"Canada's 'Florida Keys'" Île du Cap aux Meules by Bwana_Brown
Île du Cap aux Meules Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 13 photos
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:Unspoiled Beauty
- Cons:Expensive to get to and Weather must Cooperate!
- In a nutshell:For me, an exotic destination not far from home!
After disembarking from the ferry, if you turn left at the main highway and keep driving straight ahead for a few miles... more travel advice
During our brief 3-days on the Islands, we did not have the chance to take a boat ride out to Ile D'Entree, located not... more travel advice
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