Ever since Leif Erikson set foot on Canada’s Atlantic shore over a thousand years ago, this breathtaking coastline has captivated explorers, naturalists, and lovers of the great outdoors.
We have rounded up the top seven things to see and do in this wild and beautiful part of North America.
The Bay of Fundy was designated one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature in North America”. High praise indeed from a continent that boasts The Grand Canyon.
It experiences the highest tides in the world, the rarest whales and a plethora of fossils – so, not surprisingly, has been a haven for scientists, thrill seekers, and naturalists for many years.
The bay is situated between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the adjacent Fundy National Park offers 120 km of walking and hiking trails.
The Bay of Fundy and its adjacent landscapes form a unique region in its geological formations, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and cultural heritage, as well as its variety of rural communities and urban areas give it the designation of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Communities are working together to achieve a great level of sustainability while conserving the area’s natural heritage.
The freshest oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, crab, halibut and salmon make Atlantic Canada a haven for seafood lovers. The region is especially known for its lobster.
All along this coastline, you will find restaurants – from fine dining to beach shacks – serving up local lobster that’s as fresh as it’s possible to get and not still underwater.
Notable dining experiences include:
The Five Fishermen, Halifax
A good wine list and a local Lobster Pot Pie as well as all the classics.
Taste the Town, Charlottetown
A gastronomic walking tour of historic Charlottetown. Lobster rolls, oysters, beer and mussels.
Sims Corner, Prince Edward Island
A steakhouse and oyster bar offering fresh whole local lobster, and a decadent lobster mac and cheese.
Lobster Tales, New Brunswick
Take part in an interactive lobster-themed cruise. An unforgettable culinary experience on the warm waters of Shediac Bay.
Sansome’s Seafood Restaurant, Newfoundland & Labrador
Crack into a succulent lobster while relaxing on an ocean-side deck. If you’re lucky, you might even see a whale or iceberg pass by.
The Bay between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is a lush feeding ground for a variety of whales, including humpbacks, minke, pilot, fin, and the endangered North Atlantic Right whale, with only 350 remaining on the planet. In Nova Scotia, visitors can experience the power of the tides by meeting and riding the bore in a zodiac boat. Whale watching tours are also available throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Atlantic Canada is also home to dolphins, seals, millions of seabirds and more. From land, visitors can spot puffins and other seabirds, moose, black and brown bears, polar bears, deer, caribou and more, all in their natural habitat. All four provinces offer quality wildlife viewing excursions, ideal for nature lovers and photographers.
Joggins Fossil Cliffs is a UNESCO World Heritage site along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Thanks to erosion from the world’s highest tides, these cliffs host the most complete fossil record of life in the Coal Age found anywhere on earth – 100 million years before the dinosaurs.
Another UNESCO site and deservedly so.
Dating to around the year 1000, L’Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed Norse site on mainland North America, settled by Vikings over four centuries before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
The site was pinpointed thanks to the discovery of a small cloak pin in 1968, by archaeologists Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad. Today at the Viking Encampment, you can try your hand at blacksmithing or weaving or listen to stories from the Nordic Sagas. Hat with horns not included.
Discover the stunning beauty of the Island’s North Shore on the seven supervised beaches and over 50 km of hiking and cycling trails in PEI National Park. Enjoy daily learning programs for all ages and learn about Island culture through music and stories at evening campfires. The National Park also features unique cultural resources, notably Green Gables, part of L. M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site, and Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site.
PEI National Park – Greenwich – In 1998, six kilometres of the Greenwich Peninsula were added to the Park to protect unique dune formations, rare plants and animals, as well as archaeological findings dating back 10,000 years. The largest sand dunes on PEI tower above white-sand beaches to create a stunning backdrop for one of Atlantic Canada’s top trail systems. The learning centre’s floor model and multi-media theatre showcase how nature and 10,000 years of settlement have made Greenwich a must-see destination.
The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve is one of only 18 biosphere reserves in the country. Home to a huge range of wildlife including many endangered species, if you’re lucky you could spy a black bear, pine martens, or even a southern flying squirrel or two…
This also is a utopia for star-gazers. The vastness of the reserve, over three million acres, keeps light pollution to the minimum, and allows the Canadian night sky to take centre-stage.
For dedicated astronomers, there are also Dark Sky Preserves in neighbouring provices:
Here’s our pick of holidays for exploring Atlantic Canada:
A fortnight’s holiday exploring this awe-inspiring coastline. This self-driving tour takes in National Parks, UNESCO Heritage Sites, and ancient archaeological wonders. From L’Anse Aux Meadows to icebergs and humpback whales, this is a trip to remember.
Another self-drive holiday, this time focussing on Nova Scotia.
You will start off in Halifax before heading along the coast to the Bay of Fundy. Then a ferry to Prince Edward Island, and up to Cape Breton. This a tour that allows you to take in all that this coastline has to offer – wildlife, whale watching, scrumptious seafood, and fantastic vistas.
On this escorted tour you will benefit from local experts sharing their in-depth knowledge. This eleven-night tour takes in the sights of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island with added gastronomic highlights such as a cruise in Shediac Bay with a lobster feast and a culinary demonstration in one of the best restaurants in Halifax.
This article is sponsored by Canadian Sky – the Canadian Travel Specialists