Leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia’s oldest and capital city, my first stop down Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route was the town of Chester, where wealthy 19th-century American families went for summer getaways. It’s home to the Fo’c’sle Tavern, the oldest pub in Nova Scotia, known as Chester’s “living room.”
In 2019, the Fo’c’sle Tavern won the first-ever Lobster Chowder Chowdown Showdown, receiving the Golden Ladle Trophy. I just had to try it, and I wasn’t disappointed. The chef started by sautéing onions and celery in butter, then amped up the flavor with charred corn and tri-colored potatoes. Next, he added lobster and cooked it all in cream to create an award-winning lobster chowder. The lobster-claw garnish made a stunning presentation.
After lunch, my next stop was the picturesque town of Mahone Bay, where The Three Churches of Mahone Bay created a scene that the New York Times described as “pretty as a picture.” After my photo opportunity of Mahone Bay’s three churches standing side-by-side along the waterfront, I continued my pursuit of lobster: more specifically, lobster beer.
Saltbox Brewing celebrated Atlantic Canada’s lobster fishing industry with Crustacean Elation, a lobster beer. To make it, they used whole lobsters and fire-roast the shells to infuse lobster taste and aroma into the beer. It was the perfect accompaniment to a lobster roll because the beer intensified the lobster flavor.
Next, I continued down Route 3 to Lunenburg. Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Nova Scotia’s first British village outside Halifax. For photographers, the money shot, quite literally, is best taken from the harbor at sunset, where the colorful buildings stand out in the blue light. You’ll find this shot on the back of Canadian 100-dollar bills.
After a walking tour of Old Town Lunenburg, it was time for some refreshments. Ironworks Distillery is an artisanal micro-distillery featuring hand-distilled spirits using only natural fresh ingredients. For example, apple Brandy, one of their signature spirits, comes from apples grown in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.
The name Ironworks comes from its 1893 heritage building. It was once a marine blacksmith’s shop that produced ironworks like anchors.
Take time to tour Nova Scotia’s famous tall ship racing schooner, the Bluenose II, a replica of the ship found on the back of Canada’s dime.
Located in Barrington Passage, the heart of the Lobster Capital of Canada, Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack serves some of the most delightful lobster dishes in Sou’west Nova Scotia.
Declining the option to choose a lobster from the tank, I decided to try Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack’s signature dishes—lobster fondue, lobster nachos, and creamed lobster. Creamed lobster is a Sou’west Nova Scotia favorite with milk, heavy cream, butter, and a splash of vinegar. Capt. Kat’s serves it on toast with mashed potatoes or on the Fisherman’s Delight by spooning some inside the large onion ring atop the haddock fish sandwich. Fair Warning: The easiest way to eat this sandwich is with a knife and fork.
After lunch, I continued down Route 3 to Cape Sable Island.
Cape Sable Island on Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route
Cape Sable Island is the southernmost point in Nova Scotia, connected to the mainland via a causeway. With a population of about 3,000 residents, it’s still an active fishing area.
Cape Sable Island is also a bird watcher’s paradise as it’s a significant area for migrating birds. In addition, the beaches here are fitting nesting areas for the endangered Piping Plovers. The region is also home to herds of wild sheep. After a walk along the beach, I headed back north along Route 3, Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route.
A stay at Hunts Point’s White Point Beach Resort has enough to keep a family busy for several days. The kiddos will love feeding the wild bunnies with the resort’s complimentary pellet packages. In addition, exploring the permanent collection of the 90th Anniversary Outdoor Sculpture Show is a pleasant way to explore the resort’s grounds.
Forgetting your wetsuit isn’t a problem. The resort rents everything you need to try your hand at year-round surfing.
Another unique offering at the resort is the opportunity to crew a lobster fishing boat on Blueberry Bay. I experienced first-hand what it’s like to be a lobster fisherman in February, as a crew member aboard the 37-foot lobster fishing boat, the JKC, with Captain Brad Crouse.
After an overnight stop in Hunts Point, I continued to Shelburne.
I appreciated the 10-block heritage district along the waterfront with a colorful early 19th-century street scene. The Shelburne Historic Complex consists of three local museums–the Dory Shop Museum, the Shelburne Museum, and the Russ-Thomson House.
I continued toward Halifax with a stop to stretch my legs in Port Medway.
I love to explore lighthouses, so Port Medway Lighthouse Park was the perfect stop to check out the lighthouse. The park also offers a gazebo, the ideal place for a picnic lunch. In addition, the park has interpretive panels explaining Nova Scotia’s Maritime history, which includes shipbuilding and the two Medway lights. I also learned about the Old Meeting House and the Old Cemetery.
I stopped heading north toward Halifax and checked into Oceanstone Seaside Resort.
Chef Michael Boragina of Rhubarb Restaurant at Oceanstone Seaside Resort cooked the grand finale to my Nova Scotia South Shore exploration. The dinner featured fish cakes with green tomato chow, steamed mussels, and a colorful lobster boil. The colors—red, green, and yellow were spectacular.
The meal started with two appetizers, fish cakes, and mussels. Green tomato chow topped the golden brown fish cakes for a combination of sweet and tart. The mussels came steamed in a garlic white wine sauce. I wished I had eaten more mussels, but I was saving room for the main course. Finely chopped herbs and bright red tomatoes added pops of color.
With the lobster boil, a vivid prism, Chef Michael infused flavor by lightly poaching the lobster in a court bouillon with onions and celery. The lobster’s subtle sweet flavor pairs well with the sweet corn. Served with melted butter, the chef broke down the lobster so I could enjoy it effortlessly. Green beans and roasted red-skinned potatoes completed the presentation.
After a peaceful night’s sleep in the Grey Owl Cottage at Oceanstone Seaside Resort, I headed back toward Halifax as my journey had almost ended. However, I had one more stop.
Peggy’s Cove along Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route
Nova Scotia’s coastline is home to over 160 lighthouses; the most photographed is the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, balanced among the shore’s granite boulders.
With about 30 permanent residents, Peggy’s Cove is still an active fishing community.
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