Glamping through the Easy (East) Coast circa 2017
From the moment I got a whiff of salty air on my first trip to Nova Scotia (NS) I was hooked on the maritimes - pun intended. I've tried to share my love for the "easy" east coast ever since & even almost got married there (damn you COVID). I'm super fortunate to have one of my best friends and family living there now, but in 2017 decided I wanted to experience the maritimes in a different way - CAMPING! Although in fairness, this was more of a "glamping" trip as we took full advantage of Parks Canada "roofed accommodations". If you remember, in 2017 we celebrated Canada 150 - Parks Canada had open access (wooo!) and launched some new accommodations across the country. The following will be a blurry recap of one of my FAVOURITE trips of all time with some of my favourite people - this was also a sentimental trip as I got to do it with my two cousins (my sistaahs) in honour of my late uncle's dream of road tripping to the easy coast.
Reminder: Due to COVID19 the Maritime provinces are currently in an Atlantic Bubble, travel to NS requires 14 day self-isolation & only special circumstances will get you into any of the other provinces. This will just be a daydreamy add to your bucket list post-pandemic.
Glamping through the Easy Coast
If you couldn't tell already... I love planning. So much so that I literally still have a saved itinerary from this 2017 trip which makes things easier blogging about it years later haha. Aug 22 leave Toronto Aug 23 arrive PEI Stanhope Campground - O TENTIK We drove overnight to PEI, took us ~18 hrs with switches between 3 drivers. I can't remember most of the drive, the hangry tired squabbles over who gets passenger seat, but I DO remember the Confederation Bridge to PEI. The endless vista and the structural beams of that bridge are unforgettable - a bucket list item in and of itself. Stopped in Borden Carlton @ the Marine Rail Historical Park for an epic photo op. PEI itself is a small, easily drivable province and so we opted to stay in Stanhope Campground as a base for all the things we wanted to see in our very first O TENTIK. The campground was immaculately maintained and the facilities near the O TENTIK's were evidently new. Our day trips included a stop at Cavendish Beach, Anne of Green Gables, fish n' chips at Richard's Seafood (MUST!!) with a beach sunset @ Covehead Lighthouse, and my personal favourite - Greenwich Beach. That beach deserves a post of it's own BUT for everyone's sake I'll just highly recommend that you do the hike-in option with the boardwalk over marshland and climb up the dune for the big reveal. Full disclosure, the first time I saw this beach in this way, I cried a little. The waters are warm and shallow while the beach stretches on forever in the shelter of the dunes. To top off one more "must have" while on the island - Wowey Cowey from Cow's Creamery.
August 25 drive to Cape Breton Cheticamp Campground O TENTIK The drive from PEI to Cape Breton is not the closest, at ~5.5 hours but once you make your way into the highlands the views are WORTH IT! Cape Breton is one of the most beautiful drives I've ever done on this planet - and that's saying a lot because I've also driven through Iceland, Ireland, the Amalfi Coast, etc. We made a quick stop at Inverness Beach, I wish it wasn't so quick because the rolling hills and the sandy beach could have entertained me for hours and headed to the campground. The O TENTIK here was also really new at the time although the facilities weren't up to par with Stanhope. We got to hike the Cheticamp Gypsum Quarry for an epic view of sparkling turquoise waters BUT it wasn't quite warm enough for a dip. The following morning we did the Skyline Trail which is one of my trip highlights even though we had overcast weather and none of the famous moose spottings.
August 26 continue through Cape Breton Ingonish Beach Campground - Cocoon Tent The drive from Cheticamp to Ingonish was full of interruptions, BEAUTIFUL interruptions of pulling over at every lookout along the way. I can't wait to do that drive again one day, especially in the fall. If you thought you read our location wrong, you didn't, you read correctly - we stayed in a Cocoon Tent suspended in the trees with waves crashing below us on Ingonish Beach. This was one of the Canada 150 installations and it was quite the experience! The Cocoon Tent holds 4 people but even with 3 it was quite cozy as the only thing in there is one "bed" or shall I call it a surface area for sleeping? This was one of the coolest accommodations I have EVER stayed in and even though the feeling of slipping backwards kept me from sleeping it's still one of my favourite things about this trip. To add, we had the privilege of attending a Ceilidh at a local church that brought a new definition to "happy feet". Although we missed out on Cape Smokey (next time), we DID swim in a very cold waterfall at Mary Ann Falls and hiked around Black Brook Beach.
August 27 continue through Cape Breton Cabot Shores Indian Brook Yurt We continued through Cape Breton for a true glamping experience at Cabot Shores where we got to camp out in a yurt. I'm using the word "camp" lightly as we were spoiled with our own hot tub and a selection of organic foods grown onsite at the restaurant. The plan was to paddle board here but alas the weather and the wine got the best of us. We more than made up for it with a beautiful hike by Keltic Lodge the next day and we were off to the city
August 28 drive to Halifax Stayed at a friend's house - no more camping! Okay so we didn't camp the ENTIRE way but I'd say this was pretty good? Graciously we were able to use my friend's house as a home base for Halifax, south shore, and valley exploration. My "must dos" in Halifax include walking the waterfront, checking out the market at Pier 21, Citadel Hill, the classic Keith's Brewery Tour, and live music at The Lower Deck. If you want to treat yourself to a nice dinner - The Bicycle Thief, endstop. We didn't spend much time downtown as this was more of a roadie so onto more highlights. Catching a sunset at Peggy's Cove should be on everyone's bucket list, the landscape is alien and the waves crash hard. We also spent time in the charming town of Lunenburg (home to the Bluenose) and beach bummed around on Carter's Beach which offers Caribbean blues that are as cold as they are beautiful. No trip to NS is complete without a stop in the Annapolis Valley for vineyard frolicking, wine tasting, and tide watching!
Aug 31 drive to New Brunswick Fundy Highlands Motel & Chalet - told you no more camping :( We headed for the other side of the Bay of Fundy to watch the changing tides from New Brunswick this time. I don't remember why we didn't camp here and can't tell you a thing about the motel but clearly it served it's purpose. What I do remember is the quaint town of Alma, home of the worlds' most delicious sticky bun & Holy Whale Brewing Co - my first exposure to the church converted to brewery concept. I would go back! We also got blown away at Cape Enrage, walked and watched the tide at Fundy Park, and the highlight - kayaked the Bay of Fundy at Hopewell Rocks. It was a frigid morning but something about kayaking the waters we would later stand on was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! On our way out of New Brunswick we also stopped for a dip in the warm waters of Parlee Beach - would recommend.
Sept 2 drive to Quebec City Hotel Clarendon I don't have much to say about this except the shame I still feel about valeting our car at the Hotel Clarendon. We had what we would later find out to be a field mouse lodged in the fan with the smell attached, wet bikinis lined up on the back dash, empty snack bags and more. Old Quebec is beautiful! Sept 3 drive to Toronto That's it! That was the end of our epic East Coast glamping trip and one of those vacations I will never forget. We chose to cover more ground and so didn't opt to tent camp because the put up and tear down wouldn't have been feasible BUT I'll be back to camp all of these places post COVID. I even hear the canoe camping in Kejimkujik is dreamy!
PS. Apologies for the photos, 3 years ago means lower quality & slim pickings. Thanks for following along, Nat from away.