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For The Love Of Birds: Canada’s Most Exotic Hidden Island

Who hasn’t dreamt of finding a deserted exotic island to explore all by themselves? Bonaventure Island in The Gulf of the St. Lawrence in Quebec is exactly that. Once occupied by pirates and some of Canada’s most famous explorers Bonaventure Island is now almost entirely inhabited by birds.

At 5.8 km by 5.8 km in size, the island provides a home for 280,000 marine birds as well as 120,000 gannets. As such, this beautiful island was deemed a migratory bird sanctuary in 1919, and acquired by Quebec’s provincial government and made a provincial park in 1971. Today, it’s one of the largest and most accessible bird sanctuaries in the world. And a simple boat ride around the island or ferry to the island provides visitors with an opportunity to view an incredibly diverse array of birds.

The island has had an astounding 293 different species of birds recorded as visiting or living on it. Everything from tridactyl seagulls, communal terns, murres, feathered cormorants, black guillemots, godes, petrels, friar puffins and more live on the island.

As one could imagine, the unique island owned by the birds has inspired an array of notable creatives, writers, visual artists, and filmmakers. Amazingly, if you’re interested in nurturing your own inspiration, it’s as easy to access the island today as it has ever been.

Everything You Need To Know To Go

Where is it:

The provincial park is located in Percé, QC.

What is it:

A boat tour of a gorgeous remote island and bird sanctuary in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

When to go:

May to mid-October

What to bring:

Bring your camera and a long lens for any bird photography. As the island is exposed, prepare for quickly shifting weather. Dress in layers and bring a waterproof shell. There are only 2 places on the island where you can get water and food: Paqbo, and La Maison du Pêcheur. A boxed-lunch service is also offered at Restaurant des Margaulx. Don’t miss the chef’s famous fish soup! Open June to October.

How to go: 

There are two ferry services that run from Percé to Bonaventure Island. The trip takes an estimated 1.5 hours and costs $20. Tour operators include Croisières Julien Cloutier and Les Bateliers de Percé Inc.

Where to stay:

As there is no overnight camping on the island, we recommend staying in nearby Percé, QC. Hotel Mirage and Hotel Normandie are both great options.

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