Nova Scotia - Where to go?

Old Jul 10th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Nova Scotia - Where to go?

We are going to Nova Scotia in early August and are trying to find an area in Nova Scotia where we should stay. We would like to stay in one place and do short day trips from there. We are interested in the Bay of Fundy, hiking, beaches, kayaking, whale watching, and good food. Can anyone recommend an area that would be easily accessible to all these activities? Thanks.
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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What about the Annapolis Valley? You are close to the Bay of Fundy shore, close to Digby area for whale watching and birding, and hiking on the trails of Blomidon to Cape Split. About an hour from Annapolis Royal is Kejimkujik National Park where you will find kayaking and canoeing.
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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Forgot to add that the beaches in The Annapolis Valley are just okay. Because they are part of the Bay of Fundy, you have to wait for high tide for swimming but they are great for viewing the tides. A good day trip from The Valley is to cut across the province to the South Shore where you find the Atlantic beaches--cold but lovely. My two choices for accommodation would be the town of Wolfville or Digby.
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Old Jul 11th, 2007, 05:11 AM
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Scotia-
Thanks for the suggestion. Would you recommend the Annapolis Valley area over the South Shore, like staying in Lunenburg?
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Old Jul 11th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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Hmmm, I've done 4 or 5 vacations in Nova Scotia, and there are so many regions that each have their own uniqueness, but they're spread around. For instance, Cape Breton Cabot Trail region is spectacular, but you can't do it as a day trip from, say, the Lightouse Route which is also wonderful. Each time we go, we pick 2 regions to split our vacation up in and stay several days in each. Like maybe Halifax and Ingonish in Cape Breton, or Lunenburg and Digby. Great beaches (best are the "hidden" gems which you have to research) are along the Lighthouse Route and near the top of Cape Breton along the Atlantic side. Whale Whatching from Brier Island out past Digby. Hiking is superb in Cape Breton, but there are other parks that are good. Good food - big concentration of restaurants in Halifax Harbour area and downtown, otherwise most of the larger towns have a couple of good restaurants.
Note: early August isn't far away and NS is a popular vacation spot. Better look into accommodation availability asap, weekends especially fill up quickly.
 
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Would you recommend the Annapolis Valley area over the South Shore, like staying in Lunenburg? That's a tough question. As mtjt says,each area has their own uniqueness. Most of your activities would be in the Annapolis Valley area. If you stayed in Digby, you could depart from Annapolis Royal, past Keji park,to Liverpool on South Shore. There are many beaches in Liverpool area. From there you could take the Lighthouse route to visit Lunenburg and Mahone Bay area, then drive from Bridgewater to Middleton in Annapolis Valley again. It depends on how much time you want to spend on beaches in Shore Shore and in the car.

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Old Jul 11th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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mtjt and Scotia-

Thank you for your responses and all the information you provided. It's hard to decide between two places that sound equally appealing. Would you recommend Cape Breton over the South Shore or Annapolis Valley? Since we want to stay in one place and not drive around the peninsula, we're looking for one place that offers a variety of activities.
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Old Jul 11th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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As with everything, individual tastes vary. For instance, "Scotia" recommends the Annapolis Valley. I've visited that area & found it quite nice, but I truly "love" both Cape Breton and the Lighthouse Route. Normally I recommend to people that they plan splitting their first NS trip between those 2 regions, which are both spectacular but quite different.

But, if you're set on staying in just one place (how long do you have anyway?), I might just suggest you consider Halifax. I'm not a big city person (even though I grew up in one), but Halifax is an exceptionally nice small city. And, it's well located for day trips. For instance, you can easily explore partway down the Lighthouse Route (e.g. Mahone Bay, Peggy's Cove, Lunenberg, and a few quaint fishing villages and lovely beaches), maybe even as far as spectacular Kejimkujik NP Seaside section). Or day trip up Marine Drive (nice hike at Taylor Head P.P.). You can even get up to Fundy, Cape Blomidon area as a day trip from Halifax. Then, enjoy your evenings exploring the lovely Halifax Harbour restaurants, shops & night life.

An alternative is to stay in Lunenberg - a small but pretty & artsy town, quieter, but many of the same day trips are possible (including one to Halifax, although not to Taylor Head) - & it has the advantage of giving you more access to points farther along the Lighthouse Route where some of the truly gorgeous "hidden gem" beaches are located.

For the best whale watching, you're looking at one of the extreme ends of the province: either the north end of Cape Breton or the far eastern tip off Digby - Brier Island. Neither are convenient to Halifax or most of the Lighthouse Route, unfortunately.

The government published "Doers and Dreamers Guide" is a must, but you don't have much time to order it (pick it up at any tourism office once you're there). "The Nova Scotia Atlas" is another wonderful resource: detailed road & topographical mapbook showing beaches, hiking trails, provincial & national parks, etc. I ordered it from an online bookstores, but it's also available in NS bookstores.
 
Old Jul 11th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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On second thought, I'm leaning towards changing my recommendation. If you like the outdoors, spectacular scenery, the seaside, hiking, whale-watching - maybe Cape Breton National Park should be your choice. Although there's no way to get around "some" driving - you'd have to do the whole Cabot Trail at least once, it's spectacular with different types of scenery in different sections. If you want to focus on "seaside" activities and hiking, maybe stay in the Ingonish area. Another option is the small but upscale town of Baddeck with a number of artsy shops, restaurants, yacht harbour.
 
Old Jul 12th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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mtjt-

Thanks for your input! We're staying 12 days, but we decided that we're going to meet up with a friend and do some biking around the Lighthouse Route staying in Lunenburg for about 4 days, so hopefully we'll see a good portion of that area like Mahone Bay and other towns. Now, we're trying to decide what to do with the rest of the time, and we've realized that maybe we won't be able to stay in one place. Our thoughts are to either stay in Lunenburg or Halifax and do day trips, stay in Digby and do day trips or move to Cape Breton. However, we definitely want to see the Fundy tides while there, but maybe that could be a day trip from Lunenburg if we extend our stay there a day or two.

I did request a copy of the "Doers and Dreamers Guide" but haven't received it yet. I was hoping to use it to help us make our decision.

You've mentioned "hidden gem" beaches along the Lighthouse Route. Can you recommend any? Thanks.
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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I've visited most regions of NS, many of them several times, and they're all nice. But I'm biased towards Cape Breton National Park. In my opinion, it's one of the more spectacular "natural" areas in North America.

Now, Lighthouse Route beaches. Rissers Beach is very popular and has amenities. I prefer the quieter ones - few, or no, amenities but beautiful for strolling/picnicking and generally uncrowded, especially on weekdays. The farther from Halifax, generally, the quieter. Try to get that Road Atlas I mentioned as most of them are shown (some are not on Provincial road maps). Not far from Lunenberg is Cherry Hill Beach - best at low tide (tide tables are on the Internet). Heading southwest: a little past Liverpool - Summerville Beach, busier than some but really nice wide strip of soft white sand. Near Port Mouton - Carter's Beach is stunning (though you have to wade through a cold creek to reach parts of it - go at low tide). Not far from there - Kejimkujik NP Seaside Adjunct - a bit of a hike to reach the coast but worthwhile. Continuing on - Louis Head Beach. There are others, but I'm sure this is enough to keep you busy. Try googling the names to search for photos/details.

Note: in order to really appreciate the Fundy tides, plan on being there long enough to see the difference between low and high tide.
 
Old Jul 12th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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More food for thought. If you base yourself in Lunenburg, you could do a day trip to Fundy shores. Drive from Chester (charming seaside town) to Windsor onto Wolfville. Just before Wolfville, exit at Grand Pre to visit Evangeline Beach which is a good spot to view the tides. You could then go to Cape Blomidon for hiking if you like, and on your return visit Evangeline Beach again to view the difference in tides. (Actually on your way to Blomidon you will cross a bridge into Port Williams. Many people stop there to see the tide.) From Wolfville area you could return to Lunenburg via Kentville. Good spot for lobster dinner is Hall's Harbour on Bay of Fundy outside of Kentville. Wlfville also has several good restaurants. I understand mtjt's love of Cape Breton and would be great if you could spend several days there as well.
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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I go to the Maritimes every year or two and just returned from Halifax. I subscribe to www.destinationhalifax.com which is their tourst site. I get newsletter emailed to me with a schedule of upcoming events and links of things to do and places to see. NS is very big on having one event after another to bring in tourists, so you might want to plan a trip around an event that interests you.
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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Thanks for all these wonderful suggestions. They are really helpful. It sounds like we need to decide between staying in Lunenburg or Halifax and doing day trips or moving to Cape Breton. In either case, we will need to make a return trip to NS because there are so many interesting areas.

Is it true that the lobster season in NS will be over in August?
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 01:43 PM
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Rest assured, with the use of modern lobster pounds, you will still have access to fresh lobster even if the season is closed to harvesting.
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