Adventures in Atlantic Canada

A New Brunswick family discovers the bright side of pandemic restrictions by exploring the natural beauty in their neck of the woods.

Family sipping Anne of Green Gables Raspberry Cordial SlushPhoto: Dianne Craswell
Hayley, Joey and Dianne enjoying an Anne of Green Gables raspberry cordial slush on the boardwalk in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Atlantic Canada Travel for the Whole Family

Vacationing and travelling amid a pandemic has been, to say the least, different. Last summer, as we took advantage of the Atlantic Bubble to explore closer to home, extra precautions were taken at each stop by both my family and those at the locations of our stops, as we all attempted to adjust to the “new normal.” It’s about looking after our fellow Canadians so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but at the same time trying to keep things as normal as possible in order to keep some sort of sanity. It has been a tough act to balance at times, especially as essential workers in the pharmacy and grocery store business.

I am the vacation planner of our family, which includes my husband, Joey, our then nine-year-old daughter, Hayley, and our dog, Winston. Normally, our trips entail a combination of visiting tourist attractions, such as amusement parks and zoos, as well as checking out local nature, including walking and biking trails, beaches, lighthouses and waterfalls. (Check out Canada’s most beautiful waterfalls.)

Last summer was about getting out to explore and see sights, some for the first time. While we would have been happy to spend our time exploring our home province of New Brunswick, we were glad to have the Atlantic Bubble open up just in time for the tourist season.

Over the course of the summer, during our various vacation times and extended weekends, we explored three out of the four provinces that make up Atlantic Canada. It will be such a relief when our entire country opens up, and we have the freedom to wander where we choose without limitation.

Atlantic Canada Travel - Anne's room at Green Gables Heritage PlacePhoto: Dianne Craswell
A visit to Anne’s room at Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Prince Edward Island

One thing that has been constant during this whole pandemic is that I have always had either my camera or my phone with me to capture our memories, wherever we ended up!

After the news that we could travel throughout the Maritimes, we decided to continue with our plans to visit Prince Edward Island, famous for its red soil, beautiful beaches, home-grown potatoes and, of course, a beloved red-headed girl by the name of Anne of Green Gables. We weren’t sure what to expect, and while there were still tourists around, it wasn’t the usual hustle and bustle of the summer season. A little piece of me was missing the annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival, as it would have been my 11th year attending. Due to COVID restrictions, the festival wasn’t able to happen, but I was glad to see they were putting their site to good use by putting on their drive-in concert series. (Check out the most famous house in every province.)

Dog celebrating birthday on beachPhoto: Dianne Craswell
Celebrating Winston’s 13th birthday at Blooming Point Beach in Prince Edward Island.

Typically, we camp in Cavendish and centre our adventures around the Green Gables Shore area. We are always open to exploring other areas of the province though. Winston has always camped with us wherever we go. It just so happened that he was celebrating his 13th birthday while on the island, so we took him to Blooming Point, a beautiful, long, sandy beach. It was an extremely windy day, so there weren’t many beach-goers, enabling him to roam freely and splash in the water, which in turn made us happy.

We used to do a lot of walking, but over the last few years, Winston has been unable to keep up, and because of that we have started biking a lot more. My husband added a carrier to the back of his bicycle, allowing Winston to continue his adventures with us. Cavendish has many biking trails, many of which can be reached without having to load the bicycles onto the back of our SUV. Plus, the trails are well cared for and relatively flat, which we love.

Atlantic Canada Travel - West Point Lighthouse in PEIPhoto: Dianne Craswell
A sandy walk leading to the West Point Lighthouse in Prince Edward Island.

I enjoy visiting lighthouses; the water views and towering structures in other provinces remind me of the ones at home. We climbed to the top of Point Prim, the first lighthouse built in P.E.I. It was originally made solely of bricks but was later covered with wood shingles for protection. We then strolled along the beach at West Point. I particularly loved West Point Lighthouse with its black-and-white striped paint, as most lighthouses you see locally are white and red.

Atlantic Canada Travel - Family campingPhoto: Dianne Craswell
Hayley, Winston and Joey relaxing at their campsite in Cavendish.

After taking a random night shot of the sky on a beautiful evening at our campground in P.E.I., I was drawn to a particular spot in the photo. I took the shot again, thinking maybe I just moved my phone slightly, causing it to blur. The result was the same. I zoomed in, and as I did so, I recalled talk of the NEOWISE comet on some friends’ Facebook pages. It turns out what I thought was at first a blur in the photo was actually the Comet NEOWISE! Since I knew it would be sticking around for a bit longer, I made plans to photograph it with my DSLR camera once back in my home province of New Brunswick. Green’s Point Lighthouse in L’Etete made the perfect location late one evening a few days later. I was fascinated with the result of capturing this rare event with such an amazing backdrop along the shore. This comet is not expected to be visible from Earth again for thousands of years from now. (Here are the best places in Canada for stargazing.)

Atlantic Canada Travel - Peggy's Cove LighthousePhoto: Dianne Craswell
Sunset at Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia

A place I’d wanted to visit for quite some time was Peggy’s Cove, so it was on our list when next we headed to the picturesque province of Nova Scotia. We were surprised by the landscape. The terrain was very rocky and unique, adding to the charm of the little community along the shore of St. Margaret’s Bay. Nestled on a bed of smooth rocks stands the famous Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. I’m intrigued with photographing sunsets, especially by the water, so we made sure to be there to watch the sun go down. We were not disappointed. (Find out the best place to watch the sunset in every province.)

Canoes on the Sackville River - Atlantic Canada travelPhoto: Dianne Craswell
A peaceful scene on the banks of the Sackville River, Nova Scotia.

Our campground in the Halifax area was on the banks of the Sackville River, which also allowed for some pretty sunset photos.

Biking on a forest trail with dog in towPhoto: Dianne Craswell
Joey and Winston biking in Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick.

New Brunswick

Living in the Maritimes means we have spent a lot of time along the coasts of our provinces. That certainly applies to time spent in our home province of New Brunswick. We spent time wandering the countryside and farmland around the Alma area and Fundy National Park. At the time of our visit, some trails were not accessible, but there are numerous places to explore the forest, follow rivers and walk on the ocean floor. Fundy is not limited to summertime use as the park is available all year round. So too is Kouchibouguac National Park, which we visited while camping in the Bouctouche area. There are more than 60 kilometres of bicycle trails in Kouchibouguac, and we biked a total of 23 kilometres over a two-day period. (Check out the best bike trails across Canada.)

Another favourite place of ours to visit is Shediac, New Brunswick, where there are trails that lead to the beach, through the woods to the Pointe-Du-Chene Wharf and downtown to the local market, among other places.

Sadly, we lost our boy Winston to cancer at the end of August, but we are so thankful to have spent that extra time with him, and we can cherish the happy look on his face as he spent his last days wandering the beaches, being chauffeured around behind our bikes, eating ice cream and, most importantly, spending time with his humans. Our adventures will be very different without him, but we will continue to journey on as there is still so much to see and do.

I encourage everyone to spend time with your family. Get out and explore as much as possible. A bright side to the pandemic restrictions is that it has opened our eyes to the opportunity to see places and things that we may have overlooked or not taken advantage of in the past.

Enjoyed these Atlantic Canada travel ideas? Check out 10 more essential experiences on Canada’s east coast.

Originally Published in Our Canada