Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario

Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Plan To Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario

On our stay in Port Elgin on Lake Huron, we headed off for a day trip to explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory.  We were glad we booked a tour that dropped us off on the island.  This gave us a close-up view of the flowerpots.  And provided us with a great hike along the coast.

Heading To Tobermory For The Day

From our stay in Port Elgin on Lake Huron it was about a 90 minute drive to Tobermory.  We missed Tobermory on our last visit to Owen Sound and Georgian Bay. On this visit, we knew that we would not have enough time to see and do all that Tobermory had to offer.  But we had one thing booked before we headed that way.

We drove north of Sauble Beach and out along the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory.  Tobermory was lovely small port town.  The Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail run right out to Tobermory.  On many of our trips around the Great Lakes in Ontario we explored the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail.  So we were excited to visit another part.

As we drove along we passed the Bruce Peninsula National Park.  This was the entrance to the Grotto.  It was a 45 minute hike from the parking lot to these intricate cave structures in the ancient limestone.  We sadly knew we would not have enough time to visit on this trip.  And we later learned we needed a confirmed reservation for the 4 hour parking slot to visit.

Next time we explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory we will plan in advance and make sure we don’t miss the Grotto.

Getting Ready For Our Trip With Bruce Anchor Cruises

We found different cruise companies that went to Flowerpot Island from Tobermory. There were two different cruise options.  We could stay onboard and cruise around Flowerpot Island.  Or we could disembark and explore the island before re-boarding to return to the Tobermory dock.   

We checked out the weather forecast to pick the right day to visit Flowerpot Island.  When we booked our tickets two days before we wanted to go, the time slots to the island were a bit limited on both cruise lines.  But we managed to get a morning slot to the island with a return early in the afternoon with Bruce Anchor Cruises.  This gave us about 3 hours to explore Flowerpot Island.  

When we entered the town we found the office for Bruce Anchor Cruises and picked up our tickets.  We parked the car and took the shuttle down to the dock.  While we waited for our boarding time, we watched the different cruise companies out on the water.  Off on the point we saw the Big Tub Lighthouse.

Bruce Anchor Cruises - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Big Tub Harbour Lighthouse Cruise Boats.jpg

Bruce Anchor Cruises operated two boats.  We went to the island on the smaller Explorer boat. And came back on the larger Evolution boat with a large open top deck.

The skies overhead were grey and not what the weather forecast predicted.  But we hoped the wind would take away the clouds before we got to Flowerpot Island.

Cruising From Tobermory Through the Fathom Five National Marine Park

Tobermory is known as the premier scuba diving capital of Canada.  The Fathom Five National Marine Park was home to more than 20 shipwrecks.  The park covered 116 square kilometres and included a chain of 19 islands. Sheer cliffs and huge caves were found above and below the turquoise waters.  A scuba divers dream topography!

One of the treats for the trip to Flowerpot Island was to cruise slowly down Big Tub Harbour.  From the boat we saw the remains of the 119 feet-long hull of the Canadian schooner Sweepstakes underwater.  This schooner sunk in 1885.  We were amazed when we saw how much of the wreck was almost completely intact.  

Big Tub Harbour Sweepstakes Wreck - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Big Tub Harbour Sweepstakes Wreck.jpg

While the boat had a glass bottom over a small area, it was not really easy to see through the glass with the reflections from above.   We got much better views over the side of the boat.

There was another wreck in the harbour that we did not see on our cruise.  The “The City of Grand Rapids” was an elegant passenger steamer that burned and sank in October 1907.   It was also possible to kayak over the wrecks in this spot.  But we simply ran out of time.

We went slowly back out Big Tub Harbour and past the Big Tub Lighthouse.  This lighthouse was originally lit in 1885 and was still active today.  

Big Tub Harbour.jpg

Big Tub Harbour.jpg

Big Tub Harbour Lighthouse - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

When we left the harbour we headed off to explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory.

Hiking To Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory

We got our first view of Flowerpot Island as the ship cruised by.  We saw the bright red buildings at the Lightstation.  The Large Flowerpot and the Small Flowerpot were easily identified.   These uniquely shaped rock pillars looked a bit like a flower pot.  From the water got a clear view of the steep cliffs along the shoreline and the cave high in the rocks.

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Flowerpot From Water - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

The boat landed at Beachy Cove.  From this point there were several different paths available.  We chose the path along the shoreline to the flowerpots and then on to the lighthouse.  Our path back depended on how slowly we moved along the coast.

Hiking Path.jpg

Hiking Path.jpg

While it was still cloudy when we landed, in no time at all the skies cleared.  We started on the boardwalk and got a close up view of the crystal clear blue green waters and the rocky shoreline.  As we moved onto the path through the woods, we soon saw that the path would not be a totally easy walk.  We navigated along rocky and rooted paths.

Hiking Path.jpg

Hiking Path - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Hiking Path.jpg

Exploring The Flowerpots On Flowerpot Island

We found several narrow openings that led out to the flowerpots.  The ragged rocks required some thought to traverse.  But we made our way out on the rocks and moved along the shore from the Small Flowerpot to the Large Flowerpot.  

Small Flowerpot.jpg

Small Flowerpot - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Big Flowerpot - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Big Flowerpot - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

It was stunning to see these gigantic rock structures up close.  We saw the different cruise company boats as they drew close to the island.  And even saw a small plane enjoying the view from above.

Big Flowerpot - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Big Flowerpot.jpg

Explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory and enjoy the beach views.  It was hard to believe the crystal clear blue green waters were not in some tropical spot.  We saw many people swimming from the rocky beaches.  On a longer stay on Flowerpot Island we would pack our snorkel masks and explore the great rocky shores.

Coast Views - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Coast Views.jpg

Coast Views - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Heading To The Lightstation On Flowerpot Island

We moved along the shore and past the rock beach.  There was a sign that pointed to the cave we saw from the water.  Stairs went up the to the viewing platform at the cave.

Cave - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Cave.jpg

The path went up and then down as it weaved towards the lighthouse.  We arrived at the Lightstation and then we followed the final path to the lighthouse.  The views along the coast at this point were lovely.  We were disappointed that this was not the traditional lighthouse we expected.

Lighthouse.jpg

Lighthouse - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

Coast Views.jpg

We made a final stop at the Lightstation.  There was a small shop for refreshments and a museum to visit.  We settled in for short break and a relaxing view.

Lightstation.jpg

Lightstation - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

When we checked our watch we saw we had used 2 of the 3 hours we had on Flowerpot Island.  We were not sure how long it would take to continue along the Loop Trail back to the boat dock.  The views from the higher path might be stunning.  But we ultimately decided to re-trace our path. But without the long stops along the shore.

We made it back to the boat dock with 15 minutes to spare.  We made sure we took all our garbage off the island.  And hit the bathroom before we got on the boat.

Beachy Cove.jpg

Bruce Anchor Cruises Beachy Cove - Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario.jpg

For A Real Treat Explore Flowerpot Island From Tobermory in Ontario

It was a short boat ride back to the dock in Tobermory with no real sightseeing stops.  Off in the distance Middle Island was pointed out.

Once we were back on land, we picked up the car and went into town in the Little Tub Harbour.  We found lots of spots for a quick snack.  Of course we had to try the local Stella’s gelato.  But we knew we had a long drive back.  So we did not dawdle long in town on this visit.

We were so glad we planned to explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory.  A cruise around the island might have been nice.  But on a hike around Flowerpot Island we saw so much more.

The transit from our stay in Port Elgin took us over 3 hours.  So this limited the amount of time we had to explore the area around Tobermory.  Next time we will plan to stay in Tobermory and spend a few days to enjoy all this great spot has to offer.

Did you explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory?  What other great things did you do in the Tobermory area?

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68 Comments

  1. What a fun tour of this nature inspired area, the flower pots are so unusual and in the one you show, almost looks human created with the rocks below and mortar like build in the bottom. I love visiting unique places like this but probably would pass on getting in the water since i hate very cold water environments, lol

  2. What an enjoyable adventure in this unique island! I am hearing about Flowerport island for the first time. The hike looks challenging but the views are awesome. The coast views with two distinct colors of turquoise and deep blue are simply spectacular. I would love to have that Stella’s gelato on a sunny day.:-)

  3. How did you manage to get a shot without so many people? I love this part of our province, it’s just too bad it’s so touristy now. It is so incredibly beautiful that I don’t blame everyone for wanting to go there. Such a great overview of what to expect and tips about the time needed – especially the pre-booking of the tour.

    • We went mid-week so that helped a bit with crowds. Everyone on our cruise boat rushed for the flowerpots immediately. We took our time and much of the crowd had moved on by the time we got there. And we were done before the next boat arrived. It was great to see them without full crowds.

  4. What a great day trip! I would have done the same, choose a cruise that allowed me time to get off and explore the island. Flowerpot island looks so pretty. Those rock pillars are so fascinating, I wonder how long it took for water and wind to form them. Those ship wrecks underwater look so close to the surface! I can imagine you will return to kayak above them as well, there is always a reason to come back to a destination.

  5. I am hearing about Flowerport island for the first time and loved the name. The trek looks perfect for me as it leads an amazing view point. What an enjoyable adventure in this unique island! I would love to visit this place one day.

  6. Such an amazing place, Flowerpot Island. I was in awe of the enormous rock formations, particularly the photographs that showed them up close. The stunning sights, sparkling oceans, and clear skies are all so gorgeous, and I appreciate them equally! This trip should be on everyone’s bucket lists since it is so incredible.

  7. The landscape and coastline are stunning, what a special place with those alien rock formations. I really love that there are so many shipwrecks in the area. Are there scuba diving shops that can take you inside the wrecks? I did wreck diving in the Red Sea and Indonesia and I would love to do it here if I decide to go.

    • Tobermory is one of the big scuba diving spots in Canada. So lots of scuba shops both in Tobermory and in other areas that do tours to Tobermory. Some great deep diving too. But you will need a thick wetsuit.

  8. The view of the beach at Tobermory looks fabulous. Flowerpot Island sounds like a place I would spend a holiday in. I mean clear sky and beautiful landscapes. I love nature. It would be an interesting journey to capture in a photograph since I like taking photoes, too.

  9. The Fathom Five National Marine park is something I had never heard of before. Its piqued my interest to say the least. Be something worth checking out next time I’m up there.

  10. Wow that shipwreck is so visible from the boat! I always thought you’d had to get really deep to see one, this is amazing!

  11. At first I wonder why the island named Flowerpots. Then I saw these unique rock formations. 🙂 No wonder visitors like to see it, by hiking to the flowerpots like you did, or by boat and even a small plane.

  12. Oooh wow! That’s one unique landscape! It is indeed good that you decided which type of cruise to go on, after looking at the weather forecast 2 days before. We are planning a trip too now and as you say, I think we should wait to look at the forecast before deciding. Tiny island and one with a lighthouse as well? Wow, that’s perfect. The pristine turquoise waters are so gorgeous. Good to know there is a small shop for refreshments and a museum as well.

  13. My hometown is Kincardine and when growing up we took so many road trips up to Tobermory and then when my kids were little, grandma and grandpa would take them as well. We love it up there and Flowerpot Island is an great place to hike.

  14. I never heard about Flowerport, it really looks awesome! especially that pillar! I believe a boat ride must be magic, but also the deep blue of the sky and water makes it special!

  15. I love those rock pillars – so unique! Would love to hike and explore Flowerpot Island from Tobermory in Ontario. And to see the sunken boats is so intriguing.

  16. How unique and beautiful. Definitely adding to my wish list for our Canada (hopefully) trip next summer. My kind of place with geological uniqueness and hiking. thanks for the ideas.

  17. What a wonderful looking place. That first photo, for a moment I thought was James Bond island in Thailand, lol. I hate it when you visit a new place, see something you want to do and realise you had to book that bit, but Flowerpot Island looks a great place to return to.

  18. Hiking Flowerpot Island seems like a fun thing to do. My husband and I are always looking for new hiking adventures to try. Thanks

  19. First, I have to say the name is adorable and really suits the island. You chose a great day to visit Flowerpot Island. The rock structures are so unique and impressive that to be in the shape they’re in! Another lovely day trip to add to my list 🙂

  20. I hadn’t heard of these islands before. A few years ago we visited Makinaw Island and it was my first time seeing the gorgeous waters of Lake Huron and the limestone formations of the Great Lakes and I was very impressed. My family SCUBA dives so I would love to try the dive too.

  21. I haven’t heard of this area before, but I am intrigued now. Flowerpot Island looks like a unique and fun outdoor experience! The hike seemed nice, and I agree with you, I’d love the snorkel around the island! I would also like to explore the shipwrecks in the water as well, by scuba or snorkel.

  22. What a fun day! I’ve never heard of Flowerpot island but it’s looks really neat. And so many shipwrecks!! I love that you can see so many of them without actually scuba diving, but diving there would be really cool too.

  23. This looks like an incredible day trip! I would love to take a ferry ride out to Flowerpot Island, and I’m glad that the weather got better for you once you arrived. I’m surprised that there’s not one but two of these structures on the island. The Sweepstakes Ship Wreckage is also incredible! You’re right that it’s still basically intact, and it appears to be in very shallow water too.

  24. I had no idea that Tobermory is Canada’s scuba diving capital, how very cool. The Fathom Five National Marine Park with its caves, islands, and shipwrecks sounds and looks amazing. Interesting to hear that Sweepstakes is still in surprisingly good shape. I’m guessing in warmer waters it would be completely grown over by now.

    Hiking around the flower pots must have been fun. Looking forward to your next visit to this region, that time with a report about the Grotto.

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