A lovely drive from Antigonish is along HWY 337. Pass rolling farmland with so many shades of green and tantalizing views of the ocean as you pass Mahoney’ Beach. As you approach Ballantyne’s Cove there is a lookout on your right.
The Fish ‘N Ships kiosk opened for the summer and the feast of fish and chips was delicious. A great selection of ice cream also available. We took our plates over to the pebble beach behind the Tuna Interpretive Centre. Such a beautiful peaceful spot. Just one other person on the beach.
Great place for a beach walk looking for colorful pebbles, or a paddle or a swim. I recommend beach shoes for the pebbles.
Explore Antigonish and the surrounding areas. This is a wonderful gift for newcomers, staff, family and friends. Antigonish Town, excursions within 2 hrs, day trips, outdoor recreation, hiking, history, culture, beaches, trails, nature and more.
NOTE – for accommodations and food it is best to check in advance about hours and opening.
Charlos Cove on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia is just 1 hr 40 minutes from Antigonish but it feels like a world away. Its a great place for a few days of peaceful relaxing and short explorations. Even the driving reminds me of my first trip there and “The Road Less Travelled”. Definitely not a lot of traffic.
Boylston Provincial Park
Enroute we stopped at Boylston Provincial Park, Day Use park has picnic tables and grassy area with lovely views of Chedabucto Bay. Walk down to the left of the entrance gate along a shady boardwalk to take you to a foot bridge over to a small island. A swimming, beach walking looking for pebbles and a shady island path are all great for the whole family. The park is just a few KM before you reach Guysborough town.
The ambiance of the town with its old homes and churches is from the late 1800s. The Old Court House Museum is a good stop to learn about the history of the area and to get any info you need for your trip. Only the visitor info is available during COVID times. There is a self-guided walking tour of Guysborough. Download the map. Stop for a meal at the Days Gone BY Bakery for a bowl of chowder, sandwiches and delicious baked goods. Browse antiques and local art. Head down to the marina and the Guysborough waterfront.
SeaWind Landing Country Inn is situated in Charlos Cove about 30 min from Guysborough town via Lundy. The inn’s proprietors Dave and Anne Marie are hospitable and welcoming and knowledgeable of the area. Our room was in the main part of the Inn, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sugar Islands just offshore. The water was so calm there was little sounds of the waves. Great place to watch the sunrise and sit out on our little patio or the chairs on the well-kept lawn. Of course everything was spotless and all social distancing and masks in place.
The food is always memorable with breakfasts of eggs benedict, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and my favorite the blueberry stuffed French toast. Of course with lots of hot coffee. The evening meal favorites were mussels in Pernod sauce, lobster croquettes, halibut, scallops all in delicious recipes. Best desert was the crème brule with Baileys Irish Crème.
We were lucky to get the special stay of 2 nights get the 3rd night free. This gave lots of time for an enjoyable staycation and take small day trips in the area.
Charlos Cove is adjacent to Larrys River. This is a hub of Acadian culture on the Eastern Shore. I enjoyed reading “The Forgotten Acadians … a story of discovery” by Jude Avery while exploring the area. In other years this area would be buzzing with activities for the Acadien Festival on August 15 but all was quiet this year. No matter when you visit take time to stop at the Acadien Interpretive Site with paintings and interpretive signs illustrating the history of the area – Larry’s Rover Parc de nos Ancestres across from the St. Pierre church. Also wander down to the footbridge crossing Larry’s River for a view of the river.
Tor Bay Provincial Park
Boardwalks lead through various types of vegetation to several sweeping sandy beaches with rocky outcrops. Picnic tables and interpretive panels give insight into the creation and history of the area.
Black Duck Cove
Just 30 min north of Charlos Cove, towards Canso is Black Duck Cove Provincial Park. The Canteen at the Parking entrance has ice cream and meals with picnic tables and benches in the sun or shade. It looked like the locals as well as visitors frequent the place as it is one of the few places available for food in the area. A series of boardwalks and walking trails lead around the area. The swimming beach has lovely soft sand and a protected beach. Benches and picnic tables make it easy to stop and relax weather you are a swimmer or not.
In October 2019 I was on a trip in Guysborough with travel writers sponsored by DEANS. Darcy and Alex of thank HarbourTone Productions created this video which captured the spirit of our adventures.
What about an afternoon drive out to Ballantyne’s Cove. Heading out on Hwy 337N from Antigonish, past the Hospital from the end of Main Street you pass through luscious farmlands with views of the ocean. Then up hill and down dale with wildflowers along the roadside and occasional views of the Northumberland shore. Just as you reach Ballantyne’s Cove stop at the lookout for a spectacular view of the cove, St. George’s Bay and Cape George beyond. You can use the map there to identify some of the places that you see including Cape Breton on the horizon.
Stroll around the marina and look at the Tuna fishing boats and pleasure boats. Learn about Tuna and Tuna fishing at the Tuna Interpretive Centre. Find some amazing facts about Tuna that have been caught in the area, the largest was over 1400 pounds. The Tuna season runs from August through October. Several tuna sport fishing charters are based here.
Behind the Interpretive Centre take a short walk to a crescent pebble beach perfect for dabbling your toes in the warm waters of St. George’s Bay, sunbathing and beach combing.
Enjoy a feed of Fish and Chips from Fish ‘N Ships. Or select one of their burgers or an ice cream.
Directions: Take Hwy 337N (past the hospital) 30 minutes along the Sunrise Trail.
A beautiful 35 minute (53Km) drive from Antigonish will take you to Cape George Lighthouse overlooking St. George’s Bay. Highway 337 winds through rolling agricultural lands and along the coast. Scenic views abound and this drive is sometimes called the “Mini Cape” or the “Mini Cabot Trail” and is part of the Sunrise Trail.
On a sunny day, enjoy views of Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island in the distance. Perhaps you will see an eagle soaring above or below you and sea birds skimming along the ocean below the cliffs.
View from Cape George Lighthouse
Cape George, Antigonish County
Imagine what it was like back in the day as the lighthouse keeper with his family living up here with his wife and children in all seasons.
The original lighthouse was built in 1861. The iconic white and red lighthouse style is similar to what you would see at Peggy’s Cove. The current lighthouse is the 3rd on this spot.
Nearby is a trailhead for Cape George Heritage Trail system.
Arisaig is a small picturesque fishing community on the Northumberland Shore, just a 25 min drive from Antigonish on Hwy 245.
Watch the fishing boats and the gulls. May and June are the lobster fishing season but some boats continue to fish during the summer months.
Crescent beach Arisaig
Fishing boats Arisaig
Arisaig Lighthouse Canteen
Enjoy an ice cream at the Lighthouse Canteen while you explore the colorful rocky cove – or at low tide walk on the sand of the crescent beach and go for a swim. From July 1 to end of August the Dockside Café has a light menu. Learn interesting facts about lobsters in the interpretive centre in the café.
There are other interesting things to do in the area to be explored in another post. Stay tuned.
Head to Columbus Field for outdoor recreation for the whole family. The walking / running track is a great place to get your exercise in a pleasant outdoor environment. Enjoy the water park and playground with the kids. Surrounding the field are “Pipers Glen” with shaded areas for walking, or contemplating nature by the river. Play a game of tennis. Relax at the picnic tables and benches.
The park is located at the eastern end of Main Street. It is also the venue for the Antigonish Highland Games and many other events in Antigonish.
Columbus Field – 121 Main Street, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Google Maps
Pomquet Beach is a great way to enjoy a beach outing just a short drive from Antigonish and a favorite with locals and visitors.
The three kilometers of sand and pebbles stretches along the Northumberland Shore and in summer the waters warm up to reach the same temperature as the air.
This is a great swimming beach with lifeguards posted on a marked stretch of the beach. In the distance on a clear day you can see Cape Breton.
Whether you enjoy swimming or beach walking this beach has lots to explore. Build sand castles, search for shells and colorful stones, and breathe in the bracing sea air. Sometimes the water is calm and flat. Other times you will find a small surf.
Boardwalks lead up to the beach and over the dunes giving a lovely view of the waving sea grasses that help to stabilize the sand dunes. Take the boardwalk trail and learn about the different vegetation and history of the area with interpretive signs. You will see blueberries and cranberries, mosses, a tidal estuary, old and new growth forest. The plants here are adapted to the salt environment. Some areas are protected for the piping plover when they are nesting.
Facilities include changing rooms and toilets. Be sure to bring your own water, sunscreen, snacks and anything to enjoy your day at the beach.
Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, is located north east of Antigonish off Highway 104 through the village of Pomquet.
Getting outdoors in nature is just a few steps away. The Antigonish Landing is great for a walk, run, biking or walking the dog. Two elevated platforms look over the wetlands to the farmlands on the Williams Point area.
The trail is accessible in every season. In the winter enjoy snow shoeing (Snowshoes available at the Town Hall and the People’s Place Library). Enjoy a hike or biking (bike rentals available from the Highland Bike Shop on Main Street).
Each season brings its own special enjoyment – spring buds, summer flowers and bird song, apples and berries in the fall. Each turn in the trail brings a new view making this a favorite for photographers. Ducks, herons and other water birds nest and feed in this wetland. Chickadees, red wing blackbirds, warblers and seasonal visitors feast on the berries and seeds.
This 2KM trail (4KM return) is on the outskirts of town. The first entrance is just across the railway tracks on the East end of town, on Adams Street. The 2nd entrance is off Hwy 337 just past Tony’s Meats on the Landing Road.
We decided to do a day trip along the Sunrise Trail from Antigonish, via Pictou to Tatamagouche.
Although the day was cloudy and cool in early June it was an enjoyable and scenic trip. We stopped at Seafoam Lavender along the Northumberland Coast. It was early in the season so the Lavender was not blooming but the scent on walking into their shop was heavenly. Kathleen welcomed us and explained that all the lavender products are produced in-house by this family owned business.
We purchased a couple of lavender plants for our garden and have been enjoying the Lavender Essential Oil and Lavender Soap to give that fresh lavender fragrance at home. There was a lovely selection of products – Lavender Sugar, Lavender Sea Salt, Essential Oils, Lavender Herbs, soap, creams and skincare products and more. The shop is very attractive and welcoming.
Outside we explored the information panels with their stories of lavender. You can learn a lot on this stop and it will be wonderful later in the season when the fields of lavender are in bloom. Thank you to Seafoam Lavender for their photos of the fields in bloom and their poster for the July Lavender Festival.
A great time to visit will be at their annual Lavender Festival July 15-16. Create your own lavender bouquet with U-Pick and enjoy the gardens in flower. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Northumberland coast. You will find Seafoam Lavender on the section of the Sunrise Trail between Pictou and River John.
SEAFOAM LAVENDER CO. & GARDENS
(SEASONAL ONLY, 1 JUNE – 30 SEPT, 10-6 DAILY)
AND BY APPOINTMENT
3768 HIGHWAY 6 (SEAFOAM)
RIVER JOHN NS B0K 1N0