The Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia runs from Halifax Harbour all the way to the Strait of Canso, where the province splits into Cape Breton Island. This underappreciated coastline has a geography different from the opposite coast of Nova Scotia, with more small fishing villages, rocky outcroppings, and some of the most well known beaches in the province. Spend just 24 hours on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, and you’ll want to come back for more.
I booked a 24-hour road trip to the Eastern Shore just to visit the Marmalade Motel, a new boutique, motel style accommodation in Port Dufferin, near Sheet Harbour, about 2 hours from Halifax by car. (Unfortunately, there is no public transit to this area of the province, despite the Halifax Regional Municipality extending quite some distance in this direction.)
Where to Stay
The Marmalade Motel is a 9-room, fully renovated motel with the cutest rooms, each with a different design. We stayed in the No Drama Llama Room which had two double beds and a three-piece bath. Each room has its own balcony and parking spot, and check in was contactless – the owners will email a code to a lock box where you can find your room key when you arrive. I also got an email when my room was ready – earlier than the 3pm check in time.
The super cute rooms were very quiet, and came with a mini fridge and coffee maker, but no microwave. Outside, the hosts have provided a barbeque and fire pit, and games like washer toss and axe throwing.
The motel is located quite rurally; down the road is a convenience store where you can also order a pizza, or a 15 minute drive will take you to Sheet Harbour. In the morning, the motel owner will bring you breakfast in bed for $25 for two people – though three of us ate well on breakfast for two, especially if you are inclined to bring travel snacks.
What to Do
24 hours in this area goes quickly because the distances between locations are a bit further. After leaving Halifax, stop first at Martinique Beach, a provincial park known for the excellent surfing conditions. There was a heat wave in Nova Scotia when we were there, so the beach was packed. If you want to surf, the Halifax Surf School was renting boards and wetsuits in the parking lot.
The beach was very crowded and everyone in the water had a wet suit – not a great swimming location, but nice for sunbathing and watching the daredevils in the water. The parking lot was absolutely packed, so we were asked to park on the road and walk down (about 5 minutes).
I’m not good at actually sitting on the beach, so after taking in the spectacle, we were back on the road to Jeddore, where we stopped at Beside the Sea restaurant at Jeddore Lodge and Cabins for Sunday brunch. The special of the day was waffles… or a roasted pork dish with rice and cabbage.
The waitress, whose family is from China but who herself grew up in Mauritius, told us that the pork was a rare dish to find in Nova Scotia, as it was particular to the Hakka people of China, a nomadic group, different from the traditional Hong Kong or Cantonese Chinese food we would find in Canada.
The lodge and cabins sat on a beautiful bay, and had a little pool and play area as well. For a reasonably priced – and informative – brunch, I’d recommend it! We sat on the patio which was very warm, but had a nice view of the water.
Clam Harbour Beach
From Jeddore, continue along Highway 7 to Clam Harbour Beach. Similar to Martinique Beach, there was surfing to be had here as well. A nice boardwalk takes you from the parking area (which was much less full than our last stop) to the beach.
Want more 24 hour guides? Check out this itinerary for 24 hours in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The water here looked to be slightly warmer, but still a very busy beach. If privacy and having the sand to yourself is your thing – these beaches probably aren’t for you. Though if it hadn’t been a heatwave perhaps the conditions would be different!
After checking in to the Marmalade and unsuccessfully throwing some axes, and then getting stuck in the swinging bench, we headed off for an early dinner at the recommended restaurant – Henley House in Sheet Harbour.
Where to Eat on the Eastern Shore
Because we were there on a Sunday, we ate early to accommodate the restaurant’s 7pm closing time, but we certainly weren’t alone. Henley House Pub and Restaurant is perhaps a bit deceptive – from the outside, an unassuming little rural pub. But sitting on the lovely back patio, the food was delicious and the server very friendly. Though I had a cider from No Boats on Sunday, a Halifax cider company, the on tap beer was all made next door at Sober Island Brewing Company.
The chowder, which was eaten well before I could possibly photograph it, was excellent. Had we come a bit earlier, we would happily have come for afternoon tea at Henley House. The Marmalade also does package deals for two – a night’s stay, breakfast, and afternoon tea at the restaurant.
The view from the restaurant or the Sober Island beer garden next door, was beautiful in the early evening. Take a walk down to the dock if the weather is good.
Find more photos and video from this trip on Instagram: @its_rachelkaroline
Back in Port Dufferin, the clouds and fog were just rolling in, making for moody photos.
Back at the Marmalade, finish off the evening with a soak under the pines in the outdoor hot tub, or roast marshmallows over the fire.
The next day, leisurely enjoy the breakfast that the owner brings right to the room at 8 on the dot. We would have liked to stop at Memory Lane Heritage Village but it isn’t open on Mondays. Instead, we carried on to Musquodoboit Harbour, a small community with a farmers market and other small shops, including another brewery. The highlight of Musquodoboit Harbour was Uprooted Market & Cafe, a super cute food market and coffee shop. We had breakfast sandwiches (vegetarian or with ham) but lunch was going to be offered as well, along with speciality coffees.
Along with fresh produce, pick up a souvenir and other pantry staples – and learn a bit about food systems and food waste while you’re at it.
On your way back to Halifax, check out Taylor Head Provincial Park for hiking trails, beaches, and picnic areas. When we got to Taylor Head, the fog was so thick there was absolutely no view of anything at all – but perhaps you’ll have better luck!
There is so much more to see and do along the Eastern Shore. Check out this video from Nova Scotia videographers and bloggers Davey and Sky for more highlights.
1 night stay at Marmalade Motel starting at $149 + tax
Breakfast for two (or three) at the Motel: $25
Henley House for a bowl of chowder and a beer: $19 + tip
Beaches and parks: Free
Other expenses: Gas
How can I save money?
Bring your own groceries to cook on the barbeque at the Motel. Store your travel snacks and breakfast goods in the mini fridge and take advantage of the in-room coffee for breakfast.