In the Halifax region, there are over 1,000 lakes, 20 rivers, countless streams and 23 major coastal areas, providing those of us living in or visitng the region amazing opportunities for canoeing and kayaking.
Before a canoe or kayak adventure, make sure to plan your route! Water conditions change frequently with the weather, so always check water levels and the local forecast. I recommend reviewing the Canoe/Kayak Nova Scotia website for route information and maps.
Some of my favourite locations for canoeing and kayaking in Halifax include:
1 – Morris Lake
Found between Portland Estates and Caldwell Road is a 3.5km long lake, Morris Lake is a close to home paddling option. Public boat launches at each end of the lake make it easy to access the water. Summer canoe rentals are available from Kiwanis Beach off of Caldwell Road.
Banook and Mic Mac lakes are separated by a causeway (Highway 111). These freshwater lakes are a haven for serious canoe and kayak training. With private boat clubs on the lake, you have the option of paying for a membership to gain access to boats and lessons. For the average person, there are multiple public boat launches surrounding the lakes. Hourly boat rentals are available from Grahams Grove Park.
3 – Porters Lake
Outside Halifax to the east (on Highway 107), Porters Lake is a long lake spanning 19km. Great for adventure seekers as this lake connects with the Atlantic Ocean near Lawrencetown Beach. Consider Porters Lake Provincial Park as a boat launch point.
For the adventure inclined, you can paddle beyond Lake Mic Mac through to Lake Charles, a portage into Lakes Williams, Thomas and Fletcher. There are a few short portages into Grand Lake and to the Shubenacadie River where the route changes from fresh water to tidal waters.
This route may take a couple of days (one way), some paddlers may choose to camp at Laurie Provincial Park along the way.
Located off of Jubilee Road, the St. Mary’s Boast Club is a Halifax owned and operated facility. This location is a good beginner paddling area as there are staff on site who can teach you the basics and have the appropriate safety gear on hand.
On weekends, HRM offers free canoe rentals from morning until early evening. During the week, adults can rent kayaks for a reasonable price.
6 – Halifax Harbour
In recent years, you may have noticed more canoeing and kayaking in the Halifax Harbour, probably in part due to the harbour clean-up project. Kayak Halifax offers tours leaving from the Sands at Salter traveling along the Halifax Harbour shoreline. Kattuk Expeditions will bring you to McNabs Island.
For those wanting to paddle on their own, there are multiple water access points including, Point Pleasant Park, McCormacks Beach Provincial Park and Sands at Salter.
Located behind Martinique Beach Provincial Park, the game sanctuary is made up of 507 hectares of salt water and coastal wetlands, islands and forest.
Launch your boat from the parking lot and meander along tidal marsh routes. Keep your eyes peeled for different bird species. Check the tide forecast so you don’t get stuck!
Happy Dudes Surf Emporium offers daily kayak rentals and is only a few minutes away from Martinique Beach.
8 – Terence Bay
For those interested in sea Kayaking, Terence Bay (off of Highway 333) is home to rocky shorelines, a series of islands, and if you are lucky to see them, whales, tuna, and porpoises.
I recommend signing up for a paid tour and lesson if you are not comfortable in the water. East Coast Outfitters is an ecotourism company in this area who will coordinate boat rental and training.
For experienced paddlers, the Musquodoboit River can be an enjoyable route. I recommend reviewing Canoe/Kayak Nova Scotia – hosted information (e.g. maps, routes, warnings) prior to launching your boat. The rapids in this river can be quite dangerous after a rainstorm and quite shallow in periods of drought. Plan accordingly.