Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada

How to Get There

Stormy skies over south beach Stormy skies over south beach
© Parks Canada

Sable Island is a very remote island, and is only accessible by air and by sea. Click here to see a location map for Sable Island.

Sable Island often experiences a large variety of weather conditions, including fog, high waves, and wind. Due to poor weather or a lack of a safe landing area, you must be prepared for delays in transportation schedules, both when attempting to arrive on the island and when attempting to depart.

Normal delays might last a day or two, although significantly longer delays are not uncommon. You should ensure you have adequate supplies to account for unplanned delays.

Arriving by Air  |  Arriving by Sea  |  Delays on the Island
 

Arriving by Air

Air charter is the most common way to get to Sable Island, since most people only make day trips. Maritime Air Charter Ltd. is the provider of this service to Sable Island, with a 7-passenger Britten-Normand Islander plane. Individual seats are not sold, so visitors must charter the entire plane. Based on normal wind conditions, the flight from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport to Sable Island is about one hour and fifteen minutes; the return is one hour forty minutes.

Plane landing on south beach Plane landing on south beach
© Parks Canada

There is no permanent runway on Sable Island, so the plane lands and takes off on the south beach of the island. Parks Canada personnel assess and mark runways based on the changing conditions of the beach. Flooding of this beach due to severe storm surges can interrupt air service to the island for days or weeks at a time.

Main Station is located just inland from the south beach; however, given the condition of the beach, the actual landing location could be up to half an hour’s drive. Station personnel and vehicles will meet the plane to provide logistical support and transportation as long as arrangements have been made in advance and logistics confirmed prior to take off. Fees are charged to the visitor for logistics and services associated with aircraft landings.

For scheduling, availability, pricing, and other information about air charter, contact: 
Maritime Air Charter Ltd.  |  Phone: (902) 873-3330  |  Fax: (902) 484-5322

Please note that the cost of a charter to Sable Island is approximately $5000 plus tax. Specific price details can be found at the Maritime Air Charter website.

Arriving by Sea

Zodiac landing on north beach Zodiac landing on north beach
© Parks Canada

Arriving by sea is a truly authentic way to experience Sable Island, to appreciate its stunning landscape, and to connect with its long and rich history.

The possibility of heavy fog, shifting sandbars, and rough seas in the waters around Sable Island can pose challenges to boat access. There are no wharf facilities on Sable Island, and vessels must anchor offshore and have a zodiac or other small boat suitable for a beach landing. If you are in charge of a vessel, the following guidelines are critical for a safe landing:

• Visitors must register for their trip.

• Vessels should contact the Parks Canada Operations Coordinator on the island before departing the mainland to ensure that Main Station personnel are aware of their itinerary, and to ensure vessels are informed of activities or conditions on the island or offshore that may affect their plans. The Operations Coordinator can be reached at (902) 482-8600.
 
• Vessels should contact the island on Marine Radio Channel 8 or 16 when within 10 nautical miles of the island to confirm their safe arrival, and to obtain any special instructions.

• Vessels must anchor off the north side of the island, opposite the Main Station – at longitude 60.01W. There are submerged sand bars off the beach, and vessels should maintain their distance – 500 meters is usually sufficient, although there are times small boats are able to approach within 200 meters. A zodiac or small boat is required to get ashore and make a beach landing.

• Vessels should contact Sable Island on Marine Radio Channel 8 or 16 to advise when they are anchored. The Operations Coordinator can file or close sailing plans as required.

• Visitors must not attempt to land on the beach until Parks Canada personnel are in position to greet them upon arrival and to provide an orientation and safety briefing to Sable Island.

• Changing conditions may make it hard for a small boat to land or depart from the island, so sailors should be extremely careful about coming through the surf zone, and should have experience in managing beach landings in rough surf.

• When coming ashore, boat passengers must have a VHF radio and maintain communications with the beach party on Marine Channel 8.

• All passengers must have life jackets for beach landings, and zodiacs or small boats must not be overloaded beyond manufacturer’s recommended carrying capacity.

Delays on the Island

It is not uncommon for poor weather and beach conditions to prohibit departure by aircraft or small boat from the island for several days. You should ensure that you have adequate supplies to accommodate unplanned delays.