All posts by Chris Surette

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Top 5 HIKES in the Halifax Region

header image via @scrambledeggsandpomade

Halifax isn’t just about its downtown core, its amazing events, unique shopping, or its world-class culinary scene (although let’s be honest, those are pretty fantastic too). The Halifax region is home to some incredible hiking trails, and get this – they can be accessed within a 30-minute drive from downtown Halifax!

The variety of landscapes, scenery and terrain includes lakeside trails, ocean-side cliffs, serene woodland and secluded coves. And to top it all off, there’s no shortage of breathtaking views and vistas.

No matter what kind of hiking you want to do, throw on some layers to keep you warm, grab some snacks and enjoy the scenic trails of Halifax!

Here are my top 5 hikes within 30 minutes of downtown Halifax:
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Halifax from the water taxi - night

Top 10 places to watch the SUNSET in Halifax

Who doesn’t love a good sunset?

Here is a list of the TOP 10 places in the Halifax area to watch the sun go down – ENJOY!

1 – Dartmouth Waterfront, Dartmouth

Hop on the Dartmouth ferry and enjoy a stunning view as you ride across the harbour on the oldest continuously-running salt-water passenger ferry service in North America (say that 10 times fast…).

When you’re on the Dartmouth side, you can sit close to the harbour looking out towards the Halifax waterfront and watch the sun come down over the city.

🚗~10 minute drive from Downtown Halifax (or 15 minute ferry ride!) – directions

@thecanteenns - MUST CREDIT📍Dartmouth Waterfront

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Top 10 Beaches in Halifax you NEED to Visit!

There are many things that make the Halifax area an amazing place to live and visit, but for me, the one that stands above all else is the ocean.

The actual shoreline stretches approximately 150km in length, and the scenic Halifax drive along the coast can be done in about 3 hours (just under 200km) from Hubbards up the eastern shore to Ecum Secum.

The diverse coast includes many incredible beaches, several of them within minutes of downtown Halifax. So get your friends together, pack some snacks, bring a bathing suit and don’t forget your camera. Let’s go explore some of my favourite beaches in HRM!

TIP: Want to experience the beach without the crowds? Take a trip throughout the week or better yet plan, an evening trip and enjoy the crashing waves while you watch the sunset (bring a blanket), it’s the perfect date idea (you’re welcome). Feeling more adventurous? The best way to explore Nova Scotia’s hidden islands and beaches is by kayak. Contact East Coast Outfitters in Halifax, or Coastal Adventures in Tangier for more information.

10. McNabs Island Provincial Park

Not many people are aware that McNabs Island has a beautiful beach. Located just a couple km’s from downtown Halifax, McNab’s is usually an afterthought because you need a boat to get there. Being on McNabs is a unique experience in itself, with old forts that date back to the 1860’s. You can even make a night of it and camp, giving you more time to explore the 5km long island. The best beach is located at McNabs Cove, where you can sit and watch the boats come in and out of the Halifax Harbour

Getting there: You can get there by boat/kayak or you can charter a boat from downtown Halifax or Eastern Passage. On my recent trip out to McNabs with a few friends, we left from Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage for only $20 return, and were able to bring our bikes on to the island! Visit for more info!

9. Chocolate Lake Beach

Let’s go inland for this one. Located just 5 minutes from downtown Halifax, Chocolate Lake is the perfect spot on a nice warm summers day for a quick getaway. A great spot for families (lifeguards are usually on duty).

See map and directions

8. Conrads Beach

Just a 25 minute drive from downtown Halifax, Conrads Beach is a great spot to take off your shoes and walk in the sand. Located just a few minutes before Lawrencetown Beach, Conrads is one of the nicest sand beaches around. You can also take a stroll around the corner towards Stoney Beach (to your left, if you’re looking at the ocean) and explore one of the best spots on the east coast for kite/wind surfing and standup paddle boarding.

Getting there: The only downside is the parking lot can only fit about 6 cars, so you may have to park and walk a little bit.
See map and directions

7. Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park

Home of the annual “Sandcastle Competition” (August 24, 2014), Clam Harbour features a long white sand beach with a unique shallow tide stream that often means warmer water for swimmers. A true gem, located just 1 hour from downtown Halifax.

See map and directions

6. Bayswater Beach

Located just outside Halifax city limits on the scenic Route 329 drive, Bayswater is yet another picturesque white sand beach. Sitting on the beach, you can even look across St. Margaret’s Bay and see the world famous Peggy’s Cove in the distance. This gem is located about 1 hour from downtown Halifax, but the drive is well worth it. Give yourself some extra time and enjoy the coastal views and unique shops along the way.

See map and directions

5. Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park

Not only is Crystal Crescent a beautiful white sand beach (actually three beaches), it also features a great hiking trail along a diverse coastline. The trail takes you on a 13km loop mostly along the ocean, through some wooded areas and massive ocean rocks (similar to Peggy’s Cove). Located just 35 minutes from downtown Halifax, this is a must see area. As you are lying on the beach and soaking up the sun, you can see the Sambro Island Lighthouse, which is the oldest surviving lighthouse in North America (1759).

See map and directions

4. Rainbow Haven Beach Provincial Park

Definitely one of the most popular “beach bum” spots on a hot summers day, Rainbow Haven simply can’t be left off this list. Located 30 minutes from downtown Halifax, Rainbow Haven is tucked away in a cove which can often mean less wind, and thus more heat from the sun. On a hot summers weekend, make sure to get there early!

See map and directions

3. Martinique Beach Provincial Park

Considered the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia, Martinique Beach stretches over 5km long and is a popular surfing spot (rentals available). In addition to the amazing sandy beach, there are plenty of boardwalks and wooded areas to explore. Martinique is also a protected area for the piping plover, as well as a wildlife refuge for migratory waterfowl. It is about a 1 hour drive from downtown Halifax and definitely one of my favourites.

See map and directions

2. Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park

Lawrencetown is probably one of the most well known beaches in Nova Scotia, primarily gaining popularity for it’s sometimes world-class surfing (rentals available). Lawrencetown is also the quintessential Nova Scotia beach, featuring sand, rocks, cliffs, beach grass, big surf and surrounded by wildlife. Whether you come here to surf, swim, soak up the sun, walk the dog, or just sit and breath in the ocean air, Lawrencetown is a must visit.

See map and directions

1. Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada

Did you know that Sable Island is part of Halifax? Located approximately 300km from downtown Halifax in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, Sable Island is 42km in length and only 1.5km at its widest. The island is literally a sandbar (second largest in the world) and is well known for causing over 350 recorded shipwrecks. It is also one of the most beautiful and natural places I have ever seen. It is home to over 500 wild horses, numerous tropical birds and butterflies, sharks, whales and is one of the worlds largest breeding grounds for grey seals. It’s kind of cruel of me to put this on the list, because getting there is not easy (unless you have lots of disposable income). For about $3,000 you can get there via Adventure Canada’s boat tour or you can charter a flight through Maritime Air for about $5,000/day You can also use your own vessel, but you will need to get permission first. Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to witness two friends become the first known people to ever paddle a kayak to Sable Island from mainland Nova Scotia. The project was called “Paddle to Sable” and was intended to raise awareness around mental health and raise funds to send kids to Brigadoon Village kids camp. If Sable Island is not on your bucket list, it needs to be!

See map and directions



Top 10 adventures in Halifax you HAVE to experience!

Halifax is an ideal place for any adventure seeker. There are countless places to explore and discover, whether you’re just visiting or living in Halifax. Here is a top-10 list of adventures you can try this summer around the Halifax area to keep your adventure spirit alive. With so many types of adventures to do, this list wasn’t easy to compile. Grab a calendar and start planning your next adventure!


10. The Halifax Ghost Walk

Think you know the history of Halifax? This ghost tour is the oldest in North America and takes you for a walk from Citadel Hill down to the waterfront, stopping at many of the cities oldest (and spookiest) buildings along the way. Your guide will regale you with a history lesson of the city, and share with you some of the dark secrets that still haunt Halifax to this day. The tours run most nights throughout the summer, so check their website and meet at the town clock at 8:30pm sharp…if you dare.

More info:


9. Point Pleasant Park

Located just minutes away from downtown, Point Pleasant Park offers a quick escape from the bright lights of the city. The park is full of running and cycling trails, and also offers up some great oceanside views and even a small beach. Throughout the park you will find historic buildings, forts and monuments. Pack a picnic and sit and listen to the waves crash, or just watch all the sailboats and ships come in and out of the harbour.

During the summer months, be sure to check out a Shakespeare by the Sea performance, located inside the park everyday (except Mondays). This is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the park and the local arts at the same time!

More info:

Shakespeare by the Sea:


8. Duncan’s Cove Trail

Situated at the entrance to the Halifax Harbour, Duncan’s Cove is a true gem. Pack some snacks and enjoy the rugged coastline, as the 8km trail hugs the ocean and goes up and down valleys and coves. Along the way you can sit on the rocks and cliffs, watching the waves crash around you. On most days you will see seals playing and sunbathing on the rocks and I have even spotted dolphins and in the distance seen whales (bring your binoculars). To top it all off, along the trail you will see old bunkers from World War II.

Please be respectful of this area, as Duncan’s Cove is a community and the trail is on a Nature Reserve protected under Nova Scotia’s Special Places Protection Act. It is not a park, and the trail is not maintained. Whatever you bring in, make sure you bring out! Be aware that the trail can be muddy too (especially after some rain). And remember, this is Halifax so the fog can roll it at any time!

More info:


7. Sailing in the Halifax Harbour

The Halifax Harbour is an amazing resource. Not only does it provide great views from the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts, but it can be enjoyed by boat. The easiest way is to hop on the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry ($2.50/ adult). If you’re going to Dartmouth on the weekend, you can also enjoy the Alderney Market for some fresh local goodies (located right inside the ferry terminal building). There are also several sailing tours that will take you around the harbour in style, including the Tall Ship Silva or even a pirate experience on the Mar. There are also several yacht clubs that give lessons in smaller sailboats. Or you can even rent kayaks or canoes from places like the St. Mary’s Boat Club or Halifax Kayaks on the waterfront.

More info:

Tall Ship Silva

The Mar

St. Mary’s Boat Club

Kayak Halifax


6. Musquodoboit Trailway

This trail system is perfect for any type of hiking and wilderness adventure. The main trail starts near the Railway Museum in Musquodoboit (about 40 minute drive from downtown Halifax), and is a well groomed trail suitable for bikes and strollers. From this trail you can choose your own adventure, venturing off into several looped trails that climb up and provide stunning views of the Musquodoboit River and surrounding areas. This area is also known for climbing, with large rock faces and boulders. The main loop is the Admiral Lake loop, which starts 1.7km into the main trail and loops around for 5km before returning to the main trail again. The terrain can be slightly tricky, but nothing too difficult. When you get to the “look off” (you will know) make sure to pause and take in the awesome 180 degree views of the White Lake Wilderness Area. Be sure to pack lots of snacks and water.

More info:


5. Bluff Wilderness Trail

Many people from Halifax have never even heard of the Bluff Wilderness Trail. Located just 20 minutes from downtown behind the bustling Bayers Lake Business Park, this trail is one of the most diverse inland trails in the province. There are four loops within the trail system and it totals over 30km. The trails run through ecologically sensitive barrens, woodlands with a variety of trees such as red maple, spruce and oak. The trails go mostly through wooded areas, with many high peaks allowing for amazing vistas of the surrounding lakes. You could spend all day, or just a few hours exploring this area. Pack lots of snacks and water and enjoy all that this trail has to offer.

More info:


4. Rails to Trails

Looking for a sweet day trip? Hop on your bike and start out at the Bike and Bean Café in Tantallon and the next thing you know, you’ll be swimming in the ocean in Hubbards! The total trip is 32km (each way) and the trail is easy and family friendly. Don’t have a bike? That’s okay. The Bike and Bean actually has bikes for ½ days, full days and even 7 days rentals. These rentals include kids bikes and tag-a-longs for smaller children. This coastal trail travels through wooded areas, beautiful ocean vistas, across rivers and at times you will feel completely secluded. Enjoy!

More info:


3. Surfing at Lawrencetown Beach

Believe it or not, people travel from all over the world to surf on the shores of Lawrencetown. Yet most people who live here, have never even tried it. While I understand it can seem pretty intimidating, there are many ways to ease yourself into the sport. You can call East Coast Surf School, who will provide you with all your gear, a world-class lesson and teach you some surf etiquette. You can also just rent a surfboard and wetsuit and go for it. The best and easiest place to get started is at Lawrencetown Beach, located about 30 minutes from Halifax.

More info: East Coast Surf School


2. Kayaking in Lower Prospect

Whether you are an experienced kayaker, or just trying it for the first time, there’s an option for everyone. One of the most picturesque paddles is only 30 minutes from downtown Halifax in Lower Prospect, with East Coast Outfitters. Here, you can rent kayaks or even have a guide come with you. Paddling in between islands and coves, you will feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful shoreline. The folks at East Coast Outfitters may even show you a couple local secret islands and beaches! There’s no question that getting into a kayak is one of the best ways to relax and get an unprecedented perspective of the ocean and nature.

More info:


1. McNabs Island

You can see it from the Halifax waterfront, sitting there in the harbour. No, not that little island, that’s George’s Island. It’s that big one just a little bit further out in the harbour. McNabs is somehow still a mystery to many who are from Halifax, yet it is only a short boat ride or kayak away. So why is McNabs #1 on this list? Because no other major city in the world has an undeveloped island gem just minutes from the downtown core, ready for you to explore. McNabs is full of history, with a Parks Canada site and old forts and buildings that give a glimpse into what life used to be on the island. The island is about 5km long, and can be easily travelled with good ocean view trails and an old road that runs through the island. McNabs gives some incredible views of Halifax and out towards the Atlantic Ocean, where soldiers used to survey the waters for German u-boats. There is a lighthouse and a remarkably beautiful beach. You can even camp on McNabs and relax and watch the sunset over the city of Halifax (highly recommended to sit at Fort McNab or Fort Ives to watch it).

Getting there: You can kayak or take your own boat and enter at McNabs Cove or Wreck Cove. Or you can get there by various charter boats. If you charter a boat, ask if you can take your bike with you, having your bike is an amazing way to zip around the island.

More info:


Kayak rental: Kayak Halifax