The island is heavily wooded with several clearings on the more sheltered south side. There is a small year-round population spread throughout the island of which the majority make their living by fishing. The island has a public wharf located at the west end and a breakwater for mooring at the east end. There is also a community centre, church, fire department and several lighthouses located on the island.
Pictou Island receives no electrical power from the mainland. The residents supply their own energy with solar power, windmills and generators. There are no stores of any kind on the island but residents can email or phone a grocery order in to Sobeys (a local grocery chain) and the order will arrive by ferry or plane depending on the time of year.
There is a one-room public school, facilitated at the Pictou Island Community Centre, with a single part-time teacher for students up to grade 6, after which students begin correspondence studies. Generally island students enroll in schools on the mainland of Nova Scotia once they begin grade 11, as many post-secondary programs do not accept a correspondence studies diploma.
The Community Centre is also home to a provincially sponsored CAP Site (see http://cap.ic.gc.ca/index.htm) which provides internet access to the public. Most island residents have access in their homes, through dial-up, and some are hoping for 'high-speed' soon.
A seasonal passenger-only ferry service begins operation in May and stops in November; Cessna airplanes operating out of an airport at nearby Trenton serve the island in the winter with mail and supplies. There is one main dirt road on the island that runs from one end of the island to the other that is maintained by the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and also services as a landing strip for the airplanes.