Ontario Tourism, Day 9: Tobermory and Flowerpot Island



Our second day camping at Cyprus Lake, part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park, we decided to head into the town of Tobermory to catch the ferry over to Flowerpot Island.  But first, we wanted coffee.


Fresh air and sunshine sure wear one out, so our get up and go wasn’t quite there Wednesday morning when it needed to be.  We had a full day ahead of us, ferrying over to the island, hiking around it, and walking the Tobermory shops and town when we returned by ferry.  We needed our coffee.  I hadn’t brought the Bodum to make our own morning coffees, nor was there a general store in the campground.  Remember, this was halfway to real camping.  No showers, no nearby flush toilet, a bear on site, and no general store to get your morning coffee.


We all decided coffee was the first thing we’d get upon entering Tobermory.  So how could I forget? I guess I was too set on finding the office to purchase ferry tickets.  The Blue Heron Cruise Lines office was the first thing we spotted as we entered Tobermory.  So we stopped in and purchased the over the top expensive boat tickets to the island (took me a while to actually decide on it while standing there in front of the young girl forming those syllables to mouth f-o-r-t-y-f-o-u-r dollars an adult, t-h-i-r-t-y-f-o-u-r dollars for youth.) Puppy dog eyes and a bit of whimpering to go along with them always help convince me we should just pay the gargantuan price for sweet youngest to have this once in a lifetime experience.  So I did.


The cruise line office sits right on highway six on your left-hand side as you enter Tobermory.  After purchasing tickets in the office you park your vehicle at the back of the building where a super friendly shuttle bus driver awaits you, to drive you to the harbour area. Very organized, and very relaxing to know you don’t have to fight for parking in the town, particularly if it’s a busy time.


There are several kinds of boat tours you can choose from:  the jet or glass bottom boat drop off to Flowerpot island, or the sunset cruise, or a stay aboard cruise around the perimeter of the island. For the price, I think it’s more worth it to get off and see the island itself.


It was actually a fairly choppy ride over to the island that morning, with a few close to sea-sick patrons (myself and daughters among those).  But we got our sea legs by the end of the journey.


The largest passenger and car vessel on the Great Lakes is called the Chi-Cheemaun (meaning, “big canoe” in Ojibway) holds 600 people and up to 150 vehicles, running May through October, offering a short cut to and from northern Ontario.  The trip takes one hour and forty-five minutes, and leaving Tobermory four times daily.  We were able to snap a shot of it as we passed by en route to Flowerpot Island.



I don’t recall it being this busy twenty years ago, but maybe I’ve just got selective memory.  It sure was overpopulated with tourists that Wednesday July 6th.  They’re well equipped with organizing everyone for arriving and departing the island which makes for a smooth flow of people on and off the island.


We started with a picnic lunch on the shoreline (I made sure I took the pic towards the water so you can’t see all the people to the left, right, and behind us), and trip to the washrooms (very close to the boat arrivals).  There were new washrooms in the works so I’m sure next summer’s visitors will not have near the line-ups.


It’s not a long hike at all to reach the look-outs to the flower pots, nor to climb down to get close up to them.


We were able to snap these two shots at just the right moment, between the entourage of tourists that await to do the same thing.


Not so lucky with this shot, where everyone seemed to arrive at the base of the flowerpot right alongside us.


And just like at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the same red adirondack chairs edged the trail, for a little rest for the weary (or those wearing complementary green tops) passing by.


The hike included a little side tangent up to some caves.  Poor J was assigned the huge backpack for the day (did we actually assign it or just forget about you, J?), and never once complained, lugging that massive lump around in the heat.



The lighthouse keeper’s rugged home was the end of the trail, with a cute little looksie through the rooms, my favourite being this front bedroom dreamily looking out over the water.

We walked a little further on to the lighthouse look-out point, and from there split up, our two American guests going more inland on a trail around the island, while I headed back to the main area with my two girls.

We took our time on the walk back, stopping at the look-outs, and spent a good while with our feet in the water, enjoying it’s coolness, and the passing boats.


When we met up again, we were weary (remember, we had no coffee to perk us up for that hike) and fully ready for a rest, and coffee.  I think it’s what made our trip back on the boat so enjoyable and relaxing…the thought of near and dear to our hearts, coffee at the end of the trip when so deprived of it all day long.


Going without it made it taste that much better.  The cute coffee shop, named just that, had delicious options, hot and cold, that we all pretty much gulped back.


And you can see, the effect worked.


And of course the Sweet Shop couldn’t be passed up for some tasty ice-cream (it’s a hugely popular place so be sure to stop by it).  The stores were the end of the day meander for us.

Just before we headed back to the campsite I decided we should all have some fish and chips since we were by water and that just seems the thing to do after a day on a boat.  This  is the real deal for fish and chips in Tobermory, and quite a popular place overlooking the marina.


And there won’t be one of us who forgets the story behind our trip to this place (not even the owner).  I was very busy ordering and paying for our meal at the pick-up window, all the while talking.  Big no no.  Talking and paying at the same time, without having pulled out much needed eyeglasses, is a disaster, just so you know.  I believe I gave something like a 300% tip.  Yikes!  The owner came over and exclaimed, “WOW, you’re super generous!”  I’d love to say I was, and I really do love fish and chips.  After a little while we sorted it all out, along with a call home so hubby wouldn’t flip at seeing that transaction.

We had a final fire and some soothing tea before bed, and a restful last night at Cyprus Lake.


Our next day didn’t seem as daunting of a drive since we decided to break it up by stopping at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron, an hour south, to spend the day.  Stay tuned for that Tourism Ontario Day 10!



2 thoughts on “Ontario Tourism, Day 9: Tobermory and Flowerpot Island

  1. I smiled at the name of the place you visited – Tobermory. Gary is from a little village called Tobermore in Northern Ireland!
    You all look like you had an amazing time! Are you back at school now?


    • Hi Claire,
      I’ll have to look up where Tobermore is in N. Ireland. You’ll have to tell Gary he now needs to take the family to the other Tobermory in Ontario. 🙂
      We’ve had a wonderful time this summer gallivanting around Ontario. School starts Sept 6th for us so I’m madly finishing up scheduling and prep for that this long weekend in Canada.


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