Playground in paradise
Seal Cove on Grand Manan Island. (Shutterstock)
Welcome to a piece of paradise -- actually A Chalet in Paradise.
Grand Manan Island's newest Bed & Breakfast joins an array of quaint Maritime accommodations that beckon travellers to a magical place of serenity and rugged beauty, of wind, waves and whales.
Named one of the world's best seven small islands to visit, be prepared for some major R&R when on Grand Manan, located in the Bay of Fundy, 35 km off the coast of New Brunswick, 12 km off the coast of Maine.
No tourist traps, no nightlife. Off the ferry, you get up close with migrating whales, porpoises and puffins. Get your thrills with crazy high cliffs, ocean kayaking, adventure tours, abandoned lighthouses and freshly steamed seafood, all sure to feed the body and soul.
For Dianna and Duanne Warren, it's heaven on earth. Proprietors of A Chalet in Paradise, they bought the house sight unseen last summer, renovated it and are open for business June 1.
"I first discovered Grand Manan from the stories of my husband's childhood; he has many memories of watching whales and seals from the cliff sides, and how the beaches, rocks and sea glass made every day a new adventure," says Warren, 40, who moved to Grand Harbour from Hamilton, Ont., at the end of March.
She visited once and decided to retire 15 years early from her job as a dental clinical assistant to assist in running her own B&B -- "to live our dream and provide others with fond memories," says Warren, who will also be opening a store in the back of the house selling her own handcrafted shea butter products and soap.
"It is easy to feel like the only family in the world while on this island," Warren adds. No blazing lights of neon, no traffic, no cares.
She recommends the Saturday morning Farmer's Market for local crafts and baking, evenings at Long Eddy Point for viewing minke whales and picnicking at Castalia Marsh.
A Chalet in Paradise: 506-662-3273, grandmananvacation.ca.
Allan McDonald promises a whale of a good time with his Whales-n-Sails Adventure.
"Grand Manan offers the best whale watching destination in the Bay of Fundy! It's one of the most accessible viewing areas for marine life in the world especially of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale."
With only 400 left, it's the rarest large animal on earth. On McDonald's four-hour tour, you'll likely see puffins galore, too.
"Machias Seal Island is home to 400-500 pairs of nesting razorbills and 1,300 pairs of nesting Atlantic Puffins."
Whales-n-Sails is a family affair -- daughter Sarah captains the 20-metre sailing yacht and his wife Karen helps out with the 13-year-old adventure business. They also run Sailors' Landing, a licenced seafood restaurant across from the ferry terminal.
Whale watching starts the last week of June and goes all summer until near the end of September.
"We have enjoyed 100% sightings three out of the last four seasons."
The strong tidal currents of the Bay of Fundy create upwellings of fish and plankton, attracting several species of whales and many seabirds, McDonald says, adding that his tour includes hot fish chowder and fresh bread.
Also keep your eyes peeled for seals, sharks, dolphins, ocean sunfish and blue-fin tuna -- and over 250 species of birds!
For the true nature lover: "Here you can camp on an ocean cliff, under a sky full of stars, a full moon so big you can touch it, and fall asleep to the sound of breaching whales," McDonald says.
Whales-n-Sails Adventures: 506-662-1999 or 888-994-4044, whales-n-sails.com.