Updated: Feb 22
I was recently asked to research a destination in Canada for a holiday, having been to Toronto, Niagara Falls and Ontario, Vancouver, Whistler and BC, Calgary, Banff, and Lake Louise and looking for somewhere different I came across Atlantic Canada But why visit the Atlantic coast when you live near one already in the UK you may ask? Why not try somewhere warmer? Well, Atlantic Canada is a great option for those wanting to tick off a large proportion of their travel bucket list, it's a short 5-hour flight (or was) with Air Canada from Heathrow to St John's. Plus they have only had 100 Covid deaths throughout the pandemic, so relatively safe due to good Covid protocols in place. And the average temperature in the summer is 23 centigrade, avoiding the UK heatwaves.
Icebergs - tick! Whale watching - tick! Beaches - tick! Amazing seafood and local cuisine to try - tick! Museums - tick! Exhilarating adventures - tick! Great people - tick!
The great Canadian outdoors looks perfect for that very special post-lockdown adventure. But why should Atlantic Canada be at the top of my bucket list?
1) Seafood lovers: stop here!
Atlantic Canada is the ultimate destination for seafood lovers all year round. Visitors can sample local delights (depending on how adventurous you are feeling) such as cod tongues and salt fish in Newfoundland and Labrador, also home to many fine-dining restaurants such as high-end pick, Saltwater restaurant, and chippies to rival those of the Brits (sorry)! One that is recommended by a local is Keith's Diner which is served with traditional toppings and gravy.
However, Atlantic Canadians are lobster-mad and you can buy fresher-than-fresh produce by the pound. One of my favourite to-dos, and one I would try, is going on a fishing expedition to find your own catch of the day. If you love lobster as much as I and the Atlantic Canadians do, you can attend July’s internationally renowned Lobster Festival in Shediac, New Brunswick for five days of succulent seafood and fantastic entertainment. This is definitely the next one on my bucket list as I heard from the locals that it is a great experience!
2) Behold the great Canadian outdoors!
Which destinations can say they have icebergs and beaches in close proximity? Look no further: in Atlantic Canada, you can get your fill of white, sandy beaches, red sandstone cliffs, and stunning coastal cliffs at the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the warmer months of June to September. Here, you can experience some of the best saltwater swimming in the warmest waters in Canada (up to 22 centigrade in the summer).
Iceberg Alley is a sight that can be visited during Spring and Summer in Newfoundland and Labrador. Chunks of ice that have broken from a glacier in Greenland floated to Canada to form the spectacular view. As an avid kayaker, I can take a tour and float through the alley on an unforgettable hands-on experience.
Told you that you can tick off lots of bucket list experiences all in one go here!
3) Visit a rare hotspot for whale watching
Whales really are mysterious and majestic creatures! On a trip to the Bay of Fundy, I may be lucky enough to see Humpback, minke, finback, pilot and North Atlantic right whales. The best time for this trip is from June to September. Although the creatures can be spotted onshore, it is best to take a zodiac boating excursion for the most thrilling and unforgettable whale watching experience. Not for the faint of heart, but the rare sightings of the whales would make even the most seasick of travellers step onboard.
4) Time travel with Anne of Green Gables
No, this is not the title of a new book and, no, you can't actually time travel with the Anne Shirley (this is not that kind of bucket list), but you can reminisce on your childhood by visiting the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. On Prince Edward Island, you can visit the green-gabled house itself on the island’s national park, or stop by the museum dedicated to the stories in Avonlea. Explore the recreated rural community of Avonlea Village, filled with whimsical shops and eateries. I am told you can almost imagine the books’ red-headed heroine there herself.
5) Let nature take your breath away with its record-breaking tides at Hopewell Rocks
Another way that Atlantic Canada can tick your bucket list off is with its record-breaking tides. In the Bay of Fundy, the difference between low and high tide is as much as 53 feet! Twice a day, more than the flow of all the freshwater rivers in the world combined filters out of the bay with a billion tonnes of water. This sounds funny, but at Hopewell Rocks, in the morning you can walk around the bottoms of the unique formations at low tide, and then kayak around the top at high tide. Now, where else can you do that?
So pandemic, travel restrictions, flight availability allowing this looks like a great escape to me in August?
Which reason gives you the biggest dose of travel inspiration? have you been to Atlantic Canada? Let us know!