As Canada’s smallest provinces, the three Maritime neighbors are very easy to explore on this comprehensive itinerary. And it’s a pleasure to do so in your small group, with whom you’ll ride along the breathtaking Cabot Trail, enjoy superb accommodations, feast on some of the world’s best lobster, and meet Canada’s famously friendly people. The icing on the cake? Vantage’s exceptional value, enhanced by a strong US dollar.
Board a flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia
Welcome to Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia province. Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met and transferred to our hotel, where the balance of the day is yours to relax. Early this evening you’ll meet with your Adventure Leader and fellow travelers for a briefing, Welcome Reception and Dinner.
Discover the maritime heritage of Peggy’s Cove and UNESCO-named Lunenburg
This morning we’ll depart Halifax for Peggy’s Cove, and enjoy breakfast overlooking the waterfront. Peggy’s Cove is a picturesque hamlet that is an icon of Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage. The year-round population hovers around 76, not counting the hundreds of artists and photographers who come here to capture the region’s ethereal light and crashing seascapes. Legend has it that the town was named for a shipwreck survivor named Peggy who made it here and married a local fisherman. Others say the town is simply named after the bay over which it presides, St. Margaret’s (with Peggy being a nickname for Margaret.) But all agree that with its colorful wooden houses, craggy shores, and the iconic lighthouse originally built in 1868, Peggy’s Cove is one of Canada’s most charming towns.
Unforgettable Moment: From here we travel to Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the best examples in Canada of a planned British colonial settlement. The British did indeed have big plans for Lunenburg, one of several settlements they’d unilaterally established after the Conquest of Acadia in 1710. But this was sovereign Mi’kmaq Indian land where French Catholic Acadians had also settled, living in relative harmony with their First Nation neighbors. The British granted land rights to German and Swiss immigrants in exchange for working on Lunenburg’s fortifications. By resettling these Protestant foreigners, General Cornwallis intended to drive the Mi’kmaq and Acadians out. Lunenburg was raided many times in the ensuing French and Indian Wars. You’ll learn about its dramatic past as we explore the orderly lanes and houses, and also encounter the town’s proud shipbuilding heritage when we see the Bluenose II, a replica of a famed schooner that raced undefeated in international competition for 17 years.
After lunch on your own we’ll continue back towards Halifax, stopping en route for a photo opportunity at scenic Mahone Bay.
Tour the gems of Halifax before exploring the Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Today we depart Halifax but first enjoy a guided city tour. This clean, leafy, waterfront hub boasts a thriving arts and culinary scene and is considered one of eastern Canada’s most desirable places to live. You’ll first get a glimpse of Halifax past at the Citadel, a star-shaped defense structure constructed in 1856. This unique building is now populated by the 87th Highlander Regiment, which regularly performs reenactments inside the square. We’ll also pay a visit to Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where 121 victims of the Titanic disaster are buried, and pause to admire the Victorian-era Halifax Public Gardens.
Cultural Discovery: Lunch today will be at the delightful Masstown Market, an award-winning, family-owned business that has been purveying top-quality local foods for more than 45 years. The market includes eight specialty departments offering fine produce, home-style baked goods, deli and gourmet products, a café and dairybar, the Grapes & Grains NSLC boutique, a gift shop, and a garden center. Do some browsing, then be our guest for lunch. Perhaps you’ll try the famous Atlantic Seafood pie!
Unforgettable Moment: After lunch we continue to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we enjoy a guided beachwalk and learn about the tropical rainforest ecosystem that thrived here 300 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs. The cliff’s magnificently exposed rock layers reveal the world’s most complete fossil record of the Carboniferous Period, or “Coal Age.” Later in the afternoon we arrive in Moncton, and enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Wander among the incredible Bay of Fundy Hopewell Rocks
Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy a full-day excursion to the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy, which is part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Here, torrential tides and surface water have carved fantastic, towering rock formations out of the cliffs, some as tall as 70 feet. When the tide is low, they stand on the beach like surreal sculptures. When the tides come rushing in, the rocks may be nearly submerged, for this part of the Bay of Fundy has recorded the highest average tides in the world — as high as 52 feet. We’ll continue overland for a photo stop at one of the area’s picturesque covered bridges, then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Later in the afternoon we arrive back in Moncton, an inland railway hub set on the Petitcodiac River that is the “crossroads of the Maritimes.” There are many restaurants near our hotel where you may enjoy dinner on your own. Your Adventure Leader can offer suggestions.
Spend the day in historic Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island
After breakfast we depart Moncton and cross the Northumberland Strait via the 8-mile long Confederation Bridge, one of the top Canadian engineering achievements of the 20th century. The world’s longest bridge spanning ice-covered water, it stands high enough above the water that large cruise ships may pass under it.
Our destination is Prince Edward Island, which the Mi’kmaqs called Abegweit, meaning “cradle” due to the island’s shape. But PEI actually is the cradle of modern Canada — in 1867 that the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were first united into the Confederation of Canada, which gave rise to the Dominion of Canada as it stands today. The confederation was enacted in Charlottetown, the island’s capital and our destination this afternoon. After lunch on your own, we’ll reconvene for a city tour beginning at the central public square in Old Charlottetown. Once home to the Charlottetown Marketplace, it is now home to two national historic sites, Province House and the Confederation Centre of the Arts. The balance of the day is yours to relax and explore on your own. Tonight, rejoin your fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant.
From scenic Prince Edward Island National Park to Green Gables Heritage Place
Enjoy a free morning to explore this charming town. Then, after lunch on your own, we’ll depart for Prince Edward Island National Park, a spectacular enclave of red and white sand beaches, woodlands, salt marshes, and rugged headlands. The park’s ecosystems support more than 400 plant species; mammals such as fox, weasels, mink, and beaver; and more than 300 bird species, including the endangered piping plover. Within the park, we continue on to the fishing village of North Rustico Harbour to see its iconic lighthouse.
Unforgettable Moment: Then, step back in time on a guided visit to Green Gables Heritage Place, located in Cavendish, the site of the homestead that inspired author Lucy Maud Montgomery to pen her beloved literary masterpiece, Anne of Green Gables. Since its publication in 1906, the book, its sequels, and many film and stage adaptations have continued to inspire generations of young women around the world with its feisty, kind, and intelligent red-headed heroine. You’ll go inside the charming farmhouse and see Anne’s rooms set up as they were described by the author, and imagine yourself living in a simpler time and place.
Cultural Discovery: Dinner tonight will be a culinary and cultural treat: an authentic PEI maritime lobster dinner featuring seafood chowder, PEI mussels, sweet steamed Atlantic lobster, and more.
Enjoy free time in Cape Breton Island before touring the Graham Bell National Historic Site
This morning depart for Wood Island, where we board a ferry and cruise to Caribou, Nova Scotia. From here, a scenic motorcoach ride brings us over the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton Island. The causeway stretches nearly a mile and its base reaches a depth of 213 feet, making it the deepest causeway in the world. Cape Breton Island was known to the French as Isle Royale, and it changed hands between colonial powers many times. Today, you can still appreciate its vibrant Acadian and Gaelic traditions. You’ll arrive in Baddeck, check into our hotel, and have time for lunch on your own.
Unforgettable Moment: This afternoon, we’ll drive to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, situated across from Bell’s family home on Bras d’Or Lake. The exhibit honors Bell’s genius as well as his humanitarianism, and includes many of his inventions, from the telephone to ingenious kites, hydrofoils, airplanes and even the metal detector. Dinner tonight will be back at the hotel.
A scenic drive along the Cabot Trail, then Acadian culture in Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Today we enjoy a full-day excursion that brings together nature, history, and culture. Unforgettable Moment: Leaving Baddeck we ride along the Cabot Trail, a serpentine coastal highway that loops around the island and is unquestionably one of the world’s most scenic drives. The road winds along the sides of mountains, passing rugged canyons, waterfalls, and cliffs, and gradually ascends to the plateaux of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Wide open Atlantic seascapes and tiny fishing villages nestled in snug harbors will keep your camera clicking.
Cultural Discovery: In the town of Cheticamp, we’ll encounter the Acadian culture that still thrives here, centuries after the British forcibly deported the area’s French-speaking settlers during the Great Expulsion (1755-64). For many ensuing generations, the Acadians lived hardscrabble lives, and local women often would hook colorful rugs from scraps and rags, trading them with traveling salesmen. In the 1920s, an American summer resident of Cheticamp recognized the artistry in these hooked rugs, and introduced them to high-end buyers in the U.S. market. Soon, talented Cheticamp weavers began hooking rugs that depicted stories, everyday scenes, and portraits, and their so-called “talking rugs” became prized collectors’ items the world over. We’ll visit Les Trois Pignons, a museum of Acadian culture that boasts many fine examples of this traditional craft. We’ll also have a picnic lunch at scenic MacIntosh Brook Trail before turning to the hotel. Evening and dinner at leisure.
Celtic traditions in St. Ann’s Bay and epic tales of heroism at the Fortress of Louisbourg
After breakfast we’ll make the short trip to the community of St. Ann’s Bay in Englishtown. Cultural Discovery: See another side of Cape Breton culture at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, a non-profit institution that is the only one of its kind in North America. Here we’ll learn how the faculty keep alive the traditions that were brought to Canada in the early 1800s by immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland: music, language, customs, and traditional arts. While here you’ll also enjoy a kilt-making demonstration.
After lunch in Louisbourg we’ll visit the crown jewel of the Canadian National Park Service, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Unforgettable Moment: The story of Louisbourg is epic on two counts: Since its founding in 1713, the fortress continued to grow so that, by 1744, it was the largest and most expensive European fortification in North America. More than a military outpost, Louisbourg was a thriving port and commercial center with residential neighborhoods, marketplaces, inns, taverns and a hospital. It withstood many sieges during the French and Indian Wars, until the British burned it to the ground in 1760. Fast-forward 200 years, when the government embarked on the largest historical reconstruction in Canadian history. Today, only about one quarter of the site has been reconstructed, but even this partial restoration is massive and highly authentic in its detail. As we walk about we’ll encounter actors in period dress who portray individual residents, and share the details of daily 18th century life here. Afterwards we’ll return to our hotel and enjoy a Farewell Reception and Dinner.
Visit North America’s first single-malt whisky distillery, then explore the fascinating heritage of Millbrook
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then depart Baddeck for the town of Glenville. Cultural Discovery: Among the traditions the Scottish émigrés brought with them was the distilling of Scotch. Today you will visit the very first North American single-malt whisky distillery, Glenora. You’ll tour the distillery and of course, sample some whisky before enjoying lunch.
Cultural Discovery: Making our way back over the Canso Causeway, we stop in the town of Millbrook to explore the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre (formerly the Glooscap Heritage Centre and Mi’kmaq Museum) Through the story of Glooscap, whose name means “man from nothing” in the Abenaki language, we learn how this first human was created out of a bolt of lightning in the sand. It is a central story in Mi’kmaq culture, which the center celebrates through an innovative multimedia presentation and exhibits of First Nation artifacts. We’ll arrive back in Halifax this evening, in time for dinner on your own.
Depart Halifax for your return flight home
After an included breakfast at the hotel this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or regional expert.