Norfolk County: Port Dover to Long Point, Ontario
Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017
By: Alexandria Deer, Visitor Services Coordinator
As a 25-year-old woman who spends much of her time with her feet firmly planted on dry land, there are few things I know about boating. The land on which I plant my feet? It’s a place called Norfolk County, and I think you should come ashore!
Norfolk County is well known for being ‘Ontario’s Garden,’ and rightfully so. It is the fifth largest agricultural region in Ontario and Canada’s largest producer of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Seasonal markets and roadside stands can be found throughout the county, so you’ll never be without fresh, in-season bounty.
The most popular destinations of Norfolk County are the ports, towns, and villages along Lake Erie, also known as Ontario’s South Coast. These towns include Port Dover, Port Rowan, Turkey Point, and Long Point.
The provincial government owned Long Point until it was sold to the privately held Long Point Company in 1866. A century later, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Long Point as a World Biosphere Reserve. The designation aims to protect this significant Great Lakes coastal ecosystem and the 50 vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species that live within it.
Port Rowan is a charming lakeside community adjacent to Long Point and has long serviced the needs of surrounding areas with numerous stores and businesses. There is a seasonal farmers’ market in Port Rowan each Friday from June until mid-October.
Restaurants featuring local food on their menus will give you a true taste of place experience. From Port Dover to Long Point, you will find local fruits and vegetables appearing on menus as they come into season, as well as local wines, beers, and meats year-round.
‘Toast the Coast’ at a number of award-winning wineries and breweries that reflect the history and character of the region, fresh fermented hard ciders and exceptional craft-brewed beers and spirits. A long, warm growing season makes this area the perfect place for growing grapes and hops alongside other local produce. Between sips, explore beautiful beaches, meandering bike trails, fresh fruit and vegetable stands, and a vibrant culinary scene.
To fully enjoy your tasting experience, book a guided tour of Norfolk’s wineries and breweries with Ride the Bine, Norfolk’s first wine, beer, and cider tour company.
The outdoor adventurer is spoiled in Norfolk County! There is something for everyone — cycling, fishing, zip lines, boat tours, and other unique experiences.
Learn to mountain bike in a Carolinian forest with over 75 km of trails. Elevation Mountain Bike Camps offers bike rentals, camps, clinics, and guided tours of all ages and abilities. Trails around the coast are maintained by Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club and can be ridden year-round. The trails are open to everyone, including walkers, joggers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoeing.
Glide through the Carolinian forest on a world-class zip line and canopy tour adventure with Long Point Zip Line & Eco-Adventures. The canopy tour boasts eight zip lines, two suspension sky bridges, 14 platforms, and a 40-foot rappel. Nighttime zips, an observatory, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, zodiac boat tours, and axe throwing can be booked on site. Take a break from the usual hotel experience with a stay in the on-site wilderness suites or pods, which provide the comforts of home with views, sounds, and sensations unique to Norfolk County!
Here, you can fish nearly all year long. Ice fishing huts dot the bay for miles early in the New Year. Bass opening weekend through the end of July is the prime time to fish for bass in Lake Erie. The bass fishing offered by Baer Fishing Adventures on Long Point Bay is unmatched. The inner bay ranges in depths from two to 10 inches and warms up early in the spring creating ideal spawning grounds for Lake Erie’s warm water species such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, gar pike, perch, carp, crappy, and all kinds of other creatures.
Long Point also has an incredible sandy beach. The beach is part of Long Point Provincial Park, located on the 40-kilometre-long sand spit. The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve is a world-renowned refuge and stopover for migrating birds in fall and spring. The tip of Long Point can only be accessed by boat now because of its designation as a biosphere reserve. From May until September, birding tours, guided hikes, and trips to the Tip of Long Point are available through Long Point Tours. The three-hour tour to the tip of Long Point is enriched with information about the history that encompasses the legendary sand spit. Experience the splash pool effect caused by the two currents that meet and continue to build Long Point!
You can dock your boat at any number of marinas in Norfolk, such as Old Cut Marina, Norfolk County’s only year-round marina. Located on Long Point Bay, Old Cut is situated on the most easterly part of developed Long Point. It is the closest marina to all that the bay has to offer. Services include gas, diesel, water fill, and pump out. Sea-doo, kayak, and paddleboat rentals are also available.
It is recommended that when visiting Long Point by car, tourists park vehicles at Long Point Provincial Park for the best beach experience. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is the steward of the beachfront along the entire stretch of Long Point, from the provincial park to the causeway. However, beach-goers in the area outside of the provincial park are asked to respect the property owners who live near the beach.
Learn more and plan your trip to Norfolk County by visiting www.norfolktourism.ca.