Tobermory is a small haven in Ontario, Canada that is perfect for nature lovers. As Ontario slowly begins to open up, people are making plans for day trips and getaways close to home. And Tobermory is the perfect weekend getaway from Toronto, located four hours northwest of the city. If you want to start planning for your future trip for this summer, we’ve put together some of the best things to in Tobermory.
Things to do in Tobermory, Canada
A harbour town surrounded by water, the landscape of Tobermory is unparalleled in its beauty. Towering cliffs, islands, and crystal clear water – Tobermory is one of the most splendid spots in the Bruce Peninsula and should definitely be on the list of places to visit in Ontario.
Note: Some activities may be affected by Covid-19. Check with each attraction for opening hours and activities. Things are constantly changing as Ontario moves into different stages of Covid so be sure to check the Ontario website before you go and respect local guidelines following social distancing rules.
Don’t want to drive? Book this full day tour from Toronto where you’ll hop aboard a glass-bottom boat tour of Little Tub Harbour in Tobermory passing Big Tub Lighthouse before reaching Flower Pot island to view the two flowerpot sea stacks on its eastern shoreline.
While you can explore much of Tobermory during a day trip, it is recommended to spend a weekend here to get the complete experience. And there is plenty of accommodation and camping to choose from. Check out Tobermory Village Campground and Cyprus Lake Campground for accommodation. So now that you have decided to take a trip to Tobermory, let’s see what there is to do!
Downtown Tobermory sits on Little Tub and Big Tub Harbours. It is a lovely waterfront setting that offers shopping and dining, kayak rentals and boat tours. Grab a beer at the Tobermory Brewing Co. & Grill and enjoy some fish and chips at Shipwreck Lees or the Fish and Chips Place. After grabbing lunch check out the boutique shops and art galleries where you can pick up handmade crafts and gifts.
One of the most impressive and beautiful places in Ontario, Flowerpot Island is not accessible by road. The good news is that many boat cruise packages include a visit to the island, so you can book one. It gets its name from rock pillars on the eastern shore that look like flower pots and has some trees growing at the top.
There are several rock formations on the island and hiking trails and caves to explore. Flower Pot island is 1.6 kilometers wide and covers 495 acres that can easily be explored. There are well-marked hiking trails around the island.
The beaches are rocky so wear sturdy shoes for hiking. Water shoes are also highly recommended when exploring Tobermory. You can stay overnight at one of the six camping sites on the island, but our tip is to make sure to book your space ahead of time.
The Grotto is a secluded sea cave that on the shores of Lake Huron located in Bruce Peninsula National Park. The view from above is beautiful and you would swear that you are in the Caribbean rather than Canada. Be prepared to scramble down to the water where you need to squeeze through a hole to enter. Once there you can hop in for a swim, but be warned, it may look like the Caribbean, however these waters are chilly.
The Grotto is extremely busy in the summer and you must book entry advance. A parking permit must be purchased ahead of time and entry is blocked in four-hour slots for timed entry. You can check with Park’s Canada for details to book your time slot.
- Note: Before the pandemic you could swim in the Grotto, but as of now there is no entry to the Grotto because you cannot socially distance.
Singing Sands Shore
The largest beach in Tobermory is Singing Sands Beach. It’s located 10 km south of Tobermory and is a good place to bring a picnic to enjoy the summer sun. There’s a short boardwalk, picnic area and you can swim in the crystal clear waters. Parking is paid, so have cash on hand.
Little Cove Beach is also another option but it is not a sandy beach. However it is a beautiful location for photography as the cobbled shoreline leads out to crystal clear turquoise waters, creating that perfect instagram photograph.
Fathom Five National Marine Park
Tobermory is called the freshwater scuba capital of the world, and one visit to the Fathom Five National Marine Park makes it clear why. There are also many other activities to do here, such as hiking on the trails. The park has 20 islands, including Flowerpot Island, which you can visit by ferry or boat.
The final resting place for about 20 shipwrecks, the main attraction here is scuba diving and snorkeling to see these wrecks as well as the magnificent natural formations underwater. The waters are crystal clear and the because they lay in freshwater, the wrecks are in terrific shape.
We have been scuba diving here. The waters are cold and there is a thermocline. You will want at least a 7mm suit, but most people dive in dry suits. If you are not a scuba diver downtown outfitters offer kayaking, snorkeling, and boat tours. You can rent kayaks from Tobermory Cruise Line
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Tobermory is just minutes from Bruce Peninsula National Park. This protected area has a wide variety of different landscapes and habitats all in one place. Along with its biodiverse scenery, it offers plenty of fun things to do, such as hiking, camping, birdwatching, etc. All of which can be booked in Tobermory. The hiking trails range from easy to challenging.
While exploring the park, you’ll might be able to spy some wildlife, including black bears, foxes, snakes, and the flora is also interesting with 40 different species of orchids.
Orchid Festival in Tobermory
Speaking of orchids, Tobermory has such an abundance and wide variety of orchid species in Tobermory can be fully appreciated around June every year when the Bruce Peninsula Orchid Festival is held. The festival in Tobermory also hosts a feature presentation. Visitors can hike and tour the places nearby, exploring the various types of orchids. Wild orchids need a particular habitat for sustainability, which Tobermory provides.
Hike the Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail is an 885km trail following the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve along the Niagara Escarpment. It starts in Niagara and it actually ends right here in Tobermory It has some of the best views in Ontario along the trail are right here at the Bruce Peninsula National Park. See the Bruce Trail for more information and accommodations
Get on the Water
There are many ways to get on the water in Tobermory. Book a glass bottom boat, day trip cruise or hop on a ferry trip to the islands. You can book any or all of the above!
Tobermory offers boat rides and cruises through the National Marine Park, all the way to Flowerpot Island. Blue Heron Cruises has introduced innovative boats with glass bottoms and an open-air deck with enclosed cabins.
This way, you get to enjoy a perfect view from every angle during your trip. A cruise is one of the best things you can do during your trip to Tobermory, aside from spending time around the Georgian Bay or Fathom Five.
There are also open-air jet boats for anyone who wants a more exciting experience in the water. The boats run at thrilling speeds and have comfortable seating facing forward so that nobody misses the scenery, from the land around the water to the shipwrecks.
Kayaking and Canoeing in Tobermory
With so much water around, it is impossible to have a good time at Tobermory without taking part in some water sports and activities.
Thorncrest Outfitters offers complete kayaking and canoeing experiences here, as well as open water paddling in the lakes. All the required outdoor clothing, gear, and equipment are provided to make the adventure safe and fun.
Little Cove Adventures in Tobermory
This outdoor adventure park hosts a wide variety of unique outdoor activities. There are Ropes Courses that you can use to traverse through the arena between trees and poles and face different obstacles. Placed high above the ground, it’s great source of exercise and fun for the whole family. Little Cove Adventures also has small rustic cabins for families to relax and enjoy nature.
Big Tub Lighthouse
Big Tub Lighthouse is another great place for people to learn about a region’s history, as well as for those who simply enjoy looking at the pretty scenery. The lighthouse stands above stunning clear water. Visitors can also choose to swim there. The lighthouse was established in 1885 and helped sailors navigate their way through the rough waters of Georgian Bay. The Great Lakes were notorious for shipwrecks and the wrecks of Tobermory really show just how deadly they can be.
Big Tub Lighthouse is also an excellent spot for a picnic. There are three other lighthouses in Tobermory to visit as well – Cabot Head Lighthouse, Cove Island Lighthouse, and Flowerpot Island Lighthouse.
Edmunds Township Museum
For history fans who want to get a deeper understanding of the area and how life was like for early settlers, the St. Edmunds’ Township Museum is the perfect addition to your itinerary. The museum is a 19th century, one-room schoolhouse, where the Belrose family raised their eight children.
The museum houses many historical items, such as land deeds and registers, photographs of the settlement history, and some items regarding fishing and lumber. There is also a log home furnished with pots, pans, and linens as it would have been in the 19th century. The log home is original and dates back to 1875.
While staying within the town and enjoying all its different attractions is fun, a short visit around Tobermory is also a good idea to get the best of being within the area. Bayside Astronomy is a free program that educates the general public on the importance of preserving the dark skies.
Bayside Astronomy is located at the marina in Lion’s Head, it is an excellent addition to any itinerary for visits to Tobermory. The program is supported by the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to healthy environments. You can find more information on the programs here.
But you don’t need to go to Bayside Astronomy for stargazing. The skies around Tobermory are quite dark and free of light pollution so head out to a beach and take in the starry skies.
Things to do Near Tobermory
Manitoulin Island is also reachable by ferry in 2 hours. It’s one of the day trips worth taking from Tobermory to see the world’s largest freshwater island. But there are so many things to do on Manitoulin, you may want to combine your getaway to Tobermory with another few days on Manitoulin Island. Check our guide to the Great Spirit Circle Tour – 10 Manitoulin Indigenous Experiences
The second-longest freshwater beach in the world, (The first is Wasaga Beach also in Ontario) Sauble Beach draws thousands of tourists every month. There are two sides to the beach that you can visit. The first one is the , which requires payment to enter. The other side holds all the attractions, such as mini-golf, volleyball, fishing, etc.
There are many restaurants nearby. Plenty of events are also hosted at the beach, the most prominent one being the sandcastle-building contests. So checking the beach calendar beforehand is a good idea.
Another nearby town is Wiarton, Ontario. It is home to Wiarton Willy, our loveable groundhog who predicts spring on Groundhog Day. Read all about Wiarton and Grey Bruce County here at our trip through the Grey Bruce Superloop.
Where to Stay in Tobermory
Tobermory Village Campground: One of the best ways to book accommodation in Tobermory is to book vacation rentals. You can look for accommodation on TripAdvisor –Tobermory
Camping is one of the best options for accommodation in Tobermory. Tobermory Village Campground offers multiple options for travellers.
Vacation Rentals are a great option post COVID – This beautiful waterfront cottage is 5km from downtown Tobermory. It offers kayaking and beautiful views for sunset.
With so many options available, it can be challenging for first-time visitors to decide what to do in Tobermory. But this list provides all the must-sees of the small lakeside town that will make any trip to Ontario worthwhile. If you’re planning to visit Tobermory, be sure to include these items in your bucket list, so you can have a fun experience.