|The highest tides in the world are calling you to one of the most inspirational and relaxing vacation spots Nova Scotia has to offer. Situated along the rugged coastline of the Bay of Fundy is the unspoiled, picturesque village of Margaretsville, Annapolis County. A stay in the restored historic beach houses, By the Dock of the Bay, promises you unsurpassed accommodation in the shadow of a lighthouse while sitting on the dock of the bay.
Awaken your senses by basking in the most glorious of sunrises and sunsets; by hiking over rugged cliffs; by cycling through the pristine village of Margaretsville, or by cresting the waves in a kayak (you have to bring your own).
Warm yourself on the rocks of a long pebble beach; sketch or photograph till your heart's content; golf, fish or whale watch, solitude or camaraderie, it's all available in Margaretsville, the Annapolis Valley, and along the Bay of Fundy. For an excellent overview of what's available along the Fundy shore check out the Fundy Communities Development Association's Scenic Drive. Local photographer Paul Illsley has an excellent time lapse video of the incredible Bay of Fundy tides available on his site, along with some great photos of Nova Scotia and an aerial view of Margaretsville.
A stones throw away in nearby East Margaretsville you'll find the locally-managed non profit Evergreen Theatre. Formerly a church, the Evergreen provides an intimate venue for an eclectic mix of live performances throughout the year. Events generally sell out so if you're interested please book in advance.
Speaking of camaraderie, there is nothing like an old fashioned community supper to bring out the Mark Twain in all of us (and a little Marlon Brando/Orson Wells in their later days if you get my drift). At one of these periodic events at Margaretsville's Community Hall (which absolutely must be booked in advance, as virtually every event is a sell out), you will discover Margaretsville's small town hospitality. In the past their theme-nights have included Lobster Feasts, the "Hawaiian Feast", and a Newfie Jiggs dinner. The Community Hall also hosts Ice Cream Sundaes on, you guessed it, Sundays.
Below is our list of Fun Things To Do Within An Hour's Drive Or So Of Margaretsville. A high-resolution map of Nova Scotia is available to help you get your bearings.
Right Down the Road....
Port George Beach/Provincial Park
Just a coastal town away to the west is Port George. Cool tidal pools and flat rocks are exposed at Low Tide and seals like to hang out on the rocks particularly on sunny day. There are also two interesting shops: Candle in the Window features locally made crafts, and the Lavender Cottage on McInnis Rd has lovely antiques.
Aylesford Public Beach – This is a lovely, safe sandy beach complete with a playground. There are public changing rooms and clean restrooms, a canteen, a grassy open field, some walking trails. Spend the early part of the day at the beach, then head to the zoo!
Oaklawn Farm Zoo
This is a unique privately owned zoo. It started as a farm, the owners took in injured and orphaned wild animals and one thing led to another and now it is a full fledged zoo. Animals include lions, tigers, and bears, porcupine, rabbits, monkeys, lemurs, sheep, camels, deer, emus, geese, chickens, ostrich, waterfowl, turtles, snakes, and tortoises. Animals are housed in very natural habitats and are well cared for. Visitors can view animals up close and can feed/touch many. The big cats get fed at dusk and visitors can receive a hand stamp and come back to watch. Last year two of our guests ended up at the zoo on a quiet evening at feeding time and got to feed the bears large pieces of meat as the bears towered over them taking the meat from their hands. Pony rides available too. Lots of fun for kids and adults, we love this place.
A couple towns to our East on the Bay is the village of Harbourville, Harbourville has a small but active commercial fishing wharf and a beautiful little harbor.
The Harbourville Restaurant serves good homemade German fare as well as seafood and pasta dishes. Very good home cooking.
Halls Harbour Lobster
Hall’s Harbour has an active fishing wharf and the lobster fisherman bring their catches to the lobster pound here. The lobster pound has a restaurant and you can select your lobster and have it served to you a few minutes later. Or pick up a few fresh from the sea and bring them home for a lobster feast.
Ross Farm Museum
Learn what agricultural life in NS was like 100 years ago. Lots of activities to watch or take part in (blacksmithing, woodworking, spinning, candle making, helping with animal chores etc); farm animals and horses; wagon rides; a great learning experience for all ages.
Wine tasting in the Wolfville area
Nova Scotia has a great climate for grapes and there are some very good vineyards in the area. These are all fairly close to one another. Wolfville is a nice town to visit, and they have some good restaurants as well (my favorite is Tempest).
Grand Pre Winery
Daily tours at 11:00 AM, 3 PM, and 5 PM and include a wine tasting as well. You can skip the tour and just head to the showroom for a wine tasting.
You can come anytime of day for a free wine tasting in the showroom,
Blomidon Estates Winery
Open Daily for free wine tasting.
Kingsport Wharf and Beach
Just beyond Canning is the village of Kingsport on the Minas Basin. There is a wharf here on which to park, and the Basin beach here is pretty amazing. At low tide, you walk way out across deep red sand and mud to reach the water. Serene and beautiful. Free. There is also a burger/ice cream take out at the wharf.
Blomidon Provincial Park
Fantastic views of the Minas Basin and the Annapolis Valley from the volcanic basalt cliffs and hiking trails of Blomidon Park. A variety of hiking trails, a beach on the Minas Basin where you can beach comb for semi precious stones (amethyst, jasper, agate, among others), picnic and camping sites, all amidst beautiful scenery.
Cape Split Hiking Trail
Cape Split is a dramatic peninsula jutting out into the Bay of Fundy. It is only accessible by boat or the hiking trail. Watch and listen as the world's highest tides rip past 300 feet below (best in the couple hours before high tide). The hike takes around 2 hrs each way, and is around 10 km. Mostly dirt trail with some slippery roots and volcanic rock. Trail starts at sea level and ends about 300' above in an open field (ideal for a picnic). Sheer cliffs on each side and lots of nesting seabirds to watch. The rip tides and Fundy tidal bore are fun to watch. The return trail is mostly downhill for an easier walk back.
Evangeline Trail Rides - Canning
Horseback riding through Valley Farmland or with views of the Bay on quiet mounts. A good family excursion. They have mounts suitable for children as well. Most rides around 2 hrs.
Upper Clements Park/Family Amusement and Wildlife Park
Fort Anne National Historic Site
The park features 20+ rides from roller coasters and water slides to bumper cars and kiddie rides. The wildlife park has over 30 species of animals.
Canada's oldest national historic site, Fort Anne was the scene of numerous battles as France and England fought for control of North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is also the best surviving example of a Vauban fort in North America. Port Royal was the capital of Acadia through 1710 (when it was captured and renamed Annapolis Royal) and is the oldest Acadian settlement.
Port Royal Habitation National Historic Site
Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
Features a reconstruction of early 17th- century buildings representing the former colony of the French who settled the Nova Scotia coast. Costumed interpreters and period demonstrations help recreate the look and feel of Port-Royal, one of the earliest settlements in North America. Visitors can also take in the panoramic view of the Annapolis River and Basin.
Distinct gardens were designed to reflect important times in Acadian history – from early French through Victorian era. Gardens are connected by paths bordered by interesting plantscapes and cultivars (including one section with 230 varieties of roses). This is a wonderful place to meander through and soak in beauty and peace as well as a bit of history.
If you enjoy unique experiences and want to find out more about "images of the past etched in stone" don't miss the chance to tour the Oldest English Graveyard in Canada by candlelight. Now in their 16th popular season, these lively tours take place in Annapolis Royal at Fort Anne.
Delap’s Cove Wilderness Trail (45 mins to 1 hr drive in the Annapolis Royal region)
These trails meander along the Bay, through forests, and alongside streams giving hikers full appreciation of the flora and fauna of the region.
Whale Watch Boat Tours
The following outfits (listed in order of distance from our cottages) offer top boat tours with knowledgeable naturalists to enable visitors to see up close and learn about the whales, dolphins, porpoises, seabirds and other sea life that feed in the Bay of Fundy waters in summer.
In May Finback Whales, Minke Whales and Harbor Porpoises appear in the Bay. In June, Humpback Whales begin arriving from the breeding grounds in the Caribbean Sea. By late June, Humpbacks become more abundant, and Whitesided Dolphins are seen more often. By mid-July all five species are commonly sighted and remain in the area until late fall. The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is also seen with some regularity, most during late summer and fall. Sightings of Whitesided Dolphins, Pilot, Beluga, Sei, Sperm Whales and Orcas possible.
Petit Passage Whale Watch
Open Daily June - October
Departures at 9:30, 1:30, 5:30
Cruises 3-4 hrs
Pirate’s Cove Whale and Seabird Cruises/Tiverton
Open Daily June to October
3 to 5 trips daily
Cruises are 3-4 hrs
902-839-2242 / 888-480-0004
Ocean Explorations (Zodiacs)/Tiverton
Tour boats are Zodiacs (inflatable raft type boats), a real up close and personal visit with the whales
June – October (may be open earlier – call)
Tours generally 2-2.5 hrs
902-839-2417 / 877-654-2341
Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises/Brier Island
Open Daily (May 19 - ?)
Departures at 8:30 AM/10:30 AM/1:30 PM/3:30 PM/5:30 PM
Cruises are 3-5 hrs, depending on location of whales.
Mariner Cruises/Brier Island
Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Swimming
Open Daily June - October
Cruises are 2-5 hrs
Kejimkujik, the only inland national park of Canada in the Maritimes, features abundant lakes and rivers ideal for canoeing. The lush woodlands and gently rolling landscapes are home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors will find historic canoe routes, portages, beautiful hiking & biking trails, swimming, fishing, and camping options. Canoe and bike rentals available.
Tidal Bore Rafting
Looking for an adrenaline rush?
100 billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy twice a day. The Bay is funnel shaped, wider at the base entrance and narrowing toward the head of the Bay. As the tide pushes inward towards the head of the bay it is squeezed by the ever narrowing sides and constant shallowing of the bottom. In the Shubenacadie River this incoming tide creates a wave, varying from a small ripple to 10 ft+ in height. This first wave is referred to as a "Tidal Bore” and this incoming tide reverses the direction of the river. On the Shubenacadie River, a number of rafting companies offer tours that ride this awesome tidal current upstream. We have never been on one of these tours but those who have returned have been pretty excited. You can choose tours from tame (kid friendly) to wild. The scenery is said to be stunning. Tours travel 10 miles of the river in 2-4 hours. You get pretty wet.
Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Park
Open Daily May to October
2 & 4 Hour Trips
800-565-RAFT(7238) / 902-758-4032
Shubenacadie River Runners
Shubenacadie River Adventure Tours
3 hr trips
Visit the South Shore an hour away
Rissers Beach Provincial Park –
This is a beautiful 1 km long pristine white sand beach on the exposed Atlantic coast. For a relaxing day of sun, swim and sand, it’s perfect. You can also stroll on a wooden raised boardwalk through a nearby salt marsh. The park has a playground, picnic sites change rooms with showers and a canteen. The park is 26 km ( 16 mi.) south of Bridgewater.
Mahone Beach is a beautiful maritime town with shops and restaurants, great town for a stroll. The Bay boasts 365 islands. It’s well worth it to take advantage of one of the tour operators and get out on the water to explore the Bay.
Sea Kayaking/East Coast Outfitters
Go sea kayaking out in Mahone Bay and visit pristine beaches. This company offers professionally guided tours around the Bay.
4 & 6 hr trips, 2.5 hr sunset excursion
902-624-0334 / 877-852-2567
South Shore Boat Tours/Mahone Bay
A small family run business offering various boat tours in Mahone Bay. See the local seal colony and along the way you may spot porpoise, seals, osprey, bald eagles, loons, deer and other wildlife. In addition you will learn about the local islands, folklore, boat building and the fishery. They also offer fishing tours, island exploration tours where you can just stroll around and dig for clams for a couple hours, and puffin/whale watch tours.
Founded in 1753, and recently added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lunenburg is an outstanding example of British colonial settlement in North America, in terms both of its conception as a model town plan and its remarkable level of conservation. The Town's cultural evolution based on shipbuilding and the fishing industry can be seen in the buildings and spaces that exist throughout the Town. The town has a long history of fishing, manufacturing, and tourism which make it very interesting to visit. Good restaurants, great waterfront, tall ships.
The Eastern Star is a 48 foot classic wooden ketch sailboat and 2 hour tours of the Harbor and surrounding area is a great way to learn about the present and past history of Lunenburg, and a nice way to enjoy a sunny day.
Nov to May: 902 688 2740
Jun to Oct: 902 634 3535
And then there's always Golf..
Paragon Golf and Country Club
Berwick Heights Golf Course
14 Wing Greenwood Golf Course
Eden Golf & Country Club