Exploring Manitoulin Island and Tobermory in an RV

Five girlfriends share the driving—and unforgettable experiences—on the road.

RV Road Trip to Manitoulin IslandPhoto: Sandra Northmore
The road trip’s RV.

A Girls’ Trip to Manitoulin Island

Our group of five is part of a larger group of ladies who meet once a month in Muskoka, Ontario. These monthly get-togethers ensure that we get time out of the house regularly and we all enjoy spending time with friends. Each month, someone in the group takes a turn to plan and host an event. We have already done quite a bit, from playing paintball, beach activities, skiing and hiking to bonfires, dockside parties, cookie exchanges and even a limo ride while wearing prom dresses!

With limited time together in person due to COVID restrictions, we planned this trip for just five people to stay in a bubble. Our whole vacation was meticulously pre-planned, booked and paid for before we left, to ensure we were able to get the most out of the trip in these odd times. The RV was the perfect solution for a much-needed getaway. This trip ended up being the most fun adventure I have had all year.

French River Boat RidePhoto: Sandra Northmore
A morning boat ride out on the French River.

French River

After picking up the RV in Bolton, Ontario, we met up with the rest of our group in Muskoka and headed to our first destination: the French River, which flows 110 kilometres from Lake Nipissing west to Georgian Bay. Although we had decided early on that we were not going to attempt to reverse this beast of a vehicle, that proved to be impossible as we had to back it into our very first campsite! Everyone helped to navigate the RV into place, including the park staff. We chose to stay at a remote private campground where the hosts were friendly and helpful, and they got us settled in and accustomed to the RV way of life. Our first night included a cookout and bonfire before we nestled into our beds.

Manitoulin Island CampingPhoto: Sandra Northmore
The girls enjoying a meal by the bonfire.

Morning came early, and we were up by around 7 a.m. We started our day off with some yoga by the water, and we then rented a tin boat to enjoy the French River’s fall foliage, which was breathtaking.

Manitoulin Island - Cup And Saucer TrailPhoto: Sandra Northmore
The Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island

The next day, we travelled onwards to Manitoulin Island and had lunch in Little Current. The afternoon was filled with a rigorous hike up the Cup and Saucer Trail. The views were expansive over the colourful fall treetops, as far as the eye could see. We stayed at a private campground once again and were thrilled when we were given a site right on the water looking out at Lake Mindemoya. This location was a great base from which to explore the rest of Manitoulin, and we decided to stay there two nights. We enjoyed bonfires, walking along the water and, when it rained, watching a movie on a laptop in the RV.

Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin IslandPhoto: Sandra Northmore
Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island is a gem of a location to travel to. Further adventures enjoyed there included a picnic on Providence Bay Beach, shopping in Gore Bay and hiking at Bridal Veil Falls. Before we knew it, it was time to board the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry in South Baymouth and head to Tobermory.


After having travelled there many times, Tobermory is one of my favourite places in Ontario. Along with the breathtaking views, there is such a variety of things to do.

Georgian Bay Trail Overlooking LakePhoto: Sandra Northmore
Georgian Bay Trail overlooking the water in Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Unfortunately, due to rough waters caused by heavy winds, we were unable to go out on a boat tour of the shipwrecks, or make it to Flowerpot Island. Instead, we hiked Devil’s Monument Trail, where a similar flowerpot structure was hidden among the trees. What is especially impressive is the surrounding water in the area, which is crystal blue—like the ocean! But it is freshwater of course, as Georgian Bay is connected to Lake Huron. The water was too cold to swim, but we hiked to the Grotto for some incredible views and enjoyed a picnic on the Bruce Trail.

Check out the best hikes in Canada.

Big Tub Lighthouse in TobermoryPhoto: Sandra Northmore
Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory.

The experience of five girls navigating and managing our mammoth RV was surprisingly smooth, but not without a few challenges. As the sink in the RV filled up and would not drain, it was clear we would have to dump our sewage reservoir. This is something we worked very hard to avoid, as no one on the trip was interested in taking on this unappetizing task. Despite that, we did come prepared for this possibility and packed plastic gloves and a septic tank cleaner. “Any volunteers?” I asked hopefully, not wanting to take it on all by myself. Thankfully, there was one gracious volunteer and the task turned out to not be as nasty as we thought. The rest of the gang was eager to take pictures of the stinky affair and laugh as we learned this new skill.

The village of Tobermory is very quaint, with galleries, shops and a great restaurant that had a tropical feel to it. We ate outside on bar stools overlooking the water, despite the cool October weather.

Discover more hidden gems in Ontario.

Apple Picking In TobermoryPhoto: Courtesy Sandra Northmore
Sandra among wild apple trees.

We made the most of our trip and took advantage of every opportunity, such as the day we stopped on the side of a dirt road on the way back from a hike. We may have been a little lost that day but nevertheless we found what appeared to be wild apple trees. Hoping they were in fact wild, and that we weren’t trespassing, we all picked plenty of apples and used them to make some delicious treats—apple crumbles, muffins and pies just to name a few!

Overall, the trip did not disappoint. We had plenty of quality girl time, did lots of exploring and had fun adventures—there was never a dull moment. We laughed, hiked, shopped, made delicious meals together and enjoyed every minute of our RV experience.

Circumnavigating around Georgian Bay and travelling over 1,000 kilometres in an RV, while respecting COVID restrictions, turned out to be a grand adventure. Vacationing close to home with friends proved to be so much fun!

If you live in Ontario, why not plan your own adventure in Manitoulin and Tobermory? Or if you live elsewhere in Canada and are planning a trip to Ontario, this wonderful region may be something you want to add to your travel itinerary!

Next, check out 10 national parks every Canadian should visit.

Originally Published in Our Canada