The Halifax Beach Guide – Nova Scotia’s Summer Playground

As the snow finally begins to melt and the first signs of spring start clawing their way through the ice and cold, we Canadian’s tend to count down the days to the summer months. The thawing process of the Canadian people typically requires a large amount of coffee, and as much outdoor activity and  direct sunlight as possible. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, that’s where the beaches come in. A little rest and relaxation absorbing the rays followed by a quick dip in the chilly waters of the Atlantic. Haligonians have a large variety of beaches to choose from, including the secluded, the popular, the full serviced and even the naked variety.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by EyeofJ

Rainbow Haven Beach

Located just outside of Lawrecentown and Cow Bay is the Rainbow Haven Provincial Park. This beach offers full ammenities including boardwalks, restrooms, and a canteen that serves your typical beach canteen food groups. Popcicles, freezies, burgers, fries, and those addictive 5c candies. The drive is about 30 minutes long from downtown Halifax, and includes a drive by the famous set (or what’s left of it) of the showcase TV show “Trailer Park Boys”.

The beach and it’s boardwalks are great, and though the water can be a bit chilly at times the water’s great. The beach is large enough to show up with a large group to setup up “shop” for the day and just stretch on your own turf of sand. However, I should note that due to it’s proximity to Halifax it can get busy here. Thankfully the beach is long enough that you can usually find your own spot away from the hoards. This beach also seems to be quite popular with the Ed Hardy wearing types who are all too keen to “take a lap” around the beach in order to strut their stuff. If you can get past that you’ll have a great time at Rainbow Haven.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 30 Minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised areas
  • Large picnic area
  • Canteen
  • Boardwalks & Paths
  • Outhouses & Changerooms


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by newminaswilders

Clam Harbour Beach

Another gorgeous natural beach on Nova Scotias eastern shore, Clam Harbour Beach is a great place to check out if you love safety. The Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service has been supervising Clam Harbour since 1978. If you’re not a strong swimmer, or with somebody who isn’t, rest easy knowing the boys and girls in Red & Yellow can keep and eye on you (Weekends only!).

Clam Harbour beach is a bit further away, it takes roughly an hour to get there from downtown Halifax, but if you’ve got the fuel it’s a great place to check out. There’s plenty of parking nearby, as well as a full concession including restroom, an interpretive center along with some boardwalks.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 1 hour 20 minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised Weekends (10am – 6pm July – August)
  • Picnic Area
  • Canteen
  • Flush Toilets & Changerooms

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Ashley Coombs

Crystal Crescent Beach

One of the more popular beaches in the Halifax area, Crystal Crescent Beach offers folks a bit of everything. There are some great hiking and biking trails nearby, several picnic areas, and some incredible waters to get your swim on! Crystal Crescent is great for a day at the beach, or if you’re feeling adventurous – a place to throw caution (and your clothes) into the wind. I know what you’re thinking…”Finally, a place to show off my birthday suit!” – hold tight though. There’s some unwritten rules.

Crystal Crescent is made up of 3 beaches, the first two beaches are for clothed patrons, while the 3rd (a 15 minute walk or so) will lead you to the land of sand and skin. A few common courtesies, no cameras and no sex, gawkers and scallywags looking to laugh it up are also discouraged. If you’re not brave enough for the nude scene, worry not. The first two beaches are great – and for those of you with a family no need to worry. The nudists don’t leave their area.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 40 minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Unsupervised beaches
  • Picnic areas
  • Hike to Pennant point (10km)
  • Two outhouses
  • Nude beach (3rd beach)
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cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by eskimo_jo

Lawrencetown Beach

Lawrencetown Beach is a south facing 1.5 km long and is sort of Halifax’s extreme playground. Surfers, kiteboarders, windsurfers, and extreme castle builders flock here in the summer to practice their art. If you’re new to the world of surfing, there’s a couple surf schools who operate in the area and are happy to show you how to rip it up, or at the very least stand up.

If relaxing is more your thing, there’s plenty of room for that. Just note that because Lawrencetown is blasted by so many waves the beach does change, which means it can be sandy one year, and a bit rockier another. Regardless, there’s usually plenty of space to lay down a towel and do your best seal impression. The beach has several supervised areas, some boardwalks, along with restrooms, showers a large picnic area and a canteen.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 30 mins

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised areas
  • Picnic areas
  • Canteen
  • Boardwalks
  • Flush Toilets & showers
  • Surfing
  • Surf rentals & lessons nearby

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by FormFunction

Martinique Beach

Hands down the longest white sand beach in Nova Scotia, Martinique Beach is located at the end of East Petpeswick road. This incredible beach has some great surfing, which means rentals and lessons can be found right near by (see Happy Dudes Surf Emporium). If you’d rather lounge around and watch some serious birds (not talking about girls in bikinis here) you’ll be pleased to hear there’s also a bird sanctuary at Martinique where visitors can scout a variety of birds according to season. Seals have also been known to pop in and out of this area so keep your eyes peeled.

Driving from downtown Halifax to Martinique will take you almost exactly an hour. While Martinique is still very popular, due to its longer drive the crowds tend to be smaller than Rainbow Haven. Martinique Beach has several supervised areas, large picnic areas, boardwalks and hiking paths, along with restrooms and change rooms.

Drive from Downtown Halifax

  • 1 Hour


  • Supervised areas
  • Large Picnic Area
  • Boardwalks & hiking paths
  • Restrooms / Changerooms
  • Surfing
  • Surf rentals / lessons
  • Swimming

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by alex_ferguson

Queensland Beach

Queensland Beach isn’t the largest beach by far, but it makes up for its size by it’s great location. This Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the South Shore. The water in St Margarets Bay is a bit warmer than any of the real coastal beach locations near Halifax, which is part of the reason why this beach draws such big crowds. Queensland Beach is located just outside of Hubbards, a cute little town famous for it’s Shore Club.

Drive time to Queensland Beach from Downtown Halifax will take approximately 45 minutes. There’s supervised areas, picnic tables, some hiking paths, along with outhouses & change rooms.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 45 mins

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised Areas
  • Large Picnic Area
  • Paths
  • Outhouses & changerooms

Think I’m missing any other great local Halifax beaches? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


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4 Responses to “The Halifax Beach Guide – Nova Scotia’s Summer Playground”

  1. bluenosegirl
    March 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Great round up of the Halifax area beaches.  Rainbowhaven is where I spent many many a summers day,  the Haligonians could have their skinny strip of sand on the side of the road called Queensland, I would take my lovely Rainbowhaven on the Darkside over it any day ;)

    Lawrencetown is always a good bet for a place to cool off on a hot summers day.

    • Corbin Fraser
      March 24, 2012 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks for the kind words!

      I love Rainbow Haven! Hopefully will get back there soon as soon as summer hits!

  2. David
    August 26, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    You forgot Bayswater beach in Blandford, one of the favorites as there is a small brook that runs through and dads and their kids always try to redirect it through their sand castles, etc., 45 minutes to Halifax

    • Corbin Fraser
      August 26, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      Sounds like a good one! Never been, but will try and check it out soon!

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