Getting out on the water is a time-honored tradition in Nova Scotia—after all, sometimes the water is too cold for swimming, so just float above it! Kayaking, canoeing, and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUPing from now on) are all popular in Nova Scotia. This means that there are plenty of places across the province to learn, rent, and even go on adventures! And you’ll also find these places on lakes, rivers, and the ocean, so you can choose your level of water roughness right from the beginning.
Cabot Trail Adventures
The Cabot Trail is an adventure in itself, but Cabot Trail Adventures is happy to show you all the adjacent adventure possibilities. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and SUP boards from them for either a full day or half a day, and then go on your merry way along the coast. Another option is to take their guided tour, which is part lesson in sea kayaking and part natural history lesson. If you’ve kayaked before but not in the ocean, or you’re new to the area, Cabot Trail Adventures is the place to get set up for success.
Where: 299 Shore Road, South Harbour, Dingwall, Cape Breton
Contact Details: 1-902-383-2552
At Candlebox Kayaking you can take lessons in not only the ocean, but in whitewater kayaking! There are lessons available from beginners to people who just need a refresher, and there are multi-day trips available too! The whitewater kayaking takes place on one of two rivers, while sea kayaking is centered around Shelburne. Whichever one you choose; you’ll get your sea (kayak) legs quickly and then you can proceed at your own pace.
Where: 107 Water Street, Shelburne
Contact Details: 902-637-7115
Cape LaHave Adventures
The advantage of canoeing, kayaking, or SUPing with Cape LaHave is that you’ve got all of the LaHave Islands to explore. This provides some structure to your tour, and also acquaints you with getting in and out of these paddleboats (which I can tell you from personal experience takes some practice). Cape LaHave offers lessons and rentals for all three types of paddleboats at several levels of experience. They also have tours, ranging from a ½ day outing to a literal 8-day trip all the way to Newfoundland!
Where: 90 Bells Cove Road, Dublin Shore
Contact Details: 902-693-2023
CB West Paddle Boards
The Margaree River is known worldwide for its fishing opportunities and for kayaking and canoeing. CB West, however, is focused on SUP boards, though they do provide kayaks as well. They have tours down from the Margaree Forks, and lasts for around 3-4 hours, giving you a great experience of the river and a solid grasp on operating a SUP board. If you think you’ve got the hang of it, you can also just rent a board and paddle and have your own adventure down the Margaree, and they will drive you to the beginning and pick you up at the end!
Where: 117 East Margaree Crossing Road, Margaree
Contact Details: 902-224-5770
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Nova Scotia’s 100 Wild Islands is a wildly successful conservation project, and the best way to see these protected islands is from a kayak. Coastal Adventures will get you there, even if you’ve never been on a kayak! There are lessons available at their Kayak School, or you can rent your own kayak if you want a solo journey. They’ve also got plenty of tours you can enjoy with all necessary equipment supplied, and they even have really long tours out to the Bay of Islands and Newfoundland.
Where: 84 Mason’s Point Road, Tangier
Contact Details: 877-404-2774 or 902-772-2774
Coastal Spirit Expeditions
If you can’t decide whether to kayak on a river or the ocean, why not try one of each? Coastal Spirit Expeditions sits on the tip of the River John (which is also the name of the community), which is on the coast (that’s why they’re called that). This means that they offer kayak tours both down the river and out to hug the coastline of Cape John. If you’re not sure which one you might like best, they have a course that includes training for both ocean and river, so you can get a feel for both.
Where: Cape John Road, River John
Contact Details: 902-351-2283
East Coast Outfitters
If you live in the HRM and want to try out kayaking, East Coast Outfitters is ready and waiting for you! They’ve got a wide array of lessons available, including certifications in Paddle Canada Level 1-3. There are plenty of tours to take, including a sunset kayak, which just sounds fantastic. You can also rent kayaks from them if you’re ready to start paddling—and you can also rent canoes and SUP boards too. Whatever floats your boat!
Where: 2017 Lower Prospect Road, Lower Prospect
Contact Details: 1-877-852-2567
Hubbards Cove Rentals
This Hubbards business focuses mainly on rentals, and boy do they have a bunch of options. You can get SUP boards, kayaks, skim boards, body boards, and even snorkel gear, and you can rent them for up to two days. This gives you a chance to explore the Hubbards waters pretty much however you want, and means you can rent equipment at the beginning of your weekend and then not have to return them until it’s time to go. If you’re looking for lessons and tours, they have those too, specifically for SUP boards and kayaks.
Where: 204 Lighthouse Route, Hubbards
Contact Details: 902-452-3751
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Kayak Cape Breton
If you’re having a kayaking vacation, why not stay where the vacation is? Kayak Cape Breton is a small and private glamping destination, and offers four options for accommodations: the Boathouse, an RV, a Yurt, and a Dome. In addition to the great accommodations, they’re right on the Bras d’Or Lake, and also have a smaller pond on the grounds if you want to get a feel for the paddle again. They have both single and double kayaks available, and they even have some canoes and SUP boards, so like the accommodations, the choice is yours!
Where: 5385 West Bay Highway, West Bay, Cape Breton
Contact Details: 902-951-0132
Chester, Nova Scotia, is a beautiful place to be, and as luck would have it, it is also within paddling distance of other beautiful places to be. The Kayak Shack is eager to help you experience that, whnocether you’re kayaking, SUPing, canoeing, or even row-boating! Whichever boat you choose, you’ll get detailed instructions before you head out on the water. They also have several tours to nearby locations, including the mysterious Oak Island.
Where: 2859 Nova Scotia Trunk 3, East Chester
Contact Details: 902-980-0522
Liverpool Adventure Outfitters
Liverpool Adventure Outfitters has some pretty awesome land-based excursions, but they’ve got just as many in the water. You can kayak for the day out to Port Mouton Island (which is named for a guy named Mouton but I still call it Port Sheep Island to myself), or you can take a half-day tour to get a feel for it. They also have SUP board tours; one is designed specially for parents and kids to learn together, and the other takes you on a paddle along the Mersey River. You can even end the day on the water with the Mersey Sunset paddle, where you can choose either a kayak or canoe to paddle into the sunset.
Where: 4003 Sandy Cove Road, Liverpool
Contact Details: 902-354-2702
Long Lake Adventure Company
Another great choice for Haligonians, Long Lake Adventure is only 15 minutes from downtown Halifax. Long Lake Provincial Park has a lot of different things to do, but in the summer the lake is the main attraction. Long Lake Adventure Company provides rentals of both kayaks and SUP boards. Each rental includes the boat/board, the paddle, and a lifejacket, which is very important that everyone wears, I don’t care if you’re the next Michael Phelps. There are both child and adult options for each, so it’s a great family outing, whether you’ve got littles small enough to fit behind you in your kayak, or they’re ready to start paddling on their own.
Where: 75 Old Sambro Road, Sambro
Contact Details: 902-830-7688
North River Kayak
Another option to stay and kayak, North River Kayak has everything you need for a special trip away. The guided tours see you paddling in the river and sheltered coastline, and includes a light lunch for the half-day crew and a big lunch for the full day crew. You’ll see plenty of wildlife both in the sea and in the air and also learn about the history (both human and natural) of the area. You can also spend the whole weekend learning how to kayak, so newbies are well looked after. North River is affiliated with River Nest Wilderness Cabins, so you can really relax and unwind, enjoying the beauty of nature 24 hours a day.
Where: 644 Murray Road, Cabot Trail, North River Bridge, Cape Breton
Contact Details: 902-929-2628 or 1-888-865-2925
Nova Shores Sea Kayaking
The Bay of Fundy Tides are awesome to behold, but if you want to feel their power, you need to get in the water. Nova Shores Sea Kayaking takes you on tours to get you up close and personal with the Bay and its tides. You can take a day trip either by kayak or SUP which includes a picnic, or you can do one of their multi-day tours. There’s even a tour that involves early morning kayaking followed by yoga and brunch, which is perfect for early birds!
Where: 37 School Lane, Advocate Harbour
Contact Details: 902-392-2222
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Ovens Natural Park
Whenever someone mentions the sublime, I think about the Ovens Natural Park. There’s something about the raw beauty of the trail and the sea caves below that makes the place timeless and unforgettable. I’ve never taken the kayaking tour, but I have seen people go on it, and it looks amazing. The guided tour is suitable for all experience levels, and you go right beside the sea caves instead of just looking down on them. You’ll here about the local ecosystems, the history of the caves, and the folklore that makes them even more fascinating.
Where: 326 Ovens Road, Riverport
Contact Details: 902-766-4621
Just outside of Lunenburg, you’ll find the community of Blue Rocks, and that’s also where you’ll find Pleasant Paddling. There are kayak lessons to be had for all levels, including those who want the Level One Paddle Certification; you can also rent kayaks and SUP boards for your own trip around the rocks. They also offer tours, including out to see a seal colony, a paddle through the dozens of nearby islands, or long trips into the Tobeatic Wilderness that also includes some trekking…or the Inn-to-Inn tour, where you paddle all day but get to sleep in a comfy bed every night.
Where: 245 The Point Road, Blue Rocks
Contact Details: 902-541-9233
If you want to take a deep dive into Stand-Up Paddling Boards…you’re doing it wrong. Those go on top of the water, silly! In all seriousness, Scotian SUP is the place to go if you want to learn everything about SUPing. They have an introductory course on Lake Banook that gives you three hours of experience in everything from safety to basic weather forecasting. If you want to continue further, they have an Advanced Flatwater course, and even Instructor Training so you can share SUPing with everyone you know!
Contact Details: 902-229-6193
The Song of the Paddle
If you want to know the sound of music, paddle edition, you need to head to the Yarmouth area! This company takes you on a kayak trip through the Yarmouth Harbour that includes a picnic in the harbour from the local Red Shed restaurant. They also have kayak tours and rentals available at Ellenwood Park, which is a great option if you’re camping there. They even have specific tours designed for families with children as young as 1, so everyone can come hear the paddle’s song.
Where: 161 Brazil Lake Road, Brenton
Contact Details: 902-746-0447
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St. Mary’s Boat Club
One of the oldest recreation centres in Halifax, St. Mary’s Boat Club sits right on the Northwest Arm of the Halifax Harbour. If you’ve got young paddlers, they can learn how to canoe and kayak in camps all summer long. St. Mary’s also offers canoe, kayak, and SUP board rentals, and holds regular paddle nights for all ages. It’s a great place to get your feet wet (or not) in sea kayaking/canoeing/SUPing, and a great place to start summertime traditions.
Where: 1641 Fairfield Road, Halifax
Contact Details: 902-490-4688
SUP Yoga Halifax
Alright, this is a fascinating concept that marries balancing with paddling in a whole new way. SUP Yoga Halifax takes place in St. Margaret’s Bay, and involves doing yoga while standing on a SUP board. This is an interesting blend of skills that may require some practice—luckily SUP Yoga Halifax has classes on SUP, yoga, and the basics of combining the two. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can sign up for one of their advanced SUP classes or even SUP + Fitness, which focuses on getting the best workout on your SUP board.
Where: Todd’s Island Road, Head of St. Margaret’s Bay
Contact Details: 902-229-4381
Why not adventure indeed? Settled in Kejimkujik National Park, WhyNot Adventure offers guidance and support to anyone adventuring in the park’s waters. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and SUP boards from them, and even rent camping gear if you want to strike out for a multi-day voyage of your own design. If that sounds like more work than adventure, not to worry! They’ve got every kind of tour you could name, including going deep into the Tobeatic Wilderness for 4 days, canoeing under the stars, and even touring through the Frozen Ocean! Don’t worry, this is a lake called the Frozen Ocean, we haven’t had a visit from a Disney character in the middle of the summer.
Where: 1507 Main Park Way, Kejimkujik National Park
Contact Details: 902-682-2282
By: Adrienne Colborne