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Grand Manan Island Diary: An Island Flyover

North Head, Grand Manan Island

By Gary Walther

If an island could have a resting heart rate, Grand Manan’s would be about 45, perhaps spiking five beats when the ferry arrives.

Here, even the compass is simplified, as there are only two major directions, to North Head and to Southwest Head. The former is where the ferry docks from Blacks Harbor (90 minutes away), and it has most of the island’s tourist accommodation. The latter is the wild end, 300-foot-high basalt cliffs (and vertigo-inducing hiking trails along them), spectacular billows of fog on some days, and a lighthouse. In between, running down the island’s eastern edge along Route 776, the only main road, are a string of towns and harbors. They’re home to the island’s lobster fleet, the backbone of the economy today, and to relics of the work of yesterday, for instance, the handsome smoke houses in Seal Cove. (Grand Manan once produced some of the finest smoked herring in the world.) Most of the 2,000-odd residents live along this coastal strip.

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Gary Walther, the former editor-in-chief of Departures and ForbesLife, now writes “The Hotel Detective” column on Forbes.com

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