Windswept chain of islands connected by sand dunes and beautiful beaches (cold water).
Cap aux Meules is the main small town where most services are located
Due to their isolation, these islands are relatively expensive to reach.
During the high tourist season (July-August) lodging can be expensive and booked out. Accommodation is often in rented cabins, bed and breakfasts are also available and often cheaper for 2 persons.
Camping is possible; however, exposure to wind (given the lack of trees and proximity to the ocean) can make this unpleasant.
Prices for excursions and various tourist activities are variable but generally expensive, something to consider for the budget traveller.
Early September would be a wonderful time to visit this region.
When visiting Îles-de-la-Madeleine if you speak even just a little bit of French everyone will be a lot more friendly and go out of their way to help you out more than they would if you spoke strictly English and no French at all.
- Ferry from Souris, PEI, via CTMA reservation required
- Weekly boat from Montréal, Québec and Chandler, Québec, via CTMA reservation required
- Flights from Québec City, Montreal, and other cities (Air Canada Express)
While each island is quite small, the distances between them along the connecting dunes are greater and these areas are isolated. Cycling is possible, scooters can be rented, as well as automobiles, bus tours are available, taxis are quite expensive.
One of the best things about Îles-de-la-Madeleine is the fact that it is known as one of, if not the best, places for wind sports (like windsurfing and kiteboarding). So if you're not the one riding it is always fun to be the one watching.
- Beaches: amazing long sand dune beaches connect the islands,
there are several to explore and walk on for hours
- birdwatching: excursions are available, for example by boat to nearby Ile Brion.
- windsurfing- rental available at l'istorlet, or bring your own
- kitesurfing- courses from Aerosport, another company (ask at Café les Pas Perdus in Cap-aux meules
- sea kayaking- explore coastal cliffs, bays, and tunnels, one good place to rent is the Parc du Gros Cap, near Cap-aux-Meules
- cycling- lots of places although some roads do not have paved shoulder. Wind can be a factor
- hiking- several shore hikes possible near cliff-lined areas of the coast. However, stay away from the edges of cliffs as they are eroded, and are very dangerous (can collapse).
- A popular activity is to observe young seals on the ice floes during winter. Other activities are being developed (i.e. sea kayaking).
- Fresh lobster is available in early summer (June-July).
- Smoked fish: herring, scallops, mackerel.
- Pot-en-pot: seafood pie.
- Loup-marin: seal (very strong tasting, similar to liver or wild game).
- Café de la Grave, Island of Havre Aubert. Reasonable laid back café-bar. Great place to go for a beer in the afternoon.
- Bistro Bout du Monde, Island of Havre Aubert. Excellent but very expensive
- Boulangerie Fleur de Sable. Island of Havre Aubert. Great bakery and restaurant.
- Les Pas Perdus, Cap aux Meules. Popular restaurant-café-bar, good food, service variable.
There is a local brewery near Cap aux Meules which can be visited:
- Ã l'abri de la tempête, 286, chemin Coulombe, L'Étang-du-Nord, ☎ +1 418-986-5005, fax: +1 418-986-5013. noon-midnight daily (summer), limited hours off-season. Microbrewery and brew pub, patio and dining room. Beer is bottled here for sale in most restaurants, grocers and corner stores throughout the islands. Their beers, made from local ingredients, are very good: rousse(red), blonde(pale), blanche (wheat beer), noire (milk stout) and some special brews.
Their local beers are on tap at these establishments:
- Domaine du Vieux-Couvent, Havre-aux-Maisons
- Bistro les Pas Perdus, Cap-aux-Meules. Galerie-bar with live entertainment.
- Le Café de la Grave, Havre-Aubert
- Bistro du Capitaine, Havre-aux-Maisons
- HI-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, 74 chemin du Camping (located in the town of L'Étang-du-Nord), ☎ +1 418 986-4505, toll-free: +1 800 986-4505, fax: +1 418 986-4523. Check-in: 8AM, check-out: 11AM. This hostel is open May 17 to September 30. Open year-round for groups. Dorms $23, privates $50-$58, family room $70, campsites $20. Non-members pay an additional $4 for dorms/privates and $6 for family rooms.
All of Îles-de-la-Madeleine is pretty safe. Do not walk near the edges of cliffs as they are subject to erosion and collapse. Certain beaches can have strong and dangerous currents which may pull you away from shore.