After two years of living and breathing the east coast, my family came out from Vancouver to visit me in Halifax, where I was going to school. From there, we took an east coast Canada road trip around Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island— exploring the red sandy beaches, the winding beauty of the Cabot Trail, and just about everything in between.

Even though I already considered myself an honorary east coaster, our trip showed me that there was a lot more to the east coast than what I’d experienced in Halifax.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Before we even left Nova Scotia, we visited arguably the most famous post card scene in the province: Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, built in 1914. The quaint fishing village of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia has lots of east coast charm and the best fish and chips around. There is a popular legend which claims the name came from the sole survivor of a nearby shipwreck—which isn’t hard to believe when you see the size of the waves at the point. An ominous sign aptly warns any visitors to: “savour the sea from a distance.”

Peggy's Cove Village in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove Village

Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail

Continuing on our east coast Canada road trip, we drove five hours northeast of Halifax and started on our way along Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. The highway winds along the rugged coastline naturally and the views of the Atlantic Ocean are completely breathtaking.

At every viewpoint we would pile out of the car and hike along what seemed like the edge of the world. Ten minutes later, we would be doing the same thing at the next viewpoint—the perspective always seemed a little different at each one!

The number of viewpoints could only be surpassed by the number of cliffside cemeteries we passed. None of them had grave stones with dates from the last half century, and the more remote, the older the dates were—the long standing history of Cape Breton was always in the back of our minds.

Grassy cliffs by the sea in Cape Breton, Canada
Grassy Cliffs in Cape Breton

Things to do on Prince Edward Island

Once we had completed the entire Cabot Trail, we opted for a much smaller Island: Prince Edward Island (PEI). We spent our time between Charlottetown and small towns along the coast, including a couple of nights in an old, out-of-use lighthouse restored into a hotel.

They say people on the east coast go above and beyond when it comes to hospitality;  in PEI, that was definitely the case. We were soon tailoring the rest of our trip around recommendations from exuberant locals. Although we skipped the Anne of Green Gables tourist attraction—much to my sister’s disappointment—there was no shortage of similar mid-century heritage architecture.

Charlottetown Heritage House in Cape Breton, Canada
Charlottetown Heritage House

PEI once had the slogan: “The Garden of the Gulf”, which is exceedingly appropriate in the summertime when the wild lupins bloom all across the island. The rich soil and temperate climate make upwards of 90 percent of the entire province potential farming land.

A field of lupins in Prince Edward Island, Canada
A field of wild lupins

This sunset was taken on my favourite day of the whole trip. We drove to Greenwich National Park, which at the time had a newly refurbished wooden boardwalk through the woods, marshland and to the most beautiful beach with rising sand dunes all around it.

Lighthouse on Prince Edward Island
Lighthouse on PEI

We finished our east coast Canada road trip with what seemed like the most important rite of passage—a huge lobster dinner in a lighthouse restaurant. If I could go on one trip in Canada, it would definitely be a nearly identical repeat of this road trip. Just don’t tell that to my sister in Toronto…

Interested in more east coast? Take a foodie tour of Gaspé, Quebec.

Travel medical insurance for Canadians

Canadians often forget they need travel insurance within Canada. There are some things provincial health doesn’t cover, which could damage your travel budget quite a bit. Ambulance services, prescriptions and medical equipment rentals are just a few things provincial health won’t shell out for. Learn what other services are not covered by provincial health.

Make sure you’re a responsible road-tripper and protect yourself. Most importantly, make sure you make the most out of your road trip by stopping on a whim, stretching your legs often and talking to locals. Here’s how to road trip like a pro.

Happy road-tripping,


EMMA_HEADSHOT Emma has lived in Vancouver her entire life—refusing to be driven out by the needless amounts of rain. When she isn’t working as a Copywriter at TuGo, she can be found enthusiastically pretending to enjoy the outdoors, making bulk batches of guacamole and watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on loop.
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The Best of my East Coast Canada Road Trip

Jan 22 2015