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Maritimes in 9 Nights

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My husband and I (mid 30's) are planning a trip to Nova Scotia at the end of July / beginning of August. We have 9 nights & plan to rent a car at the airport. We are hoping to do a trip filled with outdoor adventures i.e. hiking, kayaking, swimming. Cabot Trail is a definite.

Originally I thought we'd do:
-Halifax 2 nights incl. day trips possibly to Lunenburg, Peggy's Cove, tidal bore rafting in Shubenacadie River
-Cabot Trail 4 nights
-PEI 3 nights

I should say my favourite vacations have been active ones (I don't do well hanging out on the beach for more than a few hours). I should also mention I am a huge Anne of Green Gables fan & hear that PEI is beautiful, but not sure of all there is do there. I don't play golf. Having said that, after days of hiking, this could be a nice end to a vacation.

Upon reading lots about the Bay of Fundy, I am contemplating including this, but not sure if we have enough time. I am thinking a max of 3 locations -- Cabot Trail is a must, so I am trying to figure out the other 2. We could do a trip incl. Bay of Fundy & stay in St. Andrews by the Sea.

Another scenario:
3 - St. Andrews by the Sea
2 - PEI
4 - Cabot Trail

I would love any advice on what is a must. It sounds like there is simply too much beauty to pack into 9 days....so it's a scenario of 3 locations, 3 nights each or possibly even doing just 2 locations. We are fine to do a couple of days where we have to drive, but do not want to be in our car every waking moment. We plan to book a multi-city flight from Toronto i.e. could arrive in Halifax and fly out of Charlottetown or arrive in Halifax & fly out of Sydney, NS.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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    I like either plan. Cabot Trail is the highlight for sure but you will probably love it all.
    Do you like biking? PEI has great cycling-my daughter and her husband cycled tip to tip for their honeymoon and loved it (although it rained every day that year)

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    Yes, nine days just isn't enough time for more than two provinces. If picking up a rental car from one city and departing from another, you may want to find out what the rental cost is. Plus it is much more expensive to fly out of Charlottetown or Sydney than Halifax.

    I know you said you wanted to keep it to three centres. There isn't a whole lot to do on PEI if you don't enjoy the beaches or golf. You can drive across the province in a couple of hours.

    Having said that, you could do a couple of things. Spend the two nights in Halifax with a day trip along the South Shore. Just outside of Halifax in St. Margaret's Bay, you can do sea kayaking tours.

    From Halifax head towards Parrsboro and Cape Chignecto http://www.capechignecto.net/trails/index.htmPark . Spend the night at the Cape D'or Lighthouse http://capedor.ca/ You will experience the tides along the Bay of Fundy, similar to in New Brunswick. I would then head across Confederation Bridge to PEI. Anne of Green Gables, Cavendish, is a twenty minute drive from the City of Charlottetown. Cavendish has a national park with beautiful beaches and is more of the "touristy" part of the island with water parks, etc.

    head to NS via the ferry. You will arrive in Caribou, and from there, you are about a two hour drive to the entrance of Cape Breton Island. This should give you three days to explore the trail giving time to hike.

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    you need to downsize your plans or find more days. if pei is a must see (never quite got that whole green gables thing)...arrive in halifax and spend two nights, drive the confederation bridge to pei and spend 2 nights around the rustico/cavandish area. i highly recommend going to greenwich national park. it's a beautiful walk and the beach at the end is gorgious. bring LOTS of water. it's a very hot walk...no shade...but worth it. then take the ferry from pei to nova scotia. it arrives by pictou. the beach at caribou/munroes is nice. you could stay in pictou for the night and then head off to the cabot trail for as many nights as you can and then return to halifax.

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    In regards to Tanyalynn’s comment above that there is not a lot to PEI if you dont like beaches or golfing and that it only takes a few hours to drive across-that may be her opinion. I have visited PEI many times and it is a beautiful and serene place with lovely rolling farmland, great local festivals (like the Oyster festival) , friendly people and great food, beautiful scenery. It would take a long day to drive from tip to tips. I think it would even take more than a few hours to drive on over the bridge and drive off on to the ferry without seeing any part of the island.

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    Hi rayofsun ,

    I'd say your original itinerary is doable but have a look into doing an open-jaw visit(arrive Halifax/depart Sydney). Air Canada and West Jet have service to and from Toronto out of Sydney and if the fare differential/rental car drop-off fee isn't onerous, I'd suggest this routing (PEI's roughed-in: I haven't been there myself)

    http://bit.ly/Halifax-PEI-Sydney

    This way, you could take your time and have as little duplication of driving as possible. As far as the Cabot Trail is concerned, unless you're taking a day off to whale watch or some such 3 days would be plenty.

    HTH
    u

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    PEI IS a beautiful and serene place with lovely rolling farmland... but based on the time constraints listed by the OP, PEI does not merit '3 nights'.

    And with all things considered, I'd definitely stick with the idea of flying into and out of Halifax.

    One might even negotiate with herself to spend just one night on PEI, with the other allocated to the Moncton, NB area for its strategic location relative to Hopewell Cape. (it's 100 miles (2 hrs) from Charlottetown to Moncton)

    So how about (2 nights total on PEI and/or Moncton, NB)... 3 nights on Cape Breton, and perhaps 4 nights in Halifax?? (use the first one immediately upon arrival, to get the lay of the land, and to maximize your time during the last 3 nights there, on the end of the trip)

    That frees up actual days for the day trips that would include Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg, and another for either white water river rafting OR maybe a hike on Cape Split... and to see the impressive tides in the Bay. (the hike or the river rafting could be done enroute from one of your other destinations back toward Halifax, thus saving further time/gas)

    Hope this helps. I've offered plenty more in other NS/maritimes threads - click on my name if you want to read various specifics.

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    Thank you so much to all who replied with great suggestions.

    I have a few more questions before I am ready to book my trip.

    What is the travel time if driving from Ingonish to the ferry in Pictou to Charlottetown?

    Re: Cape Breton, I've heard people do nights on one part of the trail & move onto another ie we were going try to stay 4 nights at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, but I hear Baddeck is also a good entry way to Cabot trail.  What do you think about staying one location vs. two (to see more of the island)?  I imagine we will do one hike each day we're there & then want to relax.

    I know a few of you recommended flying in & out of Halifax and I wanted to better understand why (if I am able to fly out of Sydney or Charlottetown? I was hoping to cut at least one 1/2 day of driving by flying out from a different airport.

    Here are the options for itineraries:

    Plan A (no New Brunswick):
    Halifax - 2 nights - with day trips to Lunenberg & Peggy's Cove
    Cape Breton, Cabot Trail - 4-5 nights
    PEI - 2 nights

    OR

    Plan B (Save Cape Breton for the end):
    Halifax - 2 nights - with day trips to Lunenberg & Peggy's Cove (& possibly add a night in Cape d'Or & see the Bay of Fundy from the Nova Scotia side?)
    PEI - 2 nights
    Cape Breton, Cabot Trail - 4 nights

    OR

    Plan C (Skip Halifax):
    St. Andrew's by the Sea - Bay of Fundy - 3 nights (heard this area is great for kayaking)
    PEI - 2 nights
    Cape Breton - 4 nights

    Thanks again for any thoughts!!

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    Whoa, gotta admit, I got lost earlier... upon reading the post right before mine, it was lost on me that the O.P. had already talked of an open jaws trip.

    Once somebody is open to the idea of an Open Jaws trip, then I approve. I'm always of the frame of mind to do Cape Breton first, so that would likely entail going to Sydney right off the bat (be sure to factor in both airfare AND rental car one-way costs into comparisons).

    I'm a bit sad to imagine those three options listed above as the only options, and skipping Halifax sounds so unfortunate. The most unique thing about Nova Scotia IS that it's not on the way to anywhere, and thus it isn't overrun by society. When would you ever get back to see Halifax if you didn't do so this time?

    I don't know the constraints in terms of when you can get flights to Sydney, but I'd be inclined to want to fly there first, and visit the Cabot Trail right off the bat. For it being so handy, maybe go ahead and roll the dice with a night (or even two) scheduled for Ingonish. Indeed you wouldn't have to allocate a whole day on the ground to merely getting there... AND you might save a few bucks on gas.

    I WONDER IF, for getting right TO it, you could allocate just the two nights to Cape Breton, and then maybe the 3rd night at Pictou, taking the ferry the next day. Suddenly you're on PEI without too much ground travel under your feet.

    And OK, if Anne of Green Gables is right up there for you, then stay two nights on PEI... and leave via the $44.50 toll bridge, and make a point of going to Hopewell Cape... timing will dictate whether and where you'd need to stay a night, before getting back via Truro to Halifax.

    If time permits, I like the pleasant drive between Parrsboro and Truro, in spots, and heck, maybe even a night at Cape D'or if the timing were perfect. (maybe the TIDE TABLES {for Hopewell Cape} will dictate a lot)

    So far I have

    1. Ingonish
    2. Ingonish
    3. Pictou
    4. PEI
    5. PEI
    6. possibly Cape D'or (if tides and other things were PERFECT)

    so then, nights 7, 8, and 9 would be Halifax.



    It's 125 miles - 2 hours 40 minutes from Charlottetown to Hopewell Cape, with just the first 35 miles on empty, rolling highways on PEI.

    Low tide at Hopewell Cape isn't until 3pm local time on August 1, and I'd prefer it be earlier. If you were, say, "on approach" and getting to Hopewell Cape @ maybe 2pm, you could know that the tide was heading out, and you could frolic on the sand without concern.

    It's 2 1/2 hours - 116 miles, to drive from Hopewell Cape to Advocate Harbour (Cape D'or).

    Sunset on August 1 is at 8:45 local time, so there is time to make the passage from low tide at Hopewell Cape, to Cape D'or before sunset. And you'd certainly get to witness your share of country livin' along the way.

    Additionally, you'd be in great stead for my advised path from Parrsboro to Truro.

    Upon reaching Halifax, a day trip to Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg would certainly be in order, and the rest of your time in the city would go comfortably and quickly. (see about taking the passenger ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth, just for kicks).

    Food for thought.

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    Thanks again to all, especially NorthwestMale for your thoughtful replies!

    We decides to cut down on some of the driving. We booked our flight flying into Sydney & out of Charlottetown. We're doing 4 nights on the Cabot Trail & 3 nights PEI. We will do Hali & NB on another trip.

    We plan to book our accommodations within the next few days & would any suggestions. I wanted to ask if you know anything about staying on the other side of Cape Breton island (ie Pleasant Bay & Cheticamp) in terms of seeing more of the island? If you think Baddeck & Ingonish are good options...I think we're looking at Inverary Resort & Keltic Lodge. The other option would be finding a cottage/waterfront property rental for 4 nights & stay in one place.

    In terms of cutting down on travel to PEI, I thought it may make sense to start in Ingonish & end in Baddeck to cut down on the travel day to take the ferry across to PEI (we may save an hour).

    Lastly, if anyone knows of specific must do hiking trails & kayak excursions...we'd love some thoughts.

    Greenwich park in PEI sounds great too...

    Thanks in advance :)

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    Let me say, that much of the reason for repeatedly mentioning "Baddeck" as a spot for overnight base camp on Cape Breton is its relatively central location, which is more significant to those arriving via somewhere other than the Sydney airport. (if you have to drive in from Halifax, or from New Brunswick, it's just nice to reach your lodging and plop-down on a first night, with ideal plan and contingency plan in place for the next day, as well as to have a good jump on heading off to the rest of the Maritimes on your last night in a spot like Baddeck).

    Flying into Sydney, you're already up there, so it's a little easier to roll the dice on clear weather on the Cabot Trail.

    IF you're doing "4 nights" on the Cabot Trail, well, you can't bungle the weather that many times in a row, can you??

    It's only 90 miles or two hours from Ingonish to Sydney, so you surely can day-trip spots on the east side of Cape Breton if you want to. Also, it just isn't that far to places like Cheticamp, so aside from the possibility of one night there (or farther south, Inverness? Mabou?) on your way out toward PEI, I think that if Ingonish suits you, then you might do well to stay there for at least 3 nights.

    (side note: Much of the NS driving just doesn't zoooooom by merely for your wanting it to, or for being behind where you wanted to be).

    And I've gotta say, the first thing that ever drew my interest about Nova Scotia was the tides, so it sorta (goes against my vibes) to be spending a week in the Maritimes without even SEEING the Bay of Fundy.

    I still nominate the idea of a ONE-DAY trip from PEI down to Hopewell Cape (timed for low tide). Otherwise, with 3 days on PEI, you might be able to make quite a dent in covering every single surface road they have.

    And I know that to merely be "watching the tides" is the mark of a lazy person in most corners, but that simply does not apply in the Bay of Fundy.

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