Europeans settled in South Baymouth in the 1870s, and the fishing industry began to flourish. In 1898, two range lights were constructed on the shores, as South Baymouth was chosen as the main port for that area. The lighthouses have been tended to ever since—the biggest change being that the lights and fog horn are now automated and no longer need frequent attention. There is a lovely park with boardwalks and gazebos running along the marina.
6. 3 Cows and a Cone (Little Current)
For 20 years, visiting 3 Cows and a Cone has been a special tradition of Manitoulin island - it's the first place you see when you get off the Swing Bridge, and it's the last place you see as you're leaving. Serving delicious and flavourful Farquhar's ice cream, as well as an extensive menu of fresh food, this is a spot everyone loves to visit. 3 Cows Fries, the chip truck, is right next door - where you can order specialty poutines and fish & chips. Enjoy the warm weather outside on the picnic tables - and go back for seconds!
7. Providence Bay Beach
Providence Bay is a point of pride for the island - it is home to a breath-taking beach, which has frequently been called one of the very best in Ontario. The beach is accessible for everyone, equipped with a wooden boardwalk that snakes through the sand, offering gorgeous waterfront views all the way down. Scenic, clean, welcoming, and relaxing...what more could one want from a day on the beach?
8. Meldrum Bay
West of Gore Bay, this village was settled in the 1870s and became a booming lumber and fishing centre. Today, Meldrum Bay is the first Canadian Customs port for boats travelling from Lake Superior and Michigan, and the docks are full of eager fisherman in the summertime. The town is home to fascinating spectacles like a hundred-year-old church, cemetery, general store, and the Mississagi Lighthouse. This beautiful village has an abundance of charm and history, and one should definitely make the trip to the western side of the island.
9. Holy Cross Mission and Ruins (Wikwemikong)
In 1648, the first known European to settle on Manitoulin, Father Joseph Poncet, developed a Jesuit (Roman Catholic order of men) mission near Wikwemikong. The presence on the island wasn't sustained, and it became uninhibited until after 1812. In 1838, a priest by the name of Jean-Baptiste Proulx came to serve the Catholic population. A Jesuit following was properly established, and a church and residence were completed in 1852. In 1954, a fire ravaged the structures and the church interior had to be rebuilt. The residence was too badly damaged, and just the walls are left as evidence of the historical building.
10. High Falls (Manitowaning)
This smaller waterfall is another part of the Niagara Escarpment, located just north of Manitowaning. It may not have the size or extravagance of Bridal Veil Falls, but its simple beauty is something to be admired. There is a grassy picnic area just above the falls where you can appreciate the falls from a safe distance - but if you're feeling adventurous, you can walk down the rocky trail to the bottom of the falls to get a closer look.
There is much, much more to see on Manitoulin island. But I can't do all the work for you - explore for yourself!