Grand Manan New Brunswick Canada

ATTRACTIONS - "Dark Harbour"

Dark Harbour is one of the few areas of Grand Manan's west coast which is accessible by car. The one hundred metre high cliffs of columnar volcanic basalt, which form the west side of the island, have been dramatically pierced by a strong flowing stream and give access to one of the island's most unique, unusual and photogenic areas.

A natural harbour has been augmented by a sea wall thrown up by the waves - fog and unusual lighting conditions create other worldly effects on the numerous camps, cottages and homes which ring the natural harbour. You definitely want to visit at low tide - the beach and road are mostly submerged at high tide.

Boats are moored along the shore with long lines, and laneways to individual dwellings are steep and short, and cut off at high tide. For visitors, the area close to the main working dock is always above water, and a good place to park - but park to the side to avoid blocking access to the dock.

Few people live permanently in Dark Harbour - the dwellings are mostly summer working camps - although, according to the Grand Manan Tourism web site, Dark Harbour is also an area which locals use to get away from the hussle and bussle of the eastern side of the island! The rings in the inner harbour are for fish farming.

"Dark Harbour Dulse", which had made the island famous world-wide, is hand picked along the west coast, and landed at Dark Harbour. You can also see it being dried (and can buy some) on the way to or back from Dark Harbour at Roland's Sea Vegetables located at 174 Hill Road - as well as on many other locations on the island.




You can either walk north along the beach at low tide until you come to the ocean inlet into the inner harbour, or choose a much more adventuresome walk south to start a walk along the natural seawall. It is recommended you do this at low tide. You have to cross a small stream at the south end of the beach before you start the main hike - be prepared to take off your shoes if it has been rainy recently!

The seawall walk, despite the fact it looks fairly flat from a distance, is actually quite challenging. While parts have been leveled off mechanically, it is still a sometimes difficult climb over rounded, loose rock. You do get great views of both the Maine and New Brunswick mainland and the Grand Manan Straight. The short distance to the shore is probably the reason the first Ferry service landed here - the winter storms the likely reason it was later moved to the deeper and more protected North Head harbour! At the very least, you can also see the motors & pulley systems used to drag dulsing boats over the sea wall. If you are lucky, as we were, you can also see the process take place. Small working shacks are strung out along the wall, mixed with all the flotsam & jetsam from the latest major storms. You can also see some of the working seining weirs that dot the western shore of the island.

Despite the abundance of rock, most are uniformly the same basalt - however, from the seawall you can finally get a great view of where two of the island's volcanic flows can be seen, one topping the other.

At the northern end, you will reach the ocean inlet - and on the other side, the old look-out tower. Even at lowest tide, do not be tempted to cross the channel - we are advised the currents and undertow are wickedly dangerous. A walk from the working dock to the inlet and back takes 2 - 3 hours - and you will feel you had a good workout by the end! We went with the Sunday afternoon hiking group that meets on Facebook.

Grand Manan Hikers on Facebook website
GMTA -" Dulse and other edible sea-vegetables"

The Mananook website is produced by two newcomers to the Island. It provides a personal, and as yet, incomplete exploration of our new home. Check out the official Grand Manan Tourism Association website for more complete information. Credits