As the sun sets on yet another day, casting a brilliant array of hues across the horizon and painting the sky in magnificent shades, one cannot help but be captivated by Nova Scotia’s stunningly picturesque fishing villages. 

From quaint harbours to bustling ports, these charming locales are as diverse as they are timeless; relics from an era long gone that whisper memories of centuries past with every wave lapping against the shoreline. 

With its lush greenery, crystal-clear waters and endless opportunities for adventure, it is easy to see why Nova Scotia’s fishing villages have become destinations unto themselves – offering visitors a chance to escape into a life of serenity and tranquillity.

Welcome to the charming world of Atlantic Canada as we embark on an enchanting journey through Nova Scotia’s timeless fishing villages. Get ready to be spellbound by the rhythmic dance of fishing boats on crystal-clear waters – a sight that locals and tourists alike find captivating in this mesmerising region.

Overview Of Maritime Province

Nova Scotia, one of the three maritime provinces in Eastern Canada, encompasses the Nova Scotian mainland, Cape Breton Island and over 3,000 small islands. The province boasts an abundance of forests, beaches, bays and waterways with a coastline stretching for nearly 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles). The population is primarily English-speaking, with significant communities of French speakers, especially in regions like Clare, Argyle and Cape Breton. Tourism plays a vital role in its economy as the province’s stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture attracts many visitors from across the globe each year.

In addition to breathtaking scenery, Nova Scotia offers travellers charming fishing villages steeped in local history. Despite the touch of modernity, these quaint settlements retain their traditional charm, providing seafood delicacies and activities that entertain visitors all year round.

History Of Coastal Fishing Villages

Nova Scotia is renowned for its charming fishing villages. The first coastal fishing village was established by French settlers in 1605 at Port Royal, now known as Annapolis Royal. Over time, more settlements were founded throughout the province by French, English, and Scottish settlers, including iconic locations such as Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, and Cheticamp.

These vibrant communities boast a unique heritage marked by centuries-old traditions and customs that remain alive today. Here are four aspects making up this rich tradition:

  • Seafaring Skills – Generations of fishermen have honed their craft, leading to innovations such as the transition from wooden schooners to steel trawlers;
  • Cuisine – Local seafood dishes like fish cakes, chowder, lobster rolls, Digby scallops, and mussels feature prominently on restaurant menus, alongside dishes showcasing the province’s bountiful blueberries and apples;
  • Music & Arts – From seafaring folk songs to maritime-themed paintings, not to mention the rich tradition of Celtic music especially in Cape Breton, these communities are brimming with artistic expression;
  • Celebrations – Events like the Lobster Festival Day, the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, and Nova Scotia Music Week bring locals and visitors together to celebrate local cuisine, music, and culture.

No visit to the Maritimes would be complete without experiencing one or more of these picturesque seaside retreats. Here, visitors can find a sense of belonging while enjoying breathtaking views and sampling delicious local fare prepared using traditional methods passed down through generations. A stay here is sure to leave lasting memories that will linger long after departure from this special corner of the world.

Advocate Harbour

Advocate Harbour is a serene fishing village located on the upper Fundy Shore in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Nestled at the mouth of the Advocate River, it provides scenic views of the Bay of Fundy, one of Canada’s natural wonders. This quaint village offers a mix of history, culture, and nature that makes it a unique getaway. Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, a nearby major attraction, is a hiker’s paradise with its breathtaking coastal and wilderness trails.


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Shelburne is a wonderful coastal town located on the southern shore of Nova Scotia. Home to a rich tapestry of cultures and more than 2,000 residents, it has a vibrant history, including being one of the largest settlements of United Empire Loyalists. While it isn’t home to the oldest boatbuilding school in North America, it does host the Shelburne Ship Repair facility, one of the largest ship repair facilities in eastern Canada. Known as “the lobster capital” of Nova Scotia, Shelburne’s seafood, including unique offerings like juniper smoked salmon and seaweed salad, is second to none.


Pictou, nestled in the northern part of Nova Scotia, is often called the ‘Birthplace of New Scotland’. This is due to its historical significance as the landing site of the first wave of Scottish immigrants on the Ship Hector in 1773. The town continues to be an essential port and hub for the local fishing industry and offers visitors the opportunity to experience its history, charm, and delicious seafood.


Located on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, east of Antigonish, is the hidden gem known as Guysborough. This tranquil area is filled with some of the most picturesque fishing villages in Canada, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and pristine ocean views. The charming towns here are teeming with history and culture, and key attractions include the historic Guysborough Lighthouse and the nature trails perfect for peaceful exploration.


Digby, a delightful fishing village in Nova Scotia, is famous worldwide for its scallops. The town is so proud of this delicacy that it hosts an annual Scallop Days festival, a week-long celebration featuring parades, concerts, and scallop-shucking contests. Besides its seafood, Digby offers beautiful harbourfront views, locally made crafts, and a plethora of outdoor activities, such as whale-watching tours, kayaking, and hiking, making it a must-visit destination.


Situated on the southern tip of Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Liverpool is a historic town known for its privateering past rather than a fishing village. Its picturesque harbour overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, allowing access to deep sea fishing spots. The town boasts numerous historical sites, including the Fisherman’s Life Museum. Liverpool also offers outdoor recreational activities like swimming, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing. The community spirit in Liverpool is strong, with the annual Privateer Days Festival held every summer, showcasing the town’s privateering history with music, dance, food, and a traditional parade. Visitors can learn more about local stories at the frequent ceilidhs or storytelling sessions held in various pubs around town.


Baddeck, a charming village in Nova Scotia, offers a peaceful retreat. This village is a great starting point for the Cabot Trail and is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, commemorating the inventor’s life and work. Baddeck has an array of attractions: outdoor activities, live music, theatre, seafood restaurants, artisan galleries, and souvenir shops. You can also enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront or take a boat tour around the Bras d’Or Lakes, providing a sense of tranquillity amid nature’s beauty.

Annapolis Royal

Annapolis Royal, located in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, is one of Canada’s oldest towns, established in 1605. Visitors can experience history and natural beauty here. The Fort Anne National Historic Site offers stunning views, and you can explore the nearby waterways on a kayak tour. Participate in local celebrations like the Annual Acadian Festival or Digby Scallop Days. Visit unique shops, art galleries, and try local food at various restaurants and pubs. Explore nature trails, go whale watching, or visit the nearby Kejimkujik National Park & Seaside Adjunct.


Chester, located on Mahone Bay, is known for its peaceful atmosphere and stunning views. The waterfront boardwalk is perfect for exploring the area’s shops and restaurants while enjoying the surrounding landscape. Chester is a popular summer colony, known for its sailing culture, pristine beaches, picturesque coves, lighthouses, and historic buildings. Outdoor activities include boat tours, whale watching, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, sailing, and golfing at nearby courses with panoramic ocean views.

Mahone Bay

Nestled in the heart of Nova Scotia’s South Shore lies the picturesque town of Mahone Bay. This charming town is known for its breathtaking views of its three churches and the bay. With a rich maritime history, it has become a popular tourist destination. Visitors can find quaint restaurants serving fresh seafood dishes, art galleries showcasing local talent, unique boutiques selling handmade crafts and souvenirs, and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking trails and kayaking. Enjoy beautiful sunsets that paint the sky in vibrant hues. Visit during the annual Scarecrow Festival and Antique Fair to experience the town’s unique charm.

Peggy’s Cove


Peggy’s Cove is a small rural community located on the south shore of Nova Scotia. It is one of the most iconic fishing villages in Canada, renowned for its stunning scenery and unique culture. The village is populated by a few hundred residents, their homes scattered amidst the picturesque backdrop of dramatic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The surrounding area of Peggy’s Cove offers an array of outdoor activities, such as bird watching, and whale-spotting. Visitors can explore numerous sites like historic churches, the famous Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, and shops selling traditional handicrafts and souvenirs crafted by local artisans. Guided tours are available for those interested in delving deeper into the history of this charming village.

Peggy’s Cove is a place where you can immerse yourself in nature and experience a vibrant cultural environment – a true epitome of Nova Scotia’s charm. From the breathtaking sunsets over rugged coastlines to quaint cafes serving fresh seafood dishes, it caters to the tastes of adventurers and leisure-seekers alike.


Situated in a scenic bay of Nova Scotia, Lunenburg is an enchanting town that has remained largely unchanged since the 18th century. Established in 1753 as one of the first British attempts to settle Protestants in Nova Scotia, the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its unique architecture and colourful buildings.

Lunenburg offers visitors an array of opportunities to discover its rich maritime history and fascinating culture. Along the waterfront, you’ll find fine seafood restaurants offering fresh catches, museums devoted to seafaring traditions, and craft breweries with their unique brews. Cozy B&Bs provide an intimate experience for those wishing to stay longer. Surrounded by rolling hills and the Atlantic Ocean, Lunenburg is an idyllic setting for a romantic getaway or a relaxing family vacation.


Mabou, located on the western coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, is known for its stunning coastal views and a rich cultural heritage rooted in traditional Celtic music. Visitors can indulge in outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, and exploring the natural resources by camping, hunting, and fishing.

Mabou hosts a variety of attractions for those seeking unique experiences. Music lovers can enjoy live performances at various venues around the town. Cultural festivals in Mabou typically celebrate Scottish Gaelic and Acadian cultures, offering visitors a vibrant local experience.

Places to Stay in Mabou

Northeast Cove Geodomes offer a unique and immersive way to experience the stunning natural beauty of Mabou. Nestled in the lush Nova Scotia landscape, these geodesic domes provide all the comforts of modern accommodation while allowing guests to feel intimately connected with the surrounding wilderness. Large windows and skylights offer unobstructed views of the sky, creating a serene environment for stargazing. These domes are the perfect accommodation for nature enthusiasts seeking a tranquil retreat with a touch of luxury amidst the scenic vistas of Mabou.



Nova Scotia, part of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, boasts an array of coastal settlements, each presenting a glimpse into the province’s rich maritime history and culture. From Peggy’s Cove to Mabou, each location offers unique experiences for both visitors and locals.

These coastal communities contribute significantly to the local economy, with tourism and seafood production playing key roles. However, exact figures should be verified by local economic and tourism boards for accuracy. What is undeniable is that these towns are beloved destinations that captivate travellers with their picturesque beauty and authentic maritime life. The charm of these traditional coastal communities, combined with breathtaking landscapes, makes them ideal locations for anyone seeking to experience the heart of Nova Scotia.