The Maritimes is the regional name for the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The islands and peninsulas of the Maritimes are beautifully rugged, and its landscape is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its beauty, travellers often choose to visit Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal over places such as Halifax, Charlottetown or St. John’s.
Even though this section of Canada is comprised of three provinces, they are the smallest ones so in total it amounts to just over 1 per cent of the country’s land surface. But, while it may be small in size, it sure packs a punch! In fact, Nova Scotia’s capital Halifax was voted fourth on TripAdvisors list of top ten tourists destinations ‘on the rise’.
Here are my top reasons for visiting the Maritimes!
Stunning Coastal Views
No matter where you visit in the Maritimes you are never far away from the coast and what a beautiful coast it is. Small fishing towns line the coastline providing many an Instagram worthy pic of lobster pots and buoys. Many communities are kept afloat by shellfish and lobster exports.
Highlights include the famous lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove (Nova Scotia) one of the most photographed landmarks in Canada which sits on the rocks of a colourful fishing village. In New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy hosts the highest tides in the world at 16 metres high. I’ll be visiting here in September and can not wait! On PEI the red cliffs provide a beautiful sight on a peaceful coastal drive.
With fantastic coastal views comes fantastic hikes, what better way to take in the beautiful vista than on your own two feet!? There is something for everyone in the Maritimes from casual boardwalks along the seafront to scrambling across the rocks. Plus, you can spot all sorts of wildlife, including bears, moose, deer and bald eagles. Local highlights include Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Fundy National Park and PEI National Park.
Tip: if visiting in winter, don’t miss out on these wonderful hikes, grab the snowshoes
After all that hiking you’ll want to refuel so it’s lucky there are loads of brilliant restaurants and cafes throughout the three provinces. Maritimes boast some fantastic local eateries for any budget and appetite. In fact, I had the best pizza of my life in Charlottetown (PEI) at Piatto Pizzeria! I would thoroughly recommend the Piccante e Affumicata, a creamy garlic ‘white’ pizza base topped with mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, finished with a drizzle of honey… it’s to die for! Plus, they have locations across the Maritimes. There is no picture as we ate it too fast!!
In Nova Scotia I would suggest heading to The Back Sheep, Hali Deli, Vandal Doughnuts and The Naked Crepe.
I’ll be visiting New Brunswick more thoroughly in September so check back for more recommendations.
If it’s burgers you’re interested in, check out my guide to Halifax Burgers here.
Top Notch Beer
To wash it all down sample some of the local beers. Craft breweries are booming across the whole of Canada and the Maritimes are no exception. I personally am still trying to find a beer I like so recommendations here are from Matt and his Dad. In a host of ‘achingly trendy’ (actual quote from Matt’s Dad!) locations you can try some of Matt’s favourites:
Nova Scotia: Had good beers from Good Robot, Propeller, Unfiltered and Big Spruce Breweries but all-time favourite was Priority Pale Ale (North Brewing Company, Halifax)
PEI: Do Good-er APA (Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown)
New Brunswick: Maritime Pale Ale (Grimross, Fredericton)
If you are not a fan of beer, like me you could also try some of the local cideries or vineyards. Many open their doors for tastings, including Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville (Nova Scotia) which was my personal favourite.
Whilst Canada is a young country a lot of its history is in the Eastern provinces. For example, Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of Canada, you can explore the historic founding town of Charlottetown through a host of informative boards, statues and plaques dotted around. Or drop by the local legislature building, Province House.
Check out more reasons why you should visit Canadian legislative buildings here.
The cultural heritage of the area is also very varied. First Nations people such as the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet were present in the Maritimes long before any European settlers. Europeans came from France, Scotland, Ireland and Britain. Their influence can be seen throughout the provinces. For example, Nova Scotia means New Scotland. The history of the area can be complicated as many have tried to make it their home, sometimes in harmony and sometimes not. It is well worth taking the time to learn about it.
Fun fact: New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada (English and French)
Easy to get to
As I mentioned at the start these are the three smallest provinces in Canada this makes it great for road tripping. Its super easy to hire a car and cruise around all three. Driving from Halifax to PEI is easily do-able in one day for example, although you can take more time. Driving to PEI also means you get to cross the Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters.
So, what’s stopping you visit the Maritimes now, eh?
Thanks for joining me again for A-Z Travels, if you enjoyed it please give it a like and if you loved it give it a share! Next week I will be exploring the Maritimes more with N for Nova Scotia. Happy Travels 😊