To see a whale or not to see a whale. That is the question. The answer is: it doesn’t matter. Taking a cruise out of the Halifax harbor, second deepest natural harbor in the world (Sydney is first), is worth the views and fresh ocean air. It would have been amazing to catch a glimpse of a fin whale or even a dolphin, but it was not to be on this windy, overcast, rough watered excursion.
A live lesson on lobster trapping, entertaining commentary on the history of the area, feeding birds as they floated in synch with the speed of the boat, all made the cruise worthwhile.
At the mouth of the Halifax Harbor is George’s Island – at one time the highest concentration of snakes (garter, not poisonous) per square footage of land anywhere in the world. Many snakes are still on the island, which would make this tourist think twice about visiting this island set to open to the public in the near future.
Point Pleasant Park, the land mass directly across the Halifax harbor from George’s Island, is a public park with miles of trails. In 1880 Nova Scotia was granted a 990-year lease from Great Britain for one shilling a year (equivalent to ten cents Canadian currency today).
Halifax was founded in 1749, but much of the building lining the harbor is new since a ship explosion in 1917 decimated a good portion of the harbor. During World War I, ships carrying explosives had to wave a red flag to alert other ships as to the cargo they were carrying. The captain of one such ship forgot to put his red flag up and upon entering the harbor was hit by an exiting ship. The collision created an explosion that sunk every ship in the harbor, except one; killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000; was felt four hours away; broke glass in houses an hour away.
Next, it was off to Peggy’s Cove, world-renowned fishing village. I had no idea what to expect, but it didn’t take long to understand why it is one of the most photographed areas in the world. Although very quaint, and overrun with tourists, this little cove, accented with its own lighthouse, churned out some of the best photos of this trip.
Peggy’s Cove is part of St. Margaret’s Bay where Swissair 111 crashed in 1998. Although hit hard by storms, hurricanes and the economy, Peggy’s Cove is still a working fishing village.
Check out more pictures of Halifax, Peggy’s Cove and surrounding areas under the Global Gallery tab.
Where to eat: Obviously fresh seafood, especially lobster, is the food of choice in Nova Scotia. Lobster trapping is still a vibrant industry from large commercial ships to the local 84-year old man who still throws out 250 lobster traps at a time (his father trapped until he was 92). For the full lobster dinner, bib and all, eat at The Five Fisherman, Halifax. For an Italian fine dining experience, try Da Maurizio, Halifax.
What to do: reserve a sightseeing tour with Murphy’s Nature and Whale Watching. Walk along the waterfront and watch the large cruise ships navigate Halifax harbor. Drive the coast. Eat lobster pulled fresh from the ocean.