If you’re looking for a charming and unforgettable escape, Noel Nova Scotia is a hidden gem that should be at the top of your travel list. This coastal wonderland boasts breathtaking landscapes that will leave you awe-inspired. Imagine strolling along pristine beaches with the iconic Bay of Fundy tides at your feet, exploring quaint fishing villages that feel like stepping back in time, and indulging in some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste. It’s also home to the world’s highest tides, where the water level can change by as much as 50 feet in a matter of hours. These tides also bring adventure, such as walking on the ocean floor or going tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River.
The Noel Shore region is a nature lover’s paradise, with hiking trails, wildlife watching, and photo opportunities galore. So, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie seeking culinary delights, or simply someone in need of a serene coastal retreat, this Nova Scotian treasure is the place to be. Come for the tides, stay for the charm, and leave with memories to last a lifetime.
After a recent visit, we’ve compiled the best things to do in the Noel Shore region of Nova Scotia.
Burntcoat Head Park
Perhaps the star attraction in the Noel Nova Scotia area is Burntcoat Head Park, which holds the Guinness World Record as the site of the highest tides on Earth. This is a beautiful area that offers stunning views of the Bay of Fundy as well as a platform for walking out on the ocean floor when the tide is out. In fact, this is what makes Burntcoat Head Park a big attraction. After taking a little tour through the Burntcoat Head Park lighthouse, you can either walk on the ocean floor by yourself (if the tides are out) or join one of their popular tours, joining a local guide for a 1-2 kilometre walk around tidal pools and mudflats, learning about the unique ecosystem that makes this area special. You’ll also learn about the influence of people on this landscape shaped by the tides.
Tidal Bore Rafting
Another star attraction of the Noel Nova Scotia region is tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River, which is the only place in the world to experience such a thing. This wild adrenaline-pumping activity is perhaps the most unique way of experiencing the highest tides in the world, riding waves that can be up to 4 metres (13 feet) high in a Zodiac boat as expert guides take you cascading down rapids as the incoming ocean reverse the flow of the river and turns it into a natural roller coaster. This is one of our favourite activities in all of Eastern Canada and something we highly recommend!
Anthony Provincial Park
If you’re looking for an easy and scenic opportunity to dip your toes in the water or enjoy a lovely picnic, make sure you stop at Anthony Provincial Park in Noel Nova Scotia. Enjoy the park’s interpretive displays and bring some snacks to enjoy the open picnic area overlooking Cobequid Bay. The exposed red sand area at low tide offers a great opportunity for walking and wading in the warm water.
Frieze and Roy General Store
Nestled in the scenic village of Maitland, Frieze and Roy General Store stands as a beacon of history and community spirit. Established in 1839 by David Frieze, this distinguished establishment has the unique distinction of being Canada’s oldest general store – a title that carries with it tales of maritime commerce, shipbuilding, and an ever-evolving community.
While it’s not much of a store anymore, it is home to the Mud Slide Cafe, which is a great place to eat burgers, donairs, and other tasty meals.
Lawrence House Museum
If you only have time to stop at one place in the Maitland area, we definitely recommend the Lawrence House Museum. This was once the home of William D. Lawrence, who in 1874, secured his place in marine history by constructing the largest wooden-hulled, fully-rigged ship ever built in Canada. An ardent believer in Nova Scotia’s 19th-century maritime power, Lawrence exemplified the critical role played by the shipbuilding industry in this province. Today you can take a very friendly and informative tour through his bright Victorian home, which features photographs, many heirlooms, and a couple of exhibits, such as a scale model of the “great ship” that he is famous for.
Built back in 1873, Walton Lighthouse is now the only lighthouse remaining in Hants County. This park, which is admission by donation, features a walking trail to the lookoff, a gazebo, flower gardens, a wishing well, public washrooms and a museum. Plus, the local volunteers are so friendly and eager to share stories from the lighthouse. They may even bring you up and let you turn the crank.
Beyond the Wharf Artisans
Beyond the Wharf Artisans is an emporium of locally handcrafted items including collectibles, pottery, stained & fused glass, and all-natural body care products. You’ll find all sorts of fibre arts such as rug hooking & felting, weaving, knitting & crocheting, up-cycled mittens and wool socks. You’ll also find art cards and wooden decor along with delicious Nova Scotia oatcakes, jams, pickles & jellies, local honey and beeswax-related items. This place is located close to the Lawrence House Museum and offers beautiful views of the waterfront.
Avondale Sky Winery
If you enjoy wine, good food, and unique attractions, don’t miss a visit to Avondale Sky Winery. This winery is located in a restored 180-year-old former church that was transported 40 kilometres over the highest tides in the world. Not only did we love the wines here but we also really enjoyed the food, including one of the best charcuterie boards we’ve ever had.
Meander River Farm & Brewery
Meander River Farm & Brewery is nestled beside the twisting river that it’s named after and consists of a micro-brewery, cidery, lavender fields, lush gardens, Hants County’s highest waterfall, livestock, and a retail shop. The shop offers tours, craft beer and cider tastings, as well as handmade products created on the farm. Private tours can be booked for $25 per person which includes a brewery tour, garden tour with their Master Gardener, and a certified Beer Sommelier curated tasting flight!
Flying Apron Inn & Cookery
The award-winning Flying Apron Inn & Cookery serves up honest, local, seasonal fare. The menu changes weekly to feature the best local ingredients and a curated drink menu showcasing Nova Scotia’s best wine and craft beer. However, something we did while we were visiting the Noel Shore was taken one of their cooking classes in their lovely Cookery School. Both my dad and I learned how to make some killer ravioli and one of the best maple pumpkin pasta sauces we’ve ever tried. To make things even better though, this former hardware store also features a charming five-room Inn, art gallery, gourmet food shop and used bookstore.
Fundy Discovery Site
If you time your visit just right, visit the Fundy Discovery Site along the Salmon River to view the tidal bore that occurs twice a day as a result of the immense incoming Bay of Fundy tide. This is a really cool thing to see and even hear, as it sounds like a boat engine as it begins to arrive. In addition, you stop for a picnic, a washroom break, or stretch your legs by walking or cycling the nearby Cobequid Trail.
Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park
The Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park features 40 hectares of natural woodlands and wetlands and is home to 60+ species of animals on permanent display in natural enclosures. The animals that live here cannot be released into the wild as they are injured, orphaned, born in captivity or otherwise imprinted on humans and reliant on human care. The Park features animals native to Canada with a few exotic species that can all be viewed along a 2km walking trail. Hundreds of waterfowl also come to visit the park’s wetlands to nest and rest while migrating, making this a great place for birders.
There are interactive displays, activities, and tanks of live wetland creatures like invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. You can also pack some snacks and enjoy their 10-hectare picnic grounds, which have sheltered tables and toilets and lots of room for children and families to run and play.
Shubenacadie Tinsmith Museum
If you’re looking for a cool little museum in Stewiacke, stop by the Shubenacadie Tinsmith Museum. During the early 1890s, the Shubenacadie Tinsmith Museum served as a milk can fabrication facility and hardware store. Today, however, the museum features a tin shop (c 1896), a hardware store museum (c 1905–1970), and a military display in honour of the veterans who served our country. The museum houses a milk can production display, furnished rooms and clothing from 100 years ago, and household goods and farm tools.
Another attraction in Stewiacke is Mastodon Ridge, which is home to a tourist information office, gift shop, ice cream, mini-golf, and Coldstream Clear Distillery, which we’ll talk about below. You can also check out real Mastodon bones and Marvin the Mastodon, a life-size replica!
For us, however, the top thing to do here is play a round of mini-golf. Not only is their new course fun to play but you can also tell your friends that you played mini-golf at the halfway point between the North Pole and the equator! How cool is that?
Last but not least, the Stewiacke River Trail is a 2.5km natural pathway connecting Mastodon Ridge to the Stewiacke ball fields, offering a scenic walking or biking trail with beautiful views of the Stewiacke River.
Coldstream Clear Distillery
If you’re looking to taste some delicious liquor while you’re here, don’t miss a visit to the Coldstream Clear Distillery, which is located at Mastodon Ridge. This distillery has quite the history, having got its start with Simon Giffen, the first Giffen family ancestor to arrive in Nova Scotia. He came to Halifax in 1749, from Northern Ireland, and practiced his trade as a successful distiller. Little did Simon know the distilling tradition would be revived a full nine generations later. Today’s products include a wide variety of canned cocktails including vodka soda, lemonade, iced tea, gin soda & more. As soon as you walk into the store, you’ll be greeted by a tasting station where you can sample as many kinds as you want. Some of our favourites included the Triple Decker (a rum-based cocktail with bold apple notes), the Classic Coffee Liqueur, and Twisted Sour Berry Vodka. All are made with the finest ingredients and water from a natural artisan spring deep beneath rural Nova Scotia. While you’re there, you can also buy some of their products or enjoy a full drink in their on-site lounge.
Where to Stay in Noel Nova Scotia
While you won’t find many big hotels in Noel Shore Nova Scotia, you will definitely find a lot of lovely cottages, bed & breakfasts, and guesthouses. This is part of the charm of rural Nova Scotia and something that can really add to your trip.
Located literally next door to Burntcoat Head Park, you really can’t beat the location. This is where we stayed for three nights while exploring the area and we truly loved it.
Located just over an hour from Halifax and Truro, Shangri-la Cottages provides luxury accommodations on the Bay of Fundy, including large fully equipped kitchens and a big firepit offering views of the water. All linens are provided and some cottages have outdoor hot tubs. There are also three oceanview cottages (one or two bedrooms), each with queen bed(s), 3 or 4-piece bath, satellite TV, Wi-Fi, an electric fireplace, a full kitchen, laundry (shared), and barbeque.
We enjoyed beautiful sunsets while winding down with a fire (wood provided free of charge) and the owners here are great people and always happy to make your stay the best it can be.
Tidal Bore Rafting Resort
If you’re going to be going tidal bore rafting, this is the place to stay. At Rafters Ridge Cottages at the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort, visitors can relax and absorb all the splendour, solitude and excitement of the Bay of Fundy and Shubenacadie River. Their 180-acre natural setting alongside the Shubenacadie river bank is peaceful and quiet, offering rustic cabins that include air-conditioning, one or two-bedroom options, and 4-piece baths. They also have three one-bedroom chalets – one with a hot tub – and a spacious 5-bedroom log chalet for large groups. HDTV, propane fireplace, deck, barbecues, and cots are available.
However, the real excitement here is their tidal bore rafting, offering two- or four-hour rafting trips to experience the thrill of a natural water roller coaster.
Looking For More Things to Do?
As awesome as Noel Nova Scotia is, there’s so much more to this incredible Atlantic province. For more ideas on what to do, check out these Nova Scotia travel guides below: