No airports. No tunnels. No highways or helipads. Sometimes, it's just best to travel the old-fashioned way—by sea! Here are nine special places Adventure Canada visits that most of us will only ever have the chance to reach via ship. Which of them are on your bucket list?
Uninhabited since 1930, the tiny archipelago of St. Kilda is the outermost of Scotland’s Hebrides islands. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which protects the former community as well as the island’s natural heritage. Feral sheep will keep you company as you explore the old stone buildings and hike the sweeping hills, while gannets and fulmars sing the soundtrack of your Zodiac cruise around the bustling seabird colonies.
At the convergence of the Irminger and Labrador Seas around the southern tip of Greenland, you’ll find the breathtaking fjord network of Ikerasassuaq (Prince Christian Sound). The stunning metamorphic geology here is part of the region’s Ketilidian mobile belt, formed 1.8 billion years ago by colliding continents. These dramatic, rugged peaks reach heights of 2,200 metres, lapped by glacier-fed waters while white-tailed eagles soar nearby.
Just offshore from Nunavik (though officially part of the territory of Nunavut), Akpatok is a flat-topped limestone behemoth looming above Ungava Bay. The island’s name comes from the Inuktitut word akpait
(thick-billed murres), and for good reason: the sprawling colonies account for as much as five per cent of the species’ global population. But it’s not just black-and-white flyers you’ll have the chance to spot here—keep your eyes peeled for mountaineering polar bears who like to snack on their eggs.
Life’s a beach at Sable Island. The misty, mythical collection of dunes, some 150 kilometres away from Nova Scotia’s south coast, is a protected Parks Canada National Reserve. Genetically unique wild horses, endemic bird life, and the world’s largest colony of grey seals make it a fauna-tastical destination, while flora fans will adore the bullhead water lilies, blue flag irises, and marram grass swaying in the breeze. After a visit here, you’re sure to come home with sand in your shoes and a spring in your step.
Secluded South Georgia entered Antarctic infamy when, in 1916, Sir Ernest Shackleton and five other men journeyed here in a pocket-sized lifeboat. Together they sailed 1,300 kilometres toward the mountainous ramparts in hopes of finding rescue for the rest of their stranded crew. Today, you can pay your respects at the legendary explorer’s gravesite and witness the remains of a once-prolific whaling industry that operated out of the island. Home to albatross, elephant seals, and penguins by the hundreds of thousands, this is a must-see spot for wildlife lovers, too.
At the northerly end of Torngat Mountains National Park, small-but-mighty Eclipse Channel is a waterpark for bearded seals—and adventurous Zodiac cruisers! The waterfall’s rushing rapids form the perfect soundscape for a hike amongst the beautiful peaks, where you might have the chance to spot caribou, falcons, eagles, and both polar and black bears. But keep your eyes peeled downward, too, for a closer look at the tundra’s petite plant life and rich archaeology.
For generations, this solitary spot was one of the last known sites of the doomed Franklin expedition, who met their end while searching for a route through the Northwest Passage. The poignant grave markers, Northumberland House, and other nearby archaeological remains make this a coveted, once-in-a-lifetime port of call for many history buffs. It also offers great hiking, and it’s likely the crunch of the gravel terrain beneath your boots will echo in your heart long after you leave.
Welcome to charming “Fransway,” what is arguably Newfoundland’s sweetest little outport. Population: 89. Here you can wander the rambling boardwalks by foot or by ATV, but you won’t find a single car, since there’s no roads leading into town. If the colourful houses, fishing boats, and mighty scenery don’t delight you, a rousing kitchen party in the community’s town hall certainly will! Be sure to pack your dancing shoes for an experience you won’t soon forget.
At the northwesterly tip of Greenland on the shores of Smith Sound, you’ll find heavenly, tranquil Etah. The village that was once a launching hub for polar expeditions is now abandoned. Today you can take in the historical wooden huts or walk out to the tremendous glacial tongue that dominates this rarely visited landscape. Plus, keep your cameras and binoculars at the ready for possible wildlife sightings in the area, including muskox, Arctic hare, and walrus.