Nova Scotia’s Friendliest Harbour: The Authentic Seacoast
If you’re a traveler and you spend any time on social media, you no doubt have come across The Authentic Seacoast, one of the friendliest and most welcoming of any online travel personalities I’ve met. I’ve been chatting with them online and enjoying the stories of Nova Scotia from afar for quite some time now, so when I made plans to visit Canada’s Maritime provinces, the Authentic Seacoast and their hometown harbour of Guysborough were are the top of my list. My expectations were a friendly fishing village in a tranquil backdrop. But what I found was a lot more than just that. I’d like to tell you a story, a wee tale about Guysborough, Nova Scotia’s friendliest harbour, the Authentic Seacoast.
This was my morning running trail. A trail that starts here on the Atlantic Ocean and runs across Canada. Yup.
First it would probably behove us to establish just where Guysborough (map) is. It is on the north coast of Nova Scotia, a sheltered harbour just off Chedabucto Bay, to the east and slightly south of the Straight of Canso that separates mainland Nova Scotia from Cape Breton.
Although Guysborough is the administration center for many of the smaller fishing villages near by, it’s still a tiny hamlet of only 800. Guysborough has a lot of interesting characteristics about it that aren’t really apparent on the surface, nor would you see them in a travel guide:
- This is a “longevity zone” – the water is artesian well water, so people who live here live a lot longer than the typical Canadian. I think that means coming here is good for your health!
- Guysborough is home to what I consider classic hospitality. This isn’t a tourism region, yet you’ll find people wave at you everywhere you go. If they see you stopped looking at an information sign, they’ll check to see if you need any help. I’ve never been somewhere where people were that friendly – and so genuine too!
A cove off Guysborough Harbour. Perfect for getting a suntan, reading a book, or just drinking a beer and relaxing.
As one can imagine, much of the action in Guysborough happens down along the shore. I’ll actually highlight everything, because there’s not much to it:
- You have the main Guysborough marina where you’ll see a lot of old lobster boats that have been refurbished and put back to work as recreational boats. As I found out myself, while there are no official boat tours, if you just ask around, someone would be happy to take you out on their boat. Yes, really.
- On Main Street, you can’t not venture into the Skipping Stone Crafts and Gallery shop. From oversized umbrellas to local handmade items and even maritime-themed Christmas decor, it’s a must.
- Another place to pick up treats or snacks, souvenirs and other must-haves is the Days Gone By bakery. Locally owned and operated, it is slightly dangerous to go in here as you are immediately surrounded by breads, pastries, and snacks all baked fresh. Tip: try the cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. They are as delicious as the name implies.
- Last but not least is Guysborough’s hot spot, the Rare Bird pub. Tasty pub food, beer, conversation. What else do you need?
Even if you don’t love golf, you’ll love the super-cute and well manicured Osprey Shores. I’m not a golfer, so I’m not going to say this is a fantastic golf course, because I don’t know. But what I do know is that it is very, very well maintained. The staff are locals, so you can bet you’ll be welcomed with open arms. And in addition to the fantastic views – the course is set on a wee peninsula that juts out next to a cove in the harbour just a few minutes from the marina – there is also a very cozy clubhouse with a well stocked bar, newspapers, and comfy chairs.
Osprey Shores has its own guest accommodation – a set of ten motel-style rooms adjacent to the clubhouse. While this is the cheaper of the choices of accommodation in town, I’d like to point out that you’ll find the same high-end bedding, and top notch coffee that are up in the Manor house, which is the other accommodation choice. Plus these rooms have a wonderful terrace to sit out and look at the stars, chat to your neighbors, or otherwise just relax.
Back at the Manor
Top option for accommodation in Guysborough is Des Barres Manor, a gorgeous manor home build in 1837. From the moment you walk in until you leave, you can’t help but notice the attention to detail which creates a cozy feel. Des Barres may be top end luxury, but it feels more like home. Some features to note:
- Before your dinner, check out the small bar area which features cocktails made with everything-Canadian (and mostly Nova Scotian). Many drinks have fresh fruit items from the manor’s garden.
- Dinner is simply exquisite - the chef currently at the manor has really hit her stride. Both of the meals I had were pairing meals, so meals were served with Wine Spectator award-winning wine list. I’d encourage you to try all the courses, as this restaurant might might be Nova Scotia’s secret weapon.
- Rooms are very expansive and feature high end toiletries, period furnishings, and some of the best bedding I have ever seen/felt. I’ve already asked to order a set of the bedding from Des Barres Manor. That’s how comfortable this bed was. I didn’t have the room, but if you’ve got some spare space, you can purchase the bedding in the Skipping Stone shop.
In the Area
I’d suggest you start with the Authentic Seacoast 101, a list of things to do in the area that will give you a wide flavor of your options as to what might be the most interesting for your visit. A couple of highlights for me:
- Lundy Fire Hill: You wouldn’t find this in any tourism brochure, but it is on the Authentic Seacoast 101. You drive up a very, very rough and bumpy one-lane road to reach a streak of barren rock that sits on one of the highest points in the area, with an unencumbered 360 degree view of the area. It reminded me exactly of the scenes in New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed. Just incredible.
- Black Duck Cove: There are lots of walks and mini-hikes around the area, but this is a favourite with the locals, and for good reason – its beautiful.
To Learn More
I think Guysborough is well placed as the Authentic Seacoast, but I also think they are, without question, Nova Scotia – or maybe even Canada’s friendliest harbour.
The weekly ceilidh, with some of Canada’s most talented folk musicians – their teenagers!
For more information about how you can take advantage of some rest and relaxation in Nova Scotia, including travel information and tips for things to do in the area, visit the official Authentic Seacoast website,www.authenticseacoast.com
Note that it is possible to reserve group reservations for both Osprey Shores and/or the Manor, as well as host an event. The venues are popular with family reunions and weddings. Typical visitor season in Guysborough runs from mid-April to mid-October, depending on weather and events.
Disclosure: Portions of this trip were sponsored by Nova Scotia Tourism, but the opinions presented are solely of the author.
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