Manitoulin Island Magic: A Guide to Gore Bay

Infused with the heart of Manitoulin Island's charm, Gore Bay's local flavours, sights and small-town personality come together in captivating (and delicious) ways.

Tucked along the shores of Manitoulin Island and bathed in the clear, chilly water of Lake Huron, Gore Bay is one of Northern Ontario’s sweetest small towns. This pretty community offers visitors a perfect blend of outdoor adventure, rich heritage, and phenomenal food. Whether you love chocolate and culture, splash pads and pizza, or hikes and history, Gore Bay will keep you coming back for more.

Explore The Shore and Great Outdoors

What’s the best thing to do in Gore Bay? Why, hang out in, on, and around the bay itself, of course! Both the young and the young at heart will love the excitement at Splash N Go Adventure Park. This huge inflatable splash park encourages visitors to run, jump, and crawl through obstacles. However, if you prefer your water adventures to be less boisterous, kayaking and canoeing are popular shore activities.

East Bluff Lookout; a green rocky embankment next to a treed walkway, overlooking the broad Gore Bay.
The trails around the East Bluff Lookout/ Harold Noble Memorial Park serve as a relaxing way to explore Gore Bay.

If you’d rather look at the water than be on it, perhaps a hike with a view is more your style. The East Bluff Lookout (also known as the Harold Noble Memorial Park) offers spectacular views and a one-kilometre hike along the Noble Nature Trail. This trail easily connects with the two-kilometre, shoreline-hugging Boardwalk Trail. It ends very close to the Split Rail Brewery (below), which will be more than happy to serve you a refreshing pint after your trek.

a blue park informational sign for" The Noble Nature Trail" near Gore Bay, with lush green trees in the background.

Whether you prefer to explore on land or sea, reserve time to visit the Janet Head Lighthouse. This recognized federal heritage building, constructed in 1879, served as a channel light and harbour light to maritime traffic coming in and out of Gore Bay and makes for a beautiful photo opportunity.

The Jant Head Lighthouse; a short red and white lighthouse on the edge of Gore Bay, surrounded in green grass and trees.
The Janet Head Lighthouse, now a federal heritage building, is beautiful in its own right and offers a lovely view of the bay.

Embrace Culture and Community

Culture and community spirit flourish in Gore Bay, which is home to two museums. The Gore Bay Museum was the Manitoulin District Jail and the jailer’s residence until 1945. Today, this former jail is a place you don’t want to leave, as it’s filled with fascinating history about early settlers.

Nearby, the William Purvis Marine Museum (which occupies the third floor of the Harbour Centre) preserves and promotes the marine history of the Great Lakes. When you’re there, take time to browse around the rest of the Harbour Centre. It’s open year-round as a centre of art, innovation, and creativity. The Harbour Centre is also a fantastic shopping destination. The Raven Nest is an incredibly cool place. This fascinating little shop is the “go-to place for all things metaphysical and new age.”

Harbour Centre in Gore Bay; a large, pretty two-story wooden building with a red roof next to the bay.
Harbour Centre acts as a hub for galleries, museums and interesting shops.

Finally, if you’re visiting in July, taking in a show at the Gore Bay Summer Theatre should be a top priority. This award-winning theatre features a range of plays every July and specializes in the work of Norm Foster.

Feast On Local Flavours

Gore Bay is one of Northern Ontario’s unsung foodie towns. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more delicious destination.

Head to New Grain Artisan Bakery and Kitchen to try sophisticated, innovative fare. Their mandate is to create dishes “made with a focus on highlighting the produce and bounty of Manitoulin Island.” To that end, they work with 80% local produce. Their menu frequently changes to reflect local harvests. In the peak summer months, reservations are highly recommended.

Finnia Chocolate and Cacao is another destination offering wildly creative and luxurious products, though you might want to avoid heading here for dinner. Then again, maybe you should! Finnia is Northern Ontario’s only purveyor of bean-to-bar chocolate, specializing in vegan chocolate. It’s worth making the trip to Manitoulin Island for their gourmet hot chocolate alone.

a wooden sign over gourmet chocolate bars that reads "Finnia chocolate and cacao: made from bean to bar on Manitoulin Island". Rows of Finnia gourmet chocolate bars of different varieties wrapped in black wrappers and sitting on a dark wood display rack.
Finnia crafts fine chocolate right on Manitoulin Island, in their own specialty recipes that you can't find anywhere else.

Finnia’s next-door neighbour, Split Rail Brewing, creates high-quality, small-batch beer and soda. The company has humble origins – it started in a garage in 2010 – but thanks to solid community support, it soon opened the island’s first craft brewery. Their Hawberry Ale is a Manitoulin must-try!

A nearly empty, frosted glass on a table with "Split Rail" printed on it. Rows of red and white cans of Split Rail Hawberry Beer in a cooler.
Split Rail Brewing's Hawberry Ale is worth seeking out.

Across the road is one of Gore Bay’s newest kids on the block – in more ways than one! Purvis Fish & Chips opened in the summer of 2021 under the leadership of Gore Bay resident and college student Avery Sheppard. From autumn ‘till spring, Sheppard attends university, and once summer hits, she’s in the kitchen and on the floor of her nautical-themed fish and chips shop.

Other yummy delights in the area include The CodMothers (which offers family-friendly meals and daily specials), Loco Beanz Coffee House (the place to go for your java fix, along with wraps, paninis, and breakfast sandwiches), and Campbell’s Drive-In (this seasonal, family-run establishment offers mozza sticks, hot dogs, bacon burgers, pizza, fish dinners, and more.)

a sign showing a fishing boat and sunset that reads "Purvis Fish and Chips, Est. 2021", on a pretty weathered wooden building overlooking Gore Bay an attractive orange and red cocktail with cherries and an orange slice on the rim, placed on a wooden rail overlooking a pretty harbour surrounded by lush green trees
One of the best ways to end a day of exploring is to grab a delicious meal and kick back to watch the bay. // Photo credit Purvis Fish & Chips

How To Get To Gore Bay

Gore Bay is located on Manitoulin Island and is about two hours southwest of Sudbury and four hours east of Sault Ste Marie. Those travelling from southern Ontario can connect to Manitoulin Island via the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry which sails out of Tobermory. Gore Bay itself is accessible via Highway 540A and Highway 540B. There’s also a municipal airport in town, but it doesn’t service commercial airplanes, only private ones.

The Best Time To Visit Gore Bay

Gore Bay is gorgeous year-round! Many restaurants are closed or operate in a limited capacity from mid-autumn to mid-spring, so it pays to plan ahead if you visit during the low season.

Summer visitors should note that accommodations book quickly and many restaurants recommend reservations.

Places To Stay in Gore Bay

An bright, comforable-looking room inn room with elegant decor a long covered porch with white wooden railing and a line of wooden deck chairs and potted flowers, facing a beautiful view of Gore Bay and the boats in the water.
With its elegant decor and beautiful views, The Queen's Inn offers a sense of relaxed luxury during your stay. // Photo credit The Queen's Inn

Accommodation options in Gore Bay include the aptly named Inn At Gore Bay. This newly renovated boutique motel offers ten waterfront rooms and an on-site restaurant.

For something more formal, consider The Queen’s Inn. This property named all its rooms after royal women and was designated one of Ontario’s top ten bed and breakfasts by Cottage Life magazine. It’s open from May to October.

Families, groups, and those who prefer to take care of their own meals will appreciate the McLaughlin Hotel Apartments. These spacious furnished units offer apartment-style accommodations with well-supplied kitchens.

About Vanessa Chiasson

Vanessa Chiasson is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, and blogger bringing warmth and depth to travel and human interest narratives. In the industry since 2012, Vanessa helps other writers with their business planning. She chronicles her cozy travel adventures at TurnipseedTravel.com.

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