Your guide to blissing out near some of the region's best shorelines.
On a visit to White Point Beach Resort, the classic beach getaway on Nova Scotia's south shore, I dug my toes into silvery-white sand, gazed out at the ocean, and smiled at a father and son elbow-deep in castle-building.
"How about we go get something to eat?" I heard the father say. The youngster didn't skip a beat, didn't even look up: "I'll be down here."
Good answer, kid. Good answer!
When the summer sun shines its lovely face along the Atlantic seaboard, it's hard to beat the stress-free vibe that settles over the region's beachfronts, and fishing and lobstering coves. Even harder to resist is the lure of a Maritime seaside sanctuary.
For nowhere is it better to experience the serenity of the water, the islands, the sunsets, the dramatic seascapes, than these warm and wonderful oceanfront accommodations that oblige you to leave the worries of the world behind. How can you possibly not relax on a beach?
Coastal serenity at White Point
Take White Point (www.whitepoint.com), a more than 80-year-old Nova Scotia institution. Its 162 cottages and lodge rooms are 60 metres from the pounding, hypnotic surf of the Atlantic Ocean and next to a freshwater lake. Here, guests can do as much or as little as they like. Afternoon pursuits are as strenuous as watching fog roll on to the beach. Guests can watch surfers in wetsuits ride the Atlantic-even take lessons themselves-interact with the (almost tame) bunnies that roam the property, and sleep with the ocean practically hitting their front walkway.
For the more adventurous, the lodge, located 90 minutes south of Halifax, has a full-time recreation department and serves up activities aplenty. Guests can play tennis, book in at the spa, canoe or paddleboat, take a dip in the saltwater pool or play on the nine-hole golf course. There's an on-site restaurant and a resident musician in Founder's Lounge. Activities run morning to night and almost all-from mussel bakes on the beach to face painting-are free.
One night, I slid into an Adirondack chair and watched wave after wave crash on to shore. "To hear the water and to see the coastline is so relaxing," mused a fellow guest. "To hear the sound of the surf crashing on the shore and watch the white crest of the waves zip along … it's one of those places that keep calling you back."
Serenity on Lobster Bay
If a unique luxury lodge on the water's edge in a pretty little fishing village is your thing, then think of Ye Olde Argyler Lodge, www.argyler.com, in Lower Argyle, NS, near Yarmouth. It's a hidden surprise. Overlooking Lobster Bay, guests can overnight in luxury guest rooms in a weathered cedar building, enjoy gourmet dining with theme nights including music plus choose from a number of seacoast related events. Guests have access to a private 30-acre island to picnic and explore.
If that's not enough incentive, there's sea kayaking, beach camping, rowboats, beachside bonfires and more. The lodge overlooks more than 300 islands in Lobster Bay, and serves up stunning sunsets and gorgeous views. It's a photographer's dream, and pampering is available in selected spa services. Adding to the attraction is a small dance floor and a bar.
Ocean breeze through your bedroom window
Consider this guest comment from John Masiunas of Savoy, Ill: "I loved how your inn brought back memories of the ocean. Hearing the waves break against the rocky shore and smelling the ocean spray in the breeze that came through our bedroom window was wonderful."
The praise comes for Seawind Landing Country Inn, www.seawindlanding.com, a waterfront inn mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean on Nova Scotia's quiet eastern shore. The inn is on a secluded 20-acre peninsula adjacent to Charlos Cove, an Acadian fishing village. The drive here alone, through tiny fishing villages, makes you slow down and savour the scenery. Once you arrive, grab a book and settle in as you watch the ocean ebb and flow. Breathe the ocean air, go birding, explore caves, quiet beaches and trails, and contemplate the finer points of life.
A cliffside stunner
"I'm biased, but there is no seaside sanctuary in the east, maybe the world, like Keltic Lodge," says Glenn Bowie of New Castle Hotels. Indeed. The drive up to the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, Cape Breton is nothing short of breathtaking. The lodge appears high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with views of Cape Smokey, one of the highest peaks on the world-famous Cabot Trail. The iconic lodge on Middle Head Peninsula has been welcoming guests since 1940. And the appeal is understandable. Located on Cape Breton-an island which often appears on the world's best-of lists for its rocky coastlines, clear waters and Gaelic culture-the hotel itself is award-winning and often on best-of lists. Kilted doormen, evening entertainment in the Highland Sitting Room, three on-site restaurants, a heated outdoor pool, hiking trails, and an Aveda spa are some of the amenities. The Keltic is close to fresh water and ocean beach and is adjacent to the 18-hole championship Highlands Links Golf Course. www.kelticlodge.ca
Lazy Days on the River
The Delta Fredericton, which sits on the St. John River, in New Brunswick's capital city, has cachet. In summer, their patio and poolside restaurant The Dip Pool Bar & Grill hops with people, both guests and the general public. It overlooks the river with a splendid sunset, and has become an end of workday tradition in Fredericton. In winter, the Delta transforms the patio overlooking the river to an outdoor skating area which includes a seating area and outdoor fire bowl for hotel guests. www.deltahotels.com
Coastal luxury in outport Newfoundland
Okay. This is the place you've been saving for. Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey stayed here during the filming of The Shipping News. But the real draw of Fishers Loft Inn http://www.fishersloft.com/ in Port Rexton, NL, is the view.
The restaurant rocks too. The dinner menu advertises such delights as zucchini and dill soup, homegrown garden greens with lemon/caper vinaigrette, panko crusted halibut with mushroom risotto, and a finale of wild blueberry tart with mascarpone cheese.
But picture this-a solitary iceberg bobs in the distance: the view sweeps down over saltbox houses to the ancient fishing and boat-building harbour of Ship Cove: paths from the door lead through countryside holding forgotten fishing villages.
This is the striking rugged isolation of Newfoundland. The inn, 15 minutes outside Trinity, appears in the hills, on a winding back lane, where you can while away the hours looking over Trinity Bay.
If it's classic (read stunning)Newfoundland coastal scenery you're after, try the Brigus Seacliff Bed and Breakfast (www.brigusseacliff.ca), a newly built 4½ star B&B on the ocean's edge in historic Brigus, NL, one of North America's oldest towns dating back to 1612. Visitors can stroll old English style streets, marvel at the stone walls that line the river, watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and enjoy moonlit vistas of Brigus Harbour and Conception Bay. The B&B is on the Baccalieu trail within an hour's drive from St. John's.
Here's a neat place to bed the night. The Owen House (www.owenhouse.ca) on Campobello Island, a colonial inn built in 1835, not only offers water views, but views of two countries. The inn is on a headland overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay with a view of the islands on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border. The old house still has most of the original construction and furniture from the 1800s. The inn says guests usually sleep well because of the salt air and the silence, with the only noise usually coming from the gulls and waves.
Imagine bunking down in your room with a wall of windows to watch the world-famous Bay of Fundy tides, and fishing boats, come and go. Voila. Cliffside Suites (www.cliffsidesuites.com) in Alma, NB. Private suites and cottages are located above the cliffs of Alma in a forest overlooking the Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park. Guests can watch the first rays of sun light the cliffs of Fundy, enjoy fresh cooked lobster on the deck or grill Fundy seafood on the barbie.
A place by the sea
The thought of a quiet place waiting by the sea has drawn people to the coast for years. Now add the Johnson Shore Inn (www.johnsonshoreinn.com) in lovely eastern PEI to that list of true getaways. The four-star property, built in 1999, has great sea credentials: sitting on a rocky red cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Each window leads to the sea. Beach walks, swimming, star-gazing and relaxation are de rigueur.
Secluded cottages on the water
Secluded cottages on the waterfront in PEI? Yep, Century Farm Cottages (centuryfarmoceanfrontcottages.com) delivers. The cottages, built in a corner of a 200-year-old family farm in Point Prim, offer guests the chance to watch waterfowl from their decks, stroll over a boardwalk and saltwater wetlands to a sandy beach.
Seaside accommodations abound along Maine's coast. Some with added amenities that make them special are the Sebasco Harbor Resort www.sebasco.com (less than an hour from Portland, guests can even stay in a lighthouse that has 10 guest rooms with views of Harbor Island and Casco Bay); The Cliff House Resort & Spa www.cliffhousemaine.com (which promises spectacular ocean views on the south coast of Maine, a spa, fine dining and 70 acres of oceanfront resort, high above Bald Head Cliff); and The Colony Hotel www.thecolonyhotel.com (on the rock promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the Kennebunk River. Its claim to fame? …Gorgeous, cool sea breezes, a sense of history, and within walking distance of Kennebunkport.)