Disembark after a flight of less than 7 hours and look for whales, wild hills and unique festivals. Tuning into the land, you’re invited to hike, cycle and drive. You’ll want to kick back and dance, sing along with the Celtic vibe, slide in the mud like a child and taste wine from frozen grapes.
Like Gordon Lightfoot and Catherine MacKinnon's recordings of the song, ‘Farewell to Nova Scotia,’ you will be seduced by the charismatic, rugged charm of Canada’s Eastern maritime province. And, like the sailor in the lyrics, you too will be sad to leave its shores.
These are just five of the diverse reasons why Nova Scotia enchants us.
As the might of a whale breaches, then powerfully wallops the water – your memory is imprinted, forever. No-one ever regretted seeing a whale.
Where can I go from? The Bay of Fundy and Cape Breton are prime spots from which to take a whale watching tour boat.
What species can I hope to see? Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, North Atlantic Right Whale, Finback Whale.
Best times to spot whales? June to September
The Cabot Trail by Motorcycle (or car or bike)
A place that should be on everyone’s bucket list is Cape Breton Island for its spectacular coastal views, its golf, artisan shops National Park and astounding 186-mile highway. It is reputed to be one of the top motorcycle routes in the world.
Do I have to do the whole trail? No, if you’re motoring then you may well drive the full length, however you can choose to cycle or hike any of the 26 trails in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. If you travel in September you can take part in guided hikes as part of the Hike the Highlands Festival.
What else can I expect from The Cabot Trail? Food and culture – in huge amounts! There are festivals celebrating Celtic musicians such as the Celtic Colours International Festival each October. There are also regular ceilidhs and square dances where you’ll be warmly welcomed. The Cabot Trail also has its own seafood trail and there are foodie cooking classes and a Good Cheer Trail for those who love their microbreweries!
Nova Scotia Wineries
Nova Scotia has perfect weather and soil conditions to grow grapes that become character-rich wines. How many wineries are there? It is home to 16 vineyards, run by passionate individuals.
Can I visit and sample the wine? Oh yes! In the lush Annapolis Valley, between May and October, you can take an organised wine tour. This will most likely take in other attractions such as the famous Bay of Fundy with its high tides, rugged cliffs and numerous seabirds. An afternoon ‘Tasters’ Tour’ will take you to three unique wineries with a guide and a picnic.
Can I make my own way there? Of course! If you have transport you can follow the trails yourself. If you don’t then hop on the Magic Winery Bus which operates four days a week from June to about mid October.
What is Nova Scotia Ice Wine? Ice wine, known as Liquid Luxury, is made from grapes harvested whilst the temperature is -8°C or below. The frozen grapes are often picked at night and pressed before they thaw to preserve the concentrated sugars and acid. The result is the sweetest, most flavoursome nectar!
As you begin your walk along the waterfront of the historic port of Halifax, you’d be advised to first of all get acquainted with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. A gateway for 1 million people who became Canadian.
What else will I find here? World class shopping, galleries, superb restaurants, outdoor harbor cafes and timber framed houses. Also be sure to visit the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market.
What about the relationship with the ocean? This is strong. Look out for the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which features an extensive Titanic exhibition that chronicles the city's relationship with the famous liner. Learn about privateers (legalized pirates) and pop into the Lower Deck Pub for a lively vibe with music. Halifax is a buzzing and modern with a strong sense of history.
Tidal Bore Rafting & mud-sliding
Twice a day, every day, 160 billion tons of water makes its way in and out of the Bay of Fundy. It creates the highest tide in the world – a wall as tall as a four-storey building.
Can I really surf a wave that high? Well maybe not multi-storey apartment height, but you can feel the rush of riding waves eight feet high as the tide flows along the Shubenacadie River. Your raft will allow you to accompany the surge in this water-roller-coaster thrill – not to be missed!
Mud-sliding? Are you serious? Sure! There’s nothing more childlike than climbing up to slide down. At places, such as the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort, you are invited to scream down in the mud – remember to bring a change of clothes – this is messy!
Do I have to get wet? Not if you don’t want to. There are viewing platforms, even points with restaurants where you can watch the might of the bore as the torrent crashes in from the ocean.