Start exploring before you even land. As you come abreast of the island aboard the ferry, head for the starboard (right) side: You'll soon see the so-called Seven Days' Work in the rocky cliffs of Whale's Cove, a spot where seven layers of hardened lava and sill (intrusive igneous rock) have come together to create a sort of geological Dagwood sandwich.
Once on the island, a deeper understanding of that topography can be garnered at the Grand Manan Museum (www.grandmananmuseum.ca; tel. 506/662-3524) at 1141 Rte 776 in Grand Harbour; its geology exhibit teaches visitors what to look for as they roam around the island. The museum also houses an impressive lighthouse lens from the Gannet Rock Lighthouse, plus a collection of items that have washed up from shipwrecks. The museum is open from June to September, Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm; it’s also open Saturdays (same hours) in July and August. Admission is C$5 for adults, C$3 for seniors and students, and free for children 12 and under.
The relatively flat and compact island is perfect for cycling; the only stretches to avoid are some fast, less scenic segments of Route 776. Any of the side roads offer superb biking, and the paved cross-island road to Dark Harbour is especially nice; when you get there, you'll find a scenic little harbor with a few cabins, dories, and salmon pens. Eat your Wheaties before coming: This route is wild and hilly for a stretch, but then offers a memorably scenic coast down to the ocean on the island's western side as your reward.
Bike rentals are available at Adventure High (tel. 800/732-5492 or 506/662-3563; www.adventurehigh.com) on Route 776 in North Head, not far from the ferry. If you're fit enough, consider leaving your car at Blacks Harbour and taking only a bike onto the boat, then returning on the last ferry; you'll save money and burn calories. The outfitter also offers sea kayak tours around the island, for those who prefer to get a rarely-seen, whale's-eye view of the impressive cliffs. Bikes rent for C$25 per day, C$18 for a half-day. Kayak tours run from C$45 for a 2-hour sunset tour to C$99 for a full day's excursion. The same folks can even rent you a cabin—or add a lobster dinner on the beach to your kayak trip, for an extra charge.
While Grand Manan is about as quiet as it gets, you can find even more silence and solitude (and cross one more island off your "life list") by driving to White Head Island, population 190 on a good day. To get there, drive to Ingalls Head (follow Ingalls Head Rd. from Grand Harbour) and catch a free ferry to the island. You walk along the shore to a lighthouse guarding the passage between Battle Beach and Sandy Cove. The ferry holds 10 cars and sails year-round, up to 10 times per day during the summer.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.