Scuba divers across Canada , whether they’ve been there or not, seem to be very excited about the Bruce Peninsula , especially when you mention Fathom Five. This is a very unique National Park because it is underwater! Between shipwrecks and natural underwater rock formations, there is a lot to see from either above or below the water’s surface. Fathom Five is made up of clear water and about 20 different islands (actually, the “islands” are attached to the mainland underwater).
Since I am not yet a certified Scuba diver, we had to view the wrecks from the Blue Heron’s deck and from the shores of Georgian Bay . I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to get a closer look at some of these sunken masterpieces. Apparently, there are almost two dozen shipwrecks to visit, a few dating back to the mid 1800s. Fathom Five has a dive team that monitors the condition of the wrecks for the safety of the many divers that visit the park each year.
Fathom Five has a new visitor’s centre that has a 20 m high viewing tower that overlooks the Bruce Peninsula , an HD theatre with a feature film that highlights the best spots in the area, a full-size lighthouse, a bunch of exhibits, and information about camping and diving in Fathom Five. If you plan to do some diving or camp out on the island, you’ll need to register at the Visitor’s Centre.
Flower Pot Island
Flower Pot Island is located 6.5 kilometres from Tobermory… but you can’t get there by car! As it is part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park , the only way to visit this famous little island is by boat. The Blue Heron Company is the major boat company that offers daily departures from Little Tub Harbour in Tobermory for Flowerpot Island . They have glass-bottom boats to enable you to see the shipwrecks underwater along the way. To be honest, most of the shipwrecks are visible from the deck of the boat too since the water isn’t very deep in some areas. The Flowerpot Tour includes a cruise from Little Tub to Big Tub Harbour to see the remains of two shipwrecks and take a look at the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry that travels to Manitoulin Island . Then, it’s a ride over to Flowerpot Island where you can stay on the boat or decide to hop off for a walk around the island. It’s an extra five dollars (for a total of $30 per person) if you want to get off on the island.
The boat will drop you off at Beachy Cove and will pick you up from the same location at pre-set times—be sure to be on-time for your return trip or you’ll be spending the night! During the summer, boats depart Flowerpot about every two hours from 9:30 to 5:30 p.m. Of course, if you have your tent with you and you’ve missed the boat, then it’s not a problem because there’s camping sites just a short hike from the boat dock. If you’d like to plan more of an official stay, you can buy a permit for a site (complete with tent platform) at the Fathom Five Visitor’s Centre. Sites are limited (there are 6!), there are NO reservations.
Flower Pot Island is part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park (see below). Its namesakes are what make it such a popular tourist destination—two rock pillars that jut out of the lake. These are very similar to the “flower pots” that you can visit in New Brunswick at *******. These “sea stacks” have been created by pounding waves that crack the stone and wear it away.
There are some amazing natural landscapes to check out once you’re on the island: caves, bluffs, and lakes, not to mention the stunning views of Georgian Bay . You can also visit the lighthouse keeper’s residence near Castle Bluff. We hiked all 4.3 km of trails that meander around the island and took tons of great pictures. We had a bit of a race back to the boat docks (we thought we wouldn’t make it) but, as it turned out, the three hours we had on the island were just enough to ensure that we had time to check everything out.
The main trail loops around the island and takes you directly to the main sites. Personally, I loved checking out the campsite and hiking to the Marle Bed that offered a peaceful perspective of Georgian Bay (i.e. most people stick to the main loop and then hop back on the very next boat).
Flowerpot Island and Fathom Five can be combined with a trip to the Bruce Peninsula National Park very easily. Tobermory is a fantastic little town to visit that plays host to many boat enthusiasts. Whether you are looking for a camping trip or a cottage-stay, you’ll find the accommodations and sites you’re searching for in this part of the peninsula!