Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia owes just as much of its appeal to the land as it does to the sea, as visitors come to explore both. In summer especially, people come to get in touch with nature along the coast, in the national parks, and on the water. Rafting, hiking, and biking are immensely popular activities, as are fishing, whale-watching, and wildlife-spotting. Swimming, however, is not a top draw thanks to the icy Labrador current, which traverses the waters near the island and makes the ocean and the bay too cold to be comfortable; the only exception is in the warm Northumberland Strait. Unlike Prince Edward Island which has more shorefront resorts, Nova Scotia’s beaches are relatively uncrowded, even during the summer.

Nova Scotia Outdoor Activities

Bluenose II

Set sail on this 143-foot schooner – the most famous ship in Nova Scotia. The Bluenose II is a replica of the original Bluenose, which was the fastest sailing vessel in the world in the ‘20s. She currently sails out of her home port of Lunenburg, where she is moored next to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, a museum dedicated to the fishing legacy of Canada’s Atlantic coast.

68 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg, NS, 866-579-4909,
Tags: cruise | sailing | historic | outdoor activity

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

This 600-square-mile national park takes up a good chunk of the northern tip of Nova Scotia, and is packed with forests of spruce and pine conifers, which shelter black bears, moose, and bald eagles. Starting from the Cheticamp Visitors Center, explore the area via the 185-mile Cabot Trail, a famous route that winds near steep drop-offs, offering staggering vistas of the rugged North Atlantic coast line and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, ditch the wheels and give backcountry hiking a try.

Cheticamp Visitors Center, 16650 Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, NS, 902-224-2306,
Tags: hiking | outdoors | wildlife | national park | outdoor activity

Deep Sea Fishing

Nova Scotia has a reputation as an angler's paradise, but don't just take our word for it - see for yourself by heading out into the North Atlantic for a half-day, deep sea fishing excursion on Lunenberg's Islander V. Lunenberg gets you where the fish are and provides the bait, tackle, rods, and reels so that you can focus all of your attention on wresting Cod, Mackerel, Dog Fish, Haddock, Halibut, and even the occasional Blue Shark, from the waters.

Lunenburg Ocean Adventures, Railway Wharf in Downtown Lunenburg, RR# 1, NS, 902-634-4833,
Tags: cruise | wildlife | fishing | outdoor activity

Puffin Boat Tours

This 2.5-hour boat tour is run by puffin doyenne Donelda MacAskill, who has been traversing the Bras d’Or waters off Cape Breton Island for decades in search of wildlife. See puffins, naturally, as well as bald eagles, cormorants, and seals in this often overlooked region.

Tour departs from the Englishtown Wharf, Cape Breton Island, NS, 877-278-3346,
Tags: outdoors | tour | wildlife | outdoor activity

Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Park

This thrilling white-water adventure is not for the faint of heart. Ride the class-four rapids that gush out of the Bay of Fundy into the Shubenascdie River, navigating whirlpools and currents along the way. Expect to get soaked on the motorized raft trip, but you can change clothes and warm up with a cup of coffee and a hot lunch afterwards at the park’s organic cafe. Reserve in advance.

Tidal Bore Rafting Park, 12215 Highway 215, Urbania RR#4, Noel Shore, NS, 800-565-7238,
Tags: adventure | whitewater rafting | outdoor activity

Swimming in the Northumberland Strait

The 15-mile wide Northumberland Strait between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island makes for pleasant swimming, thanks to warm, 72-degree summer water temperatures and calm, shallow waters. The sandy beaches of the Northumberland coast can be easily accessed by following the scenic “Sunrise Trail” driving route, which starts in Amherst. The best beaches are located in protected provincial parks, including Melmerby Beach, Rushton Beach, Pomquet beach, and Heather Beach on the Amherst Shore.

Follow the “Sunrise Trail” from its starting point in Amherst, along Provincial Highway 6 and Provincial Highway 4 until you see signs for the beaches., Western Coast, NS, 888-544-3434,
Tags: beach | outdoors | swimming | sports | outdoor activity

Whale-watching in the Bay of Fundy

During the summer, the Bay of Fundy is one of the best places in the world to spot Humpback, Finback, and Minke whales, who come for the abundance of plankton in the water. Board one of Mariner Cruises’s charming fishing vessels for a whale-watching expedition. In addition to watching the playful creatures, an experienced naturalist provides informative insights along the way. Be sure to reserve early, as cruises book quickly during the summer season.

Brier Island, Digby Neck, NS, 800-239-2189,
Tags: cruise | wildlife | adventure | whale watching | outdoor activity

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