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.