We’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time exploring our home province of Nova Scotia here in Canada. The diverse landscapes, interesting characters and wildly unpredictable weather never ceases to amaze us. You’ve likely heard of the usual suspects when it comes to tourist destinations so we thought we’d give you a different kind of list and round up the 10 most unusual or unexpected things we’ve discovered in Nova Scotia. So, without delay…
The 10 Most Unusual (or Unexpected) Things We’ve Experienced in Nova Scotia
1. Pictou Island
Located between Nova Scotia and PEI, Pictou island is unique in so many ways. This off the grid island is home to only a few permanent residents and summer homeowners and is accessible only by boat. The white sand beaches and turquoise waters rival some of the most beautiful in the world and there are surprises around every corner.
GOOD TO KNOW: The island is also home to a large blue heron colony, seal colony and a car graveyard which is one of the most surprising things we’ve ever seen! Read more about our visit to Pictou Island here.
2. Pollet’s Cove
We knew a hike had to be on this list and it was a difficult choice because Nova Scotia is famous for it’s hiking trails which are often compared to those on the west coast of Canada. Pollett’s cove makes the list because the reward at the end is only matched by the effort it takes to complete. At 16km long and difficult terrain, this hike isn’t for beginners but it’s worth it.
GOOD TO KNOW: The hike has many steep inclines and declines but when you reach the end, the forest opens up to one of the most magical sites in all of Nova Scotia. Pollett’s Cove looks like a scene straight out of a fairy tale and if you’re lucky, you’ll meet the horses who call this little peninsula home!
3. Steinhart Distillery
Steinhart distillery is located in Arisag, Nova Scotia. Well known for their unique vodka’s and gin’s, what makes this particular distillery so special is that guests can stay onsite in one of their country cottages and actually brew their own vodka.
GOOD TO KNOW: The accomodations aren’t listed on their website so you’ll have to call if you want to book.
4. Concrete Garden
Concrete Creations is located in Liverpool, Nova Scotia and is the brainchild of local artist Ivan Higgins. A winding, wooded trail leads you through a collection of intricate concrete sculptures, some of which standing well over 10 feet tall. The impressive collection is constantly growing, now with over 25 sculptures!
GOOD TO KNOW: The concrete garden is found behind the Cosby’s Garden centre and would be easy to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for.
5. Sable Island
Located about 175km off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, Sable Island is, in essence, an oversized sandbar and home to some 400 wild horses. Famous for its white sand, unpredictable weather events and shipwrecks the island is protected and managed by Parks Canada.
GOOD TO KNOW: Access to the island is becoming more and more accessible for the general public through various tour operators and promotions through Parks Canada.
6. Victoria Park
We couldn’t complete this list without including a true gem that lies in our hometown of Truro Nova Scotia. This 1,000 acre park, located right in the centre of town contains an extensive trails system, 2 waterfalls and the famous Jacobs Ladder which is 175 steep steps!
GOOD TO KNOW: Victoria Park is limited to day use only and also has biking trails, groomed cross country trails in winter months, an outdoor public pool, playground, baseball diamond and much more.
7. Coal Mine Tours
There are several museums around the province that pay tribute to Nova Scotia’s rich history of coal mining but our pick for this list is the Miner’s Museum. Located in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, tourists can visit the museum during the summer months and take a tour into a coal mine and learn about life underground.
GOOD TO KNOW: What makes these tours really special is that the guides are retired miners themselves, some of whom spent upwards of 30 years underground and their knowledge of life in the mines is extensive.
8. 100 Wild Islands
This archipelago of over 100 islands that stretch over 30km along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia are home to over 100 species of birds and have been largely untouched by humans for more than 10,000 years. The dramatic landscape and white sand beaches are truly astonishing and whether you visit by boat or enjoy the short hiking trail to shelter cover, it’s worth a visit.
GOOD TO KNOW: The area is protected by the Nova Scotia Nature trust who host several events each year to take visitors out to the islands to explore the bogs, barrens and boreal rainforests in a safe and respectful way. Read more about our visit to the wild island here.
9. Oyster Picking
Whether you like to eat them or not, oyster picking is something we think everyone should experience. There’s something about rolling up your pants and trudging around in the water for a couple of hours hunting for these little treasures that’s just quintessential Nova Scotia.
GOOD TO KNOW: Oyster picking is highly regulated in Nova Scotia so you either have to get a license (which is easy and inexpensive to do) or go with a tour. We recommend both! The two best spots we’ve found are Caribou Island and Brule shore.
10. Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head park is still one of the most magical things we’ve seen in Nova Scotia. As you descend the stone staircase and step out onto the ocean floor, it’s hard not to be amazed. What was filled with up to 53ft of water just hours before, now opens onto 360 degree panoramic views of the Bay of Fundy. Witnessing the extreme contrast of low and high tide is something everyone should experience but few actually have!
GOOD TO KNOW: Plan your day to see both low and high tide and be sure to mind the time as you explore the ocean floor. Leave plenty of time to get back up the stairs before the tide turns – it comes in quickly!