It’s a classic for a reason.

Families do it. Friends drag friends along for it. Couples test relationships via it. It is the road trip through the Canadian Maritimes and east coast.

For myself this was going to be round two of the east coast journey, but the first one that I might fully appreciate. My family drove out east years ago, when I was much younger and much less aware of all that Canada had to offer. Not to that I didn’t love every second of it, but let’s just say I would be a little more appreciative this time round. 

Starting in Montreal, heading through Quebec, Fredericton, the Bay of Fundy, the Strait of Northumberland, PEI, Charlottetown, Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, and then back to Montreal. All within eight days, it was a whirlwind to say the least.

Now as this trip has been dissected, analyzed, planned and re-planned by just about every travel blogger, website and travel section, I won’t attempt to do the same. We will venture east via some unique visuals, photos and video, with some tips and tricks tucked into the captions along the way.

If you have yet to find yourself standing on the rocks looking out over the North Atlantic, I hope this will help nudge you in the right direction. And then you’ll understand that it’s a classic for a reason.

Maritimes Road Trip

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Fishing boats sit along the pier in West Quaco, along the Bay of Fundy. If you drive another five minutes east of here, you get to a nice little seafood shack along the road. Stop. Their lobster rolls are killer and the rest of their fare is pretty top notch. Another five minutes east and you are at the St. Martins Sea Caves.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

The St. Martins Sea Caves from above. When the tide is low you can walk into and along the caves. During high tide there are sea kayaking trips that snake along the shore and pull into this secluded cove.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Drive another hour or so from the St. Martins Sea Caves and you come to the famous Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. Top tip – if you arrive just before closing (which is around 8pm in July), you are told to park outside the gate, which means you have to walk into the park. But you can then stay for as long as you would like and to top if off, you don’t have to pay. Well worth the extra little hike.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Tips for the Hopewell Rocks: be prepared to get wet and muddy. Walk in both directions, it is pretty stunning any way you venture. If you have time, try and make it all the way to the end. Watch your time though, the tides come in fast and it’s a long way back to the exit. (There is an emergency tower at the far end if you get stuck, but you will be stuck for as long as it takes for the tide to go out!)

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

The view across the Northumberland Strait from Murray Beach Provincial Park, towards the island of PEI. The views from Murray Beach are stellar and the nighttime sky is stunning. The streaks in the sky are trans-Atlantic flights making their way across the Maritimes towards Europe.

Kayakers paddle through the Victoria Seaport estuary. Just to the left is the small town of Victoria PEI, off to the right, the rolling hills of PEI and a whole lot of potatoes.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

A small fishing boat sits along the docks in Victoria PEI. Driving east from the Confederation Bridge, the little town of Victoria is well worth a stop. Beautiful and busy with locals and tourists, it is a nice stop on your way to Charlottetown. A little ways west of Victoria is the town of Crapaud (insert giggle), there are some great super local and wonderfully quaint breakfast and lunch places that are totally worthy of a stop.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Prince Edward Island, strutting her stuff. Sunset along the Hunter River in New Glasgow, PEI. Just behind is the New Glasgow Lobster Supper establishment. It is a bit of an island institution. Be warned it is crazy busy, however it is WELL worth the wait. You select your lobster poundage and then sit down to an all you can eat meal. Skip lunch if you plan on going!

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Young band members dressed in historical uniforms wait to order ice-cream along the Halifax boardwalk during the tall ship festival.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Where the North Atlantic meets North America, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

What some say is the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. The Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is about an hours drive from Halifax, and is so worth the drive out. While it is a little on the touristy side, it is a stunning location and the small fishing town is beautiful to wander through.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Fishing boats sit tethered together in Peggy’s Cove harbour.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Roger Crooks, in his store the Buoy Shack in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. A lovely man, who fit the image of a Maritimer almost too perfectly. If you ever find yourself in Peggy’s Cove, it is the last shop on your left as you walk out towards the visitors centre. GO INSIDE. You will thank me later.

Maritimes Road Trip Canadian Classic

Peggy’s Cove in the late afternoon. A nice departure from the grey and industrial feel of Halifax.


Maritimes Road Trip photos and videos by James MacDonald