Unless you’re new around these waters, you know that there are two Bay of Fundy islands in New Brunswick that have my heart. The otherworldly island of Grand Manan and the mystical, fit-for-a-Mermaid island of Campobello.
I first visited Campobello Island precisely four years ago from the time I hit publish on this post. (Kind of a magical coincidence now that I think of it.) Needless to say, it’s been a mad love affair ever since as we’ve returned to the lighthouse, made lifelong friends, and continued to support the Campobello Whale Rescue Team each year with Sandy Toes Shop profits.
From picture-perfect lighthouses—only accessible by foot at low tide—to dreamy beaches sprinkled with seaglass, to whales and coastal creatures around every corner. Campobello Island is a destination that everyone should experience at some point in their life.
Many of you have asked about visiting Campobello Island this summer, especially since the opening of the Atlantic Bubble. So I decided to put together a little updated guide to planning the perfect Campobello Island Staycation. Complete with everything you need to know about what’s open, what’s not, and how to safely visit the island.
Oh, and you bet I include some of my favourite spots on the island that you simply MUST check out. After all, it’s a 20-minute drive from one end of the island to the other—you’ve got all the time in the world.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Alright, let’s get the whale in the room out of the way.
In the summer months, you do NOT have to go through the United States to get to Campobello Island. And to my American friends, unfortunately, our province and this cozy island are closed for business at the moment.
For New Brunswickers and Bubblers this summer, Campobello Island is accessible via one FREE ferry from L’Étete to Deer Island and one PAID ferry from Deer Island to Campobello Island.
The Deer Island ferry leaves every half hour and the Campobello Island ferry leaves Deer Island every hour on the half-hour from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.
You can access the Deer Island ferry schedule here and Campobello Island ferry schedule here. Plan to budget for $22 one-way for a vehicle and driver, then $5 for each additional adult. Children under 12 sail for free.
Due to COVID-19, you will be required to wear a mask when paying the ferry attendant and on some sails, may be asked to stay in your vehicle. Let’s keep everyone safe by following the rules and don’t forget to pack your mask!
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
If you’re planning to visit Campobello Island, one thing is very important! Make sure to book your accommodations in advance. Campobello Island is a small island, with only so many places to stay!
Our current favourite is the Friar’s Bay Inn & Cottages. Its newly renovated motel is gorgeous and you have an ocean view from each motel room thanks to the design of the motel. You can easily walk across the street to stroll Friar’s Bay Beach and look for seaglass!
Another gem is the Campobello Whale Watch Motel! While you might not have ocean views, you’ll be treated to the warmest welcome from the owners and can enjoy summer evenings by a roaring campfire in the yard. It’s also very centrally located, so you’re just a short drive from all of the action.
Looking to rent a cottage for an extended stay? I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Pollock Cove Resort and you would have a seaglass beach right outside your door!
And if having the perfect cliff top view to watch for whales and boats going by sounds dreamy – why not take a peek at the Starfish Cottage or Whale of a View Cottage? These beautiful cottages are just seconds away from Head Harbour Lighthouse.
Camping more your style? I’ve heard amazing things about the Herring Cove Campground and you have access to an absolutely stunning crescent beach!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Campobello Island may not be the biggest island in the Bay of Fundy, but there are plenty of activities and adventures just waiting for your arrival. And as we enter a summer where outdoor activities are paramount, you couldn’t ask for a better destination to fill your lungs with salty, fresh air and your heart with coastal memories to last a lifetime.
Here are just a few of my favorite mermaid haunts and things to do on the island!
Let’s get real, I could go hunt for seaglass for three-days straight and not get bored.
Campobello Island is a haven for seaglass lovers, with each beach offering a variety of tumbled, frosted colours and pieces for you to find. And trust me, you’re likely to dream about seaglass the minute your head hits the pillow. (You know, if you’re into the magic that is seaglass.)
My favourite beaches for beachcombing are Pollock Cove and Head Harbour Lighthouse on the sandbar at low tide—but if you look hard enough, I’m pretty sure you can find mermaid tears and treasures on any beach around the island.
And if seaglass is your everything—no judgement, I’m right there with you—why not consider planning to visit Campobello Island during this year’s Seaglass September.
After the wild success of the first-ever Campobello Island Seaglass Festival last year, the festival was scheduled to return this September. Of course, things have changed due to festival restrictions so seaglass lovers are encouraged to visit the island during the whole month of September to beachcomb and enjoy the island magic.
For more details on the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival, visit them on Facebook.
Stroll the Grounds of the Roosevelt House
What many people are surprised to learn about Campobello Island is that the late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt spent his summers on the island in the most gorgeous waterfront property. Today, it’s the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
While the park’s historic buildings (including Roosevelt’s estate), restaurant and famous “Tea with Eleanor” are closed to the public this summer, you’re still invited to stroll the grounds, take part in a guided walking tour, snap some photos and enjoy the beautiful park trails. Make sure to check out the park’s updated Park Operations here to plan your visit.
Shop at the Campobello Island Gift House
Your one stop shop for the perfect gift to remember your visit, the Campobello Island Gift House is a must on your trip to the island.
When you visit, you’ll be greeted by the two sweetest dogs, Juno and Jersey—which for dog-lovers makes an amazing trip even better. In the store, browse a variety of gift items from Atlantic Canadian makers and get plenty of seaglass treasures.
Make sure to tell Angela, the owner, that East Coast Mermaid sent you!
Wave to Maine and Friendly Seals at Mulholland Point Lighthouse
One of two picturesque lighthouses on the island, Mulholland Point Lighthouse overlooks Lubec, Maine and the bridge to the US leaving Campobello Island.
It’s certainly going to feel strange not setting foot in Maine, USA this summer but we’ll be waving hello from across the way.
Another bonus to stopping at Mulholland Point? Plenty of friendly seals to entertain you. Don’t forget your camera!
Hit the Sea With Island Cruises Whale Watching
Join Captain Mackie Greene, founding Member of the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, for a sail on the ‘Mister Mathew’ for a whale cruise you’ll remember for a lifetime. A natural whale whisperer, you will not only see plenty of sea creatures and whales; you’ll also get stunning views of the Head Harbour Lighthouse.
And if you love a good sunset, why not consider timing your cruise so that you can enjoy a sunset from the ocean! It’s my favorite time to sail!
To book your cruise with Captain Mac and learn more about sailings, click here.
Explore Head Harbour Lighthouse
Note: At this time, the stairs to get down to the sandbar and lighthouse are under repair and not accessible to the public but rumor has it, they will be open again soon!
Head Harbour Lighthouse—or East Quoddy Lighthouse as its more officially known—is my favourite spot on the island. It’s also on its very own island, accessible only at low tide. It’s like island inception!
But don’t let the tide schedule deter you from visiting. At high tide, it’s absolutely beautiful to see it surrounded by water and it will truly give you a new perspective compared to when it’s accessible at low tide. This is also a GREAT spot to watch for whales, porpoises, bald eagles, and my favourite little island creature—minks that go from land to sea!
At low tide, the fun begins!
For two hours before and after low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor, trek up a few sets of stairs and ladders and make your way to the famous lighthouse.
The views are gorgeous and you may get a look at whales swimming by! And of course, you can always look for seaglass and treasures along the sandbar. I’ve found some pretty spectacular tumbled and frosted pieces here.
Just remember to wear proper footwear if you’re planning to cross over at low tide. The rocks and stairs can be slippery.
Travelling with your dog or little ones? This lighthouse may be better viewed safely from land! And in a COVID world, I would recommend bringing along hand sanitizer for after your trek. You’ll be touching plenty of railings on the ladders (it’s unavoidable) so safety first!
WHERE SHOULD I EAT?
Things are going to look a little different on Campobello Island this year, as some of the well-known restaurants aren’t opening or haven’t opened up yet for the summer. But don’t let that deter you from visiting. The restaurants that are open are crowd-pleasers and you won’t be disappointed!
Vay’s was first on our list when we visited the island for the first time this summer and let me tell you – it did NOT disappoint! I’m still drooling over the Dill Havarti Burger and let me tell you – it was arguably one of the biggest burgers I’ve eaten anywhere. Trust me on this one – you won’t still be hungry after takeout from Vay’s.
From their famous Matty’s Burger to their delicious-looking pizza— Vay’s is the perfect roadside takeout spot for this mermaid after a long day of hunting for seaglass.
For hours and specials, make sure to check them out on Facebook.
Herring Cove Restaurant
Located on the Herring Cove Golf Course, Herring Cove Restaurant has great views, friendly staff and absolutely delicious food! It’s one of my favourite spots for breakfast on the island and with their beautiful outdoor patio, I know we’ll be popping by for a bite during our summer visits.
For hours and specials, like Herring Cove Restaurant on Facebook.
The Pier Waterfront Restaurant
Easily this mermaid’s favorite dining spot on the island, The Pier is a great spot to eat if you’re looking to sit on a waterfront patio and have some drinks and good food. Their caesars are delicious, and it’s arguably one of the best places on the island to catch a sunset with a drink in hand.
For hours and COVID-19 safety protocols, like them on Facebook.
The Porch at Friar’s Bay
The Porch at Friar’s Bay is located next door to our favourite motel – Friar’s Bay Inn and Cottages – and serves the most DELICIOUS breakfast items! If you love fish cakes, you’ve simply got to try their fish cakes and eggs! It’s also the best place on the island to get your coffee, especially if you love an espresso drink.
Check them out on Facebook for hours + menu.
The Scoop Shack
Is there anything better than ice cream on a hot summer day? I think not! And there’s no better place than the Scoop Shack to make all of your ice cream (or milkshake) dreams come true. And it’s located right by the Campobello Island Gift House.
For hours and COVID-19 operating plans, like them on Facebook.
Truly, there is something so special about Campobello Island and I hope that each and every one of you reading this adds it to your summer travel list. Maybe you won’t get there this year, maybe not even next year—but whenever you do, know that it will stay with you always!
It’s definitely got a special place in this mermaid’s heart!
If you’re ready to start planning your NB staycation on Campobello Island, I’m here to help! DM me on my shell phone if you have any questions at all! And I’ll see you on the beach searching for seaglass!