Find seaside relaxation away from the heat waves of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia sounds like a place that should be far away, north and, above all, cold. It may come as a surprise, then, that flights from London to its capital, Halifax, take less than six hours. It is perhaps even more surprising that the south-east corner of Canada is located at roughly the same latitude as Burgundy. And, yes, they have some impressive vineyards that produce award-winning wines.

The name Nova Scotia was not the first name, however. Much earlier, it was called Acadia, perhaps more appropriately. Could this suggest Elysian Fields rather than a frozen north? One possibility is that the name is a remnant of the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano’s 16th-century map. Then, it could be from the local indigenous Mikmaq language – “Cadie” means fertile land. No one knows for sure, but the Acadians still live there, descendants of the original settlers who arrived from France in 1605, 15 years before the Mayflower sailed.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is probably the most photographed in Canada

Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is probably the most photographed in Canada – Ashlyn George

It’s not Eden – winter is not for the faint of heart – but when summer rolls around at the end of May, it’s clearly worth the wait. Nova Scotia may have a forested wilderness interior with bears, moose and raccoons, but in reality the sea takes center stage. The prettiest villages are located along its 7,500km coastline: at Peggy’s Cove, home to just 32 people, you’ll find one of Canada’s most photographed locations, with granite boulders and an iconic lighthouse (there are 160 of them in Scotland New). .

And this is definitely one of the few places left where a driving holiday can still be an enjoyable experience: the roads are almost empty. Canadian drivers are so careful and courteous that navigation can be confusing for anyone familiar with British roads. At a crossroads, for example, the first car to arrive has priority, after which drivers take turns in a counter-clockwise pattern. If pedestrians stand next to any curb, traffic tends to come to a standstill while you decide whether or not to cross.

Tidal hole rafting is a very popular activity in Nova ScotiaTidal hole rafting is a very popular activity in Nova Scotia

Tidal hole rafting is a very popular activity in Nova Scotia – Tourism Nova Scotia

When you’re not on the road you’re probably on the water. In fact, in Nova Scotia you are never more than 60km from the ocean and the coast is dotted with all kinds of craft – canoes and sailboats, rowing boats and kayaks. Not only does Lunenberg have an old town that is a Unesco World Heritage site, but there are traditional schooners that can take you whale watching. Adrenaline junkies might fancy some tidal bore rafting: the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world and these churn the water-fueled Shubenacadie River. Take to that Zodiac if you dare.

Back on land, there are hiking trails through forest, vineyards and along that glorious coastline where the fishing fleets are hard at work. You really can’t find fish here that isn’t fresh and, of course, Nova Scotia shellfish is particularly famous. “Messy lobsters” (is there another kind?) are a staple on the menu, although you can also opt for a slightly more manageable lobster roll. Digby on the coast of the Annapolis Valley is the “scallop capital of the world” and you can eat the delicious molluscs at any time of the day (including breakfast).

The old town of Lunenberg is a Unesco World Heritage SiteThe old town of Lunenberg is a Unesco World Heritage Site

The old town of Lunenberg is a Unesco World Heritage site – Tourism Nova Scotia

The Acadians were originally farmers but – challenged by both the land and the climate – turned to fishing to survive entirely (their descendants in Louisiana, the Cajuns, are still quite fond of their shrimp and clams). The coast created safe natural harbors not only for fishing boats but for fleets. Acadian Port-Royal became the British Annapolis and its fort remains one of the most critical points between England and France during the 18 century.

Those loyal to the Crown fled to Nova Scotia in the American Revolutionary War, and former slaves who joined the British Army with the promise of freedom (which was never delivered) also arrived. Then came the Scottish pioneers, fulfilling James I’s original name for his new colony.

Gothik Guest House in Yarmouth makes for a unique stayGothik Guest House in Yarmouth makes for a unique stay

Gothik Guesthouse in Yarmouth makes for a unique stay – Tourism Nova Scotia

And when laying your own? Avoid the obvious. There are unusual places to stay in Nova Scotia, including the Victorian-Gothic yellow mansion in Yarmouth, a geodesic dome in Wolfville, a sea container with a fire pit and views over an Acadian beach that is completely empty but for the cinders and the red pisses. You see, in Nova Scotia, it’s just the seabirds that flock.


Air Canada ( flies direct from Heathrow to Halifax from £542.99 return. The Gothik House in Yarmouth ( has doubles with breakfast from CA$120 per night; Valley Sky Glamping ( has geodesic domes with deck, BBQ and fire pit from CA$245.

Anna Selby was a guest of Tourism Nova Scotia ( and Destination Canada (

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