When I discovered that I liked traveling... a lot...too much? I decided that I would start by visiting my Canada. Starting elsewhere would have felt like cheating. Kind of like taking my own country for granted. Everywhere we go, people tell us how lucky we are to live in Canada and they are right. Canada is freaking beautiful! So I left to work on Vancouver Island and spent the year visiting British Columbia and Western United States before driving across North America to go back home to Quebec City.
Then, I felt ready to explore a bit further from home. I went to Costa Rica, Morocco, Italy, and then BAM! Covid-19 hit and we weren't allowed to cross the borders for an unknown amount of time. The thing is, when you start traveling, it is kind of like a drug, it's very hard to stop once you're addicted. So I went back to visiting my old friend Canada and decided to discover a little corner that I had never explored: the Bruce Peninsula, a small strip of land separating the Georgian Bay from Lake Huron in the south of Ontario. Internet promised me Caribbean blue water, long and peaceful hikes and a ton of water activities. It's kind of hard to say no to that!
My friend wasn't very hard to convince and a month later, we were on our way to Ontario on a 10-hour drive from Quebec City to this new adventure. I'm pretty sure the pictures will make you want to visit this area of Canada, but just in case you need more convincing, here are 6 reasons you should head to the Bruce Peninsula.
1. the beauty of the landscape
Let's start with the easiest reason, but gosh can this landscape get any better? I have been back from this road trip for a while now and still can't get over it. You see it on pictures and you have a hard time believing the water can be this blue in real life, but it totally is. Not only is it a bright turquoise, it is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom even when it is meters deep. All along the coast, you discover little bays that are all prettier than the last. Hiking trails will lead you past viewpoints where you can admire the view from the top of cliffs, rocks covered in green moss, clumps of colorful mushrooms, fields of wildflowers, etc. And let's come back one more time to the color of the water because it deserves to be mentioned a second time. My friend and I spent the whole time saying it looked like we had just been transported to the Seychelles, or the Caribbean, or an island in Thailand. The fact that this is in Canada just blows my mind!
2. the number of activities on offer
For someone who loves the great outdoors, there is plenty to do in Bruce Peninsula. Kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and diving (yes there are two shipwrecks where you can dive and many underwater grottos), hiking, beach days, sailing, swimming, there is something for everyone. You can also go on a boat ride with a glass floor around the islands, go fishing, camp, etc.
3. the hikes
The peninsula is almost completely part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park which means there are lots of hiking trails that are well maintained and mostly well indicated. For experimented hikers, the Bruce Trail is a more than 800 km trail from Tobermory, at the end of to peninsula, to Niagara. It offers incomparable views on the Georgian Bay and its islands. Beginners can do parts of the Bruce Trail or one of the many others on offer in the park. There are also trails suitable for families with strollers or people with a handicap that lead to easier to reach viewpoints. For most parts of the trail, I recommend good hiking shoes and to bring a map with you. There can be some steep hills, but it is totally worth it.
4. the simplicity of the destination
Traveling in your own country is of course always easier as you don't need to worry about insurance, exchanging money and things like that, but even for people from other countries, the Bruce Peninsula would be an easy destination. It can be reached by bus from Toronto and you don't need reservations years in advance or to make tons of research. I recommend making reservations for your accommodation once you find out the days you will be traveling, but we booked just a few days before our trip which was during a long weekend in the first summer of Covid when Canadians from the cities flocked to national parks and we didn't have trouble finding a place to stay or booking activities on site. It's a pretty stress free vacation since there are always many other options if what you wanted to do ends up being full.
5. the number of visitors
Like I said earlier, the year we visited was particularly crowded because of Covid, but even then, we found once we started hiking, we were totally alone and barely crossed paths with a few other people. The park is so huge and there are so many different areas that, if you feel like it's crowded where you are, you can just go a little bit further down the path and you'll be completely alone. The only place that we found crowded was the grotto, but even that, the parking lot is so restricted, it never really gets busy. I think that even in high season, it would be a good destination if you need some time surrounded by nature without the distraction of other humans.
6. the sunrises and sunsets
Sunrises and sunsets are moments that I talk about often and that I try to plan for while on vacation. I organize my schedule to make sure I will be in a good spot to watch at the exact point in time where the sun meets the horizon. I loved the fact that, being surrounded by water, the peninsula offered both great sunrises and sunsets over the water of Lake Huron. We were lucky enough to get a full on spectacle every morning and every night during our 5 day trip.
So wether you are looking for breathtaking landscapes, activities to do with your friends and family or if you want to spend some time in nature, the Bruce Peninsula is waiting for you. Enjoy your visit!
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