Sifting Through the LaHave Islands off Nova Scotia’s South Shore

The silver sands of secluded inlets and lagoons deliver the ideal spot for a potluck picnic.

By Darcy Rhyno   |   August 26, 2021

  Patrick Rojo, Tourism Nova Scotia
Island-hop by kayak and camp under the stars with LaHave Islands Glamping Adventure.

Fishing shacks lean over the water, their reflections a near mirror image on the glassy surface as our canoe slips past. On either side of the narrows, a wooden sailboat, a couple of fishing boats and a rowboat rest on their lines. My paddling partner is my wife. Two other couples are following behind. We lift our paddles and pause to take in the sights here among the LaHave Islands on Nova Scotia’s South Shore as if we’re drifting through a postcard.

I look behind to see our friends and find smiles on their faces. Two of them are recent retirees from Alberta, enjoying their first outing on the water. The narrow passage named Wolfe Gut opens up into a large lagoon surrounded by some 20 islands, rocky outcrops and barrier beaches. Their protection makes it possible to paddle here in a canoe as well as a kayak.

As if we’re kids again, we run and splash along the water’s edge where the breaking waves sigh into the sand.

Sea & Sky
This grouping of 20 closely packed islands has ample beaches, campsites and wildlife, perfect for paddling and hiking. Expect gentle currents—and a tide that moves in and out very quickly.


On the way to the far side of the lagoon, we pause on the shores of one small island to poke about the rockweed and the shallow tidal pools. Periwinkles make their unhurried way across the face of a rock, leaving winding trails behind them. As we explore the rocky shore, I muse on a new experience I’ve heard of—the LaHave Islands Glamping Adventure—that includes cookouts, paddleboard yoga and some luxury camping on a private island.

Back in the canoes, we push for the far shore, finally landing on a grassy marsh bank behind a series of sand dunes. We pull the canoes out of reach of the tide, unload our picnic lunches and hike to the dunes.

What we find on the other side is a long stretch of silver sand facing the open Atlantic Ocean. This is Cape Bay Beach. What we don’t find is another living soul with whom we have to share this treasure. The shallow sands stretch out before us, turning the waters turquoise until they deepen into dark ocean depths. Sea ducks bob beyond the breaking waves. We spot a couple of seals among them.

As if we’re kids again, we run, dodge and splash along the water’s edge where the breaking waves sigh into the sand. We jump the breakers and kick water at each other. Wet and breathless, we make our way to the rocky outcrop at the south end of the beach, where we lay out our picnic on the ledges.

Everyone has gone overboard with decadent, mostly local additions to the potluck meal. Spread before us are Nova Scotia wines, including our only appellation, Tidal Bay. There’s LaHave Bakery bread, cheeses from That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm and Fox Hill, smoked haddock and pickled herring. Together with the salads and the lobster-flavoured potato chips from Covered Bridge, we’ve pulled together quite a feast.

Fully satisfied, we recline on the rocks to enjoy the view and watch the wildlife. I find myself feeling so thankful for these riches. Then a thought strikes me and I smile—our day among the LaHave Islands is barely half over.

Darcy Rhyno
rhynopics  Website
Darcy has written about family travel to Paris, romance in a Spanish castle, fall colours in China, volcano vacations in Costa Rica and food as history on the Magdalen Islands. He is the author of six books.

Look for Travelier in print soon.