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When it comes to travelling throughout Canada, many people seem to stick with the same tried and tested areas like the Rockies, Southern Ontario or Vancouver and Vancouver Island. While we can’t blame people for always going to a favourite spot in this vast and welcoming country, there’s a whole swathe of the country that many people often miss out on, and that area is known as ‘the Maritimes’.
The Maritimes of Canada consists of a number of provinces, all set along the Atlantic Coast. While Newfoundland isn’t technically considered a Maritime province when you discuss the area, we’re adding it in this list because it’s just so fantastic to visit. Sound like something you can get in on? Check out this awesome rundown of the Canadian Maritimes and then book yourself a cheap flight to Halifax to get started on an adventure of a lifetime.
Of all the Maritime provinces, Nova Scotia is probably the one that is visited most frequently by outside travellers coming to Canada. The capital city, Halifax, is home to an enormous international airport which has connections all over the world, making arriving here the logical option. St John’s in Newfoundland also has an international airport, albeit much smaller, but it’s quite far out of the way and you’d either have to arrange for onward flights (if not exploring the island) or rent a car or RV and drive from St John’s to Port Aux Basques on the west coast of the island to access the ferry.
Nova Scotia though is a beautiful place with a lot to see and experience. The Annapolis Valley is a haven for people working organic farms, producing their own craft beers and wines as well as growing good, home-grown food. You will find lots of cool farms out in this area, some with pretty unique and interesting concepts about how to grow organic food and lessen dependence on the corporate chain.
Head to the most northern bit of Nova Scotia to Cape Breton, where you can experience the wildly famous Cabot Trail, named after one of Canada’s most prominent and adventurous explorers, John Cabot. The trail snakes its way around the island and showcases some of Nova Scotia’s most untamed nature including sheer cliffs, beaches, forests and more. Take an RV and stop a time or two to overnight to really get a feel for this unique and beautiful part of Canada.
Probably the most well known part of New Brunswick is the Bay of Fundy. This interesting area lies right along the southern coast of the province, almost directly across from the southernmost point of Nova Scotia. Not only is the area beautiful and full of great opportunities for hiking, but it also it’s home to the world’s highest tides at Hopewell Rocks. This area is frequented by many people from around the country especially, who come to experience walking on the seafloor at low tide. Nothing quite beats looking up at the eroded rocks with a tree line that acts as a waterline when the tide is in – but be warned! Definitely pay attention to the tide times warning about when to be back at the steps back up to dry land, otherwise you will be in quite a pickle.
Oh, and did we mention the hiking trails nearby are pretty much perfect? Yeah, that.
Prince Edward Island
Canada’s only island province, Prince Edward Island, also known as PEI throughout Canada is a beautiful place nestled in the Gulf of St Lawrence, off the north coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The island is known for being a cornerstone to the development of Canada as a country when the leaders of various colonies met on the island in 1864 to discuss joining together in a confederation. Today, the aptly named Confederation Bridge which connects PEI to New Brunswick is a tourist attraction, with lookout points in New Brunswick attracting people to view and photograph this enormous bridge.
PEI is also well known for the red sand and soil that covers much of the island. The colourful contrasts of intense green hills, red soil and dark blue seas makes for some truly breathtaking photos. Lucy Maud Montgomery helped make PEI popular through her novels The Road to Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables. On top of this though, PEI is awash with beautiful beaches and quaint towns just waiting to be explored. If you want to seemingly get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, just come to PEI – even if you’re in the capital city, Charlottetown, you will feel like you’re in a small town.
Newfoundland and Labrador
One of our favourites in the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland is one of the most unique and welcoming provinces in Canada. The locals, primarily made up of English, Scottish, Irish and First Nations peoples are always happy to welcome those who ‘come from away’. Their hospitality made the news internationally during the 9/11 terror attacks in New York when the people of Gander opened their homes to those who found themselves stranded on this Atlantic rock when transatlantic flights were grounded and Gander was the nearest airport. Newfoundland is much like its own country that happened to just get lumped in with Canada, and it’s here you will find unique culture, music, and food. It even has many of its own brands of milk, cheese, cereals and more that you won’t find elsewhere in Canada.
Want the real Newfoundland experience? Seek out a Jigg’s Dinner – kind of a cross between a roast dinner and a stew. Better yet, if you can find a Newfie willing to cook one for you, you really lucked out. If you get invited to go ‘to the shed’, definitely take them up on the offer. Sheds in Newfoundland are a bit of a tradition and some are kitted out to the nines, much like a small cabin for hanging with friends, sometimes with couches, TVs, tables and the like. If you’re interested in something new and unique on your Canadian adventure – Newfoundland. You won’t regret it.
So whether you’ve been to Canada before or this is your first time, hopefully this short guide to the maritimes will help you plan an epic adventure to this part of the country. We hope you’ll give it a try at least once, even if your usual haunts are beckoning from across the country – you honestly won’t regret one second of your maritime holiday.
(But be sure to bring some wet weather gear. Don’t say you weren’t warned!)