Halifax may be the largest urban center in Atlantic Canada, but it still feels like a small city with a big heart. Warm East Coast hospitality welcomes visitors to explore the endless beaches, parks, historical sites and cultural attractions.
In Halifax Harbour, modern glass towers rise above century-old schooners and quaint waterfront boutiques contrast with 19th-century fortifications. “A tour of the harbor is a journey through more than two hundred years of Nova Scotia’s past,” writes paddling guidebook author and Coastal Adventures founder, Scott Cunningham.
In the outer harbor, osprey and blue heron nest amid tangled forest and forgotten fortifications on McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park. Further out, barren Devils Island is home to a lonely lighthouse (and a legendary ghost).
These lightly visited outposts make for a fascinating day trip away from the bustle of the city.
Where to Go
If you Want to go guided
Join a two-hour, half-day or overnight glamping tour of Halifax Harbour with local outfitter Kayak Halifax (www.kayakhalifax.com). Leaving from the downtown waterfront, you’ll get up-close views of the tall ships and restored Victorian warehouses at Halifax Historic Properties, and the iconic lighthouse and Fort Charlotte on tiny Georges Island.
If you Want to paddle like a local
Take a jaunt on the Northwest Arm, a sheltered finger of ocean that harbors the historic St. Mary’s Boat Club. Haligonians head to this grand, old boathouse in Conrose Park for recreation programs, free canoe and paddleboard rentals on weekends, and evening kayak tours. For a commanding view of the Arm, pull ashore in Sir Sandford Fleming Park and climb the ironstone Dingle Tower. Beyond the Arm, self-guided harbor paddlers launch from Black Rock Beach in sprawling Point Pleasant Park.
If you’re Looking for adventure
Just a 20-minute drive from downtown, launch from the Dartmouth side of the harbor at colorful Fisherman’s Cove, a restored 200-year-old fishing village. It’s a quick crossing from here to Lawlor Island, from where you can spend the day circling larger McNabs Island.
Expect pastoral scenery, abundant wildlife, grassy trails, sweeping beaches, great skyline views and amazing sunsets. For a guided islands tour with gourmet cuisine, check out Kattuk Expeditions (www.kattukexpeditions.com).
Historic waterfront and East coast charm await paddlers in Halifax.| Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography