Canada is a country of contrasts and nowhere is this more felt than in the Atlantic provinces. Swap the spires of the Rockies and the plains of the Prairies with pretty fishing villages exposed to strong winds and wild seas.
In the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador you’ll discover stunning national parks and get up close to myriad wildlife. You’ll also come across rum distilleries and sample some of the best seafood in the country.
From whales and seals to puffins, moose and bears, wildlife is aplenty in the Maritimes. Newfoundland and Labrador is a whale-watching Mecca, with numerous species, including humpbacks, blue whales and orcas, migrating past for most of the year.
In New Brunswick, you’ll get to meet the gorgeous cartoon-like puffins on a tour to Machias Seal Island, while birders will get a thrill out of spotting bald eagles, falcons and terns at many other locations around the province.
If you love lobster you need to put Halls Harbour Lobster Pound and Restaurant on your hit list. This unassuming co-op/cafe is one of Nova Scotia’s best dining experiences and a magnet for foodies the world over.
On the shores of the Bay of Fundy, you can watch the huge tides as you dig into a lobster you’ve plucked live from a tank, delivered to the chef and had served with hot butter. It’s a quintessential Maritimes experience.
Also in Nova Scotia, in the sea-faring town of Lunenburg, you’ll find Ironworks Distillery. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour to learn how apples, pears, grapes and berries are turned into award-winning rum.
For a fine-dining experience, The Windjammer Restaurant is an institution in Moncton, New Brunswick, and somewhere to savour classic steak and seafood dishes.
If you want to live like the locals, grab a clam digger and go fishing for clams with Island Boat Adventures, on Prince Edward Island. You won’t forget foraging for dinner like this anytime soon.
Explore the old growth forests and river canyons of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, in Nova Scotia. There are 26 hiking trails in the park and a great mix of gentle trails suitable for families, moderate tracks and serious climbs.
If you’re not into hiking, you can cycle or drive the Cabot Trail, which follows the coastline and makes for a great multi-day road trip.
Gros Morne National Park is another favourite. The UNESCO World Heritage Site will take your breath away as you hike exposed earth’s mantle and paddle or cruise through remote fjords.
Fogo Island Inn is one of the most prestigious hotels in Canada, but it’s far from your typical luxury property. Leave the diamonds at home as you settle into this stunning structure perched on the sub-Arctic shores of Newfoundland. Watch storms thrash the coastline or icebergs float past before retiring to the warmth of one of the inn’s wood-burning fireplaces.
If you prefer something more low-key and you’re a fan of the 1908 classic Anne of Green Gables, travel back in time on Prince Edward Island (where the novel was based) and stay in one of numerous B&Bs or cottages.
Words by Jennifer Ennion.
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