What to See and Do in Arisaig, Nova Scotia

by | Aug 3, 2017 | Canada, Nova Scotia | 9 comments

Arisaig, Nova Scotia is the most perfect place in the world on a beautiful summer day

Arisaig is a small community that was founded in 1785 by Scottish immigrants who named it after their home in Arisaig in Scotland.

Arisaig is on the northeastern coast of Nova Scotia. On a clear day, you can see Prince Edward Island on the horizon. Arisaig is a 20 minute drive from Antigonish, where I grew up and return to every summer.

I drove out to Arisaig 3 times while I was in Antigonish. I love the feeling of an endless summer day with no fixed agenda other than to absorb the experience a perfect summer day.


I was lucky to have three perfect summer days in Arisaig

This is a selfie that I took at Arisaig Provincial Park, my first stop on my first perfect summer day.

Arisaig Provincial Park has beautiful woodland trails that take you to a lovely beach

The beach is rocky. It is great for scenery but not great for swimming.

Many people hunt for fossils at Arisaig Provincial Park. This area is one of North America’s most continuously exposed sections of Silurian rock.

I am happy to take pictures of the strange rocks and caves.

The holes in the rocks provide perfect frames for photos but not for me. If I stood inside that rock frame, I would have that feeling the rocks would pick that exact time to collapse, even though they have stood there for millions of years.

This dog in the photo was happy to play with sticks on the beach.

This cave looks interesting but I did not go inside

You can see Arisaig wharf in the distance,  our next destination

Arisaig Brook flows across the beach at Arisaig Provincial Park

Kids love climbing to the top of the falls on Arisaig Brook. I climbed it too, but it was a bit more of a struggle for me!


You can swim in the ocean or is the little freshwater pool at the base of Arisaig Brook

There are lots of wildflowers on the groomed trails in Arisaig Provincial Park

Normally, I do not like pink and yellow together. Nature seems to combine those colours perfectly

I love this yellow forest

Yellow weeds look magnificent when they cover the floor of the forest in all directions.

The parking lot for Arisaig Provincial Park is surrounded by the yellow forest.

After a fabulous time at Arisaig Provincial Park, I was back in my car for a few minutes to drive to Arisaig Wharf.

There are lots of fishing boats at Arisaig Wharf

Arisaig Wharf is very busy during lobster season, six weeks in late spring.

Recently, Arisaig has developed a reputation for tuna charters. Here are a couple of links for planning a tuna outing:



Arisaig Beach is perfect for kids

Arisaig Beach is sandy and shallow. It is very calm because it is protected by the wharf.

There are many summer cottages at Arisaig Beach. The summer community at Arisaig is vibrant and fun.

These kids abandoned their construction site on the beach and went for a swim

Kids and dogs love the beach

This dog looks like a bear but he was very tame and had a wonderful time chasing sticks

You need to watch where you are walking

It would not be a good idea to step on a crab

There is a Lobster Interpretive Centre inside the café at Arisaig Wharf


The Lobster Interpretive Centre has posters with interesting facts about lobsters

Did you know that:

  • Lobsters can live for 50 years
  • Lobsters can be right or left handed
  • Lobsters can regenerate claws, legs and antennae
  • Lobsters are found in all oceans of the world

The Guinness Book of Records credits Nova Scotia for the world’s largest lobster ever captured at 44 pounds

The lobster in this photo weighs 20 pounds. It was donated to the Lobster Interpretive Centre by Willie Wong. This lobster hung in Wong’s Restaurant for many years. Wong’s Restaurant has been in Antigonish as long as I can remember.

I just took a quick picture of this lobster because the lighting was not good. My plan was to return the next day and take a better photo … but didn’t make it back.

A blue lobster is rarer than a blue moon

One in 2 million lobsters is blue. The blue colour is due to a genetic defect.

This lobster is brilliant blue. I didn’t believe that a lobster could really be this colour so I googled images of blue lobsters. Sure enough, they really can be this brilliant shade of blue.


This blue lobster is my favourite colour

I bought seafood chowder at the café at the Lobster Interpretive Centre

I ordered the chowder as take-out. I added fresh-shelled peas, lots of butter and a sprinkle of parsley. It was delicious.

This is the view as I left Arisaig Wharf

I love a hazy ocean view where the ocean fades into the sky on the horizon.

My next perfect day at Arisaig started with a visit with a local artist.

Jaye Ouellette is a local artist who specializes in ocean waves

On my second perfect day in Arisaig, I went to visit a local artist, Jaye Ouellette. She has a beautiful property right on the ocean, just a few miles from Arisaig Wharf.

My brother came with me and we had a wonderful visit with Jaye, touring her studio and examining her fabulous art.

Jaye moved to Nova Scotia a few years ago. She is originally from Ontario, very far from any ocean. After she moved to Arisaig with her husband, she began to paint ocean waves. Now, she is well known in Nova Scotia for her beautiful ocean waves. She does not display in any galleries. She does commission pieces where she works directly with clients. Many of her pieces are very large, 6 to 8 feet wide.


The ocean at sunset is ablaze with reds and oranges

This is Jaye Ouellette in her studio, posing next to a smaller piece that she just finished

Follow-up Story

My brother came with me to visit Jaye at her home and studio. When he saw her work, he remarked that his friends have one of her paintings that they bought at a gallery in Saint John, New Brunswick. It now hangs over the fireplace in their cottage in Prince Edward Island. Jaye was very happy to know that her painting had found a good home. The new owners forwarded a photo of the painting, pictured above.

Our next stop was at Steinhart Distillery in Arisaig

Steinhart Distillery specializes in gin and vodka. You can take a tour or have a sample or two at the bar.

You can sample or buy at Steinhart Distillery

My brother ordered a standard gin-and-tonic. The bartender was very friendly. He is a former student of my brother’s, who is a retired teacher. The bartender is a second year business student at St.F.X. University. This is his summer job.

If you read my earlier blog with my recipe for the perfect gin-and-tonic, you know that I am very fussy about my gin and tonic. At Steinhart Distillery, you get gin, tonic and ice in your gin-and-tonic … no lime, no fresh basil, no cucumber stir stick, no fancy Fever Tree tonic. I took a sip. It was delicious!

There is nothing better than a good G&T on a hot summer day … but I was driving … my G&T had to wait until the evening when we got back to Antigonish.


There is nothing better than a good G&T on a warm summer evening

I like the special Canada 150 label on the Steinhart bottles

I intend to follow this 4-step plan with my Steinhart Gin

On my third perfect day at Arisaig, I took my Steinhart Gin to Frenchman’s Barn for a photo op


Frenchman’s Barn is a large rock that dominates the shoreline a couple of miles from Arisaig Wharf

Frenchman’s Barn is geologically significant because the rock on top is older than the rock below.

Frenchman’s Barn is significant for me because I own it.


Frechman’s Barn is the perfect place to be on a perfect summer afternoon

Years ago, I came across an artist at Frenchman’s Barn

I don’t know the name of the artist. I love her painting of Frenchman’s Barn.


Burke and Buddy are walking along the base of Frenchman’s Barn

I left Antigonish more than 40 years ago. I go back every summer. We try to time the visit so that the four siblings are there at the same time. We have a great time together.

Burke is one of my brothers. Buddy is my sister’s dog. We spent a great afternoon at Frenchman’s Barn.

There is a well-travelled path up one side of Frenchman’s Barn. However, it is a sheer drop on the other three sides.


Climb Frenchman’s Barn at your own risk!

Burke and Buddy are taking a bit of a break

This is the end of three perfect summer days in Arisaig. Time to drive back to Antigonish to enjoy a summer evening in town.

This is the swimming hole at Malignant Cove

On the drive back to Antigonish, we stopped at the swimming hole at Malignant Cove.

The swimming hole is as perfect now as it was when I was the same age as the boy in this photo.


What is your perfect summer day?

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at BoomerVoice.ca
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray