Say the word camping and it brings back my favourite childhood memories. Back in my day when we didn't have cell phones and video games. We packed up our comic books and novels, our frisbees and badminton rackets, our bathing suits and flotation devices and headed for the open road. We roasted marshmallows, stayed up past our bedtimes and woke up to the smell of scrambled eggs sticking to the pan on the Coleman's stove. We were invigorated by the fresh air. We ran around until we were exhausted. We slept soundly.
Often these days we long for simpler times. Electronics fill our bags, constant connection consumes our lives. We blog and tweet our vacations. We tell our Facebook friends where we are and what we are doing. But I encourage us to disengage from it all. Update your Facebook to tell your friends you are off to relax. Send your last tweet. Leave all the tech gadgets behind except for a camera to document all the fun and maybe a GPS in case you get lost. You can still share and blog about it when you get back. Bring that novel you've been meaning to get to for the last year. Play with your kids, reconnect with your partner, have a good laugh with your friends, or just enjoy some solace. Breath in, exhale, enjoy.
There is nothing quite like the ocean air to rejuvenate the soul. Camping is a great and budget friendly way to explore Nova Scotia and experience the great outdoors. From private sites to provincial and national parks, there are hundreds of places to camp. And there is something for everyone, from family-friendly parks to couple's retreats.
Here are just 5 great places to camp by the sea:
1. Ovens Natural Park - South Shore: About a 20 minute drive from Lunenburg you'll find Ovens Natural Park, owned by the very musical Chapin Family. This family park features a playground, pool and a variety of animals at a small petting zoo onsite so it's a great place for the kids. This park is a gold mine. No really, it was once a gold mine. You can rent a pan and go in search of a little gold of your own on Cunard's Beach.There are plenty of trails to explore including a sea cave trail. This stunning trail takes you along the sea cliff down to the caves. There's a diner on site and plenty of attractions nearby in Lunenburg. The beach at Ovens Natural Park is quite rocky but don't worry, you'll find the perfect spot for sand castles at nearby Hirtles Beach.
Ovens Park photo by Mark Sundstrom on Flickr
2. Caribou and Munroes Island Provincial Park - Northumberland Shore: A great spot for the beach lover, if you are a person who constantly claims you like long walks along the beach, this is your spot. With a warm, sandy beach that spans a mile, you can actually walk a trail to Munroes Island. The island used to be a farm but is now a wilderness reserve that's perfect for bird watchers. You'll find eagles, ospreys, herons and a variety of birds.
Caribou and Munroes Island Provincial Park
3. Murphy's Camping on the Ocean - Eastern Shore: Known for their hospitality, Murphy's is a popular spot among kayakers who love to explore the islands around Tangier. Not to worry, if you don't have a kayak, this campground also offers boat tours and mussel tours for the seafood lover. If you are looking for a romantic and remote experience opt for the "Island Drop Off Adventure", taking you to a nearby island with a picnic of lobsters, mussels and fresh baked bread.
4. Cape Breton Highland's National Park - Cape Breton Island: There are six camping spots in the Cape Breton Highlands.If you truly want to experience all of the park, you can camp around each of them. Hike the trails by day and camp at night. Some sites are more rustic than others so be sure to check the amenities before you set out. If you are looking for serviced sites and hot showers, try Chéticamp or Broad Cove. Located adjacent to Ingonish, Broad Cove is the largest of the camp grounds with a great beach just a short walk from the site.
A view of Broad Cove by Susan Cameron on Flickr
5. Five Islands Provincial Park - Fundy Shore: Camping along the Bay of Fundy is a great way to witness the highest tides in the world. Walk along the sea cliffs of Five Islands Provincial Park at high tide and explore the ocean floor at low tide. There are plenty of outdoor activities for hiking the trails, beach combing, clam digging and examining the fossils. The park offers guided tours or you can set out on your own. Be very aware of when the tide comes in. It's a powerful phenomenon.
Five Islands photo by Dennis Archer on Flickr
Of course, these are just a few great places to camp. To truly be a happy camper, find a camp site the meets your needs. If you tend towards a more rustic retreat, try Meat Cove in Cape Breton, it's truly off the beaten path.