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Halifax Day Trip: Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

A day trip to Peggys Cove is one of Nova Scotia, Canada's most popular tourist activities as a featured stop on the famous "Lighthouse Route". While the lighthouse is the primary attraction, it is the tiny village that captures my heart.

A white octagonal lighthouse with a red top standing on bare granite with tourists taking photos

Clustered around a peaceful cove, protected from the harsh weather and waves blowing off the North Atlantic Ocean, the rustic wooden buildings and piles of fishing equipment invite visitors to soak in the views and charm of this coastal village. Whether clear or foggy, wild or calm, the stunning beauty of the village, coast, barrens, and cove will hold a special place in your memories.


The 44 km route from downtown Halifax to Peggys Cove is an easy drive with breathtaking views and charming small towns. Visitors can choose to join one of the many guided tours from Halifax or set out to explore on an independent self-drive. I suggest an early start, or timing your visit for later in the day to avoid crowds during high season.

A foggy day with a small fishing boat anchored in ront of a small island. A small speedboat and some fishing bouys ar in the foreground.
Enjoy the drive!

 

History of Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

A group of 6 fishermen and their families first settled at Peggys Cove in 1811 on land granted by King George III. Some say the name refers to St. Margaret's Bay, as the name Peggy is a derivative of Margaret. The more romantic and much-preferred story is a tale of a devastating shipwreck and a lone survivor named Peggy. Although there is no evidence of the legendary lady, there are many references to "Peggy from the Cove" around the area.

A rowboat resting on a grassy bank against some rocks, with a pile of crab traps and fishing floats out of focus in the background

The early residents fished and grew some crops in the thin soil. Trade was done by water until roads were built. Peggys Cove became self-sufficient by constructing the lighthouse, a school, a church, a general store, and a post office. Today, about 30 year-round residents, including descendants of the original settlers, call Peggys Cove home.

head and shoulders view of a wooden sculpture of a bearded fisherman wearing a yellow slicker and hat

Peggys Cove Preservation Area

On the approach to Peggys Cove, visitors will notice broad barrens on each side of the village. This is the Peggys Cove Preservation Area, a delicate ecological area of glacial geology, biodiversity, and raw beauty—Meander along paths through multiple habitats, from windswept barrens and rugged coastlines to tranquil bogs and shallow ponds.


a close up of the rock shore with pools of water and many tourists int he background

Remember to stay on the marked path. Leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but memories.


The Cove

The charming cove is the center of the village and the first thing visitors will see. Visitors will want to wander along the water's edge to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this working fishing village. Fishers will tend their nets and lobster traps while weathered boats bob gently on the water.



Peggys Cove is beautiful in any weather, so make sure your camera is fully charged. I can't decide whether it is prettier in the fog or the sunshine—what do you think?



The Village

The small village is built on the rocky granite shores of the cove. The road is narrow, and there is very little parking in the village itself. Visitors arriving at peak times must park at the Visitor Information Center outside the village and walk in. Soak in the quaint charm as you meander about. Look for delightful surprises in windows and on doorsteps.

A storefront of a wppden clad building painted green with displays inside the paned windows

Visitors will want to check out the Sou'Wester Restaurant & Gift Shop for unique souvenirs and delicious seafood. I can personally recommend both the lobster rolls and the lobster mac and cheese.


The author posing behind a tall lobster sculpture

The Old Red Schoolhouse closed in 1958 after serving as a school and church for many years. The community turned the schoolhouse into an entertainment venue that hosts community events and concerts. Check out their website for upcoming events.


Not to be missed is the deGarthe Gallery and Fishermen’s Monument. Finnish-born artist William deGrathe moved to Canada in 1926 and chose to set up summer residency in Peggys Cove. Visit the gallery to glimpse maritime life through his paintings and sculptures.

a portion of the fisherman's memorial showing fishermen pulling up lobster traps

The outstanding Fisherman's Monument is carved into a tall granite outcropping behind the gallery. It includes the figures of 32 fishermen, their families, and the mythical Peggy of the Cove, protected in the arms of St. Elmo, the patron saint of mariners.


Lighthouse

The lighthouse is the main attraction for most visitors. The first lighthouse at Peggys Cove was a wooden structure built in 1868 that deteriorated in harsh maritime conditions. It was replaced in 1914 by the current concrete lighthouse. Designed to withstand the conditions, the octagonal lighthouse is painted bright white and red to ensure maximum visibility in the fog and ocean swells that abound along this coast. The last lightkeeper left in 1958 when the light was automated.


looking up at the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse on a foggy day

For those with mobility issues, an accessible viewing platform is the perfect vantage point.


Safety on a Day Trip to Peggys Cove Nova Scotia

Mother Nature can be dangerous, so visitors must prioritize safety. The massive granite boulders and rockfaces can be treacherous, especially when wet. Be especially wary of black rocks covered with ocean slime. Sturdy, non-slip footwear is essential. Look for signs and follow the instructions.

Safety sign with text: DANGER Sudden high waves. Drowning hazard  Keep off black rocks.

Rogue waves with powerful surges can catch unsuspecting visitors off guard. Stay safe from the water's edge and pay attention to any signs of approaching waves, especially during rough sea conditions.


A warning plaque with text: WARNING Injury and Death have rewarded careless sight-seers here. The Ocean and Rocks are teacherous. Savour the sea from a distance"..

Be prepared for ocean spray, which can drench bystanders instantly. Secure your belongings and protect electronics from moisture.


Final Thoughts

Peggys Cove draws visitors from near and far. As a featured stop on the "Lighthouse Route," this tiny village is steeped in history and brimming with natural beauty. The historic landmarks, cultural treasures, rugged coastline and tranquil cove demand a permanent place in the hearts and memories of all visitors.


lobster traps stacked against a shingled wall

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9 Comments


Peggy's Cove is the first place I think of when someone mentions the Maritimes, even though I haven't made it that far east. It looks like every little fishing village I grew up visiting in the UK, but I still want to go. I actually think it looks better in the fog, way more mysterious. What a beautiful looking place either way

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What a quaint and picturesque town Peggy's Cove is and what a great name too.

I always know a true working fishing town when the smell of fish is still in the air when you walk through it. As you say, Peggy's Cove has that so it goes down as a true coastal place for me.

Love the huge lobster sculpture - no guessing what they sell there!

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Guest
Mar 27

Peggy's Cove is such a picturesque coastal village. The surrounding natural reserves are stunning and its rugged granite cliffs reminded me a bit of the salt pans in Portugal/Northern Spain. Just shows how versatile Canada is and it is no surprise that this corner in particular is so popular with photographers and artists alike. Love to read that a Finn fell in love with the village's quaint charm and inspired his art work.


Carolin | <a href="https://solotravelstory.com/">Solo Travel Story</a>

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I've never heard fo Pegg's Cove, but it sounds awesome. The history, the charm of the village, and the stunning beauty of the coastline all make it a hidden gem. Safety is definitely a priority when exploring the rocky terrain and waters, but the experience looks truly unforgettable. I love all your NS posts - they make me want to visit!

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Replying to

You really should visit Nova Scotia -- it is an amazing place with all sorts of fascinating sights from fortresses to lighthouses. Peggys Cove is awesome -- it's always on my itinerary whenever I am there.

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Guest
Mar 24

I love coastal towns! I think they have a certain draw and usher a sense of a tranquil life that we all wish at some point and want to have. As I have never been to Canada and Nova Scotia for that matter, a little trip to Peggys Cove might become an extraordinary experience. I bet the lobster taste divine! #flyingbaguette


Jan - https://flyingbaguette.com/

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Replying to

I hope you will visit Canada -- we have so much diversity in people, geography, and culture. Yes, the lobster is divine!

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