Over the years, I’ve heard mention of Deer Island and Campobello Island here and there. When people say Campobello, until this summer, I honestly thought the only thing that was there was the Roosevelt Summer Cottage and a lighthouse.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
You can get to Campobello Island two ways in the summer: over the bridge from Lubec, Maine (passport required as you will have to enter the USA and then cross back over into Canada when you cross the bridge to the island) or via ferry from Deer Island via ferry from Letete, NB.
We chose to travel to Campobello via the ferries from Letete to Deer Island then Deer Island to Campobello, which I would highly recommend as the ferry ride was beautiful and Deer Island is super quaint and fun to visit too.
Our visit to Deer Island was short as we were on our way to catch the Campobello Ferry, but we did stop by the Deer Island Point Park, where we were able to get a look at the famous Old Sow Whirlpool – the largest whirlpool in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world.
It’s out there, I promise! While the whirlpool itself is something best viewed from a boat, it was pretty cool to watch the currents from land and see boats and birds floating backwards and in circles around the whirlpool.
Deer Island is tiny but it has a lot of character. One of the coolest things about the island is the ferry dock. What you see in the photo above IS where you ride on to the ferry. I really didn’t believe it until I saw the ferry arrive.
The ferry ride to Campobello is short and sweet and comes with a small fee. Cash ONLY.
Remember how I said until this summer, I thought that the Roosevelt cottage was the only thing to see on the island? Well, we did see it and it was totally impressive.
I even played croquet on the front lawn!
But it was certainly only one small highlight of my time in Campobello. I mean, if you’ve visited the island before, you know, there’s some pretty EPIC spots to explore.
Pollock Cove is a fantastic spot for collecting sea glass. Not only did I find some great pieces, I also found some great driftwood and dried sea urchins.
We caught the sunset while we were there and the view is great!
Arguably, my favorite spot on the entire island was Head Harbor Lighthouse.
Head Harbor Lighthouse is unique in that you can only access it by foot – at low tide.
See those rusty ladders in the right of the image? Yes, you guessed it. Completely reachable at low tide by walking on the ocean floor.
Accessing the lighthouse at high tide is considered dangerous, treacherous, and deadly as tides rise fast, are strong, and are often misunderstood.
Head Harbor Lighthouse was also an AMAZING spot to watch whales. We were there for hours in the evening and morning and saw countless whales, porpoises, seals, and seabirds.
Despite hearing from locals that the walk to the lighthouse at low tide was tricky and involved some steep ladders and stairs, those who know me, know I just saw that as a challenge I was ready to accept.
And it wasn’t so bad. But if you’re not a fan of steep ladders / stairs – you may want to sit this one out and enjoy the view from the mainland.
Few tips for visiting Head Harbour Lighthouse:
- Check the tide schedules. We were told it’s accessible 2 hours before and 2 hours after low tide.
- Wear shoes with a solid grip. Rocks and ladders are slippery and covered in sea grass and algae.
- Bring cash – there’s a small fee, $5, to do the walk to the lighthouse. I’m told there’s also a guided tour option if you’re interested.
- Rocks on the ocean floor have orange spray painted marks on them to guide you and show you where to walk. Follow them, stay safe ;)
All in all, Campobello was magical and I can’t wait to go back. We only stayed for one night and it definitely wasn’t long enough.
Here’s a few other things to know ahead of your visit!
- We stayed at the Campobello Whale Watch Motel and would DEFINITELY stay there again! It had all the amenities we needed, the owner was super friendly and helpful, great location and we got to enjoy a beautiful campfire at night.
- Dining options are limited and there’s only one restaurant on the island that serves wine and beer. Ordering a cocktail (I’m a caesar girl) is not an option. We ate at the Fireside Restaurant for dinner and Herring Cove Golf Club Restaurant for breakfast.
- Definitely explore the Roosevelt Campobello International Park! We took a drive through the park but the fog was so thick, I didn’t get any decent photos but the views appeared to be STUNNING. Can’t wait to see more of the park next time!
- If you’re planning to take the bridge to get there or leave (we took it on our way home into Maine), make sure you have a valid passport! It’s required.
Above all – bring your camera, bring your whale watching eyes, and have the time of your life.
Campobello Island is truly one of New Brunswick’s best kept secrets.