Almost completely surrounded by water, the province of Nova Scotia—a lobster claw-shaped peninsula with adjacent islands—is deeply connected to all things ocean. From its rich maritime history and fishing traditions to the abundant marine life off of its shores, a trip to Nova Scotia (Latin for “new Scotland”) is like returning to an easier, simpler way of life, with unforgettable adventures for every sort of traveler.
Here’s why to put Nova Scotia on your bucket list.
Charming Small Towns
Nova Scotia’s seven regions are dotted with picturesque small towns, many just a short drive from the capital of Halifax. One of the most famous is Peggy’s Cove—an early 19th-century fishing village with an iconic lighthouse (one of more than 160 in the province). Take a morning boat tour to get a unique perspective of this working fishing village and lighthouse.
Then wander the streets of the well-preserved 18th-century village of Mahone Bay; take a photo of the famed Three Churches and peruse its artisan boutiques for hand-crafted pewter, rugs, and jewelry. And don’t miss the rainbow-colored homes in Victorian Old Town Lunenburg—a former shipbuilding center so well-preserved it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out a replica of the famous 1921 Bluenose racing schooner and learn about what life was like on the open sea at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.
A Rich History For a deep dive into Nova Scotia’s rich maritime roots, plan to spend at least a day in its capital port city of Halifax. Visit the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21—the Ellis Island of Canada—to see where hundreds of thousands of immigrants took their first steps on Canadian soil. Right on the harbor, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is Canada’s oldest and largest maritime museum and a must-see for sea lovers. You’ll find exhibits tracing the area’s boat-building industry and dozens of items recovered from the Titanic, which sank just 700 nautical miles east.
And stop by the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site—the star-shaped military fort overlooking the city and harbor, which honors the founding of the town by the British in 1749. Arrive on the hour to watch the pageantry of the changing of the sentry guards.
Unique Water Experiences Nova Scotia’s gorgeous waters make for singularly unique adventures. You’ll find the world’s highest tides at the Bay of Fundy, where the tides here can reach up to 52 feet (!). And at low tide, you can walk along the ocean’s floor at Burntcoat Head Park.
For high-adrenaline fun, go tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacade River. Hop into a Zodiac and ride the Shubenacade River’s thrilling, 10-foot-high waves that reverse direction when the tide from the Bay of Fundy changes. And don’t miss some of the planet’s best whale-watching, thanks to more than a dozen different species. Go out from the Bay of Fundy to look for the rare right whale, or leave from near Cape Breton, where pods of Atlantic pilot and minke whales are known to congregate.
Gorgeous Trails and Parks Discover moose, bald eagles, and scenery galore. Start with one of the world’s most beautiful drives, the coastal Cabot Trail, which weaves through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Stop at Skyline Trail for a scenic hike that overlooks the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where you may see whales in the waters below.
Over in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, you’ll find dramatic ocean views and 33 miles of trails over deep valleys and through sheltered coves along the Bay of Fundy coastline. And Kejimkujik National Park boasts historic paddling routes, hiking and cycling trails, and 10,000-year-old petroglyphs left by the Mi’kmaq First Nation. At night, gaze up at a sky full of stars and discover why the area was designated a Dark Sky Preserve.
Fresh Lobster and Seafood From famous Atlantic lobster to sweet and delicate Digby scallops, Nova Scotia is known for its fresh, locally sourced seafood. Go on a real lobster boat with a fisherman and learn how to set and check traps, then enjoy a true sea-to-table lobster dinner. Several operators offer boat tours with dinner, including Peggy’s Cove Boat Tours in Peggy’s Cove, Sea-to-Table Lobster Adventure in Lower Prospect, and Lobster Fisher for a Day in Charlos Cove.
Or hit Nova Scotia’s Lobster Trail, with 48 stops along the way. If seafood chowder’s your thing, there’s a trail for that, too, stretching from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.
For even more reasons to make beautiful Nova Scotia your next getaway, visit NovaScotia.com.