Attractions & Things To Do on Pelee Island

Pelee Island is home to many natural attractions, trails, businesses, and more, but it is important to know that the island is not fit for every personality.

Pelee Island is a place to enjoy the simple things in life and embrace all that nature has to offer. If you enjoy the outdoors, riding bikes, hiking, campfires, swimming, fishing, reading a book in a hammock, or rocking on your porch swing then Pelee Island is the place for you. If you are expecting thriving nightlife, sprawling shopping malls, or public transportation then you probably won’t love what you find upon arrival.

Be sure you stock up on bug spray when visiting Pelee Island, bug activity can be very unpredictable and can change from day to day based on wind conditions! If you forget your bug spray we always try to have a good stock available for purchase at The Pelee Shop.

The Pelee Island lighthouse.

Lighthouse Point Provincial Park

Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve is located at the northeast corner of Pelee Island and consists of 96 hectares of beaches, trails, deciduous forests, and wetlands rich in aquatic plants.

At the northern tip of the park you will find the remains of a lighthouse built in 1834 and restored and rededicated in August of 2000. The interior of the lighthouse is inaccessible and depending on the water levels and wind direction it may be difficult to get all the way to the lighthouse if the beach has been washed away.

The trail to the lighthouse is relatively easy to manoeuvre and is a good choice for those with kids. Though the trail can become a bit overgrown at times it is still very manageable. The initial trail takes you through small patches of wetlands and deciduous forests where you may be lucky enough to see various species of turtles, frogs, birds, and more. At the end of the trail you will come to a sandy beach (unless of course the water levels are extremely high as noted previously). Follow the beach northward for just a few short minutes and you will come to the remains of the lighthouse.

Look closely on your beach walk and you may see pieces of coal from some of the old shipwrecks that have been claimed by the harsh and shallow waters of Lake Erie. Also always take caution and stay out of rough waters and waters nearing the tip of the island where undertow and rip currents may be present.

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View of the Stoneman from the lake side.

The Stoneman

“The Stoneman” as it was named by the students of Pelee Island Public School, was built in 2009 by Pete Letkeman and is located on the west shore of the island, nearing the north end.

The Stoneman does not act as a waypoint or hold any real significance like a traditional inukshuk might, but instead was built as a testament to island perseverance. Many smaller stone statues built by visitors line the shore around The Stoneman.

The Stoneman is probably the most photographed location on Pelee Island, and is a great place to stop for a quick rest on a bike ride, or to watch one of the most stunning sunsets you will ever see.

When taking the ferry from mainland Canada to Pelee Island keep an eye out as you pass by the northwestern corner of the island and you should see the stoneman in the distance!

The tip of the beach at Fish Point provincial nature reserve.

Fish Point Provincial Park

Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve is located at the southwestern corner of Pelee Island and consists of nearly 110 hectares of protected beaches, lagoon, and deciduous forests and is home to many species of rare plants and animals including the prickly pear cactus, hop tree, eastern fox snake, Lake Erie watersnake, and the giant swallowtail butterfly.

The Fish Point trail is fairly long in comparison to the trail at Lighthouse Point. The trail takes you through the lush deciduous forest, along the west side of Fox Lagoon, and across to the west side of the southern point of the island. Once you reach the end of the trail you will find a shallow sandy beach that varies in length depending on the current water level.

It is very important to take extreme caution when visiting the beaches at Fish Point. There can be very strong, dangerous, and sometimes deadly undertow and rip currents as you near the southern tip of the island.

Fish Point is an important stopover for migratory birds and is a birders paradise during migration periods with hundreds of species of birds calling it a temporary home each season. In addition to the migrating birds many water loving birds can be found at fish point, including swans, geese, cormorants, and as of recently, a population of White American Pelican.

Also keep your eye out as there have been signs of beaver activity throughout the reserve.

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Pelee Island playground

PlayGround

Located at East Park campground, and newly built in 2023 is Pelee Islands only municipal playground. This playground features a couple of slides, monkey bars, and climbing structures, and is located just beside a pavilion, a large open grassy field, basketball and tennis court, and just across the street from one of Pelee Islands most popular public beaches.

A gravel walkway leading up to Pelee Island Winery Pavilion with stacked barrels on either side.

Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

To many people when they hear the name Pelee Island they immediately think of wine. Due to its southerly location, even though it is less than 30km south of Leamington, Pelee Island has a slightly warmer climate and longer growing season making it a fantastic place to grow crops, most notably of which would be the 700+ acres of grape vineyards on the island which are cultivated by Pelee Island Winery and the majority of which are transported back to the winery’s production facility in Kingsville, Ontario.

On the island, just a short ten minute walk south of the ferry terminal lays the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion where you can go for a wine tour, tasting, and a history of winemaking on the island.

There are a couple of swings and a sandbox for the kids, an abundance of picnic tables, shaded and non-shaded outdoor areas, a gift shop, live entertainment, a canteen selling baguettes, cheese, charcuterie, and of course you must try one of their absolutely delicious stone baked pizzas. All of this makes the winery a wonderful place to spend a few hours with the entire family.

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Vin Villa Ruins

Pelee Island was home to the first commercial winery in Canada. Vin Villa Estate Winery was established in 1866 and was located at the north western corner of the island. The building featured an underground wine cellar built to hold at least 10,000 gallons. The stone house was constructed on top of the cellar. In 1893 a fire damaged the cellar, it was rebuilt and final improvements were made in 1895.

In 1915 winemaking operations on Pelee Island ceased until the Pelee Island Winery was established, planted vineyards, and resumed operations on the island in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

In 1963 the Vin Villa house was mostly destroyed by a fire leaving behind what remains today and is referred to as the Vin Villa Ruins. The ruins are now privately owned, the cellar has been repurposed as an executive dining room. The property is gated off, however tours of the ruins run throughout the summer, and the property is available to rent for weddings and events.

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Small replica of the Vin Villa behind a fence with a sign that says "For Rent, Perfect for small families"

Vin Villa Replica

With the rich history stemming from the Vin Villa Estate Winery and winemaking in general on Pelee Island it only made sense that a tribute to the early days of winemaking was established.

A miniature replica of the Vin Villa house was built and currently sits at the corner of West Shore road and Centre Dyke Road just 1.5km east of the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion. The replica is surrounded by a fence and covered by a pavilion. It is surrounded by a grassy area and trees providing shade and making it a great place to stop for a quick rest or picnic on your trek around the island.

Pelee artworks logo

Pelee Art Works Classes

Pelee ArtWorks is open 7 days a week from early May until early October and hosts a selection of art classes throughout the season. The majority of their classes are targeted to young kids and are typically help 1-2 times per week, there is a small fee involved with each class and they typically last less than an hour creating different types of crafts at each class. There are also occasional classes for adults for things like basket weaving, rug making, painting, and more.

Follow Pelee Art Works on Facebook, or email peleeartworks@gmail.com for a list of upcoming workshops.

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Hunting

Hunting on Pelee Island is a long time tradition and a large source of income for the island at a time when the season is starting to dwindle down.

The Pelee Island Pheasant hunts have been an island tradition since the 1930’s and are held each year in October and November. Hunters have travelled from all over the world to take part in the Pelee Island Pheasant Hunts.

While pheasant is the most popularly hunted animal on the island there are some other commonly hunted species on the island including turkey, rabbit, duck, coyote, and more.

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Fishing

Pelee Island is a fisherman’s haven! The waters surrounding the island are famous for their walleye/pickerel, and yellow perch. Fish from the shore, bring your own boat over and launch from Scudder Marina, or book a charter and experience Lake Erie fishing in all of its glory!

Don’t forget to bring your own bait! While we carry a small selection of fishing supplies at The Pelee Shop, bait can be difficult to come-by. You may be able to find some at Scudder Marina, and we are working on offering worms at our store as well.

Additionally be sure you have a valid outdoors card and Ontario fishing licence before you head out on the waters, and make sure to check limits and what is in season!

Beaches

Pelee Island is surrounded by a variety of beaches with six public access points around the island plus beaches at both Fish Point and Lighthouse Provincial Nature Reserves. The majority of the beaches on the island are sandy but along the south shore of the island you will find unique limestone beaches that are completely sand free. The limestone beaches consist of layers of flat rock with some areas featuring visible glacial grooves from the Ice Age.

Take caution on any of the beaches surrounding the island as rough waters can create dangerous conditions even for the strongest and most experienced of swimmers, be especially cautious at the north and south points of the island near the lighthouse and at Fish Point as there are dangerous and deadly rip currents and undertows. Additionally be weary of slippery conditions at any of the limestone beaches along the south shore. None of the beaches on Pelee Island have lifeguards present at any time.

Beach access locations can be found in the yearly Pelee Island tourism brochure available on the ferry, at The Pelee Shop and at a variety of other businesses around the island.

Public beach accesses are located across the street from the entrance to the East Park Campground, there is another access just a few hundred metres north of the access at East Park Campground. Another access is located just steps from the Lighthouse parking lot. Along the north shore there is one public access just a few hundred metres to the west of Scudder Marina at the end of Homeward road. And along the south shore of the island there are two different accesses to limestone beaches, one right near the end of stone road, and the other slightly to the east of Curry road. Keep an eye out for the beach accesses along the south shore as they are not marked and can be difficult to find.

Pelee Island Butterfly Sanctuary & Teaching Garden

The Pelee Island Butterfly Sanctuary is a newer addition to the island, featuring a massive, sprawling butterfly garden rich with essential insects, wildlife, and plants and is an extremely important addition to the preservation and healthy growth of Pelee Island’s vast ecosystems.

The Butterfly Garden is located in the centre of the island at the corner of West Pump Road and Centre Dyke Road. Tours typically run every half-hour and walk-ins are welcome. Please just be patient as this business is primarily run by one person so large groups may be difficult to handle at times. There is a small fee to visit that goes back into maintaining the sanctuary and gardens to continue providing this essential business and education for others for years to come.

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The Mission Hall Project building

Mission Hall Project

The Mission Hall Project is a replica sanctuary of an old decrepit church that was located on Henderson Road. The project was set in motion in 2015 when what was left of the old church was disassembled. Using many of the pieces salvaged from the old church a smaller replica was built across the street at the corner of Henderson Road and Ruggles Run and was officially completed in the fall of 2017.

Many custom works of art made using pieces of the old church exist and some may still be available at some of the local businesses on the island.

You can learn more and follow a complete timeline of journal entries written from the start of the process up until now on the mission hall project website.

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The East Park Campground logo.

East Park Campground

In addition to being a place to pitch a tent and catch some sleep during your stay on Pelee Island, the East Park Campground which is conveniently located across the street from one of the most popular public beaches on the island also has an outdoor basketball and pickleball court and large field that can be used for a multitude of sports and activities such as soccer, baseball, frisbee and more. Additionally there is a pavilion in the campground as well as a second pavilion and playground near the road across from the beach where you can enjoy a nice picnic in the shade.

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Stone & Sky Music & Art Series

Stone & Sky is an award winning music and art series hosting regular events in a small quarry turned amphitheatre across the street from the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion. Events include musicians, plays, dancers, poets, and more.

A list of upcoming event dates and times can be found on the Stone and Sky website or on their pamphlets that can be found on the ferry as well as at various businesses around the island.

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Farmers Markets

Pelee Island is host to two separate farmers markets every Saturday. One in the Stone & Sky quarry across the street from the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, and another on the North West corner of the island at The Dog and Goat Restaurant/Main Station Campground.

While the farmers markets typically only have a small handful of vendors you can find lots of great items such as hand woven baskets, bird houses, local Pelee Island honey, plants, apparel and souvenirs, pies and other sweet treats, and more!

If you happen to be on the island on a Saturday, definitely take a quick cruise around and check out all that these two farmers markets have to offer.

The Pelee Island Heritage Centre building.

Pelee Island Heritage Centre & Museum

If you are interested in the history of Pelee Island and learning about its wildlife, artifacts, and more then the Pelee Island Heritage Centre absolutely must be on your list of things to do while you’re on the island.

The Heritage Centre is located directly across the street from the ferry terminal in the old Town Hall building. It is a seasonal business and operates from the spring until the fall and is open daily from 11am - 4pm.

Upon entering the museum you will find two floors of indigenous artifacts, historically significant items, wildlife information, pieces of shipwrecks that have washed up on shore, and so much more. At the museum you will learn tons about Pelee Island as well as nearby Middle Island which is the southernmost plot of land in Canada.

There is a small fee to enter the museum but it is well worth checking out if you get the chance!

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The Pelee Buzz Logo

The Pelee Buzz

The Pelee Buzz is a project run by a group of volunteer islanders who aim to promote the natural and unique biodiversity and features of Pelee Island.

The Pelee Buzz offers guided hikes and tours through some of the islands nature trails and focus on educating visitors on some of the species of plants and animals that can be found (and in some cases can only be found) on Pelee Island.

The group also has guides for self guided walk and cycling trips on the island.

The Pelee Island Charters zodiac boat out on the lake.

Pelee Island Charters

See the island from a whole new perspective when you take a tour around the waters surrounding Pelee Island, Middle Island, and some of the other nearby Canadian Lake Erie islands.

Pelee Island Charters operates a 24 foot zodiac with a maximum occupancy of 12 passengers. Leave from Scudder Marina in the north bay of the island and travel around the island getting to see the island in a way that you might have otherwise never experienced. Get an obstruction free view of the nearly 200 year old lighthouse at the northeastern corner of the island. Take a cruise out to the very southern tip of Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve where you may experience the opportunity to see a flock of American White Pelicans. While you’re at the south end take a quick lap around Middle Island, the most southern plot of land in Canada. You may also have the opportunity to see a few of the other Canadian islands to the west of Pelee Island.

While on your tour you will hear rumoured stories of the rum running that took place during the prohibition era, legends like that of Hulda's Rock located on the northwest corner of the island, and much more!

In addition to these zodiac tours Pelee Island Charters also offers water taxi services to get to and from Pelee Island.

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A Baltimore oriole perched on a small branch.
Photo credit Shirley Steingart

Birding

Every year during the periods of migration in the spring and fall hundreds, if not thousands of bird watching enthusiasts flock to the island to experience bird watching in a way that you can’t experience anywhere else in Canada.

Pelee Island is a major stopping point on both the Atlantic Flyway and the Mississippi Flyway. Hundreds of species of rare birds and butterflies pass through Pelee Island on their way north for the summer and south for the winter making Pelee Island a bird watching paradise.

Every May, typically on mothers day weekend, a fundraising banquet called Springsong is held on the island. The event is held in support of the Pelee Island Heritage Centre and is organised with the assistance of Pelee Island Bird Observatory and award winning Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The banquet typically takes place at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion and includes a catered dinner and features a guest appearance from a different award winning author each year.

The Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) conducts annual migration counts, does banding and research of birds, and hosts the occasional owling night throughout the season. The PIBO field station is open to the public daily during the spring and fall migration seasons.

Pelee Island has been designated as a globally important bird area by multiple accredited organisations.

Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon

The Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon is an annual race around 7/8ths of the island. The race begins near the corner of East West Road and Centre Dyke Road, goes counter clockwise across the island, up the east side, across the north and back down the west shore finishing at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion.

Each year around 400-450 participants make the trip to the island to take part in the race. The terrain consists of paved and gravel roadways. There are port-a-johns and aid stations every 2km.

After the completion of the race there is a catered luncheon at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion that is included in the price of registration. Additional tickets can be purchased beforehand as well for family and friends who did not participate in the race.

All information and registration can be found on the Race Roster website.

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Trails

In addition to the well known Lighthouse Point and Fish Point, Pelee Island is home to many other trails that are a great way to experience the vast species of insects, snails, mammals, amphibians, birds, and reptiles that call the island home. The trails are found around the island and while we do not have them all listed on our website at this time (we’re working on it!) you can find maps with the trail locations located on the ferry, as well as at various businesses across the island.