Thursday, January 26, 2017

Top 5 places to visit in Nova Scotia - in 3 days

Travelling. It leaves you speechless. Then turns you into a storyteller. - Ibn Battuta

An Evening in Bay of Fundy - Nova Scotia

There are certain places in the world, the beauty of which cannot be described with images of any resolution or words of any language. You simply have to witness them through your own eyes. Nova Scotia is one such place.


Every province in Canada has a lot to offer. A lot more than you can cover in one trip. Nova Scotia with its miles long coastline along the majestic Atlantic ocean, wildlife and breathtaking trails is no exception to that rule.This maritime province is flooded with natural beauty, greenery and culture. If you are a photography enthusiast, you would not have time to breath.

When it comes to choosing a destination for my next travel plan, I gravitate towards one with a lot of natural beauty to explore. Definitely while in Canada, Nova Scotia was bound to be on my list.I shared this wish with a few of my friends who shared the same enthusiasm about travelling to places and boom!!, we were ready to fly. But considering the fact that we could only use long weekends (a weekend with either Monday or Friday as a holiday) for our travel plans, we had a tough call to make. We had to choose what to see from the long list of must see attractions in Nova Scotia. Here's a quick list for your reference:

Must see attractions:

  1. Halifax
  2. Peggy's Cove
  3. Lunenburg
  4. Bay of Fundy
  5. Cape Breton Highlands National park
Looking at the list superficially, one may think that the list is small, but let me stop you right there. These are just names. Each of it is a reservoir of  beautiful attractions and not to miss sites/activities in itself. Nova Scotia is one such place where any trip will feel short. But probably a weeks trip should be good if you would like to experience Nova Scotia as a traveller.

Must do activities:

  1. Whale watching
  2. Tidal bore rafting 
  3. Witnessing the world's highest tides in Bay of Fundy.
  4. Cabot Trail
  5. Hiking/biking/kayaking/canoeing 

Elimination Round/choosing what we can afford to miss:

Each and every place listed above offers a unique experience and hence is kind of a must. It was nearly impossible to play favorite between them. But then we had limited money and time and exactly one driver. This helped us narrow down our choices. We had to come up with a set of places we could cover in one trip spanning 3 days and 4 nights including the time to travel from Toronto to Nova Scotia.

The Province of Nova Scotia can be broadly seen as two parts: The mainland and the Cape Breton island. While Halifax, Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg and Bay of Fundy are located on the mainland, the island is home to the great Cabot Trail. Both of them cannot be covered in a single 3 day trip. Its either mainland or the island. We chose mainland because it involved less driving and we were particularly fascinated by the Bay of Fundy.

If you choose to go to Mainland, there are flights from Toronto Pearson airport as well as the Billy Bishop Island airport to Halifax. If you are planning to go to the Cape Breton Island instead, the better option would be to choose to land in Sydney (Nova Scotia not Australia).

Our Itinerary

Our Nova Scotia Itinerary

What's Interesting

The Flight

We were excited even before we reached Halifax as we had chosen to start from the iconic Billy Bishop (BB) Island airport. This is the beautiful island airport easily accessible from downtown Toronto. The flight was decent but really enjoyable for us because it was first time for all of us to fly from BB.

Billy Bishop Airport Toronto and CN tower in the shadow 😊

Halifax ( Morning to late night)

No matter if you are a strolling kind like me, a night owl, no actually a bat (Bat is my brand ambassador), or a history buff, you will find plentiful in Halifax.

They call it a walk-able city. After living in a big city like Toronto for a while when we visited Halifax, it felt charming and it was indeed walk-able. We experienced most of Halifax on our feet. After having an early stomach full breakfast buffet at the downtown hotel we stayed at, we headed for the tour on foot. Strolling around the city downtown, we visited the old town clock, the Citadel and other buildings around downtown before we had an Indian buffet lunch. I don't remember what we had in lunch though. Forgive me for that. Will ya?

The Old Town Clock

As the Park's Canada site says, the Citadel delivers history with a bang! The noon gun is a not to miss attraction. I don't know at this moment how I can share the heavy video on this blog. (An action item for me)

The bats have no reason to be disappointed either. The Lower Deck is just a place to go. Here you can meet locals, dance to the ever running stream of loud music and enjoy a local brew.

After the relaxing day at Halifax, we headed for the next big thing. Peggy's cove.

Peggy's Cove (3 Hours)

Peggy's cove - Most photographed in North America - rightly so.

The treacherous tides of the deep blue ocean crashing on the beautiful rocks at the Peggy's cove will keep you stunned for hours. The roughly three hours that we spent here felt like minutes. I don't have more words to describe it and hope that the picture says it all.

If you have visited a lighthouse by the ocean before, you know exactly what to expect. Having said that, when you visit this one, you will know why this is the most photographed place in North America.

I had something at the Sou'wester Restaurant which probably did not go as expected. I think it was boiled salmon and I am not a seafood lover. Still I tried it because I was not sure when I will get another chance of having a fish by the Atlantic. But the famous Nova Scotia Haddock Fish and Chips would mostly be a good try if you are a seafood lover. One of us had it and I guess enjoyed it.

Lunenburg (Roughly 1 day)

Lunenburg with its colourful houses

This UNESCO world heritage site is known for its vibrant and colourful homes. Driving through it's narrow streets overlooking beautiful houses and farmer's markets we reached our destination - the whale watching centre.

The whale watching experience is absolutely breathtaking, weather you see a whale or not. Experiencing the waves miles into the ocean when you cannot see any shore has no match from land. The waves that we peacefully appreciate from the shore take the form of giant beasts with tremendous power. You can feel the overwhelming power of a wave when it gulps your entire boat carrying at least 40 people and throws you right back as if it does not care for your tiny existence. And yes, all this when the weather report says that the ocean is calm. The thought that how tiny and vulnerable you are haunts you. But after all when you see how comfortably the whales of a size of a truck roam around and how the seagulls coexist with them, you are rendered speechless.

Whales playing in the ocean

After this amazing experience, on our way to Bay of Fundy, we grabbed all the food we would need for this and the next day. It's hard to find anything at the Bay.

Bay of Fundy (Plan to be at the bay in the evening, early morning and noon)

This one is my personal favorite and at least according to me the star of the trip. One of the 7 wonders of North America and home to the highest tides in the world, it is also one of the natural wonders of the world. This is the place where you can get a feel of the daily movements of the mother earth.

Every 6 hours the bay fills and empties billions of tonnes of water due to the tidal effects. This causes the sea bed to be exposed and immersed in deep water every 6 hours. While at times you can walk on the sea bed, at other times you may have to take a boat.

The Bay of Fundy is large and there are a lot of places on the bay where you can stay.

We had booked Shangri-La cottage at one such location which was at the heart of all the water activity. All I can say about this cottage is that I would definitely recommend it to who ever consults me.

The Shangri-La cottage we stayed at

After spending an extremely relaxing evening at the camp fire by the cottage by the most amazing bay on earth, we woke up early in the morning to see the tidal effects at 6 AM while the sea bed was still visible and then at noon when the bay was almost filled with the water and had already started getting empty for the next emptying session. At this moment you can observe waves coming from both directions. An effect similar to the one seen when we shake a glass of water.

Bay of Fundy- Half way empty

Bay of Fundy - Full

After relaxing in the afternoon, we snail speed drove on the serpentine roads with no one in site except miles of farmlands, sheep and occasional scarecrows to the Shubenacadie river. I guess you can do tidal bore rafting around Shubenacadie. If you have time, I guess there are a lot of activities you can do here.We just stayed there for some time, did some hiking and headed back to the Halifax airport saying good bye to the wonderful times and the province of Nova Scotia.

What's left

Cape Breton island with attractions like the world famous Cabot Trail, the Fortress of Louisbourg, wildlife and innumerable hiking trails is definitely a must go and is on my list already. It has a lot of unique adventure to offer. I will create an Itinerary for it when I have experienced it.

Please let me know if this itinerary was helpful and I will share more such itineraries as I travel more.

As usual, comments/appreciation/criticism (a constructive one of course) everything is most welcome and appreciated.

Until then,
Happy Learning!
Banyan Bat

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