If you love lobster, seascapes, oceans and tides, and whales, then the Maritimes is YOUR kind of road trip.
From the northeast US, ferry from Portsmouth ME to Yarmouth Nova Scotia, your first landfall in the Maritimes. The ferry departs Maine this summer at 9pm, making an overnight voyage that arrives into NS at 8am AST. For yourself, you can choose a flat rate or a cabin, but for your car, make a reservation early!
WELCOME TO THE MARITIMES
Enjoy your drive, counter-clockwise around this Maritimes peninsula. Make sure you stop in Mecklenburgh, a quaint maritime-focused village, with offshore islands called the Tancook, which make an interesting day trip.
In nearby Lunenburg, you’ll want to see if the Blue Nose II is in port. Lunenberg is a world class shipbuilding port near Chester, and the home of the BlueNose. If it’s not off on tour, you can take a sail on this mighty schooner!
And another Maritimes’ wonderful stop is Mahone Bay where you’ll find a sailing school and opportunities to get out onto the water for a taste of this sailing life.
Before you leave the Lunenberg area, Ovens National Historic Site and Park is a beautiful series of sea caves, famous as the site of 1860’s gold-rushing in this Maritime area.
Halifax marks the border between southern Nova Scotia and the Cape Breton National Park to the north. You can stay overnight in Halifax at the lovely boutique Waverly, but don’t miss the Press Gang pub! It was named after the historic maritime practice of getting patrons besotted, and then pressing them into service, as they’d wake up from their hangover the next morning, miles out to sea.
NEXT MARITIMES STOP: CAPE BRETON ISLAND
The northern half of Nova Scotia is Cape Breton Island. Whale-watching is a big deal here, whether from the coast (like here off of Fisherman’s Cove near Pleasant Bay where there’s also a Whale Interpretive Museum) or from a boat (like Captain Cox’ Hazel Mabie, a 27′ zodiac whale and seabird watcher with 97% success!)
And one of the most unique (and non-maritime) activities on Cape Breton are the ceilidhs. These are pick up musical improvisations with celtic instruments — fiddle and definitely a piano. You can experience a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, but there’s an entire ceilidh route you can follow too.
NEXT MARITIMES STOP: PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Ferry westward from Caribou NS to Woods Island PEI, and head westward along the northern coastline of red beaches.
Pretend you’re Kate and William, the royals, and splurge on an overnight at Dalvay by the Sea, an old beach barn facing the quiet waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Nearby is the storied cottage of Anne of Green Gables. Bike the Confederation Trail, a car-free route that traverses this flat, pastoral isle, and then head down to Victoria, for some more lobster shanties and tidal flats which make for an unforgettable low-tide stomp.
One amazing activity to do on PEI, that’s an iconic Maritimes event, is the Clam Dig. Boat out, dig your own clams, then BBQ them on a beach — all with the guidance of a PEI guide!
LAST MARITIMES STOP: NEW BRUNSWICK
South over the bridge and into New Brunswick where you could spend a month, but if you only have a day, you should kayak the Bay of Fundy, one of the highest tides in the world (over 30′!)
THE BIG PICTURE:
Here’s a map of these Maritime provinces so you can envision the counterclockwise route for yourself: