The large natural harbor along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia is one Halifax’s most lively sites. The historic waterfront was largely formed by a drowned glacial valley which succumbed to sea level rise since glaciation, and has since become the first inbound and last outbound port of call in eastern North America with transcontinental rail connections.
Tourism-wise, Halifax Harbor is home to half a dozen islands including McNabs Island, the largest and also most significant. Now a national park and National Historic Site of Canada, it played a major defensive role in Halifax’s history, having been first settled in the 1780s. The island was used as an execution site during the Napoleonic Wars (and thus earned the nickname “Hangman’s Beach”), as a defensive stronghold against German U during World War II and later on as an isolated detention center for soldiers convicted of crimes. It now hosts museums, walking trails and plenty of picnic-friendly beaches. Halifax Harbor also contains Deadman's Island, a small peninsula known located in the Northwest Arm named for the burial location of War of 1812 prisoners of war.
Halifax Harbour is located in the southern part of Halifax. Various tour companies offer rides on the harbor and the vicinity from downtown Halifax. It is possible to get to McNabs Island via ferry from Fisherman’s Cove from mid-May to mid-October.