The phrase ‘staycation’ was actually coined by Canadian writer, Brent Butt, for his TV sitcom, Corner Gas. In October of 2005, gas station owner Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) loaded up on sunscreen and sun shades, then spent his annual holiday in a garden chair outside his gasoline station. Brent called his getaway a ‘staycation’. The phrase stuck.
I think I’ll take it to the next level. After an extended period of isolation and staying the blazes home, a Nova Scotia coastal tour was in order and definitely long overdue. Our escape was powered by the Lexus RX 350, featuring a 295-horsepower 3.5-litre six-cylinder engine.
The first leg was a very comfortable drive to the shores of Pictou County and the islands along the Northumberland Strait on the eastern end of the county.
Quarry Island, our first stop, overlooks Indian Island. Indian Island was a main encampment area for the Mi’kmaq people. This island would be an ideal place for the Mi’kmaq people to reside because of its sheltered location amidst the bays and coves. And it would be well supplied with food. From there, the Mi’kmaq would go inland to hunt and fish along the coast.
Off to a summer playground: Melmerby Beach, a provincial park about 10 minutes north of Little Harbour. Located on the province’s North Shore along the Northumberland Strait, this sandy beach is about two kilometres long. Originally named King’s Head Beach, the park takes its name from the sailing barque Melmerby which wrecked at this beach in 1890. Melmerby Beach ranks among one of the warmest waters along the eastern seaboard and gets great reviews as a vacation destination in Nova Scotia, offering a lifeguard service, public facilities, boat launching, salt-rinse showers and lots of parking.
Melmerby Beach Park
From the North Shore to the South Shore. About a two-hour drive south is Nova Scotia’s South Shore and St. Margarets Bay Road or the old Highway 3, a beautiful coastal drive. Our first stop was Hubbards, about 50 kms from downtown Halifax.
Hubbards is a popular summer time vacation destination. Lots of cottages, B&Bs, campgrounds and eateries. Don’t forget to enjoy a lobster dinner and live music at the Shore Club and the many sandy beaches nearby.
On to Chester. For a quick break, a stop at the East River Provincial Park is amazing. For a tiny park, it more than makes up in natural beauty. Even though you’re adjacent to Highway 3, it’s like you’re in another world with nature surrounding you. Perfect for that roadside picnic.
Just down the Highway 3 is Graves Island Provincial Park, joined to the mainland by a short causeway. A popular spot for RVing or camping with a 95 site campground, Graves Island is the perfect base for outdoor adventures including ocean kayaking, biking along the South Shore as well as day tripping to the South Shore’s many attractions.
Graves Island also hosts an annual show-and-shine that sees upwards of 200 classic, antique, tuner cars and hot rods descend on the park. Here’s to the return of this great show in 2021. The park also has walking trails, a picnic area, swimming areas and a boat launch.
The village of Chester is a community with beautiful stately homes and a breathtaking waterfront. Chester is situated on a peninsula at the head of Mahone Bay and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque communities to be found in Nova Scotia.
It’s been a summer getaway for generations of Americans and Canadians. Its history goes back 224 years when it was first settled by New England planters and fishermen.
At Chester, the waters of Mahone Bay and St Margaret’s Bay offer incredible paddling opportunities. The water is relatively shallow and there’s an abundance of fish which attract bald eagles, ospreys, tuna, and harbour porpoises. Try paddling early morning and late afternoon, when the winds are calmer, to venture out on the water.
It’s tough to choose which coast of Nova Scotia to visit, North or South. Both are spectacular and well worth the ‘staycation’. If you’ve got a Lexus RX 350, chances are you won’t choose, you’ll go North and South in comfort, luxury and style!