When my friend Sara invited me to visit her in Canada, I 1) said yes and 2) knew I wanted to visit somewhere “off-the-beaten path”. I had already done the typical American-goes-to-Canada trip of Niagara Falls and Toronto years back, so this time I wanted to see somewhere different, somewhere where Canadians go to escape.
Enter Flowerpot Island
Flowerpot Island is an island in the Georgian Bay, in the Canadian province of Ontario and is a part of Fathom Five National Marine Park. The island spans 1.3 miles from east to west, and just under a mile from north to south, occupying a total area of 490 acres. The island is accessible by cruises from the village of Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, and has camping facilities and hiking trails.
After driving from Sara’s home in Toronto northward to Tobermory, we boarded our morning Blue Heron cruise to Flowerpot Island. Our boat was glass bottomed, so on the way to the island we stopped in Big Tub Harbour where two shipwrecks, from 1885 and 1907, were visible. The shipwrecks are only 2 meters from the surface of the crystal-clear water, making it eerie but fascinating to see them.
Continuing along, we approached the eastern shore of Flowerpot Island, and could quickly see one of the namesakes of the island. Flowerpot Island’s name comes from two rock pillars, which look like flower pots, that stand on the island. A third flowerpot once stood, but tumbled into the water in 1903.
Our cruise dropped us off at the island’s dock, map in hand, and let us out to explore. The island has two trails, a shorter Marl Trail, and the longer and more popular Loop Trail. We opted for the Loop Trail, which is just over two miles, and is easy to cover in a few hours at a leisurely pace.
The docking area is where facilities like campsites, restrooms, and picnic tables can be found. As there’s no place to buy food on the island, be sure to bring a picnic for yourself from Tobermory (we went to the Foodland on Bay Street next to where the cruise departs and bought sandwiches and snacks).
After our picnic lunch, we started with the Loop Trail along the coast, where the bright colors of the water greeted us. Along the coastal part of the Loop Trail the two flowerpots – Small Flowerpot and Large Flowerpot – and a cave can be explored. Unfortunately, the cave was closed the day we were there, but there was still plenty to see as we walked along.
Just as a warning, there are garden snakes on the island, which are harmless, but if you’re anything like me I still was initially freaked out by this. In our almost-four hours on the island I saw two of them, but they are very thin and mostly stayed clear of the walking paths, preferring to stay in the forest.
The Flowerpots are a type of sea stack, formed over many years as wind, rain, waves and ice hammered away at the cliffs along the water’s edge. The softer rock eroded more quickly, leaving the harder rock remaining in the shape of flowerpots.
After the first half of the Loop Trail, which goes along the coast, we then approached the former Flowerpot Island Lifestation. There are picnic tables and areas to relax at the Lifestation, so we took a mid-hike break. The next part of the Loop Trail is in the island’s lush forest interior, and we were ready for it.
The interior forest portion of the Loop Trail is more challenging than the coastal part; I recommend wearing sturdy shoes because there is a lot of climbing and moving from rock to rock, and walking up and down steep stairs is required.
It was worth the effort though, as we loved the varied landscape among the different areas of the island.
At the end of the day, we headed to the dock for our speedboat ride back to Tobermory, pleased with how we had spent our day.
Have you been to Flowerpot Island? Would you want to go?