Explore 7 stunning beaches near Halifax

On the eighth day, we rested but we felt sad. There would be no beach today.

For a stretch of seven days this past summer, every afternoon toward the end of our work-from-home day, we packed up the beach blanket and headed out of the driveway. Our self-imposed mission? A beach a day for seven days within a 90-minute drive of our house in Halifax. Visiting beaches is easy in Nova Scotia. With 7,500 kilometres of coastline and a province almost completely surrounded by water, one is never more than 60 km from the ocean. You can escape the bustling city of Halifax and be at the seaside in less time than a weekday commute to work.

And, after visiting seven beaches around our city, all we can say is: WOW! How lucky are we to have these white-sand, natural, spectacular beaches, practically at our doorstep!

Conrad’s Beach

We were there on a weekday afternoon, so the beach was practically ours. It’s somewhat sheltered in a large cove. The waves that roll up onto the warm white sand are not really surf-worthy, but who cares?


So accessible, right on the edge of Dartmouth, Conrad’s has a small parking lot and no facilities. This is probably why there are not many people on the beach. But again, who cares? It’s gorgeous, perfect for social distancing, and one of our favourites. Walking the length of the beach is a must. Dropping people in a symphony of synchronised chaos. It’s quite a sight, if you watch them long enough it starts to make sense.

Crystal Crescent Beach

Crystal Crescent near Sambro is a beautiful natural beach that is rugged yet intimate. Speaking of natural, if you take the scenic hiking trail from the main beach, you’ll eventually get to another beach that has a reputation for being VERY natural. We honestly didn’t know about this ‘naturist’ beach until after we left. Honest.


Sitting on the beach or strolling is lovely but the best part about being at Crystal Crescent is staring out at the island offshore with its lighthouse. The Sambro Island Lighthouse is the oldest standing and operating lighthouse in the Americas! The original interior tower, built in 1758 is intact. For 250 years, the light has guided vessels into and out of Halifax Harbour, through wars and peace, storms and calm, greeting immigrants, refugees and war brides. We will definitely be revisiting this beach, if only to walk to the third beach and have a peek. That’s all. Just a peek.

Rainbow Heaven

When I told a friend that we had been to Rainbow Haven Beach on our self-imposed challenge, she commented; “I feel like all the people that were at the Liquor Dome on Friday night are at Rainbow Haven beach on Saturday.” (The Liquor Dome is a long-standing nickname for a club that throbs with dance music until the wee hours in downtown Halifax). Well, I guess the various deep-bass drum thuds coming from a few different pods of people gathered on the beach would indicate that, yes, my friend may be on to something. There are lifeguards so it’s a great beach for kids. If you want to be alone without the 808s vibrating the sand, go early in the day.

Crescent Beach

We hit Crescent Beach in Lunenberg County on a spectacularly large, deep-blue-sky Saturday. We love everything wheeled so Crescent Beach is a stand-out because you can drive and park on the beach. The rear cargo floor of our Eclipse Cross quickly morphed into the best beach tailgater. Ever.


Crescent Beach is exactly what it says, a two-kilometre long, sandy crescent that consists of a beach and a parallel road behind the sand dunes. The sandbar connects the mainland to some of the LaHave Islands. Before we left the Crescent Beach area, we deemed it our duty to drive to the end of the road on Bush Island. What a calm and peaceful surprise. The drive from Halifax to Crescent Beach can be as direct as possible on Highway 103. However, we recommend Route 3. Take your time, stop in the charming, historic South Shore villages and towns, like Chest Mahone Bay and Lunenberg.

Martinique

This is probably the beach we’ve frequented the most. It’s far enough out of the city to feel like you’re getting away from it all, yet close enough for those “are we there yet?” passengers.

Martinique Beach is another long expanse of luscious white sand, Nova Scotia’s longest white-sand beach at 5 kilometres actually, with plenty of room to spread out. The drive along the Eastern Shore, a more rugged coastline than the one along the South Shore, is beautiful but we opted for the express Highway 107 that gets us to Musquodoboit Harbour quickly and to Martinique Beach from there.


On the way home from Martinique, duty and tradition demand a stop for clams and chips at Harbour Fish N Fries in Musquodoboit Harbour. The Bandwagon Food Truck across the street at Musquodoboit Railway Museum serves up tasty treats, like fish tacos. Mmm fish tacos.

Clam Harbour

One word: Spectacular! It’s a bit further away from the city along the Eastern Shore than Martinique but it’s a scenic, fun drive that lets you stretch the legs of whatever vehicle you’re driving. Make sure to walk the length of the beach. At its westernmost end, depending on the tide, is a fast-flowing shallow river that carries you effortlessly to the ocean. We came home from Clam Harbour feeling like we had had a true beach day.

Lawrencetown

We got to Lawrencetown after a workday. If I surfed, what an activity to blow off steam and think of nothing else. Talk about being in the moment. Turns out, watching surfers is also therapeutic. The wind, the waves, the light – all helped with after-work decompression. Lawrencetown Beach is renowned among surfers the world over. Even in the icy, dark months, you’ll find die-hard surfers trying to catch a wave in full wetsuits.


Wow! When you pull them all together like this, what a selection of beaches in the Halifax-Dartmouth region.


Nova Scotia is Canada’s Ocean Playground, after all. Even our license plates say so.

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