By Lori Janeson
Hecla Island isn’t as remote as some people think. If you really want, you can easily take a day trip up here from Winnipeg — it’s about two hours in each direction, weather permitting.
But driving four hours to experience one of Manitoba’s natural hidden gems doesn’t appeal to most travelers. Your trip to Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park will therefore likely involve at least one overnight stay.
“Great news: You have options. Several of them, in fact, right on Hecla Island itself, and more on the mainland nearby.”—Lori Janeson
Here’s a look at what to expect from each.
Gull Harbour Marina & Lighthouse Inn
Gull Harbour Marina is a full-service marina popular with year-round residents and seasonal visitors alike. Its property doubles as a small, homey family resort that’s recently undergone a thorough renovation to bring its guest rooms and amenities into the 21st century. New visitors rave about the place — it’s worth checking out, and maybe grabbing a bite at the full-service restaurant, even if you don’t spend the night here.
Gull Harbour Marina’s amenities include:
- Marina and Machine Shop: A full-service marina with a machine shop available for repairs. Water-sport enthusiasts can enjoy sailing and powerboating and rent fishing boats and kayaks.
- Winter Storage: If you have a home in the area, this is a great place to safely stow your boat during the winter.
- Restaurant and Bar: The full-service restaurant’s menu is built around the bounty of Lake Winnipeg. The bar is great for day visitors and guests alike. As you’ll read on the website, “Lil’ Viking bar is a perfect place to wind down a great day enjoying Hecla Island.” The facility has room for up to 120 — perfect for weddings, reunions, corporate events, and more.
- Dinner Cruises: The property has a yacht that can be chartered for dinner cruises and other excursions out on the lake.
- Private Cabin: The Inn offers standard guest rooms with waterfront views. Those with a large family or group can reserve a private cabin for roomier, private accomodation.
Lakeview Hecla Resort
Lakeview Hecla Resort is the most upscale lodging option on Hecla Island. Once operated by Radisson, the property is now in the Lakeview resort family, and it’s steadily gaining a name for itself as an “up north” hotel that seamlessly blends creature comforts and rustic touches. You don’t have to make many compromises when you stay here.
Lakeview Hecla Resort’s signature amenities include:
- Salka Spa: The most luxurious place to “treat yourself” north of Winnipeg. If you’re staying for longer than a weekend, a dedicated spa day here is pretty much mandatory.
- Indoor Pool: Includes a kid-friendly waterslide and an adults-only section with a hot tub, mineral pool, and Nordic plunge.
- Outdoor Pool: Why swim in the lake when you’ve got this spacious heated pool?
- Seagulls Restaurant & Lounge: One of Manitoba’s finest resort restaurants, period. It’s heavy on the local fare, season permitting.
- Conference and Meeting Facilities: Corporate events are welcome here.
- Lakeview Hecla Golf Course: This 18-hole championship golf course is among the best on the Canadian prairie. The views aren’t half bad either.
Gull Harbour Campground
Gull Harbour Campground is the most cost-effective lodging option for budget-conscious travelers. Perched on a prime slice of Lake Winnipeg beach — perhaps the island’s best — t’s not far from Hecla Lakeview Resort and Gull Harbour Marina. You’ll find more than 200 campsites here, plus all the amenities you expect from a modern campground:
- Modern restrooms and shower facilities
- Self-guided hiking
- A swimming beach
- Family playground
- Recycling station
Solmundson Gesta Hus Bed & Breakfast
Like other rustic bed and breakfast inns, Solmundson Gesta Hus Bed & Breakfast doesn’t have a lot of extras. What sets it apart is its loving dedication to traveler comfort and the fact that it’s smack in the middle of Hecla Village, the well-preserved remnant of an old Icelandic-Canadian fishing village.
Here’s what to expect at Solmundson Gesta Hus Bed & Breakfast:
- Outdoor Hot Tub: In true Nordic fashion, you can warm up in a lively outdoor hot tub amid the inn’s serene 43-acre grounds.
- Outdoor Seating: There’s a verandah and patio for guests, weather permitting. They face the garden, which is designed to attract as many songbirds as possible. No matter when you visit during the warm season, you’ll have a colorful view for sure.
- Therapeutic Devices: The inn doubles as a wellness center, and it takes its mission seriously. From the Solmundson Gesta Hus Bed & Breakfast website: “We offer a variety of sessions using Class II medical devices for stress and pain relief, improved blood circulation, and detoxification.”
- Free Bikes: Want to tool around the village, or venture further afield on Hecla Island? Solmundson has free bikes available for day use.
- Flexible Menu: The restaurant here can make special meals per your dietary requests — vegan, gluten-free, non-dairy, and more. Call ahead to discuss your needs.
- Lounge and TV Area: When you need to regain touch with the modern world, or simply kick back indoors without retiring to your room, this is where you need to be.
Other Options on the Mainland
These aren’t the only lodging options near Hecla Island. Choices abound on the mainland, too: rustic campgrounds, motor inns, and full-service hotels can all be found within an hour’s drive of the Hecla Island bridge.
If you’re driving in from the south or west, your best bets are the small towns of Riverton and Arborg. Riverton Motor Inn is a basic option for travelers who simply want a quiet place to bed down for the night. Arborg has more choice: There’s Travelling Inn, an affordable motor lodge, and Arborg Hotel, a higher-touch place downtown.
Wherever you decide to stay in and around Hecla Island, remember to enjoy your stay.
Lori Janeson and her husband David own the Gull Harbour Marina on Hecla Island