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Îles de la Madeleine

Salt-swept red-dirt islands crusted with fuzzy tufts of grass lie scattered in the Gulf of St Lawrence, and they're a sight to behold. The Îles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands), a stringy archipelago that resembles a Mandelbrot set on maps, are 105km north of Prince Edward Island. Between the islands' 350km of beach are iron-rich red cliffs, molded by wind and sea into coves and caves that cry out to be explored by kayak.

As you circle above the crescent beaches on one of the tiny airplanes that fly here, you may wonder how anyone could traverse this windswept chain; in fact, the six largest islands are connected by the 200km-long, classically named Rte 199. It takes a little over an hour to drive from one end of the archipelago to the other, assuming that you don't stop to gawp at the views. Which you will.