Visiting Ontario’s Gem: Tobermory Attractions

Empty rocky beach located on crystal clear turquoise water

Four hours North of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, there is a place that could be mistaken for a tropical paradise. There is crystal clear water. There are islands. But one step into the water reminds you exactly where you are: the frigid waters of Georgian Bay. Tobermory is a tiny town surrounded by beautiful scenery; the perfect Summer escape from the big city.

For a quick snapshot of Tobermory, check out my post “Beautiful Canadian Landscapes“!

Man in black swim shorts diving into blue, clear water

Diving off Flowerpot Island

The town caters to the Summer crowd. Visit any other time of year and you will be met by a sleepy town with little to no activities. From June- Labour Day weekend there are countless things to do. There are shipwrecks to view, hikes to explore and there is a whole lot of water to swim in. The many Tobermory attractions are what makes the town so popular.

1. Tobermory Attractions: Flowerpot Island

Arguably the main attraction in the area, Flowerpot Island is located anywhere between 20-50 minutes by boat from the harbour. It is solely accessible by boat! Many different companies will ferry you there, and which one you choose will depend on your interests. Blue Heron Cruises offers drop-offs to explore the island, and you can choose between a scenic glass-bottomed boat or a faster jet boat. I’ve done this tour a couple of times, and it is the perfect way to really view what the area is famous for: it’s clear, blue water.

Woman in bathing suit and shorts looking at lilfe-size fisher figurine with a sign that reads "Blue Heron Cruises"

Blue Heron Cruises Port

Bright blue water against a rocky island filled with green trees

Arriving at Flowerpot Island

The island itself has its own attractions. There are caves to explore, sea stacks to discover, and even a lighthouse. There are a few trails on the island that you can follow, the more popular being “The Loop Trail” that hugs the coastline.

Girl in bikini with hair up, surrounded by bright blue water

Waters off of Flowerpot Island are beautiful (but cold!) to swim in!

Man standing in front of Flowerpot rock formation, one of Tobermory attractions

Standing in front of famous flowerpot structure

*Truthful Travel Tip

The weather can get hot in the Summer, and the island has few resources. Make sure to bring plenty of water (there will be nowhere to get any on the island!) and pack for the forecast. The ride over to the island, especially if you are taking the jet boat, can be much cooler than on land, so pack a sweater.

2. Big Tub Harbour

This little cove, located just minutes from the main departing harbour, is filled with mostly intact shipwrecks. These are one of most famous Tobermory attractions for two reasons: the water is so clear that you can see them clearly from a boat, and they are perfect exploration sites for divers.

Clear view of famous Tobermory attraction: intact sunken ship below bright blue waters

One of Tobermory’s shipwrecks

These shipwrecks have been moved to their current locations from surrounding areas. They, like Flowerpot Island, are only accessible by watercraft. Bruce Anchor Cruises is another company offering tours on the water that include a stop to the wrecks. Their fleet consists of all glass-bottomed boats, so you will not miss seeing the wrecks clearly as you pass over them.

Shipwreck in shallow water, right off the shore from a home

Look how close this shipwreck is to the shore!

*Truthful Travel Tip

Prepare for where you want to be when you are passing over the shipwrecks. Tours are busy in the Summer, and if you want pictures of the wrecks from above, you will need to commit to an outdoor spot from when you leave the main harbor. To get the best spot on the glass bottom, scope out the indoor part of the ship before the boat departs.

3. Bruce Peninsula National Park

This Canadian National Park is one of my favorite Tobermory attractions. Viewing the picturesque scenery from the cliffs to the water below requires a small hike on the Georgian Bay trail. Once there, you have a few options.

Many people along rocky edge of tree-filled shoreline on the beautiful blue waters of Georgian Bay

Indian Head Cove on a busy Summer day!

Woman dressed in long sleeve shirt and shorts standing on a rock in front of blue water

The waters of Bruce Peninsula National Park

The first view you will see as you leave the trees and come out onto the cliffs is Indian Head Cove. You can climb down the rocks and enjoy the area. It is a great place for picnics and swimming in the water. If you continue further along the cliffs you will see people descending into a small area. The Grotto is an underwater cave that emits a beautiful blue light. Other activities in the park include visiting Cyprus Lake and traveling even further along the cliffs to a more private area!

Water emitting deep blue light inside The Grotto, part of one of the most famous Tobermory attractions

Looking down into underwater cave in The Grotto

Man in long sleeved shirt and pants, and his dog, blending in to the rocky cliffs

Blending in with Bruce Peninsula National Park’s rock cliffs!

*Truthful Travel Tip

The Grotto gets busy in the Summer, so much so that since my last visit a reservation system for parking has been implemented. Unless you are camping at one of the designated campgrounds you have a four hour time slot. Parking is the sole way to access this part of the park. It costs $11.70 CAD plus a $6.00 reservation fee. Be sure to book well in advance, or you may miss out!

4. Singing Sands

Located on the other side of the peninsula, almost directly across the entrance to Bruce Peninsula National Park, is a beach known as Singing Sands. It sits on Lake Huron, so the water is not the same deep, colorful blue. It is still a beautiful beach.

If you are traveling with babies or young kids, this is a perfect place. The water is shallow as far as the eye can see, only very gradually getting deeper as you walk out into the water. The water is clear and the sand is soft under your toes. It is called Singing Sands because this Tobermory attraction is home to a unique noise that the wind makes when it whistles through the sand dunes!

Water emitting deep blue light inside The Grotto, part of one of the most famous Tobermory attractions

The shallow, clear water of Singing Sands

*Truthful Travel Tip

Singing Sands was recently reopened as part of the Parks Canada system. While this means better resources and management, that also means money is needed for upkeep. Parking here costs the same as parking on the other side of the park ($11.70 CAD), and is located across the road.

5. Hidden Coves

A quick look at a map of the area shows coves that dot the same coastline Bruce Peninsula National Park is located on. These coves offer a break from the crowds with the same views and swimming opportunities.

Rocks showing through clear blue water, at water's edge

One of the secret coves perfect for quiet swimming

There is one with a tiny little island you can swim to. The water is protected from waves here, and is just a bit warmer than the water beyond the island. Some of these coves are simple to get to: drive until the end of the road and complete a quick hike. Others require more work, with longer hikes and less access.

Woman entering greenish blue clear water from rocky island, located in one of the quietest Tobermory attractions

A hidden cove with an “island” close enough to swim across to

*Truthful Travel Tip

These coves can be deceiving in their depth. Before deciding to swim across them, or in them, make sure you can see how deep it is, and then decide if you have the stamina to swim in deep water all the way across. I have taken a mask and snorkel into these areas and been amazed at the tricks the clear water plays. Although the water is a bit warmer than off of Bruce Peninsula or Flowerpot Island, it is still very cold water. Make sure you give your body time to adapt before taking on a big swim!


Whether you are visiting for just a day trip, or a week-long camping adventure, there are Tobermory attractions for each and every need. Enjoy swimming? Check out the coves. Enjoy hiking? Bruce Peninsula National Park has got you covered. Are you a history lover? The stories told as you approach the shipwrecks will enchant you. Do you love rocks? Check out the cool formations on Flowerpot Island. Looking to relax on a more traditional beach? Singing Sands is your place! Tobermory is the perfect Summer getaway for anyone and everyone!

Photos of rocky beach and turquoise water, shipwrecks