Regulations respecting the administration of Sable Island are the Sable Island Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. All visitors must obtain permission from the Canadian Coast Guard.
The following provides some details pertinent to visitors, which also generally apply to people visiting Sable Island as part of the operational and scientific programs. Anyone considering a visit to Sable Island should refer to “Sable Island Policies and Procedures”, available from Canadian Coast Guard.
Request for permission to visit Sable Island must be made in writing to the Director of Marine Programs (Canadian Coast Guard, see Contacts, below), and the request must include the details regarding the purpose of the visit, mode of transportation to/from the Island (type of aircraft or vessel), the number of people in the party (and their names and addresses), the anticipated arrival and departure dates, and requirements for logistical support on the Island.
Accommodations & Logistical Support
The Sable Island Station, administered by the Meteorological Service of Canada (Environment Canada), provides the year-round infrastructure for all programs conducted on the Island. Although support of operational, scientific and conservation activities is the primary role of the facility, the Station also provides support for visitors. Arrangements for logistical support on the Island can be made by contacting the Operations Manager (Sable Island Station, see Contacts, below).
Logistical support must be organized well in advance because availability varies depending on operational requirements and programs underway. Camping is not permitted on Sable Island. Visitors who have obtained authorization for overnight stays must arrange for accommodations at the Station. The Station has no vehicles for rent, but visitors may be able to charter a Station vehicle and driver, subject to operational requirements.
Once permission to visit Sable Island is obtained, visitors would usually organize their own transportation to/from the Island (charter aircraft or boat; or private boat). In recent years, the most common modes of transport for visitors have been fixed-wing aircraft chartered through Maritime Air Charter Ltd (the only fixed-wing charter service to the Island, see Contacts, below), and private boat.
Most boats and cruise ships visit Sable in July and August. August through October offer the most favourable conditions for travel by air. Throughout the year the normal delay due to weather or beach conditions is a day or two. However, flights are occasionally delayed much longer, and visitors must be prepared with enough supplies, and a healthy attitude, to deal with such delays.
Maritime Air Charter Limited uses a Britten-Norman Islander, a fixed-wing aircraft designed for short distance take-offs and landings. Some visitors come as groups of five or six persons for a “day-trip”. The Islander’s payload is 485 kg (1070 lbs), so when a party of people arranges to use the Islander, they must consider their combined body weight and strike a balance between number of people and amount of baggage. All flights – fixed-wing and helicopter - depart from the Halifax International Airport. Depending on the direction and strength of winds, the air travel time between Sable Island and the airport is between 1.25 to 1.50 hours.
In addition to the aircraft charter costs, visitors should expect other charges associated with the landing on the Island as well as any required ground support provided by the Station.
Briefings & Cautions
On arrival, a briefing will be provided for all visitors regarding environmental issues and restrictions; persons staying at the Station will also be briefed on facilities and emergency procedures (fire alarms etc).
ZL is occasionally available to provide environmental briefings, and, if visitors are interested, ZL will take them for a walkabout, providing explanation of the Island’s landscape, flora and fauna, and personal introductions to some of the Island’s four-footed residents.
Sable Island is remote and isolated, and is at times inaccessible. Commercial and medical services normally provided on the mainland are not available on the Island. Although Sable Island is not a highly hostile environment, there are many natural hazards associated with weather, surf, flooding and high tides, unstable terrain, beach conditions and soft sand, and wildlife. Visitors must be cautious, and they should consult Station staff for advice regarding their proposed activities. Anyone using a vehicle or working alone should carry a hand-held marine VHF radio or cell phone, and make arrangements for emergency support.
With travel delays common, and no health services available, medical problems can be aggravated and become life-threatening situations on Sable Island. Visitors must be financially prepared to assume the cost of chartering aircraft for medical evacuation or other emergencies.
Aircraft Landing (Includes transportation to main station area)
Fixed Wing $500 each
Helicopter $200 each
*** NOTE: The landing fees DO NOT INCLUDE the price of your flight.
Diesel $1.55 per liter
Gasoline $2.60 per liter
Propane (emergencies only) $150/cylinder
Electricity $1.48 per Kwh
Vehicles (1 hour minimum, plus driver at labour rate)
Crew-cab Pickup $90 per hour
Gator utility vehicle $40 per hour
Bombardier tracked vehicle $140 per hour
Tractor $85 per hour
Loader $85 per hour
Accommodations $300 per person per night
Access to station food supplies $55 per person per day
Mon–Sat, 0800–1630 $90 per hour
Outside of normal hours $135 per hour
Sundays $180 per hour
Callout (less than 4 hrs notice) Minimum of 3 hours at applicable rate
Fax $5 + $1 per page
Cell call $2 per minute
Internet Access $0.50 per minute
Waste Processing and Disposal
Burnable waste $0.50 per pound
Recyclable waste No charge if properly prepared
Non-burnable, non-recyclable $0.60 per pound
Hazardous material $1.50 per pound
Freight Storage and Handling $1 per day per Kg
All charges must be paid with cash, traveller's cheques, or credit card (Visa /MasterCard).
Personal cheques are not accepted.
A copy of the Canadian Coast Guard's Sable Island Visitor's Guide is available in PDF format at the link below: