One of the best parts of Halifax’s location on the Atlantic coast is the stunning beaches in the surrounding area. Nova Scotia is home to more than 7,400 kilometres of stunning coastline, packed with beaches of every kind. Whether you’re looking for a coastal adventure, planning a family beach day, or seeking a relaxing seaside retreat, this selection of local favourites offers some of the best beaches in the Halifax region.
Want to experience the beach without the crowds? Take a trip to the beach during the week, or better yet, plan an evening trip and enjoy the crashing waves while you watch the sunset!
Cow Bay, Eastern Shore | 35 min drive from downtown Halifax
Plan a family beach day at Rainbow Haven Beach Provincial Park in Cow Bay. Complete with a picnic area, boardwalks, changing rooms, and showers, this spacious and sheltered beach is the perfect place to wade into the calm water with the kids. Cap off the day with some gourmet soft serve on the sunny patio at Selby’s Bunker in Cole Harbour.
Spry Bay, Eastern Shore | 90 min drive from downtown Halifax
Looking for an adventure? Set off for the beaches at Taylor Head Provincial Park in Spry Bay. Pick up a picnic lunch at Uprooted Market & Café on your way through Musquodoboit Harbour, then continue to Taylor Head to explore kilometres of scenic coastal trails before settling down to your picnic lunch and a refreshing dip in the clear turquoise waters of Psyche Cove Beach.
Treat yourself to a post-hike reward with a visit to the taproom at Sober Island Brewing Co. in Sheet Harbour before making your way home.
Sambro Creek, Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region | 40 min drive from downtown Halifax
Crystal Crescent Beach consists of three gorgeous white sand beaches and a 10-kilometre loop trail along a diverse coastline. If you’re a morning person, catch the beach at sunrise and stroll the sheltered coves. Bring a blanket and dig your toes into the soft sand as you listen to the gentle lapping waves.
As you’re lying on the beach and soaking up the sun, see if you can spot the Sambro Island Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse in North America (1759).
On your way back to the city, settle into a cup of coffee and a freshly-baked treat on the sunny patio at Pavia Gallery in Herring Cove.
East Petpeswick, Eastern Shore | 60 min drive from downtown Halifax
Morning, noon, and night, Martinique Beach in East Petpeswick is a sandy slice of paradise. Spanning 5 kilometres, this is the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia, making it the perfect place to stretch out and soak it all in. If you’re in the mood for an adventure try a surf lesson with Halifax Surf School, or head out for the sunset and watch as the open skies transform with the arrival of millions of dazzling stars.
Lawrencetown, Eastern Shore | 35 min drive from downtown Halifax
Boasting world-class surf conditions, Lawrencetown Beach in East Lawrencetown is a paradise for surfers of all abilities. With consistent swells varying in size from one sandbar to the next, this sand-and-cobble beach is one of the best places to surf on the East Coast.
East Coast Surf School is one of several surf schools that offer lessons and equipment rentals which you can continue to use for the day after your lesson is over. Stop in at Lawrencetown Beach Café to fuel up with a coffee and a snack before or after your lesson.
Queensland, Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region | 40 min drive from downtown Halifax
If you’re looking for a journey that’s just as stunning as the destination, Queensland Beach is the ticket. Take a cruisy coastal drive along the famed Lighthouse Route and discover the charming homes, shops, and restaurants scattered along the way. When the sun sets, this quiet beach is bathed in dreamy shades of pastel pink and purple. Pack a sweater and cozy up to stellar views of St. Margaret’s Bay.
Lake Charlotte, Eastern Shore | 60 min drive from downtown Halifax
Home of the annual Clam Harbour Beach Sandcastle Competition, Clam Harbour Beach features a long stretch of sandy shore with a unique shallow tide stream that often means warmer water for swimmers.
Halifax Harbour | Getting to McNabs Island
Not many people are aware that McNabs Island has a beautiful beach. Located just a couple of kilometers 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 1860s.
The best beach is located at McNabs Cove, where you can sit and watch the boats come in and out of the Halifax Harbour.
Lawrencetown, Eastern Shore | 40 min drive from downtown Halifax
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 sandy 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.
Did you know that Sable Island is part of the Halifax Region? 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 (the 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 world’s largest breeding grounds for grey seals.
Photo: Brinton Photography via Sable Island National Park Reserve
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