Looking out from the edge of a cliff, I watched as the Grand Manan ferry sails over the horizon, off in the distance to my right is the Swallowtail Lightstation, shining light on it’s tiny corner of the Bay of Fundy. My eyes wander down from the horizon to my footing. A jagged 15 meter cliff lies right below my feet. I take a cautious step back from the edge and smile – one strong gust on an unbalanced foot could make for a spectacular fall. I look back at my tent, located 10 feet from the edge of the cliff. I thought to myself – “That’s got to be a safe distance, right?“.
North of North Head
Located just a short drive beyond North Head, a small community on Grand Manan Island, is a campground unlike any I’ve ever had the fortune of visiting. Hole in the Wall Campground is known for being the only accessible point for hikers and campers to view the scenic geological formation. Over the countless thousands of years, erosion carved a massive hole through a rock, making a beautiful and highly photogenic stone arch. While the Hole in the Wall is a great attraction to bring people to the campgrounds, the experience is home to more than simply finding it. A visit to the Hole in the Wall campgrounds wouldn’t be complete with at least one night on one of the cliffside campsites that surround their corner of the island.
Touring The Campgrounds
As Riley and I were given a tour of the grounds by the incredibly friendly Darren, we were shown many of his favourite spots. Needless to say, it wasn’t a surprise that they were all cliff side locations. Staring out from the top of the cliffs it was clear to see that Grand Manan Island is much bigger than we thought. The expanse of trees atop sharp jagged rock colliding with the blue waters of the Bay of Fundy was enough to send shivers down my spine. With rougly 64 campsites in the grounds (seasons can cause this to vary), the variety in landscapes allows for camping for anyone. Safer more inland sites for families, less downhill for those who rode in on their bikes, and obviously the water front locations for those who are a little more adventurous.
Hike to the Hole in the Wall
After setting up our tent, we decided to start the trek to the namesake of the campgrounds. The Hole in the Wall – a majestic piece of rock on the coast of Grand Manan Island, made famous for it’s massive hole inside the center, forming a beautiful arch that reaches out into the Bay. The hike is fairly intermediate, good shoes, and a proper sense of self will help you wonders on these tight narrow trails. One wrong foot and you could find yourself in a situation that most wouldn’t find fun. The Hole in the Wall is about a 15 – 20 minute hike in from the edge of the bush. As the trees open up and this massive example of erosion peers from below, I found it hard not to smile. The sun was shining beautifully, the rustling of leaves and the gentle breeze off the water made it one of those moments that need to be experienced to truly believe.
The Great New Brunswick Outdoors
Hole in the Wall Campground is owned and operated by Kaye Small, a local to the island with an outstanding knowledge of the history of the island and a clear passion for providing travellers from all over the world with a unique experience that can only be found on this small island in New Brunswick. Kaye happily accommodates both hikers and campers interested in experiencing the outdoors of Grand Manan Island.
Clear Night Skies on Grand Manan
Our night camping on our own piece of cliff included a warm campfire, hot dogs on a stick, a few beers, and one of the most unreal night time skies. After a few attempts I managed to capture what I thought was a beautiful image of what we were looking at. Stars slicing through clouds, the Swallowtail Lightstation a few miles south shining its light, and the silhouette of hundreds of trees. Riley and I celebrated after the image with another beer and a few laughs around the campfire.
Not a Camper? Not a problem!
Hiking in the park and to the Hole in the Wall is completely free; so if lack of camping gear is keeping you from spending the night, don’t hesitate to wander up anyway. Hiking Maps are available for those interested, but if your sense of direction is good, you can follow the trails without any problem. A hike to the Hole in the Wall will take you 15 to 20 minutes if you start at the head of the trail – and closer to 45 minutes if you start from the campground gates.
For those looking to experience this unique campground in it’s entirety, book one of the cliff side campsites for $32 per night and take in the fresh air off the Bay of Fundy, the beautiful sunsets, some incredible stargazing, and you might even get lucky and be woken by the sound of breaching whales. Hands down, Hole in the Wall Campgrounds is one of the most unique and exciting accommodations you can find on Grand Manan Island.