Story by Sarah Deveau
LUNENBURG, NOVA SCOTIA — UNESCO bestowed the World Heritage Site honour on Lunenburg because this seaside town is the best-preserved example of an 18th-century British colonial town plan in North America. The government wharf, brightly coloured clapboard downtown homes and fine Victorian homes on the upper streets are a treat to take in as you explore this lovely community by foot.
But as any local will tell you, it’s exploration by ocean that makes this town that’s 100 kilometres west of Halifax a real adventure.
Before you head out to sea, spend a few hours at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic on the wharf. Housed in brilliantly painted red buildings, the museum is comprised of floating vessels, a large aquarium and expansive exhibit complex. Learn about everything from rum running, which was a key enterprise in the province in the 18th and 19th centuries, to exotic marine animals from retired fishermen and experienced heritage interpreters. A large collection of Bluenose memorabilia, named after the championship schooner, is on display, and if you’re lucky, the Bluenose II will be in its home port.
Don’t just ogle the tall ships in the harbour — take a ride in one with Star Charters. Boat tours of the waterfront are available daily on the company’s classic 48-foot wooden tall ship, Eastern Star. The two-hour Sunset Tour offers passengers the opportunity to view the Ovens Natural Park sea caves and explore the picturesque fishing village of Blue Rocks.
Atlantic Gems in Lunenburg
Lunenburg’s Ocean Adventures offers guided deep-sea fishing that does double duty as a whale- and dolphin-watching tour when the fog isn’t too thick. The company provides bait, rods and reels, and will fillet and bag your catch. Commonly reeled-in fish include cod, mackerel, dog fish, haddock, halibut, pollock and wolf fish. For those wanting a bigger challenge, full day catch-and-release shark fishing is an option. With the steady increase in sharks in Maritime Canada, shark tourism is a growing business.
If you’d like to see the stunning coastline under your own steam, renting a single or double kayak from Pleasant Paddling is a popular choice. The company offers rentals for those who wish to go it alone, or guided sea kayaking tours. A popular spot is Blue Rocks, an archipelago with more than 50 islands and passageways that only kayakers can navigate. Plenty of wildlife can be spotted below and above the water, including harbour and grey seals, otters, porcupines, eagles, crabs, jelly fish and more.
After a day on the water, you may need to light a fire in your belly to help you warm up. There’s no surer way to do it than by imbibing small-batch spirits produced at . Erected in an old blacksmith’s shop, the distillery offers free samples of vodka, rum, apple brandy, cranberry liquor and more while you peruse the shelves to make your selections. Not a fan of the hard stuff? Visit Lunenburg County Winery, a fruit winery located on a 100-acre commercial blueberry farm for sweet sips of cherry, rhubarb, arctic kiwi and strawberry wines. End the night with a feast of fish and chips or hearty seafood chowder from The Fish Shack
(featured on Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here!”) and your Lunenburg ocean outing is complete.