Discover Sable Island National Park

Embark on a journey to Sable Island National Park, a remote gem off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. With its windswept dunes and rugged coastline, this isolated sanctuary beckons you to explore its mysteries.

Home to a diverse array of wildlife, including resilient wild horses and rare bird species, the island is a haven of biodiversity. Rich in maritime history, its shores are adorned with the remnants of countless shipwrecks, each telling a story of survival and resilience.


Top 3 Facts About Sable Island National Park


Wild Horses

Sable Island is home to a population of wild horses, believed to be descendants of animals brought by early settlers or survivors of shipwrecks. These hardy animals have adapted to the island’s harsh conditions and are a unique feature of its ecosystem.


Shipwreck Graveyard

Sable Island has earned the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the hundreds of shipwrecks scattered along its shores. The island’s shifting sands and treacherous currents have led to numerous historical maritime disasters, adding to its mystique.


Bird Sanctuary

Despite its small size, Sable Island is an important stopover for migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded on the island, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise and contributing to its designation as a national park.

Camping and transportation in Sable Island National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Sable Island National Park

Getting to Sable Island National Park can be quite challenging due to its remote location and the absence of regular transportation services. Here are some general guidelines:

  • By Air: The most common way to reach Sable Island is by chartered flights. These flights typically depart from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and are operated by private companies or government agencies. Due to the island’s small airstrip and unpredictable weather conditions, flights may be limited and subject to cancellations or delays.
  • By Boat: While it’s technically possible to reach Sable Island by boat, it’s not a common option for tourists due to the rough seas and lack of suitable docking facilities. However, researchers and government officials sometimes access the island via research vessels or government vessels.
  • Guided Tours: Some tour companies offer guided tours to Sable Island, typically as part of specialized wildlife or photography tours. These tours often include transportation by chartered flight and are led by experienced guides who can provide insights into the island’s natural and cultural history.

Places to Stay Near Sable Island National Park

Due to its remote and protected status, there are no accommodations directly on Sable Island. However, visitors can find lodging options in nearby communities on the mainland of Nova Scotia. Here are some places to stay near Sable Island National Park:

  • Halifax: As the capital city of Nova Scotia, Halifax offers a wide range of accommodations including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly options, visitors can find suitable lodging to suit their preferences and budget. Halifax is the main departure point for chartered flights to Sable Island.
  • Dartmouth: Located just across the harbor from Halifax, Dartmouth provides additional lodging options for visitors to the area. With its waterfront location and easy access to transportation, Dartmouth is a convenient base for exploring the region.
  • Eastern Shore: The Eastern Shore region of Nova Scotia, which stretches along the coastline east of Halifax, offers a more secluded and scenic setting for accommodations. Visitors can find charming inns, cottages, and guesthouses nestled along the coast, providing a peaceful retreat after a day of exploration.
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Best Time to Go to Sable Island National Park



Summer, from June to August, brings warmer temperatures and longer days to Sable Island National Park, making it a popular time to visit. This season offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking along the island’s pristine beaches, birdwatching in the dunes, and exploring historic shipwreck sites. Visitors can also enjoy picnics on the beach, guided nature walks with park staff, and stargazing under the clear night skies. However, it’s essential to be prepared for variable weather conditions and biting insects during the summer months.



Winter, from December to March, brings harsh weather conditions and limited access to Sable Island National Park. The island is typically blanketed in snow and buffeted by strong winds during this time, making it inhospitable for most visitors. However, for those willing to brave the elements, winter offers a chance to experience the island’s raw beauty in solitude. Winter storms can create stunning ice formations along the shoreline, and hardy wildlife, such as seals, may be spotted along the coast. Access to the island during winter is extremely limited and often restricted to essential personnel only.



Spring is an ideal time to visit Sable Island National Park, typically spanning from April to June. During this season, the island bursts into life as wildflowers bloom across the windswept dunes and migratory birds return to nest. Visitors can witness the birth of foals among the island’s iconic wild horse population and observe the arrival of numerous bird species, including terns, gulls, and plovers. Spring also offers excellent opportunities for wildlife photography, as animals are often more active during this time of year.

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Fall, from September to November, offers a quieter and cooler alternative for visiting Sable Island National Park. As the summer crowds disperse, visitors can enjoy peaceful walks along the deserted beaches and observe the changing colors of the island’s vegetation. Fall is also an excellent time for birdwatching, as many species begin their southward migrations, including shorebirds and raptors. Additionally, fall storms can provide dramatic displays of nature’s power, offering a unique experience for adventurous visitors.

Must-See Attractions

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Wild Horses

One of Sable Island’s most iconic features is its wild horse population. These hardy animals, believed to be descendants of animals brought by early settlers or survivors of shipwrecks, roam freely across the island’s windswept dunes. Observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a highlight of any visit to Sable Island.


Sable Island’s treacherous shores have earned it the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” due to the numerous shipwrecks that litter its coastline. Visitors can explore the shipwrecks, which serve as a reminder of the island’s maritime history.

Dunes and Beaches

The island’s windswept dunes and pristine beaches are among its most stunning natural features. Visitors can explore the ever-shifting sands, hike along the coastline, and soak in the breathtaking scenery. The isolation and serenity of Sable Island’s beaches make them an unforgettable destination for nature lovers.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Sable Island National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Sable Island is a remote and isolated destination with limited amenities. Plan your trip well in advance, considering factors such as transportation, accommodations, and necessary supplies.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Essentials

Pack appropriate clothing, gear, and supplies for your visit to Sable Island. Be prepared for variable weather conditions, including strong winds, rain, and sudden changes in temperature. Bring sturdy footwear for walking on sandy terrain, sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water and snacks.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Sable Island is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including wild horses, seals, and numerous bird species. Respect wildlife habitats, observe animals from a safe distance, and avoid disturbing or feeding them. Adhere to park regulations regarding wildlife viewing and photography.

Stay Informed

Obtain Permits

Before visiting Sable Island, ensure you have obtained any necessary permits or permissions required for access. Contact Parks Canada or other relevant authorities to inquire about permits, regulations, and any restrictions that may apply.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Sable Island National Park

Access to Sable Island is restricted, and visitors typically arrive via chartered flights from Halifax, Nova Scotia, or authorized research vessels. Permits and permissions are required for visiting, and arrangements must be made in advance.

No, there are no accommodations on Sable Island itself. Visitors typically stay in nearby communities on the mainland of Nova Scotia, such as Halifax or Dartmouth, and arrange day trips or guided tours to the island.

Sable Island is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including wild horses, seals, and numerous bird species. Visitors may also encounter other marine mammals such as whales and dolphins offshore.

Popular activities on Sable Island include hiking, birdwatching, wildlife photography, and exploring historic shipwreck sites. Guided tours are available and offer insights into the island’s natural and cultural history.

No, camping is not permitted on Sable Island. Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight, and day trips are the only option for exploring the island.

The best time to visit Sable Island is typically during the spring and summer months (April to August) when weather conditions are milder, and wildlife activity is at its peak.

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