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New Brunswick & Nova Scotia Trip Report

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We just returned home from one week in New Brunswick & Nova Scotia. We went to visit family but managed to fit sighseeing in too. We are lucky enough to spend a lot of our time traveling, but usually travel to more exotic locales. We were pleasantly suprised by the number of activites, the friendly people, and the beautiful sights.

We flew from Vancouver to Moncton (through Toronto) on August 21. It was an all day affair and makes you appreciate how large Canada really is. We arrived about 7:30pm and picked up a rental car from Avis. We left Moncton and drove to Alma, which is about an hour and a half away on the Bay of Fundy. We stayed at the Falcon Ridge Inn for two nights. It had a great view and delicious breakfast every morning. We decided to stay in Alma so we could be closer to the sights we wanted to see and so we could spend more time in the area. I would definately recommend this over staying in Moncton and driving in for the day.

On our first day in the area we slept in a bit and had a leisurely morning because of the time change. We took our time driving from Alma up to Hopewell rocks, with a stop at Cape Enrage on the way. The route is very scenic and the lighthouse at the Cape is worth a visit. There is also an opportunity to do kayaking or rappelling. We decided to book rappelling for the next day. We continued uo to Hopewell Rocks and arrived just before low tide. We spent about two hours exploring the ocean floor and walking amongst the rocks. The area was beautiful, and very different from the West Coast. As we planned our trip for the end of the season it also wasn't very busy which made for great photographs. The Hopewell Rocks has a very good Interpretive Centre and a restaurant where we had a late lunch. Baymount adventures also has an office on the grounds where they arrange kayaking trips. The trip at evening high tide was booked so we booked a trip at 8 the next morning. We headed back to Alma in the late afternoon and stopped at some of the covered bridges along the way. We also headed into Fundy National Park and spent some time driving through. The scenery was beautiful.

Day two saw us up early to make it back to Hopewell Rocks for our kayak trip at 8 am. Jet lag was still getting the best of us, but once we got on the water it was great. All of the kayaks were doubles and the guides were very helful and informtive. We have kayaked before but beginners would also have done well. I would highly recommend a kayak trip because it was a great opportunity to explore the rocks at high tide. It gave us a whole different perspective, and our group of about 10 kayaks were the only ones on the water. We spent about an hour and a half on the water and the guides told us about the history of the area, the tides, and the processes that created the rock formations. After kayaking we headed back to Cape Enrage for our rappelling. The rappelling was done just down from the lighthouse on a 140 foot cliff. You get suited up and given a quick safety lesson. The guides hold on to a safety harness so you can't get into any trouble. I thought I would be more nervous but most of the time you are looking straight at the cliff face and not looking down. Once you are on the ground it is a long climb back up to the top of the cliff. We left Cape Enrage in the late afternoon, and stopped off quickly at the Waterside Winery which is nearby. You can sample their Blueberry and Rhubarb wines. After that we headed off to Halifax. The drive was easy and took us about four hours. We arrived about 8pm and checked into the Westin.

I would not recommend staying at this hotel, as we had problems with the service in the restaurant and with management resolving other issues. It was also a little out of the way from the main attractions being near the train station and Pier 21. The Sheraton Four Points or Courtyard Marriott looked nice and were a few blocks closer in.

For the first two days of the trip the weather was beautiful, but day three we awoke to rain. We decided to take the Harbour Hopper which is an amphibious vehicle which takes you on a tour of the city and then drives into the water and takes you on a tour of the harbour. It was covered but we still got drenched. The commentary was informative and it gave you a good overview of the city. After the tour we visited the historic properties on the waterfront to look in the shops, and then went on Alexander Keith's brewery tour. The tour was conducted by actors in period dress and gave us the history of the brewery which dates to the 1800's, as well as talked about the brewing process. At the end of the tour you get two pints of beer, which makes the $15 price well worth it if you are a drinker. We're not beer drinkers but still enjoyed it. That evening we drove out to Eastern Passage which is about a half hour from downtown. The hotel had recommended a restaurant called Wharf Wraps for a lobster dinner. It was definately less touristy than restaurants downtown and the food was great. If you have a car it is definately worth a trip.

Day four saw the weather improve, but we had fog that morning. We started the day off at the Citadel which is a fort dating back to the early days of the British colony. It has great views of the city, and lots of information about Halifax from the 1700's on. There are costumed guides in army gear and guards in kilts as well. From the citadel we walked to the botanic gardens which are very well kept. We then walked back down Spring Garden Road to the hotel, stopping at an old cemetary. This is one of the oldest cemetaries in Halifax and is well kept. It is neat to read the inscriptions as many were quite detailed in telling you about the person. That afternoon we were off to visit family.

Day five also saw us awake to fog. We had been putting off a day trip to Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg waiting for good weather, but this was our last possibility. The fog actually helped contribute to the mood so it turned out well. We stopped in Peggy's Cove, Chester, and Mahone Bay on route to Lunenberg. The villages along route 3 are very small and picturesque with many small craft shops to browse in. We arrived in Lunenberg in time for a late lunch, and just as the Bluenose II was returning to port. You can walk onto the ship for free and get up close to everything - it was beautiful. After a few hours in town we drove back to Halifax on highway 103 which is faster but less picturesque. That night for dinner we went to Cafe Chianti which was across the street from our hotel. It had good Italian food and I would definately recommend it.

For our last day of the trip we had booked tidal bore rafting. This is done on a river near the Bay of Fundy, which meant we had to drive about an hour and fifteen minutes out of Halifax. We used Shubenacadie River Runners for this excursion. They are located near Maitland. Because the tides are so high on the Bay of Fundy, the height of the water in nearby rivers swings dramatically with high and low tides. When it is high tide the water in the river rises quickly. When it starts coming in it washes over sandbars in the river and creates a series of rapids. We were suited up with rain gear to help cut down on the wind chill, but you get soaked no matter what you wear. Our group of seven were in our own zodiac boat with a driver. The zodiacs are equipped with an outboard motor so you don't need to paddle like white water rafting. No one in our group got thrown out of the boat, but we did get hit by some pretty large waves. The experience lasted about two hours and we went through four sets of rapids. As the water rises the rapids subside becasue the sand bars disappear. At the end of the trip there was time for a quick swim which was somewhat difficult in our full gear. Our group, which ranged in age from 14 to 60, really enjoyed this and I would definately recommend it. The drive back to Halifax was very scenic through rolling farmland. That evening we visited family for the last time and got packed up and ready for our early morning flight.

We left Halifax at 7 am and connected back to Vancouver through Toronto. With the time change this meant we were home by noon. All in all it was a great trip.

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