Helicopter ride to sable island. A photo of a baseball-style hat with the words Sable Island Nova Scotia on it in front of a helicopter that had recently landed on the island

Take a Helicopter Ride to Sable Island?

Are you considering a helicopter ride to Sable Island – the remote and magical island located in the open ocean just off the coast of Nova Scotia?

Sable Island has been the subject of many seafaring stories and tales of resilience. It is home to a spell-binding variety of unique wildlife and fauna, as well as some of the most spectacular stretches of beaches in the world. But why is a helicopter the best way to reach Sable Island? In this blog post, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide some helpful tips for planning your trip.

What is Sable Island?

A wild and windswept island of sand in the remote North Atlantic ocean. Since 2013, the island has been designated as a National Park Reserve and Parks Canada has been welcoming visitors to come and explore the island’s landscape, wildlife and history now for over a decade.

The famous Sable Island wild horses with a population of 500 roam freely throughout the crescent-shaped ribbon of sand that stretches 40 km in length and only 2 km at it’s widest point. The island is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals who linger on its vast and tropically beautiful beaches. Coastal plants, unique birds, and insects have all adapted to life on Sable Island, some of which are found nowhere else on earth.

For centuries before modern navigation, this unique island struck fear in the hearts of mariners who knew of the hundreds of shipwrecks the shifting sands led Sable Island to be know as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’. Today you can often discover the wreckage of those long lost sailing vessels cast amongst the wind-sculpted dunes.

Whether it’s the remote wildlife, the centuries old history or an unparalleled sense of solitude amidst a vast expanse of sea, Sable Island promises the trip-in-a-lifetime to every visitor. One of the only ways to get there is to take a Helicopter ride to Sable Island, otherwise you must get there by boat or plane.

How Far Away Is Sable Island?

Sable Island is located just over 300 kilometres, or southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean. This means that it takes about an hour and a half by helicopter or by plane from Halifax International Airport to reach Sable Island. Depending on weather conditions it usually takes about 36 hours to reach Sable Island by sail.

What Are The Benefits Of a Helicopter Ride To Sable Island?

The Sikorsky SK-76A++ helicopter we charter through Vision Air Services of Halifax, Nova Scotia is a modern and spacious helicopter originally designed for oil and gas executives to reach off-shore platforms. Upfront there is room for two pilots and in the middle are two rows of four seats that face each other for the guests.

This configuration allows for half the guests to have window seats at anytime to look out over the coastline of Nova Scotia and photograph Sable Island. Throughout the flight guests can chat with one another and the pilots through Bose noise-cancelling headphones so everyone can ask questions, share insights or point out the whales they might see swimming below.

The helicopter is slightly faster at reaching Sable Island than a plane, but the biggest advantage when choosing to travel by helicopter is that it can land on one of two dedicated concrete helipads which are always stable and available. Whereas a plane has to rely on the fickle beach conditions for a perfect runway to be available and a ship or private vessel arriving by ocean has to hope the swell on the beach is calm enough to land a tender on to the beach directly.

Tips For Planning Your Helicopter Ride to Sable Island

If you’re planning on taking a helicopter ride to Sable Island there are several things you should keep in mind in order to ensure that your trip goes smoothly:

  • Consider one of our Sable Island Tours and we make it all a lot easier.
  • Parks Canada allows only a select number of approved transport providers to reach Sable Island and these providers have their specific flights scheduled in advance. Every group visiting Sable Island needs to be accompanied by a licensed guide as part of a private tour operator’s organized visit such as Picture Perfect Tours, or you can hire a Parks Canada visitor experience intern through out the summer months to accompany your group.
  • Beautiful fresh water is in abundant supply on Sable Island and you need to bring a 2L water bottle with you to have that available for you day of exploring. Bring your own lunch and snacks because there is no food available in such a remote locations and be sure to carry out everything you bring with you through your visit.
  • Make sure you dress appropriately for variable weather conditions since temperatures can change quickly. Layers of outdoor active wear are key to staying comfortable and keeping the wind at bay. A hat is an absolute must because there is no shade on the island. We recommend wearing footwear that is light for extended hiking yet can keep sand from getting inside your shoe.
  • Bring along sunscreen, a hat and at least a week’s worth of any essential medications you might need just in case of a visit being extended for unforeseen circumstances.
  • There are two designated concrete landing pads for helicopters on Sable Island, and a helicopter can not land anywhere else. However for an additional fee you can ask your pilot beforehand to extend the arrival flight to the farthest eastern point in order to fly over and view the whole length of the island throughout your trip.

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