​How To Explore Canada’s Atlantic Provinces

Trinity Coastline, Newfoundland

With its breathtaking-coastlines, world famous self-drives, mouthwatering-seafood, and welcoming people, Canada’s Atlantic Provinces are well worth a visit. If you love the great outdoors, long for simpler times and wish to follow trails dedicated to your taste buds, you’ll discover much more here than just scenery.

In fact, this region promises to stir your very soul, its First Nations people connecting you to the earth, water and sky, their legends still living large on the landscape. Featuring some of Canada’s greatest storytellers, hear how the mighty whale created the awesome tides in the Bay of Fundy, the UNESCO Global Geopark set between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; marvel at Glooscap’s (God of the Mi’kmaq) artistry as he brings Prince Edward Island to life, and in Newfoundland & Labrador listen to the tale of Glooscap’s creation.

Journey through one or all four Atlantic provinces with us and come coastal adventuring Canadian style…

New Brunswick

Fredericton’s Cycling & Beer tour, New Brunswick

Much more than a drive-through province, in New Brunswick every journey yields new discoveries. Proud of its French heritage, tap into a wealth of history at the Acadian Historical Village, a living museum with interpretive guides dressed in period costume and original buildings dating back to 1770.  The culture is felt in their music, food, language, festivals, history and undeniable ‘’Joie de Vivre’’ that will make you feel like a local at no time.

Fast forward to the present day in Saint John, Canada’s oldest city moving with the times, its microbrew pubs and farm-to-fork bistros catering to a cosmopolitan crowd. One of three major cities in the province, Moncton and Fredericton, New Brunswick’s capital, are also worthy of a visit, the latter holding sway with adventurous types. Paddle board, kayak or jet boat on the Saint Johns River which snakes its way through the metropolis, or cycle across the city’s 74 mile-trail network, the pathways running parallel to the river’s edge.

Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy

Most of New Brunswick’s major sites hug the coastline, Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy the main attraction. For thousands of years the massive tides, which are the world’s highest (reaching from between 32 and 46 feet), have been carving out the flowerpot shaped rocks. An impressive sight, at low tide it is possible to stand on the ocean floor and gaze upwards at these free standing sandstone stacks, over 20 of them dotted along a one mile stretch of shoreline. When the tides roll back in, enjoy a guided night kayaking trip, as this is a truly atmospheric way to experience the otherworldly surroundings.

Whale watching is a highlight at St. Andrews by-the-Sea

Wildlife are also a main feature in the province, with whale watching a highlight at St. Andrews by-the-Sea (the town set on the Passamaquoddy Bay), and canoe trips to see the grey seal colony on offer in Kouchibouguac National Park. And of course, New Brunswick, like all of the Atlantic provinces is notable for its fresh seafood. Known as the Lobster Capital of the World, make a date with Shediac in July when the town hosts its annual Lobster festival.

Newfoundland & Labrador

A cityscape of St. John’s, Newfoundland’s capital

Newfoundland and Labrador is situated at the most easterly point of North America. The youngest of all four provinces, there is a blend of English, Irish, French and Indigenous influences amongst its communities, and this melting pot forges a unique culture where people are mindful and life is lived in the present. Whether you are travelling through the capital of St. John’s which meshes big-city luxury and traditional small-town charm, or a tiny fishing village, you will find a warm welcome and a desire to share stories and a way of life.

In every corner of Newfoundland nature abounds, the Codroy Valley on its West coast located on the International Wetlands scenic driving route. The ultimate roadway for spying migrating fowl and rare birdlife, raptors arrive here in the fall and songbirds like the white-throated sparrow are regulars on the trail in the summer. More than 19 species of waterfowl have been sighted in the Grand Codroy Estuary with shorebirds including the endangered Piping Plover often spotted on the sandy beach at the river mouth.

Quirpon Island in Newfoundland boasts the longest iceberg viewing season

Iceberg viewing is a real treat in this part of the world and Twillingate, Bonavista and Quirpon Island all sit on Iceberg Alley, with Quirpon, which is located at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, boasting the longest season (lasting through to August). Whales also make their way through these waters (seven species in total), diving gannets and zipping dolphins joining the humpbacks and minkes. A once in a lifetime experience, what makes this location so special is the opportunity to watch the marine menagerie a mere few metres from the shoreline.

Walk across the earth’s mantle in Gros Morne National Park and straddle 500 million years of history

​You could argue that Mother Nature made Newfoundland her masterpiece, as in the remote Gros Morne National Park, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), you will have the chance to straddle 500 million years of history, this one of only three places in the world where the earth’s mantle is exposed above sea level. Full of fabulous vantage points, the Gros Morne Mountain hike allows hikers to wildlife-watch from 2,500-feet,  while moose, caribou and black bears wander below.  A land of almost endless bucket list locations, the province also shares a section of the International Appalachian Trail, the pathway leading 2,000 feet up into the Blow Me Down mountains for spectacular views over the Bay of Islands, the inlet named by Captain James Cook.

Another hiking friendly destination is Fogo Island. Set on a mass of ancient rock off the province’s north east-coast, it is remote but accessible.  Home to a socially conscious project that aims to uplift travellers, the environment and the local community, a stay here, as with all of Newfoundland, makes the journey to reach this far-flung outpost more than worth it.

Nova Scotia

Breathtakingly beautiful, Cape Breton Island is home to the Cabot Trail – one of the greatest road trip destinations in the world

Only a six hour flight from the UK, Nova Scotia is easy to reach, the vibrant capital city of Halifax just a 30 minute drive from the famous Peggy’s cove. But full of hidden treasures, it’s more than deserving of a longer stay.

Heralded as one of the greatest road trip destinations in the world, the province’s Cabot Trail boasts breathtaking scenery. Rising out of the sea and clinging to the rocky, jagged cliffs, this stunning 186 mile route on Cape Breton Island is a pleasure to drive. Along the way, you will find scenic overlooks that also serve as whale watching points (Nova Scotia is home to 12 different species), secluded coves, beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages, old growth forest and prehistoric rock scarred by glaciers. If the whales elude you on your shoreline visit, you can always zip along the coast in a zodiac, the world’s largest mammal is often joined by dolphins, seals, leatherback turtles, puffins, eagles and more.

The Chowder Trail and the Lobster Trail speak to the culinary prowess of Canada’s Ocean Playground, but its wine scene is just as inviting. Annapolis Valley is home to the province’s newest boutique winery, 1365 Church Street Vineyard & Winery opening in 2021; its first organic winery, L’Acadie Vineyards; and a 2022 award winner, the Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards.

Tide out at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia

For the more adventurous, there is tidal bore rafting in the Bay of Fundy: a UNESCO Global Geopark. Twice a day, the Shubenacadie River turns into a water roller coaster as 160 billion tonnes of ocean water runs into the bay. Follow up with mud sliding, and as one does when one is in Nova Scotia, feast on a succulent lobster.

Discover Mi’kmaq legends in Nova Scotia’s ​Kejimkujik National Park,(c) Patrick Keller

​​​A large portion of today’s Mi’kmaq communities are located in Nova Scotia, so no Bluenose trip would be complete without a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of the First Nations people. The perfect place to discover their many legends visit Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site its ancient petroglyphs and Indigenous guides bringing their story to life.  

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island inspired the Anne of Green Gables novel

The smallest of the Atlantic Provinces at just 40 miles wide, Prince Edward Island is a beachcombing paradise: there are 90 beaches that will make your soul sing. The Island is the ideal place to escape from our fast-paced lives. Its rural charms and storybook setting inspired the world-renowned novel Anne of Green Gables, you can visit the site in the Prince Edward Island National Park. The park offers stunning, natural beauty with waves lapping the pristine beaches and windswept sand dunes. Remember to bring your camera!

Prince Edward Island is also a fabulous place to enjoy a round of golf: pictured, the 17th green of The Links at Crowbush Cove

​The 435 kilometre Confederation Trail runs tip-to-tip across Prince Edward Island and is best explored on foot or bicycle. Branch trails run through small towns and communities where you will find plenty of accommodations, restaurants and pubs, picnic areas, and local experiences such as clam digging, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and more.

End your trip with a night at the West Point Lighthouse: Canada’s first inn, an active lighthouse that is an actual designated heritage site. Perfect for honeymooners, stay in the Tower Room. Five stories high, the room features a round, glass-enclosed walkway with a 180-degree view of the coast and rural landscape.

Wherever you stay and whatever you do, any journey here will allow you to appreciate the simple life, Prince Edward Island’s sandy beaches, hidden coves, rolling pastoral lands and dense forests still home to fisherman and farmers.

For more information on the holidays we offer at Frontier Canada, and to book, call us on 020 8776 8709 or email us at canada@frontier-travel.co.uk. ATOL PROTECTED No 5405 ABTA W3207.