Two popular national parks in Ontario
Here we are in two very popular national parks. It is indeed qui fun to have to travel by boat to the Georgian Bay Islands Park to reach the campsites.
And what about the breathtakingly beautiful Grotto at Bruce Peninsula Park? This cave is located in a pool of turquoise water on the shore of Georgian Bay near Tobermory.
The accommodation offer in Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Bruce Peninsula National Park differs from the well-known Sandbanks accommodation. Since it’s a Parks Canada property, no trailers or recreational vehicles are permitted.
Instead, we opt for wilderness camping or sites with flush toilets, showers and drinking water. Unusual chalets and accommodations are available, such as the oTENTik tents and the Yurts.
Book at Bruce Peninsula Park
Cyprus Lake is where we camp in Bruce Peninsula Park. Interestingly, the Grotto can be reached on foot from this campsite, thus avoiding the parking reservations mentioned below. The site is so busy that they had to put in new markers for the 2021 season.
Just remember: you can’t park for more than four hours to see the Grotto in 2021.
And you’ll have to book online or call to get your morning or afternoon parking spot. You will also not be able to enter the cave, because of social distancing measure. And no, it will not be possible to drop people off by stopping the car on the side of the road. Too much traffic.
It gives an idea of the extent of the phenomenon.
You can take advantage of this: the opening date for bookings at Parks Canada in Ontario is only April 19 at 8 a.m. So everything is still possible. American Express, Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
The acommodation offer at Bruce Peninsula Park is as follows:
- campsites for motor vehicles at three sites on Cyprus Lake: Birches, Poplars and Tamarack.
- yurts set up along the lake shore
- backcountry camping sites (be prepared to bring your own drinking water or filter/boil water from the Bay).
Book at Georgian Bay Islands Park
The Georgian Bay Islands are the largest freshwater archipelago in the world. There are more than 30,000 of them, 63 of which are part of the national park. However, only one of them, the largest, Beausoleil Island, is accessible to visitors. It is 8 kilometres long.
It was first inhabited by the natives more than 5,000 years ago and its name comes from the French trapper who made his home on the tip of the island.
You might as well travel light because the only way to get to the campgrounds on Beausoleil Island is by boat. It takes about 20 minutes to cross from the starting point, Honey Harbour village. You can go there by yourself with your own boat or pay a water taxi which can drop you off on another part of the island.
There are several hiking trails, bays and beaches that invite us to swim, mountain bike trails that can be rented and geocaches that will help us discover special places on the island. That’s not to mention the fishing.
Accommodation is available:
- developed and wilderness campsites
- rustic cottages
- oTENTiks tents with running water and electricity.
Information on rates including the boat can be found on here.
A word about the Group of Seven, young Canadian painters who became famous in the early 20th century: their paintings were largely inspired by the scenery of this part of the landscape and that of northern Ontario.
The best known of these is Tom Thompson. An art gallery bears his name.
Secrets revealed to explore the region
We asked Jules Torti, editor of Harrowsmith magazine, a contributor to the “Living Room” section of realtor.ca magazine and a resident of the Bruce Peninsula to reveal some of the locals’ favourite secrets.
This is of course to allow us to get off the beaten path a bit while enjoying this extraordinary region of Ontario.
The best reference for discovering the essence of what “The Bruce” is, she says, is Rrampt magazine.
It covers all the musical, artistic and gastronomic events that take place in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe counties. In times of pandemic or not.
You should also take a look at the website/app Hi Bruce!
Two energetic brothers created it, and it covers everything that goes on in the region. And she means ALL of it:
- salt caves to visit,
- flotation tanks to try,
- concerts around campfires,
- fish funeral, (!)
- best burgers in town.
One of the brothers recently purchased and revamped the Red Bay Lodge for visitors who prefer modern, urban-style accommodations. She recommends it.
Harrowsmith - Living Room
The “Living Room” section of the magazine to which she contributes can also be used as a guide to the Lion’s Head and Tobermory areas of the Peninsula.
Finally, on our way to the Peninsula approaching Owen’s Sound, Jules points out three must-sees:
Recommended credit cards
To save money on your vacation in the region, we recommend several offers from the best credit cards in Canada.
First, the American Express Cobalt™ Card. With this card, you can earn 5 points per dollar for your purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, bars and convenience stores, and food deliveries. And 2 points per dollar for your travel and transportation purchases (Airbnb, hotels, train, flights, car rentals, etc.).
You can then use your points for any travel purchase made with the card: 10,000 points = $100. Nothing could be easier!
Next is the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card. With this card, you can earn 5 points per dollar on all your spending at Marriott Bonvoy locations (there are over 250 in Canada). And 2 points per dollar on all your purchases.
You’ll earn 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as a welcome bonus, enough to get you several free nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. And every year, as a cardholder, you get a free night certificate (worth 35,000 points).
Or the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard: you can earn 20,000 points after your first purchase. Enough to get at least one free hotel night. And this card has no annual fee!
Finally, the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*. With this card, you can get an exceptional welcome bonus of 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (exclusive to milesopedia). You can then use these miles for travel purchases such as train tickets with VIA Rail, flights, or hotels. Or cash back at the grocery store.
Take advantage of it: this credit card has no annual fee for the first year!
The final word
We refer you to this beautiful article written by Valerie, a member of our group who also highlighted the attractions and activities of the region that seduced her last year.
To name just two:
- Fathom Five Marine Park , which invites snorkeling and scuba diving
- Flowerpot islands, with their special profile
Finally, take the time to read the hearthfelt plea of the region’s inhabitants who still want to welcome the tourists, but not at any price. Here is their point of view.
Remember the Bye-Bye 2020 sketch with the Bougon family in Gaspésie?
You don’t want to leave that kind of memory when you travel.