The major activity at Cape St. Mary's is watching and learning about seabirds. This can be done on a guided tour, in the Interpretive Centre, or on your own. Please note that the path to Bird Rock is not wheelchair accessible, but the Interpretive Centre is fully accessible.
In addition to the major colonies of nesting seabirds-Northern gannet, black-legged kittiwake, common murre, and thick-billed murre-you can see razorbill, black guillemot, double-crested and great cormorant, and Northern fulmar. Offshore, during the summer, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals can be spotted. Migrating shorebirds and raptors visit in fall and spring. And harlequin ducks, common eiders, other sea ducks are in the area during winter.
The path to the main observation point leaves from the parking lot, and is a 1-km walk over cliff-top barrens. The bird observation lookout adjacent to Bird Rock has limited space; visitors are asked to take turns, and avoid crowding. The breeding season for most species is April through October.
Guided walks and nature hikes are available from the Interpretation Centre (see Services). Group tours and school programs are asked to book in advance. There are other hiking experiences in the area (i.e. Golden Bay) - check with the Interpretation Centre staff for more information.
While you can walk to the Bird Rock observation area on your own, please be careful. Use caution near cliffs and check with Interpretive Centre staff for information on trail conditions. Visitors are asked to stay on the main path, walk carefully (particularly in foggy or slippery conditions), and avoid areas where birds are breeding, as well as cliff edges and steep slopes. You may encounter loose rock or sheep manure on the path.
The staffed, multi-media Interpretive Centre has displays, programs, and activities about the birds and their environment. During the summer, it sometimes offers musical and other general attractions. In addition, educational and special events are often offered at the Cape that are supported by a group of volunteers-the Friends of Cape St. Mary's. This includes the annual Cape St. Mary's Gannet Seabird Festival, which offers music, hiking, and other activities. To learn more about participating in these activities, contact the Friends of Cape St Mary's.
Commercial and recreational fishing can occur in the waters of the reserve. All provincial and federal regulations apply when fishing in the reserve. Boaters must be careful in the marine portion of the reserve so as not to disturb the birds.