Unsurprisingly, the opportunities to get on, and in, the water around the islands – from wreck diving to horseriding on a beach – are plentiful and every bit worth setting aside time for, if not making them the focus of your trip.
Île du Cap-aux-Meules
Boat and fishing trips
Outings depart from near the ferry terminal in Étang-du-Nord during summer. Excursions en mer (t 418 986 4745, w excursionsenmer.com) and Le Pluvier Aventurier (t 418 986 5681, w www3.telebecinternet.com/lepluvier) offer similar services, which include marine wildlife-watching trips and explorations of coves and uninhabited islands (from $30).
Windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaking
The island boasts Canada’s first kitesurfing school, Aerosport Carrefour d’Aventures (t 418 986 6677, w aerosport.ca), at 1390 chemin de La Verniére in Étang-du-Nord. If you’re looking to windsurf or kitesurf stop here first; it’s an indispensable source of advice and rentals. It also offers excellent guided kayak tours to some of the islands’ geographical highlights, including the red sandstone caves of Gros-Cap (3hr; $44).
Winds have also played their part in causing so many ships to founder around the coast, leaving behind some superb wreck-diving. For information contact Le Repère du Plongeur (t 418 986 6548, w repereduplongeur.com), 18 Allée Léo Leblanc, Étang-du-Nord.
In Cap-aux-Meules, La Crinière au Vent (Mon–Sat 9am–5pm; t 418 986 6777), 115 chemin John-Aucoin, leads scenic horseback rides along the beach (3hr 30min; $152). They also offer pony rides and day-camps.
Île du Havre-aux-Maisons
Down at the wharf, Les Trésors de la Lagune (June–Sept; 1hr 30min; $30–40; t 418 937 8906, t 1 855 986 1724, w tresorsdelalagune.com) departs daily at 7.30pm for a highly entertaining and educational tour of the lagoon on a glass-bottom boat. It also has four excursions daily that take in the island’s marine life and demonstrate lobster fishing.
Île du Havre-Aubert
The Centre nautique de l’Istorlet (t 418 937 5266, w istorlet.com), at 100 chemin de l’Istorlet, offers guided snorkelling (4hr; $95) trips to see the seals that live around the islands’ coastline as well as sea-kayak outings (3hr; $50), windsurfing lessons (2hr; $90) and kayak rentals (from $15/hr).