Sea Kayaking in Nova Scotia
The rugged and diverse coastline of Nova Scotia creates exceptional kayak routes you can’t find anywhere else. Whether paddling through white granite passageways and around islands, which feature white sand beaches and turquoise water, or navigating alongside towering sea cliffs featuring waterfalls, sea caves, arches or layers of multicoloured bedrock, Nova Scotia is sure to have the adventure for you.
Many kayaking tour operators offer guided paddling adventures throughout the province. Discover some of the top sea kayaking locations around the province, below.
The Highlands of Northern Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island
One of the most spectacular paddling destinations in North America, the coast of Northern Cape Breton is remote, rugged, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful. Offering imposing cliffs of ancient bedrock, which feature waterfalls, sea caves, and towering arches, this very exposed coast is also home to seals, seabirds and even whales - who just might decide to join you on your paddle.
Located in one of the most remote areas in Nova Scotia, the Canso Barrens feature a rugged coast of white granite bedrock, glacial erratics and stunted trees. Offering numerous rock islands, hidden coves and narrow, shallow channels, this coast is quite sheltered and makes for an amazing and diverse paddle.
Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley
Protruding out into the Bay of Fundy, home of the world’s highest tides, the towering cliffs of Cape Chignecto offer a complex blend of colours and textures caused by the layers of sandstones, slates, granites and even coal. The powerful force of the tides has carved out and sculpted arches, sea caves and numerous pinnacles, including the Three Sisters, which make for a fascinating tour.
Known by the locals as Shoal Bay, this shallow basin features numerous reefs, inlets and islands, which provide some protection from the open ocean. Headlands of bedrock are interrupted by sandy crescent beaches and protected lagoons while the outer islands are home to seal and sea bird colonies. This harbour is also an entrance point to the Bay of Islands Coastal Wilderness Area.
The extensive, white granite outcroppings of this area, made famous by the neighbouring Peggy’s Cove, make for a scenic and diverse paddle. Beginner kayakers can explore incredible bays, inlets and islands, featuring white sand crescent beaches; while more experienced kayakers can wind around the rugged headlands and into the neighbouring bays and communities.
The sheltered coastline of Blue Rocks offers rows of greenish-blue stratified slate, forming an archipelago of over fifty islands. This maze of islands features stunning passageways lined with golden yellow rockweed, which are only accessible by kayak. The clear, shallow waters around the islands also allow for easy viewing of sealife above and below its calm surface.
Partially linked to the mainland by road, this small group of islands offers a collage of granite rock, layered slate, white sand beaches, eroding drumlins and a sheltered salt marsh. The numerous islands, exposed shoals and shallow passageways create a very sheltered waterway for novice kayakers. Despite the close proximity to well-travelled tourist destinations, you will often find you have the beaches all to yourself.
Paddling around Tusket Islands is like stepping back in time. This is one of the few places in Nova Scotia where offshore islands are still used as fishing outposts for an active fishing industry and local farmers use the islands to graze their sheep. Though the waters are shallow in this area, with many islands and shoals, the current is extremely strong along this coast. Where it is necessary to cross open water to access the islands, Tusket Islands is only suitable for advanced kayakers. Nearby, the more sheltered Lobster Bay is great for beginner and novice kayakers.