Pictou island is located 7.5 kms from the mainland. Historically residents would go to the mainland by their own boats or by an iceboat in the winter. Now, you can get to the island easily by a ferry or plane.
Pictou Island Ferry
Pictou Island has had a ferry service for over 100 years. Currently it is the only privately-owned ferry in the province. The Ferry runs from May to November, making 12 scheduled trips a weekduring peak season. Currently, Pictou Island Charters with the M/V Cetacean Search have been certified by Transport Canada to serve as the ferry between the island and mainland.
The ferry docks on the west side of the Caribou Wharf, near the PEI ferry. The ferry leaves at the scheduled times and is loaded first by reservations, then by a first come basis. Exceptions to the posted schedule are high winds exceeding 25 knots. If a trip is cancelled, it will be made up the next day.
You must arrive dockside with your cargo ready to load 15 minutes before departure. Cars must be unloaded dockside then parked in the terminal parking lot. Please stay off of the boat and floating dock until instructed by crew. If the boat is full, you will be put on standby to wait for the ferry to come back for a double run. A double run is when the ferry comes back to pick up the passengers on standby, this takes roughly an hour and a half to two hours.
Loading and unloading of the ferry is done on a volunteer basis by the passengers and directed by the crew. Bikes are loaded first, then hardtop items, and last bags and fragile freight, please place cargo accordingly to the left of the loading ramp. If you are on standby or do not have a reservation your cargo is placed to the left of the passenger gangway. If you are not assisting in loading or unloading please clear the area and ensure luggage, people and pets are away from the unloading area to the right of the loading ramp.
Passengers are permitted to carry 200 lbs of lightweight cargo (under 40 lbs each) at no charge if carried by a passenger. Oversized or overweight cargo (anything exceeding 40 lbs each) must be included in your reservation and come with additional charges. These are limited to space and weight restrictions, so not every run can accommodate them. Overweight cargo includes bikes and dogs. Dogs must be muzzled, leashed and under effective control during on the boat and on both wharves. Transportation of fuel, vehicles and large garbage items are provided at arranged times. Tips to make the process run smoothly:
· It is recommended to always make reservations as early as possible.
· Arrive 30 minutes before departure to allow enough time to unload vehicle dockside and to park.
· Pack items in totes! It keeps everything dry (cargo is outside) and this makes it easier for loading.
· If you cannot lift an item over your head, it is too heavy to be regular cargo!
· Label or mark all cargo! This limits confusion, accidents and makes lost or taken items easier to claim.
· Take a carry on (small bag) with important or fragile items, cargo can be handled roughly at times. Also remember items are passed over water (from dock to boat) and is done so voluntarily, sometimes accidents can happen.
If you have concerns or questions, contact Pictou Island Charters.
Eastern Air Flights
In the winter months, when the strait becomes impassable due to ice, the island can be accessed by plane. Eastern Air Services offers charter flights for 3 passengers and cargo from Trenton Airport to Pictou Island. The plane lands on the road in the landing zone, close to the middle of the island.
The plane also delivers mail on Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting. This unique mail run began in the early 1940s.