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Exploring Nova Scotia’s Small Seaside Towns

Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s unique treasures. It is where rocky shores meet sandy beaches while low mountain ranges stand by. There is something satisfying about watching fishermen unload their catch from bobbing wooden boats. The province’s small seaside towns are as charming as they are quirky. Brightly painted houses line the waterfront while eccentric shops and cafes invite all who pass to enter. These picturesque hamlets will enchant those who linger, enticing them to return again and again.


Digby is one of those towns tourists tend to overlook as they hop the connecting ferry to Saint John, New Brunswick. They shouldn’t. The quaint fishing village is well known worldwide for the large, sweet scallops harvested from its local waters. Those visitors who take the time to wander the streets of Digby are rewarded with a delightful array of cheerful storefronts and restaurants offering breathtaking views of the sun setting over Fundy Bay. Digby was established in 1783 and still maintains much of its old world charm but there is no time like the present to visit here.
You can book a stay at the Come From Away B&B Inn, a historic Edwardian home on the waterfront, where you can watch Digby’s famous high tide in the Annapolis Basin ebb and recede. The inn is central to everything so you can take a stroll to Crooked Timber Books for something to read or learn about Digby’s maritime history at the Admiral Digby Museum. Later you can treat yourself to lunch at the Sydney Street Pub and Cafe. Of course, you will want to try some pan-fried local scallops while you’re there along with a cold local craft beer and live music.


Lunenburg is the home port of the majestic Bluenose II tall ship, a fitting presence in a town with such a rich heritage and a vibrant streetscape. It is an art and culture mecca blending the glory of the old town’s UNESCO world heritage status with modern industry and creative amenities. Narrow roads meander through a maze of quaint shops, grand old homes, and colorful eateries. The fabulous Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic offers interactive tours which provide a close-up look of life at sea through theater and live exhibits.
You can stay at The Mariner King Inn in the heart of the old town for the best in hospitality and comfort. The inn celebrates its historic past while, at the same time, providing first-class contemporary lodging. You can spend a dreamy day browsing through the many small shops including Mosaic where treasures and gems can be found. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you might want to grab a wharfside table on the Old Fish Factory’s patio. You might fall in love with the locally-sourced seafood chowder or let yourself splurge with a steamed lobster entree.

Mahone Bay

Mahone Bay will have you imagining you walked into a picture postcard with its olden wooden churches and stunning architecture. The town was settled in 1754 and thrived as a shipbuilding hub and mariner’s destination. Today it is an idyllic respite scattered with artisan studios, boutique shops, and friendly pubs. The natural beauty of the area encourages outdoor adventures when the weather permits. The peaceful waters of Mahone Bay are made up of several islands. South Shore Boat Tours offers exciting trips around them where, if you are lucky, you might just see the dolphins frolicking in the bay.
Check in at the Fairmont House Bed and Breakfast Inn for scenic water views and pet-friendly accommodations. Once a shipbuilder’s residence, the inn is homey and welcoming with easy access to all Mahone Bay has to offer. The town’s seaside setting has attracted artists and creatives to the area for years. A once-vacant boathouse on the South Shore is now home to Amos Pewter Designs, a community icon of craftsmanship and well worth a visit. You can end your day of exploring at The Mug & Anchor Pub where you will find delicious pub food, maritime music, and unusual craft beers.


Yarmouth still boasts the largest fishing fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Ocean waters. The port town is admired for its grand old homes many featuring widow’s walks where captain’s wives could watch for the return of the ships carrying their loved ones. The 175-year-old Cape Forchu Lightstation is ideal for hiking, picnics, and for enjoying glorious vistas of the surrounding sea. The traditions of Arcadian culture are an integral part of the flavor of Yarmouth and visitors should not leave without trying Rappie pie, unique and savory meat, onion, and potato dish topped with molasses.
The Lakelawn B&B and Motel is an affordable and pleasant place to hang your hat. It was once a wealthy shipbuilder’s mansion home where celebrities were entertained with elegant parties. Now it is a clean and comfortable refuge complete with its own cafe and hearty breakfast menus. Head into town for a busy day of antique shopping and maritime-inspired gift buying at one of the artisan shops. Rudder’s Seafood Restaurant and Brew Pub is a favorite gathering place for locals and tourists alike offering live entertainment seven nights a week. You will be glad you stopped by.
Nova Scotia is everything you could want in a coastal destination. Its proud history and pristine bays are only a small part of the province’s lure. You might want to take a slow drive through its countryside stopping often to admire the craggy shoreline and bays dotted with sailboats and seabirds. Nova Scotia hosts over 550 festivals and events throughout the year bringing music, comedy, food, and fun to town. You can share some laughter at the Halifax ComedyFest or nurture your artful side in Peggy’s Cove at the Festival of the Arts.
Outdoor adventures are never too far away anywhere in Nova Scotia. Well-maintained hiking and biking trails are plentiful and golf courses seem to pop up where you least expect them. Those who prefer more high adrenalin activities won’t be disappointed either. The Atlantic School of Skydiving offers a guided tandem skydive experience and Anchors Above Zipline in Pictou County will let you soar the skies. There is something for everyone in beautiful Nova Scotia. It is no wonder it is nicknamed Canada’s Ocean Playground.