Hecla Island is one of Manitoba’s top outdoor tourist destinations.
By Jasonbook99 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
But unlike far-flung treasures like Riding Mountain National Park and Prince of Wales’ Fort near isolated Churchill, it’s less than two hours’ drive from Winnipeg, the province’s largest population center.
Thanks to Winnipeg’s bustling international airport, Hecla is less than a day’s journey from just about every major city in North America.
In short, it’s the perfect place to spend a long weekend.
If you have just a couple of days to see Hecla Island, as many visitors do, make sure these six activities are on your list.
- Exploring Hecla Village
Hecla Village is arguably the best place to learn about — and see up close — Manitoba’s vibrant Icelandic heritage. The village boasts several fully refurbished buildings, including a church and museum, and a handful of other structures in various states of repair. Everything looks much as it did in the 1920s, when Hecla Island was a booming fishing community sustained by the seemingly endless bounty of Lake Winnipeg.
- A Day at the Marina
Near the northeastern tip of Hecla Island lies a small resort-restaurant-marina complex known as Gull Harbour Marina. Owned by longtime local resident David Janeson and his wife, Lori Janeson, Gull Harbour Marina is emerging from an extensive renovation that saw the 13-room property and its full-service restaurant modernized and revitalized. There are few better places to watch the sun rise on Hecla Island than Gull Harbour Marina’s shoreline.
- Wildlife Viewing at Grassy Narrows Marsh
On the opposite side of the island lies Grassy Narrows Marsh, a pristine wetland expanse that harbors some of the finest moose habitat in this part of Manitoba. You’re not guaranteed to see gigantic ruminants here, but moose-less visits aren’t total losses — the landscape is stunning anyway, and water birds abound.
- Sunset on Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is the yin to Gull Harbour’s yang: the best place on Hecla Island to watch the sun set. Come for the slow-motion sunsets of June and July, when the northern evening seems to stretch on forever and the sky isn’t dark enough for proper stargazing until midnight.
- A Round at the Lakeview Hecla Resort Course
Lakeview Hecla Resort is the swankiest lodging option on Hecla Island. One of Lakeview Hecla Resort’s top draws is its 18-hole championship golf course. Located in a stunning lakeside setting, it’s appropriate for all skill levels. Even if you’re not much of a golfer, the views alone are worth the greens fee. After your round, unwind with a massage or treatment at the Salka Spa.
By Shahnoor Habib Munmun (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
- Paddling on the Lake
Want to see Hecla Island from a totally different perspective? Rent a kayak or canoe and head out on Lake Winnipeg. From the Gull Harbour area, it’s a clear shot (and not too long) to remote Black Island, a haven for waterfowl, amphibians, and small mammals.