Overnight Back Country Camping on Flowerpot Island in Tobermory

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In this adventure, I travel up to Bruce Peninsula in Ontario Canada, my ultimate destination is 2 nights camping on Flowerpot Island, but first I make a stop at Bruce Peninsula National Park and a quick visit to the Grotto.

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Flowerpot Island, a captivating natural wonder located just 6.5 kilometres off the enchanting coast of Tobermory. Prepare to be mesmerized as you discover the breathtaking sea stacks, lovingly referred to as the “flowerpots,” that grace this remarkable island.

With its awe-inspiring beauty and abundant natural treasures, Flowerpot Island beckons adventurers from far and wide. Immerse yourself in the exploration of enchanting caves, traverse picturesque hiking trails, and uncover the secrets of a historic light station that stands as a testament to the island’s rich heritage. Along your journey, you’ll also encounter a diverse array of rare plant species, adding an extra touch of botanical marvel to your experience.

Uniquely situated within the confines of Fathom Five National Marine Park, Flowerpot Island holds the distinction of being the sole island in the park to offer campsites and hiking trails. Accessible exclusively by boat, two reputable tour companies in Tobermory provide convenient ferry services, ensuring seamless transportation to this captivating destination.

Prepare to embark on an unforgettable adventure and witness the awe-inspiring wonders of Flowerpot Island.

Bruce Peninsula National Park and The Grotto

On my first night I arrived late to camp the night in my car at Bruce Peninsula National Park.  I awoke early to take a hike to the Grotto to enjoy it at sunrise!

My last visit to the grotto was in the middle of the day during peak season so this was a much more enjoyable experience being here early and alone

I headed down into one of the smaller caves, I wasn’t prepared to head into the largest cave alone in the event of an accident.

Back Country Camping on Flowerpot Island

If you are lucky enough to book one of the just 6 campsites available, you are able to enjoy the peace and quiet of having the whole island to yourself once the last tour boat leaves.

Before you can head to the island you have to visit the Parks Canada visitors center to obtain your permits, from there you head to your ferry office to get your tickets and show them your camping permit.  All of this must be booked and taken care of online prior to the day you arrive.

The ferry ride takes roughly 30-45 minutes and along the way, the glass-bottomed boat will take you over several of the shipwrecks found in the water.

If you have some spare time, I highly recommend a cup of coffee on the patio at the Tobermory Brewing Company & Grill.

Once you arrive on the boat and disembark, the campsites are to the left past the public washrooms.

I arrived mid-afternoon on a Friday and the island was very busy, I spent much of my first day on the island unpacking and setting up.  Knowing I would be staying up late shooting timelapse, I took a good nap, alone on my campsite and away from the hoards of tourists.

Once I woke up and had my dinner, it was about time for the final ferries to take the tourists away and it just be me and a lucky few fellow campers on the island for the night.

I set up my camera at the larger flowerpot and left it while I explored the island alone!

After a late night of shooting timelapse videos and taking photos, I retired to my campsite for the night and a quiet peaceful undisturbed sleep

The first tour boat arrives at around 930am and drops off or picks up tourists all day long. On Saturday my goal will be to find a part of the island where there are no people around!

I navigated my way through the masses of tourists, like cockroaches all over the island, except these cockroaches don’t move when a person comes through, I found myself plowing through masses of tourists on my way to escape them.

Finally, sunburnt and tired from hiking, rock climbing and navigating faint foot trails coated with cobwebs and hoping to avoid the ticks and poison ivy, I found myself far away from the baby carriages, hoards of tourists eating out of Costco sized bags of chips while standing on a trail, unruly children and people talking on their cellphones – holding the phone to their face rather than using it like a normal phone. Who are these people and why do they act this way?

I enjoyed a few hours alone on a rock, listening to the waves as the lapped the rocks below, the bright blue sky and the sun on my skin!

On Saturday night the last ferry left at around 730, which I was not prepared for as I thought I would be alone by 6pm, so I end up shooting a daytime timelapse sequence at the large flowerpot while the island is still full of people.

I had enough, after 30 minutes of the same two men taking photos of each other right beside me, literally right beside me – one of them had to apologize as he kicked my leg getting himself in position for his 500th selfie in the same place, I made my way to the lighthouse area and finally at 730pm I was alone to enjoy the summer breeze of the lake and watch the sunset.

By the time I got to the lighthouse area, the people were gone within 30 minutes and for the rest of the night, I only saw 2 other people – a young couple who camping a few sites beside me.

I enjoyed the silence, time lapsing the setting sun over the hazy orange sky, burnt from the many first fires all over the country. I then moved on to sit by the flowerpots and watched as the Milky Way appeared brightly over Georgian Bay.

After enjoying a quiet Saturday night with only 4 other people on the island, I decided to get up early, pack my things and take one of the first ferries off the island. My trip was not scheduled until 1:34, but since no one is leaving the island in the morning there was plenty of room to accommodate me.

The trip back is direct with no stops, you are able to just enjoy the ride.

I personally will not do this trip again as I found the island to be far too busy during the day and it was not the experience I was hoping for, while the nights were calm and peaceful, there are no other trails or accessible parts of the island to escape to during the day.

That said, I did enjoy the experience, the sights, the scenery and the landscape of flowerpot island!

Thank you to Parks Canada and Bruce Anchor Tours for the Hospitality!

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