6 Adventures in Nova Scotia: Go Beyond the Cabot Trail

Find out why travelers fall in love with this part of Canada. From secluded beaches, stunning national parks and quaint fishing villages to whale watching, excellent surfing, and wild rafting opportunities – add in the excellent seafood and super nice people, and you’ll soon see why.

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Whatever pace of trip you’re after, Nova Scotia provides. Its capital, Halifax, is a hip urban city on the ocean, but you should definitely rent a car and hit the road to explore further.

Get out there and surf or hike, take a whale watching boat trip, stuff yourself silly with amazing seafood or tour wineries, kayak rivers – this really is a ‘find your own adventure’ province.

Peggy’s Cove and the Lighthouse Route

If you’re a fan of tiny fishing villages, lighthouses, and fresh off the boat seafood, then you’re going to adore driving the south shore’s Lighthouse Route.

Winding your way along the coast you’ll visit postcard-pretty towns including Mahone Bay and colorful Lunenburg – both of which have great restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and historical attractions.

The colorful town of Lunenburg is a must-see. Photo credit: iStock

This part of Nova Scotia has miles upon miles of white sand beaches to enjoy, with the three secluded bays of Carter’s Beach being a local’s favorite. 

Carter’s Beach, Nova Scotia. Photo credit: iStock

North Coast of Nova Scotia

You’ll find far less tourists on the north coast of the province, which makes it a must if you’re seeking somewhere off-the-beaten-track. Head up to the sweet university town of Wolfville, which is set among award winning wineries – if you didn’t already know, fabulous wines are made in Nova Scotia.

Stay in a converted train car at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche and sample craft beer at the Tatamagouche Brewing Company. Then, visit local beaches, a lavender farm, and grab a lobster roll at Mennonite bakery, The Country Bread Basket.

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Kejimkujik National Park

Nova Scotia’s parks offer a range of experiences and activities. In Kejimkujik National Park on the south shore you can hike through pristine wilderness to find Mi’kmaq petroglyphs and wildlife, kayak lakes and rivers, or camp out to watch stars litter the sky, as the park is a designated Dark Sky Preserve.

Paddling throught Kejimkujik National Park. Photo credit: iStock

Five Islands Provincial Park

Head north to Five Islands Provincial Park on the Bay of Fundy to stand on 300ft tall sea cliffs and look out over the world’s highest tides, hike, or dig clams.

Cape Chignecto Provincial Park

Hardcore hikers will love the 32mi (51km) coastal loop at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, which takes you along 600ft sea cliffs and through pristine wilderness.

Rated very challenging, you’re advised to take three days to do the hike, and be prepared to rough it as there are no amenities. 

Off-the-beaten-track in Nova Scotia

While it takes two tiny ferries to get to tiny Briar Island, the journey is well worth it. This is the launch point for whale watching tours that’ll take you to see humpbacks, finbacks and right whales. Stop at Lavena’s Catch Café at Freeport on the way for an amazing scallop sandwich.

Adrenaline junkies will love tidal bore rafting in the Bay of Fundy, where you battle to stay afloat on a rubber dingy as the tide rushes in to meet the Shubenacadie River causing massive waves.

If you’re a keen surfer, head to Lawrence Town Beach for some of Canada’s best waves – plus, the ocean stays the same temperature year round, so you’ll always see suffers in the water, albeit wearing dry suits.

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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