Relaxed on a big beach towel feeling the warm, soft sand between my toes, inhaling the salty ocean breeze, I lift my eyes from the book I am reading; I see white sand, soft waves, turquoise waters stretching out to deep blue in the distance. Where am I? This is my summer vacation, but it feels like a winter beach vacation in the Caribbean… Wait! I’m at Queensland Beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia!

So few travellers and vacationers realize that Nova Scotia beaches are:

  1. wildly diverse, from big boulders to fossils to coarse black sand to fine white sand
  2. surrounding the entire province save for one spit of land that connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick
  3. safe, supervised in the summer months, often managed by the province and some even offer seaside camping
  4. easy to access due to the larger and smaller paved highways that loop around the periphery of Nova Scotia where all the beaches lie
  5. kid- and sometimes (leashed) pet-friendly

Queensland Beach, a Nova Scotia Provincial Park beach, isn’t huge, and is extremely popular because of its beautiful sand, easy-going waves, stunning vista and on-site parking. It is a curved beach, facing the Atlantic Ocean, with a parking lot next to it and then a small lake on the other edge of the parking area. There are frequently waterfowl and pond creatures in the small lake portion, so visitors enjoy taking their children there to explore nature, or to float about in their canoes and kayaks.

While Queensland Beach is too small and too close to Highway 3 to have space for camping, there are washroom facilities, and in the summer lifeguards are on duty. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, a swim, sunbathing, or just relaxing and reading a book. Roughly an hour by car from Halifax along Highway 103 and then on to the smaller Highway 3, it’s popular with city dwellers on hot summer days.

Cleveland Beach, smaller and slightly to the north often takes the overflow, but doesn’t have quite the beauty of Queensland Beach. Get there early (before 10:00 a.m.) to ensure you can get a parking place, and nab a prime spot on the beach for your day of sun, surf and fun.

Mostly enjoyed as a swimmers’ beach, Queensland Beach has attracted surfers to ride the waves, but this isn’t the main surfing beach in Nova Scotia; that’s the claim to fame of Lawrencetown Beach, about two hours northeast, which hosts world-class surfers and big, ride-able waves.

Other beaches on the Atlantic coast that have a similar feel to Queensland Beach are not far from historic Lunenburg; check out Rissers Beach and Carter’s Beach, also both Provincial Parks, with white sand and gorgeous views.

The nearest town is Hubbards where there are a few necessities shops, but no major stores. If you want to stay nearby, privately owned Queensland Beach House offers excellent accommodations.

About half an hour away is picturesque Mahone Bay (great restaurants and shops, plus one of the most photographed trios of old churches in Nova Scotia) and UNESCO site, Lunenburg, another 15 minutes to the south. Visit Queensland Beach in the morning, before it gets crowded, then head into Mahone Bay for Lunch and on to Lunenburg for an afternoon of history and art.

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