There’s no better way to experience a place than by living like a local. Discover cool coffee shops, live music venues, and secret beaches with tips from locals who make Halifax an amazing place to live and visit. Each of these Haligonians are passionate about this place, and have a story to tell. Get to know them and experience Halifax like a local.
Tony Rusinak: Oceanside Adventure in Eastern Passage
Discover a bold Atlantic shoreline, wild harbour islands, and a bustling fishing village just a 20-minute drive from downtown Halifax-Dartmouth. Head to the easternmost point of the Halifax Harbour, where lobster fishers mingle with shopkeepers and adventures abound; Eastern Passage.
The sunrises and sunsets here are as temperamental and awe-inspiring as the North Atlantic itself. Early risers can find their sunrise perch along Shore Road while watching waves crash into Devil’s Island Lighthouse. This area is the #1 birding location in Nova Scotia with more than 300 identified species, so if you have binoculars that’s a plus. A short drive away, head towards Cow Bay to see the sun on the sea-to-sky horizon, a truly inspiring way to start the day. To watch from your car, park near the legendary Moose Statue at Silver Sands Beach.
For sunset, there’s no place like MacCormack’s Beach at Fisherman’s Cove. Stroll the boardwalk and gaze at the city skyline in the distance. As the sky changes colours, keep an eye out for the great blue herons heading back to the nearby islands to roost for the evening.
If you’re wondering about those mystical lighthouses towering above the fog, visit the Heritage Centre, a fantastic place for visitors of all ages to learn the history of the area. For those more interested in the rich military and air force history of the Eastern Passage area, be sure to check out the Shearwater Airforce Museum.
Surf, kayak, and hike your way from boardwalk beaches to nearshore islands. The Eastern Passage/ Cow Bay Area has a lot to offer for those who love the outdoors. More seasoned ocean adventurers can explore the coastline from Hartlen Point to Rainbow Haven for good opportunities to surf, paddleboard, and kiteboard. For kayakers and paddlers, put in at MacCormak’s Beach in Fisherman’s Cove. Ride the tides for amazing views of the uninhabited islands and oceanside views of the working fishing port.
A visit to the largest of the islands, McNab’s, is highly recommended. If you don’t have your own watercraft, A&M Sea Charters run regular trips daily. The island has lots to take in. Hike the more than 20km of well-marked trails through abandoned settlements full of rich military and farmstead history. Climbing the beachside bluffs, you’ll find spectacular views of the city skyline. The west side of the island offers a close-up view of active shipping lanes and the stalwart granite cliffs on the opposite side of the harbour.
Before you brush the sand off your feet, visit the cultural heart of the area, Fisherman’s Cove. The 200-year-old fishing village has repurposed a block of fishing shacks into an array of local shops. Kismet Design has an eclectic shop full of clothing and other handmade collectibles. For truly maritime gifts Shore Things has the bounty. Fisherman’s Cove is pet friendly too, so don’t forget spoil your seadog with a Hen and Goose treat at this pet boutique.
The Cove also has lots of eats to fill you up before or after your ocean adventures. For the sweet tooth, head for homemade fudge at Fudgy Chicks, ice cream and novelty candy at What’s the Scoop, and fresh baked goods at Lil B’s. For something more substantial, sit down for an oceanside drink and the local catch at Boondocks Restaurant.
With a short ride back to town, you won’t regret spending sun-up to sun-down in Eastern Passage. Anchors away!
Tony Rusinak (he/him)
Tony is Haligonian. After a decade of adventures worldwide, he’s realized that Halifax and Eastern Passage can compete with the best. When Tony’s not working at Dalhousie University, he can be found surfing, hiking, and freediving with his family, friends, and dog in hometown Eastern Passage.