Isle Haute Tour


Two-hour boat tour – seal & bird colony 

 

Bookings

Call 1-902-670-8314 or email onthebay@advocateboattours.com.CA$ 79 + tax per adult. Children up to 12 half price.We accept cash and cheques only.48-hr cancelation policy.

 

Remote Isle Haute is home to a large seal and seagull colony. Copyright: paulillsley.com

Remote Isle Haute is home to a large seal and bird colony. Copyright: paulillsley.com

Take an off-shore tour to the mysterious Isle Haute in the middle of the Bay of Fundy where numerous seals frolic in the clear water, and bald eagles, seagulls and peregrine falcons ride the updrafts along the cliffs. This destination is the highlight of any trip to Nova Scotia if you like wild, unspoiled nature and amazing geology. Our most popular tour, this is always a hit with the kids as well due to the awesome wildlife viewing opportunities.

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NEW in 2017 - Your Own Island - Luxury Adventure

Spend the night on Isle Haute camping with everything catered for by a professional guide. More info here.

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sea cliffs at isle haute bay of fundy

320 foot sea cliffs tower above us

The French name meaning High Island was chosen by explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1604; a fitting name for the lonely island with its 320 foot high basalt cliffs dating back to the Jurassic.

As we navigate around the island, it’s hard to imagine anyone ever lived here. Light-keepers and their families called Isle Haute home though. They manned the four-story lighthouse from 1878 until a fire destroyed it in 1956. It has since then been replaced by a fully automated beacon. Despite the light, more than 20 vessels have wrecked on the treacherous gravel bar that extends towards Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia.

seals in bay of fundy

Close-up of a Grey Seal

Isle Haute is home to a thriving seal colony that we can enjoy close up while bald eagles, falcons and sea gulls go about their daily business high above us on the steep cliffs which provides a nesting place for thousands of birds.

Apart from the time of lightkeepers no one has ever lived on Isle Haute. The Mi’Kmaq stopped on Isle Haute long enough to leave traces of  tool making in stone during stop-overs.  During the age of sail pirates like the ruthless Edward “Ned” Low is said to have buried treasure on the island taken from a Spanish galleon named Senora de Victoria. Treasure hunters have found some coins on Isle Haute from that era, but who knows what remains buried on these mysterious shores. Treasure hunting is no longer allowed, with the focus now on scientific study of this fascinating island.

On our way back to Advocate, we will take in Refugee Cove in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park with it’s incredibly colorful cliffs. In 1755, the cove briefly harboured fleeing Acadians that tried to avoid the great expulsion by the British.

 

On TripAdvisor:

“Magical boat tour of isolated ecosystem”       “World-class experience on the Bay of Fundy”

 

Male grey seals are darker colored than females and can weigh as much as 370 kilos.

Male grey seals are darker colored than females and can weigh as much as 370 kilos.

Our season runs from June to October.

Bookings

Call 1-902-670-8314 or email onthebay@advocateboattours.com.CA$ 79 + tax per adult. Children up to 12 half price.We accept cash and cheques only.48-hr cancelation policy.

 

The image below is of Isle Haute on the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia at low tide. The long gravel bar caused havoc during the age of sail. On a high tide, the bar is  just below the surface while there is deep water on both sides.

20140628-IlesHaute-167

 

 

A tale about Isle Haute’s treasure

In 1947, the American author Edward Rowe Snow purchased a mysterious map. It was not until five years later that he put the pieces together and came to believe that he possessed a treasure map of Isle Haute drawn by pirate Ned Low himself, or possibly one of his subordinates. The map was examined by experts according to Snow, and was found to be drawn on 17th century paper.

 

Cormorants don't have oil glands like ducks so they need to dry their wings to avoid getting hypothermia before the next dive for fish.

Cormorants don’t have oil glands like ducks so they need to dry their wings before the next dive

In June 1952, armed with his map and a metal detector, Snow set out for Isle Haute and made arrangements to stay at the lighthouse with Keeper John Melvin Fullerton, his wife Margaret and their teenage son Donald. Snow wrote of his approach to Isle Haute in his book True Tales of Pirates and Their Gold. “Almost nothing can equal the thrill of sailing out to sea on the way to a romantic island which one has never visited. When this thrill was combined with the knowledge that pirates had buried treasure on the island to which we were sailing, my excitement knew no bounds.”

Keeper Fullerton told Snow that many others had also looked for treasure on the island. Soon after he arrived, Snow’s metal detector picked up a strong reading at the edge of a previously dug pit. By himself as the sun was setting, Snow dug with a pick for 20 minutes when he suddenly uncovered the ribs of a human skeleton.

“On my next swing with the pick,” he wrote, “the sharp point caught on something in the ground. The earth tore away and I saw it was a human skull which rolled across my feet! Completely losing my nerve, I scrambled out of the pit, grabbed the lantern and started walking rapidly toward the lighthouse far away on the top of the island cliff.”

Bald Eagle taking flight at the Bay of Fundy Nova Scotia

A Bald Eagle takes off from a cliff top

The next morning, in daylight with Keeper Fullerton and his son close by, Snow returned to finish his digging. He found several coins in the area around the skeleton. The Spanish and Portuguese coins were well over 200 years old.

Before returning to Massachusetts, Snow was interviewed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When it was determined that part of his modest treasure find was gold, the coins had to be left “in the efficient care of the Bank of Nova Scotia.” A short time later Snow was able to obtain a license to export the coins. Life Magazine ran a feature on the Isle Haute “Red Taped Pirate Gold” on July 21, 1952, bringing national attention to the fascinating island.

Snow believed that the bulk of Low’s treasure might have been found long before he reached Isle Haute’s shores. The days of unauthorized visitors digging holes on the island are over, with good reason. Searching for treasure anywhere in Nova Scotia now requires a license under the Treasure Trove Act, and violators can face heavy fines. And visiting Isle Haute at all requires the permission of the Canadian Coast Guard. According to Dan Conlin, “The spot most favored by Snow and other treasure hunters… also happens to be one of the more important archeological sites on the island of very old habitation by native peoples… Isle Haute is a very special island both for ecological and archaeological reasons.” This is obviously an island blessed with treasures worth much more than mere coins.

 

boat tours on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia Canada

Refugee Cove – During the expulsion of 1755, a group of Acadians escaped to here.