Atlantic Provinces Guide
Nova Scotia,New Brunswick,Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador
These Atlantic provinces offer a step back in time with charming little rustic fishing villages, very friendly people, dramatic coastal views, glorious uncrowded beaches (Canada's best, though BC comes close), great rugged hiking and biking, terrific golf and horse riding and superb seafood.
There are some winter sports but this is not the province for the white stuff so tourists (or Come-from-Aways as they are known in Newfoundland) would do well to stick to summer activities.
And if you're driving around beware the big bad moose! Large and occasionally aggressive they will not necessarily get out of the way at night; if a moose comes through your windscreen at 90kph you may regret not taking that apparently dumb but possibly suicidal expression seriously.
When to holiday there
Best weather: May-September.
The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia's brilliant driving/biking coast road
Nova Scotia is almost an island in the Atlantic Ocean and in fact the most beautiful part of NS is actually an island - Cape Breton Island. This offers spectacular wild walks on one of the 25 trails in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park or around small historic towns.
Other Nova Scotia things to do include awesome drives on the famous Cabot Trail around dramatic coastlines, wandering award-winning vineyards and 'try' their vintages (don't glug the ambrosia too obviously!), play golf, take kids to one of the 100 beaches, watch whales, kayak, go motorcycling on some of the nearly 5,000 miles of spectacular coastline and test local claims that this province offers some of the country's finest sea food.
Nova Scotia's climate is moderated by the Atlantic Ocean around it making it Atlantic Canada's warmest province with summer temperatures ranging from 14C (57F) to 25C (77F) and winters from -11C (12F) to 5C (41F).
Home to Canada's largest eastern harbour, is a small, attractive
and very walkable city featuring many fine old buildings - including the 250 year old
Citadel, plenty of history, gardens, waterfront views and open spaces.
Peggy's Cove, 43km south of Halifax, is a well-preserved and delightfully rustic 19thC fishing village of brightly coloured houses set in a rocky panorama - though somewhat touristy.
Lunenburg, another small, friendly and colourful port town, home to Canada's most famous tall ship, the Bluenose II.
A typical inland landscape in the Atlantic Provinces
Nova Scotia Activities
Golf: there are several impressive 18 hole courses near
One of many New Brunswick warm(ish) water beaches.
New Brunswick is another lively little province, protected from Atlantic storms and serious waves by the bulk of Nova Scotia so offers many great, warmer-than-normal beaches to suit many tastes, such as the fantastic views, birds and fossils of Cape Enrage Beach and half a dozen excellent, full-facility family beaches along Acadian Coastal Drive including the superb rolling white sand dunes of Bouctouche.
New Brunswick has organised tourist driving routes to cover their main attractions. e.g. Off the 250 mile (400km) River Valley Scenic Drive is magnificent Christ Church Cathedral, the huge 'recreation campground' of de la Republique Provincial Park, Grand Falls Gorge and the ancient Hartland Covered Bridge (aka the kissing bridge).
Dickson Falls, Fundy National Park hiking trail. Photo by Danielle Langlois.
Off Fundy Coastal Drive is not only the 'Marine World Wonder' of Fundy Bay that is well worth exploring at super-low tide, but also the Chocolate Museum (yeah!), the Crystal Palace Amusement Park and Herring Cove Provincial Park with camping, cliffs, beaches and varied hiking trails; off Acadian Coastal Drive - apart from some excellent beaches - is historic Fort Cumberland. More Scenic Drives.
New Brunswick is also home to 19 freshwater beaches, many with full facilities and play areas.
Cavendish beach, PEI. Photo by John Sylvester.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island across the Confederation Bridge has grand landscapes, great beaches - such as Cavendish's wild dunes - and quaintly rustic fishing villages where seafood is always on the menu. French River village is one of the most popular PEI tourist attractions while Charlottetown is a fine little historic town with a New England ambience, good walks and an excellent selection of hostelries to relax in.
Newfoundland housing. Photo by Barrett and MacKay.
Newfoundland island is a beautifully rugged coastal and mountain environment (a mini-Rockies), great for the usual hiking, biking, and kayaking as well as salmon fishing and bird watching, and not particularly cold - temperatures don't go much below freezing in winter on the island, though icebergs often drift by the north coast.
Signal Hill overlooking the entrance to St John's harbour is an historic landmark but also offers a wonderful Newfoundland panorama, while the city's North Head Trail is a remarkably attractive walk.
The Avalon Peninsula where St John's sits hosts varied wildlife attractions; in one day tourists can see herds of caribou and massive colonies of both puffins and gannets, while the adjacent Bonavista Peninsula - slightly further away - is the place to see icebergs, whales and puffins.
A sensational drive is Newfoundland's Viking Trail, heading up to the north tip of the province's peninsula for empty roads and full views of strange rock formations, dramatically blasted coastlines and ending up in L'Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of probably the only pre-Columbian Viking colony.
The first weekend of August, Friday-Sunday sees a highly recommended, very good value Folk Festival in Bannerman Park, St John's, Newfoundland.
The province's mainland section, Labrador, is much colder and very difficult to get around.
Kayaking around icebergs from St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador activities
Hiking: The new East Coast Trail, with camping en route, is famously spectacular.
Witless Bay whale watching, Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland's west coast hosts large numbers of black bear, moose
and caribou in the Long Range Mountains and Lewis Hills.