By Ivana Wibowo
Camping, hiking, and cliff diving at Bruce Peninsula National Park is a MUST! So many things to do here. Nature really is the best playground!
It is the end of September here in Toronto, and nature has given us a second chance of summer! We made the most of it by going camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Located near the popular harbour town of Tobermory, this national park is known for tranquil trails, stunning cliffs, and beautiful crystal clear blue water. The main attraction is the Indian Head Cove, and the Grotto. The Indian Head Cove is a popular swimming and cliff diving spot, and right beside it is a natural grotto with an underwater cave.
Since this year is Canada’s 150th birthday, visiting national parks is FREE for everyone. To avoid overcrowding, the government controls the number of visitor by allowing a 4 hours time slot per visit. Parking time is strict! But because we booked a campground, we can stay as long as we like until check out time.
There are a number of campgrounds in Bruce Peninsula including backcountry (can only be reached by foot or canoe, and no toilet/shower or water access) and frontcountry camping (car camping often even access to electricity and toilet/shower). We wanted to do the backcountry camping in the High Dump. But because there are only 9 spots, they were all booked. You pretty much have to book about 6 months in advance to get one of the spots. So we ended up in one of the frontcountry campground called the Cyprus Lake Campground. To get a campsite here, you need to book about 1-2 months in advance OR about 4 months ahead if you are going on a long weekend. The campground is located by Cyprus Lake- a beautiful lake with clear blue water- perfect for swimming and spend some lazy summer days. Check in is at 2PM, and check out is at 11AM. We got the unserviced with on-site fire pit for 2 nights. It cost $58 total.
From the campground, it takes about 30 minutes to hike along the Cyprus Lake trail to go to the Indian Head Cove. The hike is easy as it is mostly flat grounds with not much uphill/downhill. From this trail, you can also continue onto the Bruce Trail, passing The Grotto to Boulder beach, all the way to Tobermory. We didn’t get to hike the Bruce Trail as we didn’t have the time. But I have heard and seen amazing pictures of this hike along the coast of Georgian Bay. There are also plenty of things to do in Tobermory such as taking a glass bottom cruise ship to the Fathom Five National Marine Park which includes visiting the popular Flowerpot Island. You will also see a shipwreck site where many go to scuba dive and snorkel. We surely need to come back next time!
Click here to access a pdf the Cyprus Lake Trail map.
We spent our first evening swimming at Cyprus lake, building a campfire, cooking dinner, and then went to bed. It was a rainy night, and we forgot to tie up our cooler. So the raccoons got all of our food! Can you believe they eat more than humans! They demolished our ribs, pork, sausages, eggs in like an hour! They woke us up in the middle of the night, and at first I thought it was a bear. It sounded raw and wild….like snoring but it wasn’t human. I was seriously playing scenarios in my head of how we would die. Thank God Steve had the courage to take a peak, and it was just a family of raccoons.
The next morning, we went to Tobermory (about 20 minutes drive) to eat breakfast and buy some groceries (again)…for our lunch and dinner. As if the day couldn’t get any worst, we discovered that our GoPro is broken. I was crying in silence…
We decided to head to Indian Head Cove to get over our broken hearts. It was the right idea as we each had a big smile on our faces when the water greeted us. We can see all colours of the water: turquoise, blue, green, yellow. We honestly felt like we were somewhere in the Mediterranean. Truly beautiful!
At first the water felt cold…even freezing! But as you get used to it, and you started moving, the water felt so refreshing! I wanted to stay in it for as long as I could! We swam all the way to the other side of the cliff from Indian Head Cove to The Grotto. You will come across a mini Grotto before you find the big one- the one that everyone came here for. I didn’t think it was that special but Steve thinks it is very cool. You can even swim through an underwater cave to the other side of the cliff. You can see lights coming through the hole, making the water a glowing blue colour which was pretty cool. Steve attempted to swim through the tunnel. I was honestly nervous for him. When I thought Steve has gone through to the other side, he came back up the same way he came from. He said the tunnel was way too thick and long than he thought. He couldn’t do it as he started to run out of breath as it gets colder and colder down there. He said he will make it through next time. A warning not to attempt to do this unless you are a pro! It is quite dangerous, and many have died from trying.
Too bad we didn’t get a snap of the Grotto as we swam without a GoPro. But here is some pics of Steve rock climbing…
After swimming, we decided to hike the cliffs around the Indian Head Cove. As we got higher, Steve was tempted to jump off the cliff. Before I tell you more about jumping, I just want you to know that the park warns all visitors to refrain from this activity. It is dangerous and illegal. Jumping is at your own risk! You also need to be a good swimmer as the water could get pretty rough. The point is don’t jump if you feel unsure or if the water looks wild.
The water was very calm when we went, and there were many others doing it. So we wanted to do it as well. We didn’t see any authority or park guards around. Although I am sure that they know about this as this is a common activity in the area. The cliffs that Steve jumped off from though, didn’t have anyone else jumping as he was the only one brave enough jumping from those heights. He was being careful as he scanned the area…looking for a save spot, and making sure that he won’t crash into a rock deep down. The first cliff that Steve did was around 55′ high. The second was lower at around 45′, and the highest around 65′. Steve did a total of 6 jumps that day. Watch our vlog below to see Steve in action!
Steve had the time of his life! He was loving it. A glass bottom tour boat even came by and cheered him on as he was preparing to dive. We had a great time camping, hiking, exploring, rock climbing, swimming, and cliff diving at this beautiful place! So many things to do here. Nature really is the best playground!
I am going to end this blog post with this serene picture of monks enjoying the fresh water during sunset in Indian Head Cove. Am I back in Thailand or what!?
Watch our adventure! ↓↓↓
Like our content? Please share and spread the words! We will forever be grateful 🙂