Anticosti the Magnificent
At the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence opposite Havre-Saint-Pierre lies Île d'Anticosti, renowned for its virtually unspoiled scenery, 160,000 white-tailed deer, and tremendous salmon fishing. The mysterious island was purchased for $125,000 in 1895 by French chocolate tycoon Henri Menier. Today it is heaven on earth for vacationers, hunters, and fishers. Spanning some 222 km and embracing 7,943 km², the island is 17 times bigger than the Island of Montréal and 50 times bigger than Île d'Orléans. It is the largest island in Québec and home to some 300 full-time residents.
Île d'Anticosti boasts spectacular geology, with powerful rivers, dizzyingly high canyons, massive caves, and thundering waterfalls, including the always impressive Chute Vauréal. The island, which has 100-odd rivers, also abounds in rare plantlife and numbers among the world's top fossil sites, with close to 600 species identified to date. Île d'Anticosti is also home to one of the biggest bald eagle populations in northeastern North America, and almost 220 bird species have been inventoried in the island's extensive forests. Over the past few centuries, its dangerous reefs have caught over 200 ships unawares, earning it the unenviable moniker of "Graveyard of the Gulf."
Since 2001 Parc national d'Anticosti has sought to protect certain areas of the island while offering activities like camping, hiking, horseback riding, sea kayaking, and visits to the Grotte à la Patate cave, one of the largest natural cavities in Québec. Trout and salmon fishing are popular, but hunting white-tailed deer is by far the star attraction. Several inns and hotels can be found on the island, and a few lighthouses have been converted into bed & breakfasts and restaurants. Sépaq Anticosti and a handful of outfitters offer hunting, fishing, and getaway packages.