It’s the most magical time of the year in New Brunswick because September is upon us, and that means it’s time to island hop to the beloved Campobello Island for their annual seaglass festival!
This will be my third year attending the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival, which for the last two years, is now celebrated for the whole month of September in the wake of the pandemic. Which means you have not one, but multiple weeks and weekends to visit the island and beach comb to your heart’s content.
Every year, many of you reach out with questions about attending, from how to get to Campobello Island to where to eat and of course, the million dollar question, what beaches have the best seaglass.
And what kind of mermaid would I be if I didn’t help a fellow seaglass siren out?
Here’s everything you need to know about attending the 2021 Campobello Island Seaglass Festival.
When to Visit the Island
It’s affectionately called Seaglass September, which means you can visit all month long to get your seaglass fill during the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival. But if you’ve got your heart set on having plenty of dining options and zero hiccups with the ferry crossings, my mermaid advice would be to plan your trip for one of the first three weeks of September.
This year we’re looking forward to the return of the Beachcomber’s Bazaar, which will be taking place at the Campobello Island Gift House on Saturday, September 18th between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm and Saturday, September 25th between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
These events will be the perfect opportunity to do a little high tide treasure hunting and meet fellow beachcombers and seaglass lovers.
If you’re planning to attend the weekend of the 10th, 11th, and 12th, you’ll very likely spot myself and Mama Mermaid on the island for our annual girl’s seaglass trip. And I may or may not be working on something fun with the festival organizer, Stephanie, so keep your eyes peeled on the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival Facebook page for updates.
How to Get to the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival
This is probably the number one question I get asked about visiting Campobello Island. How do I get there and do I need a passport?
A common misconception is that you have to go through the United States to get to Campobello Island, which would make it impossible right now for Canadians. Well, worry pas les amies. For Canadians, 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 from the mainland and the Campobello Island ferry leaves Deer Island every hour on the half-hour from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. To be in the know about schedule changes, delays or cancellations due to weather, make sure to like the East Coast Ferries Facebook Page.
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.
While on the island, you will notice a vehicle bridge that connects to Lubec, Maine, but for all things salty, don’t try to cross it as you will be turned away on the other side for trying to enter the United States. Stay on the island, they have seaglass 😉
Where to Stay on the Island
Campobello might be an island, but it has a variety of wonderful places for you to stay during your Seaglass September visit. But if you’re planning to visit, make sure to book your accommodations in advance as the island can be quite busy due to the festival!
Here are some of my favourites, as well as others that I have heard nothing but wonderful things about on the island:
Friars 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!
Campobello Whale Watch Motel: This one is another gem! 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.
Pollock Cove Resort: Beautiful oceanfront cottages right on one of the most popular seaglass beaches, Pollock Cove. These cottages are perfect for an extended stay and I have heard many stories about whales swimming by while you enjoy coffee on your deck.
The Starfish Cottage or Whale of a View Cottage: If having the perfect cliff top view to watch for whales and boats going by sounds dreamy then these are the cottages for you! And they’re located just seconds away from Head Harbour Lighthouse—a mermaid favourite!
Herring Cove Campground: If camping is more your style, I’ve heard amazing things about the Herring Cove Campground and you have access to an absolutely stunning crescent beach!
Where to Eat on the Island
All that seaglass hunting can make for hungry beachcombers. From my experience, planning your meals and dining experiences is the key to happy bellies and avoiding disappointment. This might be one of the trickier parts about planning your visit to the island, but I promise, it’s still totally worth it!
As the busy summer season comes to an end, some restaurants may have already closed for the season. I will definitely try to keep this post updated as I receive more updates, so make sure to check back or check the businesses Facebook pages before leaving.
Trust me when I say, the restaurants that are open are crowd-pleasers and you won’t be disappointed!
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 dreams come true. And it’s located right by the Campobello Island Gift House. The Scoop Shack is officially closing for the season on Sunday, September 12th. All the more reason to visit the island soon!
Vay’s Takeaway: It might just be a food truck across the street from Pollock Cove but let me tell you—Vay’s is not to be missed if you love a delicious burger or deep fried goodness! I’m still drooling over the Dill Havarti Burger I had last summer. Vay’s is the perfect roadside takeout spot for a mermaid after a long day of hunting for seaglass. Check out their Facebook Page for hours and updates.
Herring Cove Restaurant: Located on the Herring Cove Golf Course, Herring Cove Restaurant has great views, friendly staff and absolutely delicious food! I’m obsessed with their lasagna! It’s one of my favourite spots for breakfast on the island and they offer a beautiful outdoor patio with views of Herring Cove. The restaurant will be open until the end of September, but you can follow them on Facebook for updates.
The Pier Waterfront: Easily this mermaid’s favourite oceanfront 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. You might even spot a whale! Keep an eye on their Facebook Page for September hours. NOTE: The Pier Restaurant will be closing for the season on Sunday, September 5th.
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! It’s also the best place on the island to get your coffee, especially if you love an espresso drink. And they serve cocktails on Saturday! You can check them out on Facebook for hours and updates.
What to Do on the Island
Campobello Island may not be the biggest island in the Bay of Fundy, but there are plenty of activities and adventures just waiting for you. 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 favourite mermaid haunts and things to do on the island!
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.
You can take a tour through these beautiful historic buildings—including Roosevelt’s estate which is a must-see—attend the famous “Tea with Eleanor,” and of course, take part in a guided walking tour. To find out everything the park has to offer, visit their website here.
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. (Yes, the bridge you shouldn’t cross if you’re Canadian.
This lighthouse is incredibly photogenic and another bonus to stopping at Mulholland Point? Plenty of friendly seals to entertain you. Don’t forget your camera!
Explore Head Harbour Lighthouse
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 glimpse of 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 to Look for Seaglass
Did I save the best, and arguably most important question, for last?
Shell yeah, I did.
If you’re reading this, beachcombing and finding dreamy pieces of seaglass are likely one of the reasons you’re coming to the island this September. 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, the Ferry Landing 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.
To get to my favourite seaglass beach, I’ll leave you with your very own treasure hunt and siren riddle: “To find the most precious treasures, head to where the literary greats call home.”
To get best kept seaglass secrets AND treasure maps to the beach seaglass beaches, make sure to Like and Follow the Seaglass Festival on Facebook.
And most of all, have boat loads of fun on your island adventure!