"Canada's 'Florida Keys'" Île du Cap aux Meules by Bwana_Brown

Île du Cap aux Meules Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 13 photos

Quebec's "Iles de la Madeleine"

Who needs the Canary Islands or the Azores or even the Florida Keys when there is an exotic holiday destination only a few hours drive away? Throw in a 5-hour cruise, French culture with beautiful cliffs and sandy beaches and you have the makings of a fantastic trip! After living next door to Quebec's remote archipelago of the Iles de la Madeleine (Magdelen Islands to most English Canadians), I decided that it was high time to go have a first-hand look. I had briefly glimpsed these remote islands 3 summers before, from the cliffs of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, as we were rounding the famous Cabot Trail. I did not know that I was taking a chance by picking the last week of June for my attempt on the Islands - I later found out that, due to the moderating effects of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, their temperatures run about 6 weeks behind the mainland. Although part of Quebec, these remote islands lie almost equidistant from the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland (see maps in Transportation) . We managed to bring the sunshine with us but it was still a close-run thing! The best time to visit is reported to be in late August or September after the waters of the Gulf have warmed up in the summer heat (temperatures reached 30 degrees C on the mainland while we were out there but the Iles only just touched 20 degrees with a strong wind blowing). We actually had a great time - the islands are almost deserted and they really have spectacular scenery! The ferry from Souris, Prince Edward Island lands at the town of Cap-aux-Meules, so I will use this page as the 'home' page - since there is no all encompassing Destination for the Madeleines on the VT site. Running roughly southwest to northeast are a series of islands joined by long narrow sand dunes with a great highway system connecting most of the islands. Starting from the south are the islands of Havre-Aubert, Cap-aux-Meules, Havre-aux-Maisons (Harbour of Houses), aux-Loups (Wolf), Grosse-Ile (Big Island) and Grande-Entree (Big Entrance). Unconnected islands include D'Entree (Entry) near the ferry landing and the now unpopulated Ile-Brion. Ile-Brion was actually the first of the islands to be discovered by Europeans, sighted in 1534 by the French explorer Jacques Cartier. He is reputed to have said that its soil was so rich that he would take 20 acres there ahead of all Newfoundland! Photo shows a most intriguing monument to fishermen located on the coast, not far from the ferry landing.

Ile du Cap-aux-Meules is the business centre of the islands, with a population of over 6000. It is fairly packed with houses compared to the other islands. My 'Transportation' tips contain maps showing the location of the archipelego in more detail.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unspoiled Beauty
  • Cons:Expensive to get to and Weather must Cooperate!
  • In a nutshell:For me, an exotic destination not far from home!
  • Last visit to Île du Cap aux Meules: Jun 2003
  • Intro Updated Nov 4, 2006
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Reviews (16)

Comments (18)

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Apr 13, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Seeing the name on your travel page, I had to stop there and knew I would not be deceived. Nice page about "Atlantic Canada" Glenn; I would like a lot walking on the cliffs and enjoy the wind on the ferry getting there.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2008 at 7:49 PM

    Interesting coastal destination. Particularly like the fishermen's monument. Cheers, SL :)

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2007 at 2:08 PM

    Magdelen Islands must be an interesting place to discover. Amazing scenery with blue sea and red cliffs! Such a beauty so close to home :)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Nov 4, 2006 at 11:00 AM

    This looks like another place for me :-))) I could eat seafood all the time and wander in beautiful scenery, maybe even some kayaking :-) Oh, and I love your intro photo - of Sue and the monument :-))

  • ChuckG's Profile Photo
    Nov 1, 2006 at 4:59 PM

    Great page, cannot believe so few VTers went there !

  • nepalgoods's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2006 at 10:09 PM

    What a lovely and remote place! Happy birthday!

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2005 at 4:44 AM

    Who could resist a place like this for a different kind of getaway. amazing cliffs, no wonder you didn't get too close. Quite an isolated existance during the winter on the islands.

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2005 at 2:42 PM

    Looks a wonderfully rugged out of the way place Mad Dog! (~_~) Fun intro pic with 'Les Pecheurs' another great page Glenn

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2005 at 7:46 AM

    The whole place looks off the beaten path ! Great island wilderness !

  • sylvie-uk's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2004 at 3:51 AM

    nice page, sounds like it can get quit cold in the winter

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