This is where you want to be for salty waves, rambling coasts, and fresh fish.
Almost entirely surrounded by water, Nova Scotia is central to Canada’s maritime region. Ocean inlets sneak tendrils into the province’s forested interior, while seafront restaurants dole out fresh fish, lighthouses beckon ships to shore, and beach bonfires dot the coast. The region shines in summer, when most Nova Scotia campgrounds open and gulf currents warm the Atlantic for swimming and boating. Autumn’s crisp temperatures and colorful foliage are perfect for hikes through the Cape Breton highlands or a drive on the Cabot Trail, and winter snow lays a smooth foundation for cross-country skiing.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park is ideal for camping in summer and hiking year-round, with old-growth boreal forests, river canyons, and plenty of sandy beaches. Campers can also consider taking a road trip along the coast and across the highlands on the scenic Cabot Trail highway. Further south, the saltwater Bras d’Or Lake is a sailing and swimming hotspot.
Here, you can experience the world’s most dramatic ocean tides in Fundy National Park, comb the beaches of Five Islands Provincial Park, or canoe through Kejimkujik National Park. Catch a glimpse of humpback and right whales during their summer migration—then, venture inland for fresh local produce and wine tastings at Annapolis Valley vineyards.
Head to Larencetown and Martinque beaches outside Halifax for some of the best cold-water surfing on Canada’s east coast. Visit the region’s authentic fishing communities on the way, then take a boat out to the 100 Wild Islands archipelago, where you can hike and camp in secluded coves and boreal rainforests.
Plenty of warm-water beaches lie along the sheltered Northumberland Strait, as does a thriving local wine scene and Gaelic culture in Pictou, known as “the Birthplace of New Scotland." The region’s fishing industry also brings fresh lobster to area restaurants.
The South Shore of Nova Scotia offers opportunities to dive into maritime history at colorful Old Town Lunenburg (home of the Bluenose II schooner), snap a picture of the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, or get off the grid for a camping trip in one of the region’s wilderness areas—many of which feature thick canopied forests and white-sand beaches.
Camping costs in Nova Scotia can vary depending on the type of campsite and amenities offered. On average, you can expect to pay between CAD $20 to $45 per night for a basic tent or RV site in a provincial park. Prices may be higher for private campgrounds with additional amenities such as showers, electricity, and Wi-Fi. Keep in mind that prices can also fluctuate based on the season and availability. For more information on camping options in Nova Scotia, visit Nova Scotia's official tourism website.
Yes, there is free camping in Nova Scotia. You can find free, dispersed camping in Crown lands, which are public lands managed by the provincial government. These sites are typically primitive, without facilities or amenities, and campers must follow Leave No Trace principles. Note that some Crown land areas may have restrictions or require permits, so it's essential to check with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry for the most up-to-date information on specific locations.
In Nova Scotia, camping rules and regulations may vary depending on whether you are camping in a provincial park, national park, or on private land. Here are some general guidelines to follow when camping in Nova Scotia:
Always check the specific rules and regulations of the campground or park you are visiting, as additional rules may apply depending on the location.
Yes, wild camping (also known as dispersed or backcountry camping) is allowed in certain areas of Nova Scotia. The province is home to numerous provincial parks, wilderness areas, and Crown lands where you can camp for free or with a permit, depending on the location. However, it is essential to follow Leave No Trace principles and camp in designated areas or away from developed sites, trails, and water sources.
Some popular wild camping locations in Nova Scotia include Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and various provincial parks and wilderness areas. Always check with the park or land management agency for specific regulations and guidelines before setting up camp.