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4 provinces, 1 unforgettable trip: Atlantic Canada

Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography

In Atlantic Canada, original lighthouses still dot the rocky coasts. Tiny fishing villages still practice traditions of the past. The trees still far, far, far outnumber the people. Gaelic, French, and Scottish customs still pepper the local culture. And the seafood? Still as sublime as ever.

Canada’s four Atlantic provinces make for one epic road trip, heading north from Maine into New Brunswick, then on to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador (with a few ferries thrown in, of course). You’ll quickly find that each is vastly different from the next, but they do share one quality: timeless adventure. The world’s most extreme tides, icebergs bobbing between humpback whales and puffins, red-sand beaches fit for lobster picnics, forests that descend into fjords — it’s all just a road trip away in Atlantic Canada. Here’s how to do it right.

This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Tourism New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, Tourism Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Tourism, and Destination Canada.
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New Brunswick

Atrip to New Brunswick reads like a mystery novel: sea caves and ocean floors that disappear with the tide, lighthouses that “whistle,” the country’s warmest saltwater, forests hiding alpine blueberries beneath countless trees. When you’ve solved all the riddles, make your reward a fresh lobster roll.

Hiking from Hole-In-The-Wall to Swallowtail Lighthouse

This winding hike takes you to some of Grand Manan Island's best beaches, forests, and cliffs...

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Hiking from Hole-In-The-Wall to Swallowtail Lighthouse

This winding hike takes you to some of Grand Manan Island's best beaches, forests, and cliffs. It begins at Whale Cove, a crescent-shaped beach dotted with large rocks and a nice spot for a dip. Past the beach, take the trail into the woods to the Hole-In-The-Wall, a huge arching rock formation jutting out from the cliff side.

Continue your walk on the Red Trail toward Bull's Eddy Deck, which will lead you to the historic Swallowtail Lighthouse. Take a well-deserved break while enjoying a panoramic view of the bay...and maybe spot a few whales and porpoises while you're at it.

Photo: Tyler Cave

Kayaking the Bay of Fundy

Renowned for having the world's highest tides, the Bay of Fundy is an aquatic phenomenon...

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Kayaking the Bay of Fundy

Renowned for having the world's highest tides, the Bay of Fundy is a true aquatic phenomenon, and the best way to explore it is via sea kayak.

Even if you've never paddled before, going with a guide will make you feel comfortable on the water. Paddle through the iconic formations of the Hopewell Rocks, where you'll find yourself weaving through small passageways and tunnels. When the tide goes down, hop out of your kayak and walk across the ocean floor, exploring those same rock formations on foot.

Photo: Tourism New Brunswick

Getting caffeinated at Old Well House Café

Stop by the Old Well House Café on Grand Manan Island...

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Getting caffeinated at Old Well House Café

Stop by the Old Well House Café on Grand Manan Island for a fresh espresso or pastry. This cozy waterside spot is great for ducking out of the rain on a stormy day or enjoying a good book by the ocean. With the island's largest selection of coffees, this is also the best place for caffeine lovers to get their morning cappuccino.

Want to make a meal out of it? The café also serves soups made from scratch, grilled wraps, and homemade sweets.

Photo: The Old Well House Café

Exploring Saint John's uptown heritage district

The historic Market Square area near the Saint John waterfront is a local hot spot...

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Exploring Saint John's uptown heritage district

The historic Market Square area near the waterfront in Saint John, the only city on the Bay of Fundy, has been a local hot spot for hundreds of years. You could easily spend an entire day here dining, shopping, and meandering on the boardwalk by the bay.

Events like Buskers on the Bay and the Saint John Beer Festival make repeat visitors out of first-timers. In the summer season, no need to schedule your trip around the next big event—just grab an ice cream or beer and enjoy live entertainment every night of the week.

Photo: Tourism New Brunswick

Taking in coastal views along the Flock of Sheep Trail

For another incredible Grand Manan hike, check out the Upper and Lower Flock of Sheep routes...

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Taking in coastal views along the Flock of Sheep Trail

For another incredible Grand Manan hike, check out the Upper and Lower Flock of Sheep routes, which display the many layers of geology that make up the island. The name comes from the large white granite boulders that sit atop black, lava-formed spires—from the bay, the cliffs look like a flock of sheep.

The trail follows the coastline's steep cliff edges, and while overall it's an easy walk, be mindful of tides and courteous to cottage owners who graciously let hikers cross their private property on the trail.

Photo: Tyler Cave

Newfoundland and Labrador

Photo: Tyler Cave
As Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador has always been a crossroads for adventure. There’s enough coastline here to stretch across the country four times over — and more than enough to stretch your imagination. Whales and icebergs crest the surface of offshore waters, ancient footpaths parallel the main roads, and tiny fishing villages speak dialects that allude to another time.

Traveling fjords by Zodiac

In the heart of Gros Morne National Park, this speedy Zodiac boat tour...

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Traveling fjords by Zodiac

In the heart of Gros Morne National Park, a speedy Zodiac boat tour takes you deep into a glacier-carved valley, zooming below the stark cliffs of the Tablelands. On top of gorgeous views, the area is full of wildlife—keep an eye out for caribou, moose, bear, and Arctic hare.

Besides allowing you to see a side of Gros Morne most visitors never do, the veteran guides and personalized, small group sizes are what make this tour stand out from others.

Photo: Tyler Cave

Hiking the Green Gardens Trail

The Green Gardens Trail winds through boreal forest to volcanic sea cliffs covered in bright green meadows...

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Hiking the Green Gardens Trail

Starting at the orange-brown boulders that speckle the barrens of the Tablelands, the Green Gardens Trail winds through boreal forest to volcanic sea cliffs covered in bright green meadows, a sea cave (at low tide), and waterfalls. The trail is 2.8 miles to the beach, 6.2 miles round trip. Keep an eye out for sheep, a relic of the area's agricultural past.

Make it a multi-day trek and pitch a tent at one of the trail's two campgrounds along the coast. S'mores on the beach, anyone?

Photo: Tyler Cave

Staying at Bonne Bay Inn

This 10-room, bay-side boutique inn is the perfect hub for exploration...

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Staying at Bonne Bay Inn

This 10-room, bay-side boutique inn is a great hub for exploring Gros Morne National Park and the Woody Point area. With both mountain and ocean views, Bonne Bay Inn is a local mainstay regardless of season or weather.

After a day's worth of adventure, grab a drink at the inn's Elements Pub, hang out on the scenic deck, or sit down to dinner in the Blue Ocean Dining Room—complete with a 270-degree (blue) ocean vista.

Photo: Tyler Cave

Sleeping in an oTENTik

You can't get closer to endless hiking trails and swimming holes than this...

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Sleeping in an oTENTik

You can't get closer to endless hiking trails and swimming holes than the Trout River Campground in Gros Morne National Park. The excellent location puts you minutes from navigating the Tablelands, cruising Gros Morne's gorges, hiking to Green Gardens, visiting the Discovery Centre, or finding the best view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

If you're able to book in advance, reserve one of the campground's two oTENTiks. Half tent, half cabin, these modern-yet-rustic accommodations mean camping in style: with beds, furniture, and hardwood floors.

Photo: Parks Canada

Seeing whales and puffins in the wild

One of the world's most impressive gatherings of humpback whales happens right here...

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Seeing whales and puffins in the wild

One of the world's most impressive gatherings of humpback whales (numbering in the several thousands) happens off the coast of St. John's every summer. You'll occasionally even be able to spot them breaching from the docks.

On any Molly Bawn whale-watching tour, you'll likely also see puffins, though you could also take a puffin tour out to one of the tiny puffin islands to solidify your chances. Check out their morning tours, where members of the Puffin Patrol often release young puffins back into the sea.

Other incredible sights to look out for: dolphins, minke whales, eagles, sharks, otters, killer whales, and even icebergs.

Photo: Shutterstock/Blue Planet Studio

Nova Scotia

Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Patrick Rojo
Just across the gulf from Maine, time weaves a story through Nova Scotia. UNESCO sites marking historic harbors, sea cliffs covered with fossils, coastlines worn smooth by millennia of waves, hiking trails through ancient, old-growth forests — it’s all here. This province is an adventure for the curious, the undeterred…and the hungry.

Catching a sunset at Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is one of the most photographed in Canada...

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Catching a sunset at Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is one of Nova Scotia's best-known lighthouses and one of the most photographed in Canada. Located in the quaint fishing village of Peggy's Cove, it's a beacon that draws people in to explore this stunning area.

The most magical time to visit is at sunset, when the waves and rocks glow orange as the day's light wanes.

Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography

Savoring Nova Scotian lobster

Lobster lovers will not find themselves lonely in Nova Scotia...

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Savoring Nova Scotian lobster

Lobster lovers will not find themselves lonely in Nova Scotia, every corner of the province has an opportunity to put on your bib and get crackin'.

If you're looking for an authentic Nova Scotian lobster experience, here are just a few options: Choose your own lobster at Hall's Harbour Lobster Pound. Visit Shore Club for their original lobster supper. Be a lobster fisher for a day at Tor Bay. Set sail with Salty Dog Sea Tours to a private island where an expert c
hef cooks lobster onsite, right in front of your eyes. There are, at least a dozen more adventures to get your fill, too.

Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography

Kayaking Blue Rocks

Minutes from Lunenburg, Blue Rocks probably has more islands per paddle stroke than anywhere else...

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Kayaking Blue Rocks

Minutes from Lunenburg, Blue Rocks—covered in golden rockweed, which gives them a sunnier color—probably has more islands per paddle stroke than anywhere else. Pleasant Paddling need be your only stop before hitting the narrow passageways, sandy coves, and uninhabited islands via kayak.

Look for the colony of grey and harbor seals that hangs out among the islands, joined by too many fish, birds, and other maritime creatures to count. Hourly rentals and tours are both available, so you can check out the area with as much or as little guidance as you wish.

Photo: Luke Connor

Discovering mysterious Oak Island

The best way to learn the secrets of the famous Oak Island...

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Discovering mysterious Oak Island

The best way to learn the secrets of the famous Oak Island is on a sea voyage with Tony Sampson of Salty Dog Sea Tours. He'll narrate the watery way to sites seen on the History Channel's The Curse of Oak Island. (Spoiler: It's not actually cursed.)

Post-tour, take in those gorgeous ocean panoramas on a stand-up paddleboard, wander the nearby Lunenburg waterfront (a UNESCO site), or head out to the fishing village of Peggy's Cove.

In the evening, it's time for live music and local food over a crackling bonfire at Oak Island Resort & Conference Centre. With views overlooking the Atlantic, choose from a simple guest room, chalet, or seaside villa.

Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia

Relaxing seaside at Oceanstone

This cozy coastal spot is located just outside Halifax...

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Relaxing seaside at Oceanstone

This cozy coastal spot is located just outside Halifax, making it a great place to stay if you want to visit Atlantic Canada's biggest city during the day but return to the sound of crashing waves at night. Sitting right on the Atlantic, Oceanstone Seaside Resort lies within a community just minutes from the iconic Peggy's Cove. The beautiful cottages and the fresh, local dining at the onsite restaurant make Oceanstone an obvious road tripper's favorite.

Lobster Feast & Peggy's Cove Adventure at Oceanstone Seaside Resort. Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia/Patrick Rojo

Prince Edward Island

Photo: Tyler Cave
By ferry from Nova Scotia, across the dramatic Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, or via air from anywhere, you’ve found your island. Zigzagging coastal drives along red-sand beaches and past lighthouses are a quick intro to PEI — deeper immersion can be had trekking through coastal forests and counting constellations in the pleasantly dark nighttime sky.

Sleeping in a treePOD

The five TreePODS at Treetop Haven Inc. put glamping to shame...

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Sleeping in a treePOD

The five TreePODS, aka geodesic domes in the trees, at Treetop Haven Inc. put glamping to shame. Wall-sized windows bring nature inside during the day; at night, you're watching a television of stars. Each TreePOD comes with a large patio that features a barbecue and seating area, hot tub, and patio lights for keeping you immersed in nature as long as possible.

After a day of hiking and exploring PEI, you'll want that hot tub, or you can go forest bathing on one of the trails in Treetop's 50 wooded acres.

Photo: Tyler Cave

Wandering Spinnakers' Landing

This historic waterfront marketplace is a hub for Summerside locals...

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Wandering Spinnakers' Landing

This historic waterfront marketplace is a hub for Summerside locals. The collection of one-of-a-kind boutiques, where you can pick up almost anything with a Celtic spin, will likely be your first stop. Second up, the food. This is a great lunch spot for ice cream, local seafood, pub fare, and cold drinks.

The sunny outdoor patio around the marketplace is where the live music happens, though you can catch it from the boardwalk, too.

Photo: Spinnakers' Landing

Biking the Tryon River Trail

Stone artifacts some 11,000 years old have been found here...

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Biking the Tryon River Trail

This spot just east of the Confederation Bridge is incredibly history-rich. Stone artifacts some 11,000 years old have been found along the banks of the Tryon River. Later, this was where the Acadians built their first homes, and eventually it would become an industrial center focused on shipbuilding, textiles, and fishing.

Today, the river is anything but industrial, or even residential. The Tryon River Trail is almost entirely rural, making it a gorgeous spot for an evening bike ride. Birds and wildlife are common along the trail, and if you're interested in the river's backstory, you can grab a historic guide at the trail's entrance for free.

Photo: Tourism PEI/Carrie Gregory

Feeding falcons

If you've ever been fascinated by birds of prey, Fun with Falcons offers an incredible opportunity...

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Feeding falcons

If you've ever been fascinated (or rightfully intimidated) by birds of prey, Fun with Falcons offers an incredible opportunity: you'll meet, hold, and touch these awe-inspiring birds yourself.

The tour is run by expert falconer Jamie Stride on his property, where he works with his half-dozen or so hawks and falcons. Once safely equipped with a handler's glove and Jamie's direction, you'll head out into his field and feed the birds by hand. They'll swoop down from the trees and grab their meal gently from you—though they can catch the meat in midair, too.

Photo: Luke Connor

Going Victorian

If Summerside's beautiful historic district is a must-see on your list...

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Going Victorian

If Summerside's beautiful historic district is a must-see on your list, consider staying at Island Home Bed & Breakfast, just a few blocks from the water. This family-run guesthouse: Sharon and Mike are your hosts, has just three rooms (each with private baths), making it great for small gatherings where your party can have the run of the house. Before you head out in the mornings, waffles, pancakes, eggs, fruit, and plenty of coffee and tea will be served in the sunny dining room.

Walking distance from the best spots in Summerside, you can easily reach the waterfront boardwalk, beaches, and the Harbourfront Theatre from Island Home.

Photo: Island Home B&B


This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Tourism New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, Tourism Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Tourism, and Destination Canada.
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