St. Andrews & Grand Manan – ideas for free time

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The centre of St Andrews is a classic example of colonial town planning – a neat, rectangular grid that slopes gently towards the harbour and which can be easily explored on foot. The pretty, poker-straight streets are broken up by open squares that frame public buildings and a market place. The main street which runs along the harbour-front is lined with charming restaurants, craft shops and souvenir shops whilst on the other side of the peninsula civic gardens and nature reserves border a sandy beach and the warm, sheltered Katy’s Cove – a great place for a dip.

Grand Manan is accessed by a 90-minute ferry crossing that departs from Blacks Harbour, about a 40-minute drive away from St Andrews. At the northern end, where the ferry arrives, Swallowtail lighthouse keeps watch and provides a great setting for a few photographs, and a picnic. You can also often spot seals raiding the old fishing weirs below. There is a small museum in grand harbour which is worth a visit if you have an hour or so, even if just to set the island in its historical context, but many people head straight the Seal Cove, considered the prettiest village on the island. As well as the bustling little fishing harbour many historic herring smokehouses line the waterfront, with a small informal museum telling the story of this once thriving industry.

Over 70 kilometres of hiking trails weave across and around the island and this is the perfect place to explore solitary beaches, majestic cliffs and a whole host of scenery, as well as observe birdlife and keep an eye out for whales. A guide to the walking trails is available from most local shops.

Both St Andrews and Grand Manan offer fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities, with excursions that venture out on to the Bay of Fundy. The whale’s favourite feeding grounds are easily accessible from this side of the bay and the boat trips from here normally experience memorable sightings.

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