Hometown travel: beaches (x5!) and a Nova Scotia surfing safari?

Nova Scotia has over 7,000 kilometres of coastline (approx. 4,350 mi.), which is pretty amazing, considering the province is only about 700 km (435 mi.) end-to-end. All of this waterfrontage means we have a pretty amazing collection of beaches. Light sand, dark sand, pebbles, water-washed rocks, the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and the considerably warmer waters of the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait. In short, we have a lot of beaches.

With the weather a non-stop joyride of sunshine and warm temperatures, a trip to the beach factored into the summer plans for many of us. I decided to spend the last official long weekend of summer hitting as many of them as possible.

After leaving Peggy’s Cove, I headed west on Highway 3 and stopped at the first beach I found, Cleveland Beach, part of Nova Scotia’s provincial park system. It’s small and rocky, but nice little beach for stopping and having a bite to eat, or enjoy a beach read without too much traffic.

Nova Scotia Cleveland Beach

Moving on, I continued west to Queensland Beach, another of Nova Scotia’s provincial parks, and one of the best-known beaches in the Halifax area. It was sunny, but the water temperature was a little on the chilly side.

Nova Scotia Queensland Beach

Continuing even further west, I headed to the Bridgewater area and stopped at one of my favourite oceanside stops from my youth at Fort Point Museum, a national historic site. This rocky beach is better suited for walking than sitting, but I have many great memories of strolling the beach and finding a veritable pirate’s booty of beach glass (or seaglass). Today, the odd small piece still rolls in.

Nova Scotia Fort Point Museum beach glass

My final beach stop of Day 1 was the Number 1 beach from my childhood: Crescent Beach. As a kid, we would drive down, then drive on the beach to find the perfect spot. For a kid growing up in rural Nova Scotia, this was basically like living in California and being a movie star. In other words, glamourous beyond comprehension.

Thanks to a recent tip from my friend Ally (of Fashionable People, Questionable Things), I was surprised to learn you can still drive on the beach. In 2012. One nostalgia trip, coming right up!

Nova Scotia Crescent Beach

How awesome is that? It’s like being in a car commercial.

I parked and spent quite a bit of time walking along the 2-kilometre beach looking for sea life and watching a man and his son drive some sort of kite-propelled go-kart, when I found this little guy, trucking along at a remarkable speed for snail.

Nova Scotia Crescent Beach snail

If driving on the beach doesn’t sufficiently whet your appetite to visit, check out this boss food truck.

Nova Scotia Crescent Beach

That was a lot of beaching for one day, but I still had some gas in the tank (figuratively and literally) for more beach fun on Day 2.

Surfing USA Nova Scotia, Canada

In recent years, Nova Scotia’s secret popularity as a surfing destination has come into the light. Personally, I know very little about this, since everything I know about surfing comes from Point Break and Beach Boys songs.

This glaring lack of knowledge, however, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the aesthetic appeal of surfing. Early in the morning (since surfers around here seem to rise with the sun), I hit the road and headed east towards Lawrencetown Beach, one of the Nova Scotia’s best known surfing destinations.

Nova Scotia surfing Lawrencetown Beach

What I do know, based on conversations with real surfer friends, is there are two key factors: persistence and the ability to keep a secret. Diligent surfers monitor weather and wave reports, and the best surfing sites are often kept secret.

Nova Scotia surfing Lawrencetown Beach

Surfing looks pretty awesome. In equal measure, it also looks like really hard work, and requires two things I lack: upper body strength and patience.

Nova Scotia surfing Lawrencetown Beach

I watched this pod of surfers wait out a good wave for ages. This was easily my favourite part of the observation experience: the group bobbing along on the waves, watching for the cue that a good wave was coming, then, one breaking away, paddling furiously.

Nova Scotia surfing Lawrencetown Beach

Here’s the thing about surfing in Nova Scotia: the season is just beginning. Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) brings lots of exciting weather, which churns up some serious waves along our shores. Or, if you’re up for a memorable winter adventure, pack your long underwear and a dry suit, and … you can tell me all about it later.




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