Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Nova Scotia in 8 days - help with itinerary

Nova Scotia in 8 days - help with itinerary

Old Dec 1st, 2019, 11:43 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,257
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Nova Scotia in 8 days - help with itinerary

I've read quite a bit here and elsewhere online and am still having trouble deciding on a good itinerary for our 8 days in Nova Scotia next September (we arrive on a Friday and leave a week+ later on Sunday, so actually 9 nights). We're an active couple in our early 60s (well, maybe mid- by next September!) and enjoy light hiking, good scenery, quaint towns suitable for strolling, and good food and wine - so I think we're going to the right place! Not really interested in whale watching - we've both done it before and hubby is prone to seasickness. Here's where we'd like to go, but are uncertain how to string it together:

Wolfville - wineries
Tidal bore rafting - this is my husband's idea (despite seasickness!) - but I'm willing to give it a try
Advocate Harbour
Cape Breton

We plan to rent a car, and we could head straight to Lunenburg from the airport for the first first night (or two), then on to Wolfville for the next night. It seems we MIGHT be able to do the rafting enroute to Advocate Harbour, where we'd spend another two nights - given that we'd get there late in the day if we stopped for rafting along the way. Then to Cape Breton for 2 nights and back to Halifax for the last 2 nights. Does that make sense?

Is 2 nights enough for Cape Breton? Should we stay in two separate places - maybe Mabou or Cheticamp and Ingonish? Or maybe spend both nights in Baddeck?

Or would it be better to base ourselves in Halifax for the first few days and do day trips to Lunenburg and Wolfville? That would mean coming each night but it would be less packing/unpacking. We'd welcome your suggestions!
althom1122 is offline  
Old Dec 11th, 2019, 06:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,717
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
KUDOS for it seeming as if you really have read as much as is reasonably sensible before asking your questions.

My general... position over time has been that to land in Halifax and dart immediately northward to Cape Breton is the most time-cost effective move.

IF inclined to walk the Skyline Trail, I (experienced) advantages to staying in Cheticamp so as to time the trip in optimal fashion for the best weather on the trail.

Though I have long endorsed Baddeck for consecutive nights and then heading for the Cabot Trail at first sign of clear sky. (in that case, IF the optimum weather weren't expected until afternoon, you could drive counterclockwise and reach the Skyline Trail later in the day, while not setting yourself back time-wise)

NOT only that, but to get the more 'geographically extreme' spot OUT of the way at earliest opportunity is still wisest for the overall 'fit' of your trip.

IF Advocate Harbour is of interest to you, then you really should ponder a night or two spent at the B & B at Cape D'or lighthouse. I was just... IN AWE upon my first approach there, at what an awesome choice I must've made. (from what I've read, though, it MIGHT not seem so on a foggy night!!! - with the fog signal going off all night)

Just off shore from Cape D'or is the only place in the world where three distinct tidal flows crash together. (tell your husband to try THAT (in a would-be rowboat) for seasickness ! )
(*** it isn't extreme all the time - just at a certain period relative to the high and low tide times, but when it is extreme, you clearly SEE the effect at the surface just off of Cape D'or )

AND conventional wisdom says that if you are at or near Advocate Harbour, then you should make the added effort to get all of the way around Chignecto Bay to see Hopewell Cape, NB.

... then pray you can time Tidal Bore rafting near Truro with the passage back from Advocate Harbour or New Brunswick, then southwest to Wolfville for your wineries (Cape Split for a LONG hike, if there is time).

There isn't much other than trees in the middle of southern NS but you can find a more direct-ish route to Lunenburg than to retrace your path via Halifax.

(roads don't tend to go as fast in NS as they do in most other places, because NS isn't on the way to anywhere, so they don't know the additional burden of many other passers-through clogging up the roads and needing to get anywhere in a big hurry)

Then, it is with mixed feelings that I have you saving Halifax for the end... with timing uncertain at this point in my reply.

But here, lets try imagined nights:

OK, I'm confident, about 9 nights...

Night #1: Halifax area (to allow for unknown-to-me arrival time, and anything else that could go wrong in minor fashion)
(also, price rental cars at the airport vs. picking up downtown - the city bus is a long haul from the airport to the center of town, but it is comfortable and easy)

Night #2: Baddeck or Cheticamp (it's nearly FIVE hours from Halifax to Cheticamp... mostly via rural lands with rolling hills, and not too much that will compel you to stop)

Night #3: SOMEwhere on Cape Breton... perhaps depending upon what fate weather has put upon you

Night #4: Pictou / Truro / Cape D'or ???? (It's 5 hours from Baddeck to Cape D'or)... and here is where you start contemplating the TIMING of tidal bores... for MAYBE you could stop, and maybe stay somewhere, and do your Tidal Bore rafting on this passage between Cape Breton and Cape D'or/Advocate Harbour (which could save a day later, if timing works ideally)

Night #5: Cape D'or OR Moncton, NB area, depending upon how the prior day went (definitely see Hopewell Cape... and potentially the tidal bore at Moncton, depending upon timing (I first viewed it under a full moon late at night) )

Night #6: Wolfville area (it's 200 miles, 3 1/2 hours from Moncton to Wolfville)... (that is suitable for doing later in a day even IF you still need to cover some of those NB bases early)

Night #7: Wolfville area or Lunenburg/Mahone Bay area (my gut feeling right now, is that I'd visit Lunenburg for much of a day, and then stay in Mahone Bay)

(Wolfville to Lunenburg is 90 minutes)

Nights #8 and #9: Halifax

SO, it looks mostly comfortable, with 3 or 4 days dedicated to serious driving... though not fanatically long.

Be reminded that my plan has you spending that first night in Halifax, perHAPS getting the lay of the land, depending upon how much time you have after arrival... all of which could be useful in optimizing your last couple of days spent in Halifax later.

How does that sound in general ??? (I even added a couple of things and still got you back in time to see some of Halifax)
NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2019, 03:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,257
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Thanks so much for such a detailed reply. I'd given up hope that anyone was going to answer. I know I'm asking basically the same questions everyone else asks, so I really appreciate your taking the time to respond.

I like your suggestions a lot. I was thinking that for one of our nights in Cape Breton we'd enjoy Mabou to visit the Red Shoe Pub. That might be better for the second night on Cape Bretton - as in, go from Halifax to Baddeck, do the Cabot Trail counter-clockwise finishing in Mabou. And then from Mabou head to Cape D'Or the next day and hope we can hit the tidal bore near Truro on the way - I like that idea. That sounds good.

You say IF we are interested in Advocate Harbor - suggesting that maybe it's not all that great? Or did I misinterpret? And yes, I had already discovered the lighthouse on line and hope to stay there. It's not clear, however, if it's going to be open next year. I read on line that 2019 may have been its last year.

Another spot that looked interesting for an overnight is Ingonish for the Lantern Walk Through Time. Have you done that? Is it worthwhile?

Is Hopewell Cape worth the extra driving if we're already seeing Advocate Harbour and also rafting near Truro? Advocate appeals to us more because it seems like it's less crowded.

Your plan is almost exactly the reverse order of what I had created on my own while waiting for responses! I was thinking along these lines:

Night 1 - arrive late afternoon, drive to Lunenburg
Night 2 - Lunenburg
Night 3 - Wolfville
Night 4 - Drive to Advocate Harbor and try to go rafting on the way
Night 5 - Advocate Harbor
Night 6 - Drive to Cape Breton - Mabou?
Night 7 - Cape Breton - Baddeck or Ingonish or Mabou again?
Night 8 - Halifax
Night 9 - Halifax

Do you think it's better to head straight for Cape Breton? I was thinking it would be the highlight so we should save it for the end... Welcome any additional thoughts/comments.

And anybody else?

althom1122 is offline  
Old Dec 15th, 2019, 04:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,717
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are probably well aware that FODORS Canada forum doesn't command too much attention in the winter.

For that reason, I don't tend to remember to return here very often.

I am not current on the state of Cape D'or B & B into the future, but I sure know it was awesome when I discovered it.

As to Advocate Harbour... while it does have the deeply symbolic ocean-going vessels tied to docks while sitting on the ocean floor, which was my earliest impression of Nova Scotia... there just... isn't a whole lot there.

I think the population is about 826 (admittedly that was years ago).

There was a gas station with light supplies that could get me through the night at Cape D'or (when wanting to snack on something). And from there I tuned in with my phone for work communications, fearing the reception at Cape D'or itself. (phone worked splendidly at Cape D'or)

I may be wrong for some reason, by my sense OF Advocate Harbour is not unlike that of Parrsboro. There are tide-related visions in each, but the added effort to get to Advocate Harbour may not be worth it. Though again, I myself love a reason to drive along the bay shore on Hwy #2, so Parrsboro is a useful landmark to me.

I can't remember loving any part of my drive from Advocate Harbour to Moncton, so if Cape D'or were off the table, then I wouldn't be very enticed.

I also researched Joggin's Fossil Cliffs for the first time, after reading about it on Fodors... and while I went to the main building, and perused the gift shop, I couldn't quite entice myself to spend the money to go beyond. There were some elements of intrigue in the area beyond, but I just didn't know...

(sigh) So I don't know that Advocate Harbour is a grand draw for being so remote, out there on grey roads. Perhaps there is somewhere there to have a meal before or after Cape D'or, but I am not sure.

While indeed Hopewell Cape has evolved and evolved, becoming more commercialized all the while, it's still the best spot in the whole Maritimes to get the

"POW! - IN your FACE!!" effect of the power of the Fundy Tides.

Those Flower Pots, carved over decades and decades, afford perspective that can't even be fully gleaned when walking out on the tide flats at Burntcoad Head itself.

And of course it's merely mud and dirt and rock... but it's the implied message that hits you... as might the rarity of nearby rivers turning around to race UPstream when the tide comes in.

When last at Hopewell Cape, I and 2 family members went down to the beach by the Flower Pots and roamed all of the way around the cape and came back on the other side... while stumbling around and risking broken ankles on the rocks. It was funny while we did it, but so meaningful to me afterward.

Indeed it is best to see on weekdays, when crowds might not be so big... BUT as Hopewell Cape is rather remote, it isn't as if OTHER tourist attractions also have crowds in the area that overflow and make a mess of your passage.

And the best reason for doing various things in the Maritimes, is because they aren't on the WAY to anywhere, so you have to check-off the highlights when you have the opportunity.

SO, were it ME... IF you find that Cape D'or is no longer available as a B & B... I think I wouldn't take the remote trip required for Advocate Harbour, and would instead give my all to getting to Hopewell Cape. Hopewell Cape has real society in Moncton, perhaps for a night in one direction or the other.

I cannot tell you anything about the mentioned event in Ingonish, only that Ingonish is certainly a possible pawn in a chess-like strategy surrounding where to go, and where to stay, on a circuit of Cape Breton, and specifically the Cabot Trail. Each individual should play that chess game to his/her liking, when the time comes, and sometimes according to the weather outside. (we saw snow flurries on June 1st in the hills not far from Ingonish as we went to see an impressive waterfall deep in the woods there somewhere (I can't recall the name - only the hike DOWN from the car to reach it) ).

And it is... okay... that our plans were the seeming reverse of one another... for at least my reasoning was admittedly to get the best part first, and then work with what you can do after that... (AND of course this was my first run-through of YOUR window of time, so I didn't yet ***know*** for sure that you'd be able to cover all of what you wanted in that window)

And at least you too sense it will be the highlight, so our mindsets are parallel.

And heck, MAYbe the tide tables 'fit' snug in one of our directions, and they are all upside down in the other direction ???


As I don't know the dates, you'll have to check that for yourself. (Low tides twice a day, 12 hours apart)

At least we both agree that to have Halifax on the very end does afford a margin for error along the greater path... NOT that one wants to cut-short a visit to Halifax if avoidable.

IF you are as awed by the Fundy tides as I am, a trip to Burntcoat Head at low tide is quite eye-opening when you're hundreds of yards/meters waaaaaaaaaaaaay out from shore, hopping from spot to spot (on what is more 'rock' than sand - which is best for human footing). But that, too, is an inconvenient haul (EVEN when going from Truro to Wolfville).

And I dunno... about "better" to head straight to Cape Breton.

I DO know that I could much easier stomach the removal of Lunenburg or Wolfville from my trip than to remove Cape Breton for unforeseen reasons.

But let it be something small-but-significant, like tide times, which helps you to make the choice as to what to tackle first.

IF you have a strong sense for your precise dates already, you can easily check exact tide times for various spots, from the link I provided above.

Hope this adds clarity (somehow) .
NorthwestMale is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jun 16th, 2009 08:08 PM
Aug 13th, 2007 07:28 AM
Aug 27th, 2002 06:04 PM
United States
May 15th, 1998 03:44 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -