Set along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia in eastern Canada, the vast natural harbor in Halifax has welcomed boats for centuries. Still a shipping hot spot, the harbor contains several islands, among them Georges Island, the former site of a British naval station, and the hiking trail–threaded McNabs Island. A bustling boardwalk lines the waterfront.
Halifax Harbour is busy, with lots of boat traffic visible out on the water. To experience the harbor, take a stroll along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk, which runs for 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) and is home to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
Cruises around the harbor offer excellent views of the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts as well as key harborside sights such as Point Pleasant Park. Some Halifax Harbour tours include an on-board meal, while others take place on amphibious vehicles that tour key sights on land, including St. Paul’s Church and Halifax Public Gardens, as well as go out on the water.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Halifax Harbour is a must for scenery seekers, people-watchers, and those who want to dine with harbor views.
- Free Wi-Fi, benches, washrooms, shops, and restaurants are all available at the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk.
- The boardwalk is accessible to wheelchair users, as are select boat tours.
How to Get There
Boat trips around the harbor depart from various locations, including the Halifax Ferry Terminal, the Cable Wharf, and other waterfront piers. Most departure piers are within walking distance of downtown Halifax and the Halifax train station. Bus routes 2, 4, 5, 6, 82, and 90 all connect to the ferry terminal. The waterfront boardwalk stretches from the Casino Nova Scotia in the north to Pier 21 in the south.
When to Get There
The best time to visit is during the summer season, when waterfront restaurant terraces with harbor views, and ice cream and snack kiosks are open. Harbor boat tours typically run from May through October. Tall ship festivals are occasionally celebrated at the harbor, usually in summer.
Situated at the mouth of Halifax Harbor, McNabs Island offers an easy-to-access nature-filled escape. Once part of the city’s defense network, McNabs still hosts a late-19th-century fort, which is a designated national historic site and was in use during both World Wars. The island has 14 miles (22 kilometers) of hiking trails to explore, which offer excellent bird-watching opportunities as well as views of the Halifax skyline. As there are no facilities on the island, it’s best to come prepared; bring drinking water and a picnic.