The Magdalen Islands is the most underrated destination in North America. Look as far east as you can go in Canada and you’ll find this small chain of islands. It’s a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence encompassing eight major islands: Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse-Île, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Île d’Entrée and Brion. All except Brion are inhabited and there are several other tiny islands that are also considered part of the archipelago. With a lot of these islands and inlets connected by bridges, you can have your choice of multiple spots with every different type of condition imaginable and in every wind direction. Kickers from the right, kickers from the left, waves right or left and of course flat water everywhere. The Magdalen Islands easily exceeded my expectations for kiteboarding and being in my home country it’s now high on my list of places to ride.
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Îles de la Madeleine airport (YGR) or fly into Charlottetown Airport (YYG) and take the ferry service.
TRANSPORT TO LOCATION: Once you arrive you’ll definitely need a car and preferably a 4×4 to get to all the different spots.
BEST SEASON: Summer through early fall with July and August being the strongest months for wind.
WIND RANGE IN KNOTS: Variable 14-25 knots, bring all your kites.
WATER AVERAGE: Low to high 60’s throughout the summer season.
LOCAL RULES /SAFETY HAZARDS: It’s pretty wide open to kite anywhere you’d like, the amount of spots are endless so don’t just go to Main Beach and ride with the pack. At the end of September there is a two week duck hunting season that may close some beaches, but just use common sense and respect the locals.
LOCAL TRANSPORTATION: You will need to rent a vehicle of some sort, averaging $50 a day for a compact to $70 a day for a 4×4.
LODGING OPTIONS: There aren’t any kite-specific accommodations but the island has plenty of rental homes available online. VRBO or Airbnb is a great place to start.
FOOD OPTIONS: A l’abri de la Tempête is a micro brewery owned by a local kiteboarder. It’s near the beach and a great place to end a downwinder. They are also internationally recognized for their beer and have won many compeitions.
Pas Perdu is probably the best restaurant for low-cost/ambiance also owned by a local kiteboarder and they make a poutine made with a local cheese Pied-de-Vent. They also have a bar (rock, dj, electro) in the next building featuring local artists from all around Quebec province which turns into a nightclub on the weekends. Café de la Grave is the typical brunch/breakfast/coffee shop located in the bucolic La Grave area in the south end of Magdalen Islands. They also have a piano bar.
La Table des Roy is a high-end restaurant. The place to go to impress your special someone, specializing in creative an innovative food. Here you’ll find a refined atmosphere and a gourmet menu.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: There’s a whole area for cliff jumping with a nice cave to swim around. Aerosport offers a sunset kayak tour. Going fishing with local guys is pretty easy and they are really happy to welcome aboard tourists. You can also rent a bike and enjoy the scenery. If the wind is there but not enough for kiteboarding, try a kite buggy! SUP’s are also available in plenty of local shops.LOCAL SHOPS/SCHOOLS:
www.aerosport.ca is the biggest kiteboarding shop on the islands. You can also rent buggys, stand up paddleboards, surfboards, and kayaks, and they offer plenty of activities with experienced guides for adrenaline junkies.
THE ONE THING EVERY VISITOR MUST DO: Take a day trip to the isolated Ile d’Entrée. You have to take the morning ferry and discover this small community of approximately 120 Irish people living alone with wild horses on their small island—it’s really a unique place to visit.
WHY CRAIG RECOMMENDS THE MAGDALEN ISLANDS
“Being from Canada it blew my mind how good the Magdalen Islands were. Truly world-class spots and so many of them to choose from! The endless amounts of ponds, tidal pools, kicker spots and so on is insane, I’ll be back for sure and as Vincent Bergeron (friend, photographer, tour guide) pointed out, you’ll never ride the same spot twice! The quality of kiteboarding is just the start though. The Magdalen islands are all so unique and beautiful with so much more to offer than just the wind. There is a lot to do and see and the culture here is all on its own. If you get a chance to check out the Maggies as the locals call it, don’t turn it down!”
Words by Craig Cunningham // Photos by Vincent Bergeron
Want more locations like this? Grab a digital copy of Tkb’s 2017 North American Travel Guide. There’s an amazing variety of kiteboarding destinations out there and there’s nothing like scoring a great session far from home to keep your level of excitement high. Start planning your next kiteboarding getaway today!