What an adventurous summer we had! We decided to do as much as we could. Half of the time, when we were on the go, I was exhausted, but I refused to renege on the promises made to the kids of a summer they would be talking about forever. Speaking of which, I had better start planning next summer’s activities soon because in two shakes of a rabbit’s tail, it will be summer 2022, and we will be expected to deliver fun times to our “outdoors on the go quartet”.
Our summer kicked off with our trip to Tobermory. I think we were able to book and visit Tobermory because of the pandemic. We had been trying to visit for two years with no success; the hotels get booked pretty quickly. As soon as the pandemic restrictions were lifted, we capitalized and successfully booked our getaway this year. Tobermory is beautiful, and there is so much to see and do there. We only visited a few places because of the amount of time we had, and of course, the kids got tired after a while, but they were great sports.
A Little History
A little history about Tobermory: it is a small community with close to 4000 residents, and it is located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The area was home to a First Nations group called the Saugeen Ojibway nations until the arrival of the Europeans in the mid-19th century. The Bruce Peninsula and Niagara Escarpment are connected by 900km of trail. So if you are the adventurous type, that would be a great hike. Tobermory is famous for scuba diving because of the twenty-one shipwrecks that lie in its crystal clear waters. We were unable to view the shipwrecks due to COVID restrictions.
Having visited and thoroughly enjoying I suggest you put Tobermory on your to-do list. Here are five things to do in Tobermory:
Bruce Peninsula National Park (Half Way Log Dump)
Our first stop was the Bruce Peninsula National Park. We went to the Half Way Log Dump. It was a bit of a hike but at the trail’s end was a beach of boulders. It was breathtaking; there was no sand, just rocks. It was raining that day, so we did not spend that much time. The water is crystal clear and hypothermic. We enjoyed the beauty, took a few pictures, and then returned to our hotel.
Fathom Five National Marine Park (Flowerpot Island)
The next day we visited the stunning Flowerpot Island; it is one of the main attractions in the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Flowerpot Island is so named because of its “natural flowerpot rocklike pillars.” The pillars were formed by years of erosion. The island is about 6.5km away from the Tobermory harbor and is only accessible by boat. Bruce Anchor Cruises provided our boat service. The boat had a glass bottom, which attracted the kids. The journey was approximately 15 minutes long. We were there in July, so it was still very cool. It generally does not get too hot there. We spent the entire day on the island hiking, picnicking, and wading around in the shallow water. The kids enjoyed seeing the snakes and bugs. Me, not so much. The latrines (outhouses) were quite an experience for them.
Bruce Peninsula National Park (The Grotto)
Our third day took us back to the Bruce Peninsula National Park; this time, we visited the famous Grotto. The trip to the Grotto was yet another hike, but we are adventurers and lovers of all things in nature. There was so much to see along the way; we soaked up everything. I read about the Grotto before we visited, but you have to visit it for the experience. The first order of business is to reserve parking before your visit; the parking lot fills up quickly. Of course, carry bug spray, otherwise you will be eaten alive. Have your camera ready to capture the beauty of the area, which includes wetlands, cliffs, and cedar trees, and finally, after a 45-minute hike, the highlight is the Grotto. The Grotto is a natural rock formation with underwater caves that are great for swimming and diving. The Grotto can be accessed by land or boat. We did not experience the Grotto that much because the kids could not hike down, but it is definitely on our to-do list.
The Mariner Area (Bay Street)
We visited the Mariner twice during our stay. The first time was on the eve of Canada Day; we enjoyed the fish and chips, pizza, and ice cream. The Mariner area has that small-town feel to it. It is dotted with souvenir shops, pubs, restaurants and of course boats. If you love sailing or kayaking, there is a boat rental service, or if you own your boat, enjoy a day of sailing. Every person there had a look of relief on their faces; we were all happy to be enjoying the outdoors with reduced restrictions. On our last day, we took another visit to the Mariner. We strolled along the boardwalk and savored the last remaining minutes before we started our journey to the beach.
On our final day, we visited Sauble Beach. Sauble Beach is 11km of unspoiled beach. It ties for the second spot as the second-largest freshwater beach in Canada and the World. Sometimes I think our children were born in water. The minute we got there, they made a mad dash for the water. We spent a few hours at the beach and then walked around the surrounding area foraging for some local cuisine. I cannot remember the name of the restaurant we ate at, but the poutine was “bomb” as my eight-year-old would say; bomb meaning good.
Our trip home took about 4 hours. The kids slept most of the way. They had had so much fun, and that made me happy. It was all for them, to keep them distracted, with everything else that was going on around us. We will be returning to Tobermory. If you ever plan to visit Tobermory, book a few months in advance. Buy all tickets for attractions ahead of time, have your camera on hand, and have lots of bug spray – one of the deep woods bug sprays, those critters come out to feast. Most of the attractions that we visited were at the end of a long hike, so be prepared to do lots of walking but hey, you will get your steps in for the day while having fun.
This list of five fun things to do in Tobermory is a scratch on the surface of everything there is to do. We are planning a return trip there and hoping to visit the famed Manitoulin Island.