My undying love for the Magdalen Islands, an awesome region of Quebec situated off the shore of Prince Edward Island, is no longer a secret! Maybe you’ve never even heard of the Magdalen Islands or the Îles de la Madeleine… After having been on 7 trips to the Îles de la Madeleine in over 3 years, I think it’s fair to say I’ve become somewhat of an obsessed ambassador. That’s why I’m so happy to share with you today 14 of my favourite best and top things to do in the Magdalen Islands when travelling in the summertime!
The landscapes alone are enough to motivate a trip to the Magdalen Islands, a spectacular region in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Trust me, you are never left indifferent!
These essential activities and must-try sports attractions will, however, allow you to see the archipelago differently! They will also help answer the question that I am very often asked: what to do in the Magdalen Islands when we’re not lounging around on the pristine white sand beaches or perusing its cliffs?
Top Attractions in the Magdalen Islands – Best Things To Do and Activities in the Îles de la Madeleine
1. Hop on a Scooter to Feel the Islands First-Hand
My all-time favourite mode of transportation and way to get around the Magdalen Islands is the scooter. Imagine yourself with your hair blowing in the wind and salty air filling your nostrils as you pass inches away from some of the islands’ best spots and photo ops.
A scooter not only makes it easy to stop to take photos (and I guarantee that you will really stop EVERYWHERE, all the time!), but also to explore bumpier trails you wouldn’t venture out on in a car, your five senses on the lookout. The Agence de location des îles rents single or double scooters for a few hours or a few days. Mention me and you’ll get a discount!
2. Take Part in a Lobster Fishing Excursion
You will never perceive your lobsters the same way again! In season, from May to July, it is possible to go out to sea with Magdalen Islanders and fishermen to see with your own eyes how lobster fishery happens.
I did it for three years in a row and I just don’t get tired of this typical local thing to do in a place where almost everyone has a fisherman in their family. I’ve even become a master (OK, OK, apprentice…) in the art of putting rubber bands on these critters’ claws
If a private outing or an organized excursion proves impossible, buy a few lobsters directly from the workers when the boats return to the different ports of the Magdalen Islands. You simply won’t find anything fresher to eat while the sun is setting on the archipelago! Fruits de mer Madeleine and La Renaissance des Îles sell fresh shellfish or freshly cooked shellfish if you don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking or prepping lobsters.
3. Rent Fat Bikes and Survey the Caves and Dunes of the Magdalen Islands
You might have already seen or even tried these big bikes with oversized tires called fat bikes. My first try ever dates back to a few years ago, in the middle of winter in Mauricie. Needless to say that my fat bike experience in the Magdalen Islands was completely different!
After renting our bicycles at the Le Pédalier boutique in Cap-aux-Meules, we explored the beach of the Dune du Sud (South Dune) to test out the fat bikes on the sand. They remained super stable and easy to roll. It’s a perfect sport for a place with miles of island beaches!
If you rent one, ask them to show you how to put your chain back on, should it happen to fall off, so that you don’t look silly like me on the beach in mechanical distress. Although I laughed so much that it turned into a super nice adventure. Turns out it was super easy to do if I’d just known how!
4. Learn How to Fly a Kite, a Must-Do Staple Activity in the Magdalen Islands
Forget stereotypes! Kite flying is absolutely not a boring or cushy activity. I LOVED trying my hand at the Site de la Côte and my two friends also fell in love with it too. In a place where wind is part of everyday life, it isn’t surprising that kitesurfing and kiting fill the sky with colours and acrobatics.
Having tried to fly a power kite with a friend, I had never tried acrobatic models. Gino and Valérie from the Au Gré du Vent boutique showed us the basics of this sport and, a few minutes later, we were flying our colourful triangles above the grass. A most satisfying sensation and an essential experience to do in the Magdalen Islands!
5. Go Kayaking at Sunset Around Parc de Gros-Cap
I’ll be very honest with you, I’m not the best kayak ambassador in the Magdalen Islands, since I could only try it once because of the weather on the days I chose to go out to sea.
It’s easy to understand why kayakers with or without a crazy amount of experience love this sport which allows you to admire the orange cliffs, pass through the caves that you would not see otherwise and view the islands from a completely different angle. Rent a kayak or go on an excursion with a guide from Gros-Cap Park. There are outings for all levels, from a few hours to a whole day and the environment is simply magnificent. It’s a must at sunset!
6. Catch Your Supper While Doing Your Best at Typical Cockle Fishing on the Shoal
Imagine yourself fishing with a toilet plunger… It looks crazy seen from afar (even from close up too, let’s admit it!), but it’s a very particular and typically Madelinot method to find these molluscs! Ask any islander and they’ll show you how, with or without a plunger it’s an easy science to digging for your own meal!
7. Try Canyoning in the Caves of Grande-Entrée With La Salicorne
A canyoning or cave swimming experience offered by Auberge La Salicorne is a bucket list experience you have to do in the Magdalen Islands. I hope to test it out next time I’m in the archipelago, as everyone is raving about it!
8. Head Out for Some Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) All Around the Bays
Given my virtually non-existent sense of balance, I had serious doubts about stand-up paddling, or SUP in the Magdalen Islands (some also call it paddle surfing), especially because of the wind and waves. I was surprised when it turned out to be super easy and a nice way to calmly spend time on the water.
I had two different and relaxing experiences, both with Cindy Hook Sports Aventures: a breakfast on a giant stand-up paddle with a group of friends and an independent SUP outing in the quiet bay of Havre-aux-Maisons. If time permits, the SUP/paddle board is at the top of the list of ways to see the Magdalen Islands differently!
9. Appreciate a Multitude of Walking and Hiking Trails to Do in the Magdalen Islands
The number of trails and paths to hike in the Magdalen Islands is impressive given the size of the place. Venture off and explore or follow official paths, like the Vents et Marées trail, a kind of Magdalenian Camino de Santiago. There are all kinds of landscapes to uncover!
10. Experience Glass Blowing With Creators at La Méduse
There’s a rainy day you want to fill up or you’re passionate about local art? Stop by La Méduse and register for a glassblowing workshop or a visit of the studio to see how things are done!
11. Enjoy A Beer Tasting at L’Abri de la tempête Microbrewery
The province of Quebec definitely has some of the best beers in the world and I’m not even bragging! 🙂 You won’t find many microbreweries with such a view and site as L’Abri de la tempête Microbrasserie. Hang out the patio and soak up the sun while you savour your flight of brew and enjoy an at-your-own-pace beer tasting experience!
12. Try Your Hand at Sand Castle Making at Atelier Côtier Near La Grave
The Atelier Côtier shop is soooo beautiful, I could spend hours in there admiring all the creations made from the sand collected in the islands. I even have a hashtag shaped paperweight in my office I’m looking at as we speak.
Not only can you bring back and awesome local souvenir, but you can take part in workshops for kids and the whole family. On Thursdays, free participatory workshops are organized to show you how to make beautiful sand castles, with different techniques. It starts at 2 p.m., lasts about 1.5 hours and is on a first come, first served basis.
13. Indulge in Cheese Tasting and Meet Some Canadian Cows Behind the Artisan Factory
They had me at fine local cheeses… At La Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent, take a tour of the interpretation centre, participate in a cheese tasting and even get to meet the sweet Canadian cows that roam the fields behind the cheese shop after learning more about where the Madelinot cheese comes from! Oh, and stock up for the rest of your trip in the Maggies!
14. Become a Master Soap Maker At La Fille de La Mer
Your kids will love the soap making and beauty product workshops offered by Ariane and her team at La Fille de la Mer. Make bath bombs, soaps, lip balms and all kinds of other awesome local products filled with island-sourced ingredients!
There are so many ways to see the Magdalen Islands differently and full of things to do and places to visit in one of the most beautiful regions of Quebec! The steep cliffs, the white and orange dunes, the endless sandbanks and the multicoloured little houses will keep you asking for more on top of all the unique attractions of the Îles de la Madeleine I’ve recommended. How can you resist now!?
Which of these things to do in the Magdalen Islands make you want to visit the most?
For inspiration on some other places to see in Quebec:
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