Bruce Peninsula: Indian Head Cove and Grotto

As mentioned yesterday, the main reason Cyprus Lake campground in Bruce Peninsula National Park stands out is because this:

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Indian Head Cove on the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay, is only a 25 minute hike from your campsite. It’s right along the Bruce Trail so if you’re not a camper you can hike in from another route, or you can just get a day pass for the campground and park at the head of trails and hike in. It is beautiful and I really do not know anywhere else like it. It doesn’t look like Ontario, or even Canada. It looks like the Caribbean.

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The water is so turquoise and deep and clear that this area is actually the scuba diving capital of Canada.

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If you’re swimming with a mask on sometimes if you look down you can see scuba divers 25 feet below you along the bottom.

The water is not warm like the Caribbean though…it is frigid. It is ridiculously cold. It is the kind of cold that your body never really gets used to, you just get numb. It is the kind of cold that shocks your system when you jump in and makes your skin feel like it might burn off your body. It is cold like if you were to fill your bathtub with only cold water and then got in. I am not exaggerating, that is how cold it is. Everyone should just skip the ice bucket challenge and jump in this water instead. Like we did.

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We are dying. But you have to suck it up and get in because if you don’t you will seriously regret it. It is the most refreshing water I’ve ever experienced. If you have a hangover all you need to do is jump in this water and it is like everything that happened the night before is erased. And when you get out your skin is cool to the touch for the rest of the day. It’s like swimming in bottled water. I love it. I absolutely love it there.

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This area used to be a hidden gem, but it has definitely gotten a lot more busy in recent years. When I went when I was 13 with my bestie we were the only ones I saw swimming, and we were celebrities around the campground because of it. People kept asking us if we had warmed up yet. Now though, they have made the trail leading to this beautiful place a lot more accessible so therefore more people can get there. And a lot more people seem to be open to swimming there. Not such a hidden gem anymore, but it’s still awesome.

There are huge cliffs and little nooks and crannies everywhere, and if you walk a ways from the beach there is a little water cave that is open from the top.

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I think you can only access the inside from the water though. It would be difficult to climb down into there. But if you walk a bit further you come to the main attraction: the grotto. This is the view from the top of the grotto.

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It’s ridiculous!

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The best way to get to the grotto is to swim there from the beach, but it was just a bit too cold for that. So the other way is to climb down. You can either scale a pretty serious cliff face (the rock is easy to grab onto though, so it’s not too bad), or you can do what I personally think is the easiest way. You do a little spelunking.

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You climb down through that hole. It’s quite narrow. But Evan is over 6 feet and Ian is like 6’4″, and they both made it through. I was actually more worried about Dorothy, ’cause she is just a tiny minx and you really need to stretch your legs out to feel around for where you can put your feet down. As is custom for when Evan and I are doing this sort of thing, Evan goes first (;

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I promise it is NOT as bad as it looks. Once you get your body through the hole it opens up immediately.

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But you are not out of the woods just yet… It requires a bit more climbing down through the rock to the grotto area.

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But again you gotta suck it up and do it because if you don’t you will regret it. This is what awaits you when you finish your descent:

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The grotto (you can read more about it there), an underwater cave.

Inside the grotto is the same cool, clear, deep, turquoise water…

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And there is an underwater tunnel that leads to the outside of the cliffs, which lets sunlight in through the water and creates this mystical feel…

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We had our masks with us so we swam down to the tunnel opening…

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It is further down than it looks. You can swim through it and apparently it takes about 30 seconds to get to the other side, but I have never done it. I think I’d want fins. But also, the water is so freezing that I can’t be sure that I wouldn’t panic. The tunnel is also not straight either and has an upward curve to it, so you’d have to make sure you cleared that. A guy swam through it while we were there and reported back to us and said it was awesome, and I have to admit I was tempted. One day I will do it! But on this day we were fine just looking at it.

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I would say it’s at least 30 feet deep in there, and you can jump off the ledges on the side. Or you can just sit on them and have a beer as we did.

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We brought our cans back with us, don’t worry. No littering. And this would be a beautiful photo if my waterproof camera didn’t have a fail moment…

And the view from our perch:

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And from the mouth of the cave:

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To get out of the grotto it’s pretty much impossible to go back to way you came, unless you have incredible upper body strength and can pull yourself out of that hole (I am weak and probably cannot do that). So the easiest way is to climb up the cliff.

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Again, there are many foot steps and hand holds so it’s not too bad. But I did feel like I was legit rock climbing!

The trail continues along the shore to a lot of other cool rock places, but the grotto is definitely the highlight of the area. Ontarians, this is ours to discover! If you haven’t been there before, go!!! It is amazing.

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8 responses to “Bruce Peninsula: Indian Head Cove and Grotto

  1. Oh holy cow! The water in the grotto is easiy one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!! I’ll say it again – you really have the BEST adventures! I’ve never really had any interest in going to Canada… until seeing/reading about all your adventures. Your adventuring looks so awesome that now i want to go!!

  2. This is amazing! I can’t believe this is in Ontario! I definitely need to check out my province more. Especially exciting because I just got my scuba diving certification, I may have to check out the diving in the area.

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  4. wow!! this IS amazing! i think the frigid water would be so worth it! if i ever make it back up to canada, i’m going to have to go here! i LOVE it!!!

  5. Gorgeous! Though that little hole you climbed through made me claustrophobic just looking at it. Yikes! I would have to climb down the cliff instead.

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