How To Spend A Weekend In Tobermory, Ontario

How To Spend A Weekend In Tobermory, Ontario

Tobermory, Ontario

If you had never heard of Tobermory before, chances are you have heard a lot about it the past few years.  

A quaint little town about three-and-a-half-hours North of Toronto has been a hidden gem in Ontario for a very long time. However, the secret about this beautiful harbor village has been out for several years. And it is now one of the most visited destinations in Ontario. With travel restrictions in place, Tobermory was the destination of choice for many. 

Although it is a small town, it is no doubt one of the most scenic and serene places to spend a weekend. Whether you are traveling as a family, a couple, or with a group of friends, there is plenty to see and do in just one weekend in Tobermory.

From turquoise blue waters to scenic hiking trails and breathtaking views, we have always enjoyed our time spent in Tobermory. It is the perfect place to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We just returned from our third visit to Tobermory. Every time we visit, we find new reasons to fall in love with this small town. 

The kids being older made for a much different experience. Some of the hikes can be challenging, so taking young children can be tricky. We are glad we waited to experience these hikes. They loved exploring, getting lost, finding their way, climbing, and enjoying Mother Nature. 

What Can You Do In Tobermory?

There are many things to see and do. You will not be left disappointed. Below are a few activities you can enjoy if you are spending a weekend in Tobermory.

Stroll Along The Marina At Little Tub Harbour

Little Tub Harbour in Tobermory

Little Tub Harbour is the heart of Tobermory. With a marina and boat launch, restaurants, ice cream shops, and other unique retail shops, this is probably the busiest spot in Tobermory.

It is a great place for a stroll or to sit back and watch the boats go by or enjoy an Ice Cream or infamous Beaver Tail. In the Summer, you would see upwards of hundreds of people filling up this area. Even though it may seem like there is a lot of going on, it does not compare to the city. The vibe in this little town forces you to slow down and enjoy your surrounding.

A Visit To Big Tub Harbour And Lighthouse

Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory

Big Tub Harbour is a mere ten-minute drive away from Little Tub Harbour. Big Tub harbor is surrounded by forests and cottages that outline the shore. The crystal clear waters of Big Tub harbor is home to the famous shipwrecks. 

The Big Tub harbor lighthouse sits on one end and is still active, guiding boats back to the harbor. The rocky shores around the lighthouse have become a popular spot for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. 

Explore Sunken Shipwrecks

There are over twenty shipwrecks that are a part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park in Tobermory. The two most popular shipwrecks that can be easily spotted from the surface are Sweepstakes schooner and the City of Grand Rapids steamer. 

The Sweepstake lies about 20 feet below the surface. This allows boats to hover right above it, so it can be seen through the glass bottom. The City of Grand Rapids sits only 15 feet deep. While the tour boats cannot go over it, you can get close enough to get a clear view of it.

You can get a look at the shipwrecks from one of the many boat tours or by renting a kayak and exploring at your own pace. If you want a more up close and personal experience, you can choose to snorkel or scuba dive into Georgian Bay. 

Take a boat tour to Flowerpot Island 

Boat Tour to Flowerpot Island

A trip to Flowerpot Island is a must when visiting Tobermory. Several cruise lines offer boat tours. We have always used Bruce Anchor Cruises. You can choose from different types of glass-bottom boats and the type of tour that suits your needs. They offer a drop off tour where you will be dropped off at Flowerpot Island to hike and explore the island. Or you could choose the Stay Aboard tour, which takes you around the island and it allows you to see the famous rock formations, the lighthouse, and learn a little bit about the island. Both tours give you the chance to see the famous shipwrecks.

Check out our post here to help you plan a day trip to Flowerpot Island.

Rent a canoe or kayak 

Kayak rentals in Tobermory

With its turquoise blue waters and breathtaking scenery, Tobermory is a boater’s paradise. You can bring your kayak or canoe or rent one from one of the outfitters in town. There are many launching areas for you to spend a good part of the day exploring the waterways, which is an excellent way to explore the sunken shipwrecks. You can enjoy them at your own pace and get better views. 

Dive into Georgian Bay

Diver's Den in Tobermory

If scuba diving or snorkeling is your thing, then you are definitely in the right place! Tobermory is a diver’s haven. With clear waters and more than 20 shipwrecks and other fun spots, it is no wonder it attracts divers from around the world and is considered the Scuba Diving capital of Canada!

Diver’s Den is a popular outfitter that offers diving and snorkeling tours.

Day trip to Manitoulin Island

Ferry to Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island needs a trip on its own. However, many people like to hop on board the Chi Cheemaun (“Big Canoe” in Ojibwe) for a day trip to the island. Drive your car into the ferry, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride over to Manitoulin Island. A place that is oozing with natural beauty and Aboriginal Culture, Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest freshwater island. 

We wanted to spend as much time as possible on the island, so we booked the first departure for the day. Although it was a struggle to get the kids up and ready by 5 am, watching the sunrise while onboard the ship was worth the struggle. 

There are many restrictions at the moment due to Covid-19. Be sure to confirm timings and bookings before leaving. If you miss your boat or get stuck for whatever reason, it will be a long drive back to Tobermory. Trust me. We learned the hard way!

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Peninsula National Park

The Bruce Peninsula National Park is part of UNESCO’s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. The park sees thousands of visitors every year, which has forced them to implement a reserved parking system. The park is home to the famous Grotto, the Indian Head Cove, the natural arch, boulder beach, hiking trails, camping, and lots of wildlife. And yes, black bears are known to roam the park. Thankfully, we did not have any bear encounters. 

Check our post on 8 Things To Do In Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Little Cove Adventures

Little Cove Adventures offers cabin accommodations as well as an aerial park. The park offers high and low ropes. The high ropes are for those looking for a challenge, way above the ground. The low ropes are for children and adults who fear excessive heights. While this looks fun and exciting and heights don’t bother me, I still like to know that I can plant both feet on the ground. So for those of you who like to monkey around and want to take a break from hiking, you should check out this spot.

On our first trip to Tobermory, we stayed in one of their cabins, which was a great experience. It was somewhat of a glamping experience, the amenities of camping, with the luxuries of a bed and four walls. 

Devil’s Monument

This is another loop along the Bruce trail that leads you to the largest inland flowerpot formation. While the walk there is said to be short, the access trail is supposed to be tricky for young children. We were not able to visit Devil’s Monument. However, this gives us an excuse to go back!

Visit the many beaches

Needless to say, you are sure to find a beach in Tobermory. The town is surrounded by water. No matter where you go, you are bound to find a spot to dip your feet. Or, if you are brave, dive right into the not so warm waters of Georgian Bay. Singing Sands and Little Cove beach are the two beaches closest to the village. However, you could also enjoy a swim at the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Flowerpot Island. Although the shores in these spots are rocky and are not the typical sandy beach you can lie on.

Where to stay

Tobermory is a small town, and you will not find big chain hotels. Many of the accommodations you will find are small independent hotels or motels, camping facilities, cabins, B&Bs, or private cottages.

Little Cove Adventures

 The first time we visited Tobermory, we stayed at Little Cove Adventures. If you enjoy camping but would prefer not to haul all of your camping gear with you, Little Cove Adventures cabins are a great place to stay. Each wood cabin can accommodate either two adults or two adults and two children. All of their cabins are equipped with electricity, a picnic table, and a fire pit. So you are not completely in the woods and be worried about not being able to charge your phone or camera. 

Like any other campground, there is a common comfort station with running water. For someone who is not a seasoned camper, this would be a deal-breaker. There is also a BBQ station and gazebo available for your use. 

The park also offers rope climbing for those of you who enjoy a thrilling experience. We did not try it as the kids were still too young. And walking on ropes and poles twenty feet off the ground is not my cup of tea! 

If you are looking for cheap accommodations and you are not fussy about where you stay, we would recommend Little Cove Adventures.

Bruce Anchor Motel

Bruce Anchor Motel in Tobermory

On our second trip to Tobermory, we stayed at the Bruce Anchor Motel. Our room was on the main floor, and the sliding doors opened onto a patio facing the street with a view of the water. With comfortable patio chairs, it was the perfect spot to unwind after an adventurous day. 

The room was a little small. However, we found it was good enough for two adults and two children. We loved the location of this hotel. With free parking included, we were able to leave our car at the hotel and walk everywhere. It was close enough to the marina, restaurants and the turquoise blue waters were only steps away. 

The hotel is also only a two-minute drive from the dock to board the Chi-Cheemaun to Manitoulin Island. This was convenient as we had reserved tickets for the first ferry of the day and had to be ready to board before the crack of dawn. 

If you are traveling in a larger group, they also have cottages that you could rent around the area. 

We had a pleasant stay at Bruce Anchor Motel and would recommend their property. 

Tip: Since Tobermory has become a popular tourist destination, motels and cottages tend to book up to a year in advance. So, if you are planning on exploring this region, make sure you plan and make your reservations well in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Where to Eat

The Fish and Chip Place

Fish and Chips Place in Tobermory

Your trip to Tobermory is not complete without trying fish and chips. There are several fish and chips restaurants and no better place than a restaurant that is named after the delicious meal. You know their fish and chips are worth trying when you see people lining up along the sidewalk. We waited for almost an hour in the scorching sun for a table. And the wait was well worth it. 

While there is some seating indoors, the best seats are under the big red umbrellas on the patio. With beautiful sceneries, it is the best spot to enjoy some fresh fish and a cold beverage on a hot summer day. 

Coconut Joe’s Harbour Bar And Grill

Coconut Joe's Harbour Bar & Grill in Tobermory

If you are looking for something besides fish and chips, then Coconut Joe’s Harbour Bar and Grill is the place to go. This vibrant little restaurant sits right beside the water. And the music and ambiance of the patio will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean. 

Due to the pandemic, the restaurant was only providing take out meals. However, you were able to use their patio if you didn’t want to take your food to go. This was a great little spot to watch the boats go by and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Although slightly expensive if you are feeding a family of four, the portion sizes are decent. The portion sizes were shareable. And the kids’ burger meal would be considered an adult meal at some restaurants! If you enjoy kettle chips, then you will not be disappointed. You will have enough chips for your dinner and a midnight snack! 

Peninsula Supply Ice Cream Parlour

Peninsula Ice Cream in Tobermory

On a hot summer day, no better way to cool down than with ice cream. The Peninsula Supply Ice Cream Parlour is a little ice cream shop right in Little Tub Harbour. With multiple flavors on their menu, affordable pricing, and generous portions, the line up out the door was no surprise. If you are looking for a sweet treat, we would recommend this ice cream parlor. 

The Sweet Shop

The Sweet Shop in Tobermory

Got a sweet tooth? Then you will want to visit the sweet shop. From ice cream to fudge, brittle, and an array of candy, you will be in sweet heaven. Attached to the Sweet Shop is the Coffee Shop. This is just a small shop with a window. Grab your favorite beverage and breakfast and enjoy it outdoors at one of their picnic benches. Although we did not try their food or coffee, there was always a lineup, which leads me to believe it is worth a try the next time we are there. 

PizzaForno

Pizza Forno in Tobermory

Have you ever seen a pizza vending machine? Well, that is what PizzaForno is! Fresh handmade pizzas are delivered to the machine, waiting to be picked up by the next hungry customer. Place your order using the touch screen, and your pizza will be baked and dispensed right to you. Do not want soggy pizza? You can choose the “cold pizza”, which you can take with you and bake at home. 

We thought this was such an innovative idea. It was too bad we did not realize what this machine was the night we were hunting for food! It is set up in a parking lot, a short drive from Little Tub harbor. We got back to the village a little late following our hike at the Bruce Peninsula National Park, only to find almost all of the restaurants closed. Having a pizza vending machine is perfect for times when you find yourself in a pinch. They have 20 locations across North America, and you can check their website to see if there is a location close to you.

Foodland

The Foodland is the grocery store in Little Tub Harbour. It is not a restaurant, but if you are on the go or if you are too tired after a long day of exploring, they offer many pre-cooked and packaged food items that you could bring back to your hotel room. And if you are camping and forgot something, they have everything you would need.

Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula is one of those places that when you visit once, you keep yearning to go back. If you have not been there yet, it should be your next stop in Ontario.

Thanks for stopping by. Please like and share the love.

Comment below and let us know if there is anything else you would add to this list of activities.

The Nallawangsa Family

Subscribe for travel tips and inspiration.
%d bloggers like this: