A self-imposed mission to visit seven beaches in seven days within 90 minutes of Halifax, Nova Scotia lead Lisa and Garry to discover some sandy gems close to home.
On the eighth day, we rested. Sadly, we would not be going to the beach today. For the past seven days, every afternoon, we packed up the beach blanket and headed out of the driveway.
Sticking close to home this summer, when you live in the Maritimes, is like being at a resort. One that’s about the size of the Atlantic Bubble.
Our self-imposed mission? A beach a day for seven days within a 90-minute drive of our house in Halifax.
Nova Scotia is Canada’s Ocean Playground, after all. Even our license plates say so. Nowhere in the province are you ever further than 60 kilometres from the ocean. Canada’s second smallest province is almost completely surrounded by water. So yes, we have beaches.
Work schedules used to dictate so much summer travel for us. In 25 years, we have enjoyed only one or two beach days per year.
The summer of 2020 is a world of different.
After visiting seven beaches around our city, all we can say is: wow!
How lucky are we to have these white-sand, natural, spectacular beaches, practically at our doorstep!
We were there on a weekday afternoon, so the beach was practically ours.
It’s somewhat sheltered in a large cove. The waves that roll up onto the warm white sand are not really surf-worthy, but who cares?
So accessible, right on the edge of Cole Harbour, Conrad’s Beach has a small parking lot and no facilities. This is probably why there are not many people on the beach.
But again, who cares? It’s gorgeous, perfect for social distancing, and one of our favourites.
Walking the length of the beach is a must.
Crystal Crescent Beach
Crystal Crescent near Sambro, at the mouth of Halifax Harbour, is a beautiful natural beach that is rugged yet intimate.
Speaking of natural, if you take the scenic hiking trail from the main beach, you’ll eventually get to another beach that has a reputation for being VERY natural.
We honestly didn’t know about this ‘naturist’ beach until after we left. Honest.
Sitting on the beach or strolling is lovely but the best part about being at Crystal Crescent is staring out at the island offshore with its lighthouse.
The Sambro Island Lighthouse is the oldest standing and operating lighthouse in the Americas! The original interior tower, built in 1758, is intact. For 250 years, the light has guided vessels into and out of Halifax Harbour, through wars and peace, storms and calm, greeting immigrants, refugees and war brides.
We will definitely be revisiting this beach, if only to walk to the third beach and have a peek. That’s all. Just a peek.
When I told a friend that we had been to Rainbow Haven Beach on our self-imposed challenge, she commented: “I feel like all the people that were at the ‘Liquor Dome‘ on Friday night are at Rainbow Haven beach on Saturday.”
The various deep-bass drum thuds coming from a few different pods of people gathered on the beach would indicate that, yes, my friend may be on to something.
There are lifeguards so it’s a great beach for kids. If you want to be alone without the 808s vibrating the sand, go early in the day.
We hit Crescent Beach in Lunenburg County on a spectacularly large, deep-blue-sky Saturday.
As East Coast Testers who love everything wheeled, Crescent Beach is a stand-out because you can drive and park on the beach.
The truck bed of the 2020 Ford Ranger we were driving quickly morphed into the best beach lounger. Ever.
Crescent Beach is exactly what it says, a two-kilometre long, sandy crescent that consists of a beach and a parallel road behind the sand dunes. The sandbar connects the mainland to some of the LaHave Islands.
Before we left the Crescent Beach area, we deemed it our duty to drive to the end of the road on Bush Island. What a calm and peaceful surprise.
The drive from Halifax to Crescent Beach can be as direct as possible on Highway 103. However, we recommend Route 3. Take your time, stop in the charming, historic South Shore villages and towns, like Chester, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.
This is probably the beach we’ve frequented the most. It’s far enough out of the city to feel like you’re getting away from it all yet close enough for those ‘are we there yet?’ passengers.
Martinique Beach is almost four kilometres of luscious white sand with plenty of room to spread out.
The drive along the Eastern Shore, a more rugged coastline than the one along the South Shore, is beautiful but we opted for the express Highway 107 that gets us to Musquodoboit Harbour quickly. Martinique Beach is 11 kilometres from there.
On the way home from Martinique, duty and tradition demand a stop for clams and chips at Harbour Fish N Fries in Musquodoboit Harbour. The Bandwagon Food Truck across the street at the Musquodoboit Railway Museum serves up tasty treats, like fish tacos. Mmm fish tacos.
Clam Harbour Beach
One word: Spectacular! Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park a bit further away from the city along the Eastern Shore than Martinique but it’s a scenic, fun drive that lets you stretch the legs of whatever vehicle you’re driving.
Make sure to walk the length of the beach. At its westernmost end, depending on the tide, is a fast-flowing shallow river that carries you effortlessly to the ocean.
We came home from Clam Harbour feeling like we had had a real beach day.
We got to Lawrencetown after a long work day. If I surfed, this would be my daily destination in the summer. What an activity to blow off steam and think of nothing else. Talk about being in the moment. Turns out, watching surfers is also therapeutic.
The wind, the waves, the light – all helped with after-work decompression.
Lawrencetown Beach is renowned among surfers the world over. Even in the icy, dark months, you’ll find die-hard surfers trying to catch a wave in full wetsuits.
What an amazing selection of beaches in the Halifax-Dartmouth region. We know we missed a few. Hey! How about a round of 10 beaches in 10 days? We still have a few weeks of summer to go…