Peggy’s Cove is one of Nova Scotia’s most visited villages. This small fishing village has retained its authentic seafaring history and rugged coastal scenery since the original settling families set up shop in the 1800s. Explore beyond the obvious with these insider’s tips to experience Peggy’s Cove like a local!
First of all - how do I get there?
Peggy’s Cove is located in the middle of Route 333, this road is accessed from Halifax or Tantallon. Helpful hint – Peggy’s Cove is approximately 20 minutes away from gas stations in either direction. If you’re running low on gas, make sure to fill up before driving to the Cove. Take a look at this map to help you navigate your way to Peggy’s Cove!
Peggy’s Cove can become very busy in the summer months. To beat the crowds, plan to visit earlier in the morning or later into the afternoon.
Located 1.5km west of Peggy's Cove, in neighbouring Indian Harbour is the impressive and touching memorial to Swiss Air Flight 111 that tragically crashed off the coast of Peggy’s Cove in September, 1998. The fishermen of Peggy’s Cove and surrounding villages were instrumental in assisting authorities with recovery efforts; sadly there were no survivors. The entrance to the parking lot is indicated by a small blue sign and once you have parked, follow the short foot path to the memorial in honour of the 229 lives lost in this disaster.
I’ve arrived in Peggy’s Cove! How do I get to the lighthouse and where do I park?
As soon as you’ve entered the village of Peggy’s Cove, you will see a small gravel pull-over on the right with village information panels – you don’t have to park there! Drive further into the village to park for free in the Provincial parking lot (next to the red Visitor Information Centre) or continue down the road to park for free in the Sou’ Wester Gift Shop and Restaurant parking lot, the large, grey building next to the lighthouse. Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village with 35 year round residents, there are no entrance fees and the village itself never closes. Parking along the narrow roadway or on private property is not permitted. The lighthouse is located at the very end of Peggy’s Point Road, the only road in the village. You really cannot get lost in Peggy's Cove - there's one way in and one way out!
Explore the village on your way to the lighthouse!
Plan for one to three hours to explore this beautiful village. From the Visitor’s Centre, you can park and walk to the lighthouse in just ten minutes. There is an uphill portion of the walk, so for those with mobility issues, continue on to the next parking lot at the Sou’ Wester. Parking and walking through the village from the Visitor’s Centre is the best way to explore the heart of the village, its shops, café and restaurant without having to worry about parking or finding a place to stop.
Helpful hint – wear sturdy shoes. The large granite outcroppings are fun to explore and can involve some hiking or climbing!
It’s foggy out – will I be able to see the lighthouse?
On a foggy day, you will still be able to see the lighthouse, walk up to it and even give it a hug, regardless of the weather! Don’t let a little (or a lot!) of fog stop you from visiting Peggy’s Cove – it may just be the most authentic Nova Scotian experience possible! After all, if it weren’t for the fog, there wouldn’t be a lighthouse.
Public restroom facilities
Next to the Provincial Visitor Centre is a small yellow building which is home to the Clivus Multrum composting toilets. Due to the massive spans of granite in the village, it is impossible to drill for wells or septic systems. As a result, these super environmentally friendly, self-composting toilets are offered for public use. Additional restroom facilities (with flushing toilets) can be found in the Sou’ Wester Gift Shop.
Across from the Visitor Centre parking lot, tucked behind a white picket fence lies one of the more impressive and often overlooked aspects of the Cove – the Fisherman’s Monument. Designed and created by Finnish born artist William E. deGarthe who called Peggy’s Cove home from the 1950s to early 1980s, this was his lasting tribute to the hardworking people of the village he loved and called home! What now is a 100 foot sculpture was previously a smooth, blank granite outcropping in his backyard. Mr. deGarthe spoke of seeing the images in the blank rock pop out to him when he would gaze out of his window.
Every figure carved into the monument was a living person in the village, with the exception of Peggy and St. Elmo, the patron Saint of Seafarers. The work is incomplete at Mr. deGarthe’s request – he sadly passed away before its completion, in year seven of a ten year project. The region depicting St. Elmo overlooking the Crooks family is less pronounced and defined as this was the last portion worked on and is the most incomplete. The small inch-round holes throughout the monument were drilled by deGarthe’s assistants who carefully hand drilled these holes under Mr. deGarthe’s supervision to weaken the granite, a very hard rock not commonly used as a carving medium. Mr. deGarthe then hand chiselled the figures of the monument, bringing his great vision to life.
Who is Peggy?
To be honest, we are not 100% sure but there are two possibilities, one legendary and one stemming from local area history. Local legend says that Peggy was the sole survivor of a shipwreck that happened off of the coast of Peggy’s Cove. When she washed ashore, she suffered from complete memory loss, with the exception that she could remember her name, Peggy. The kind people of the Cove brought her into their homes, housing her and eventually she married an eligible bachelor. We can’t be certain if this actually happened, but it is the local legend.
The second possibility is that Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer named the greater St. Margaret’s Bay area after his mom, Marguerite. Peggy is short for Margaret, so it’s possible that Peggy’s Cove was named after her!
Hidden Gem - Clam Pond
One of my favourite and mainly unknown treasures of Peggy’s Cove is Clam Pond, a small swimming hole at located via a short footpath at the end of the Provincial parking lot. Follow the path to the crystal clear waters of Clam Pond. Tidal pools are not commonly found around the village, however at low tide this is a great spot to look for aquatic life!
It’s important to note that it is absolutely not advisable to swim anywhere else in Peggy’s Cove aside from Clam Pond. The ocean water around the lighthouse is treacherous. The rocks near the lighthouse are blackened around the perimeter where the ocean water hits the rocks, forming a slimy coating of algae which makes them highly slippery. Rogue waves (unpredictable, rough waves) commonly splash up over the rocks, and sadly people have been swept into the sea resulting in loss of life. The safest way to enjoy the view is to make sure you are walking on dry, white rocks, avoiding any wet areas close to the water and never approach waves splashing onto the rocks.
Most shops in Peggy’s Cove are easily found due to their signage however one of the most rustic and authentic shops of all of Nova Scotia may easily be overlooked – Roger’s Bouy Shop. In a beautiful weathered grey and red fishing shack, you will find owner and bouy carver Roger, a lifelong resident and former fisherman of Peggy’s Cove. Roger sells an assortment of hand carved buoys that are signed by Roger himself. Check out the additional fishing items found throughout his shop including: traps, nets, whale bones and the gorgeous view of the Cove from the back deck of his shop. Roger only accepts cash payments in the shop, if you don’t have cash on you, stop by the ATM in the Sou’ Wester Gift Shop before stopping in. Roger isn’t on social media and doesn’t have a website, so you won’t find this shop listed online but it is a true hidden gem that's well worth checking out!
St John’s Anglican Church
Park at the Visitor’s Centre and walk up to Church Road that will lead you to St. John’s Anglican Church. This small church is staffed by volunteers in the summer months and opened by donation for public viewing from 1-4 most summer afternoons. There is no set schedule, but the Visitor Centre will have the hours of operation on their events board. The church opens for Sunday service every fourth Sunday, the services rotate throughout the local area community churches. This small church boasts two stunning murals painted by William E. deGarthe. Smaller versions of the murals are found in the small art gallery, located behind the Fisherman’s Monument.
What to do once you have seen it all at Peggy’s Cove!
I want to eat like a local!
This map shows most of the local area shops, galleries and restaurants. If you want to truly eat like a local, one spot not listed on the map is Ryer’s Lobster Pound, a no-frills lobster shack nestled on the ocean side of the road in Indian Harbour (about two minutes driving time from Peggy’s Cove or just under three kilometers. Turn left when you exit the village onto Route 333). Owner Dave is very proud and insistent of the no-frills aspect of this business – it’s how he maintains low prices! For almost half of what you would pay in a restaurant, you can enjoy a freshly cooked lobster while eating on picnic tables outdoors. They also sell steamed mussels and oysters on the half shell, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. This roadside lobster shack has gained popularity in recent years, however do not let the summer crowds fool you, this dining experience is as truly Nova Scotian and authentic as you will find in the area!
How do I get to Halifax/Chester/Mahone Bay/Lunenburg from Peggy's Cove?
When leaving the village of Peggy’s Cove at the stop sign at the entrance to the village, turn right to drive Highway 333 East leading to Halifax. If you do not hit rush hour traffic, you will find yourself in the downtown core of Halifax in 45 minutes. Turning left at the stop sign as you are leaving the village will take you along Highway 333 West to the village of Tantallon. The 333 West ends at the first and only set of stop lights you will encounter once you have left Peggy’s Cove; about 25 minutes of driving time. If you are heading to Chester, Mahone Bay or Lunenburg, you can simply turn left at these lights and follow Highway 3W all the way to Lunenburg! For additional information, check out the South Shore guide and the Halifax guide!
Perfect beach day beach – just off the beaten path!
A hidden gem on the way to Chester, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg is the Aspotogan Penninsula or Highway Route 329. This is a scenic drive that will add 45 minutes to an hour onto your drive from Peggy’s Cove to Lunenburg. If you are a fan of scenic, beautiful drives that take you past gorgeous fishing villages, a pristine beach and breathtaking views, then this is the drive for you! In the very middle of Route 329 is Bayswater Beach Provincial Park, a lesser frequented beach in the area. With ample parking, a picturesque grassy picnic park across the road, in an additional Swiss Air Monument minutes from the beach, this is well worth a stop. A local fish and chip truck parks in the beach parking lot on most summer days. Many locals opt for the beaches along Route 3 such as Black Point Beach, Cleveland Beach Provincial Park, and Queensland Beach Provincial Park, bypassing this huge, gorgeous sandy beach – just off the beaten path!
Local Visitor Centres are fantastic for providing any additional travel information, however in the meantime you can check out our downloadable travel guide page.
You may also visit Nova Scotia Tourism’s website for more information on planning your perfect Nova Scotia vacation!