Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland/Labrador and Quebec Maritime are the five provinces that make up Canada's Atlantic coast and some of the more pristine landscapes and wildlife viewing areas on the planet. Summer and early fall are the best seasons to see the Atlantic coast in all its splendor -- the birds, the whales and the warmer weather make traveling at this time ideal. Whether you drive or fly over the border, there will be plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Because certain areas of the Canadian Atlantic coast are so close to the northeast coast of the US, many people choose to just drive north and venture into new and exciting territories. Currently you can still cross the border with your driver's license as identification, but starting December 31, 2007, you'll require a passport for any foray into Canadian provinces.
If you find yourself jumping over the border from Maine, you may want to consider a self-drive tour of the magnificent lighthouses of New Brunswick. These self-guided tours take approximately three days and include visits to remote islands accessible by free ferries. Visit www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca for details.
Brewster's (tel. 888/401-6802; www.brewster.ca) nine-day/eight night "New Brunswick Explorer" tour is a combination self-drive and rail vacation, loaded with attractions and sightseeing excursions to help you experience the best of Canada's eastern culture. It includes seven-nights' hotel accommodations, one night on board VIA Rail's Easterly Class from Montreal to Moncton (with meals), seven-days' mid-size car rental, a National Historic Site Pass, Le Pays de Sagouine (with lunch), Reversing Falls sightseeing tour and admissions to Kouchibouguac National Park, Kingsbrae Garden, Hopewell Rocks, Aquarium and Marine Centre in Shippagan and Fundy National Park. The package is priced from $1,351 per person based on triple share and $1,460 for double share. Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7% is additional. Drop-off charges, insurance costs and parking fees for vehicles are not included in package price.
Their "Eastern Odyssey from St. John's" self-drive package is priced from $997 plus taxes per person and includes eight-nights hotel accommodation, nine-days mid-size car rental, Whale Watching tour, and admission to the National Historic sites of Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Castle Hill, Ryan Premises and Terra Nova National Park. Visit St. John's, Clarenville, Fisher's Loft, Salmonier Country Manor and Mt Carmel.
For sheer beauty and isolation, it is difficult to surpass the Iles de la Madeleine, located near the Cabot Strait in Quebec Maritime. Although Quebec Maritime is often not included in the regional area of Atlantic Canada, geographically it is only separated from the Atlantic coastline by the Gulf of St Lawrence so we've included it here. Although you can drive the entire length of the Madeleine islands easily in a day, there are almost 200 miles of virgin and beaches here and an abundance of freshly caught seafood to indulge in. This touch a France is accessible by ferry (tel. 888/986-3278; www.ctma.ca), which sails daily from Souris (Prince Edward Island), from Montréal every Friday and from the Gaspé Peninsula every Saturday.
Club Vacances Les Iles (tel. 888/537-4537; www.clubiles.qc.ca) offers a number of short or longer stay packages to the islands. The Iles de la Madeleine "Summer Holidays" package includes seven-nights accommodation at the Islands Vacation Resort, seven-breakfasts and seven-suppers, a complete program of activities and visits (mud baths, clams digging etc), nature walks (birds, flora, beaches and cliffs), island soirées (talks, music, walks), water sports equipment, bike rentals and a kids club. The package is valid until August 31, 2005, and is priced from $535 per person. A 10% supplement applies from July 10 to August 18, 2005). Or enjoy three-nights at the Islands Vacation Resort from $234 plus tax per person based on double occupancy.
Between now and October, explore the Â¿les de la Madeleine, the Gaspé Peninsula and Québec City on a weeklong cruise down the majestic St. Lawrence River in a package that includes seven-nights in a cabin with private bathroom, 14-meals, assistance and a self-guided program. Accommodation in a three-star inn, interpretive guide on the islands and bike rentals are optional. The cruise is priced at $730 per person double occupancy taxes through Groupe CTMA (tel. 888/986-3278; www.ctma.ca).
The CAT Bay ferries (tel. 888/249-7245; www.catferry.com) transport you around the Atlantic coastal area but can also arrange discounted transport and accommodation packages for you. Relax in Nova Scotia with two-nights at the White Point Beach Resort, including return passage on The CAT Bay ferries high-speed catamaran from just $240 in October or $316 from July to September 2005. Whilst there you can take in a round of golf, play tennis, go boating or enjoy the luxurious spa and famous white sand beach. Or how about the five-day-four-night "Cabot Trail Run" package which includes round-trip passage for you and your car aboard The Cat, four-nights accommodation and admission to Cape Breton Highland National Park and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. The package, which departs from Halifax starts at $429 plus taxes per person. For reservations or more information, telephone.
If you enjoy playing golf on your vacation, visit Canada's number one golf resort -- the Prince Edward Island Golf Trail and stay at two of the luxurious Prince Edward Island Rodd Resorts (800/565-7633; www.roddhotelsandresorts.com). A four-night package starts from $424 per person in October and includes two-nights at the Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort or Rodd Brudenell River and two-nights Rodd Mill River, five rounds of Golf including shared power cart, a one-hour lesson at Canadian Golf Academy and Prince Edward Island Golf Trail Outerwear. The price goes up to $581 per person for the same package during July, August and September 2005. You can upgrade rooms or stay in a Queen, King or two-bedroom cottage for up to $80 more. Two-night "Spa and Golf Getaways" start from $235 per couple for two-nights from now until the end of October 2005.
Caravan Tours (800/337-3836; www.caravantours.com) has an eight-day fully escorted tour of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island starting at $895 per person. Tours depart from Halifax every Monday throughout July, August and September, but this super value price is only valid for the October 3 and 10, 2005 departures. The tour includes airport transfers, seven-nights accommodation, 13 meals, whale watching and visits to Peggy's Cove, Citadel Hill, Bay of Fundy, Jourimain National Wildlife area, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, Cabot Trail, Chéticamp and Fortress of Louisbourg. Airfare to Halifax is additional.
Freshtracks (tel. 800/866-4744; www.freshtracks.ca) offers more independent ways to see the best of the east. The self-drive "Tides and Parks of Atlantic Canada" tour includes accommodation for 19 nights (two nights each in Halifax, Digby, St. John's, Charlottetown, Baddeck and Corner Brook, one each in Moncton, Fredericton, Bridgewater, Twillingate, Gander, Clarenville and Sydney. Also featured are Gros Morne National Park wildlife viewing, ferry passages from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Channel-Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland and from Argentia, Newfoundland to North Sydney, (car and passenger), a personalized Canada Roadbook, local sightseeing and attractions, daily itinerary highlights, provincial maps with city guides, hotel vouchers, customized day-by-day routing maps and provincial Maritime taxes. Highlights of this Canada holiday include Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, the Bras d'Or Lake, Cabot Trail and Newfoundland's magnificent coastline, where you'll have the opportunity to see whales and massive icebergs. Departures are from Halifax every Tuesday and Sunday throughout the summer (until August 30, 2005) and the tour is priced at $1,535 per person based on dual occupancy. Airfare to Halifax, airport transfers and car rental is additional, but Freshtracks can assist you with your car rental arrangements.
Maxxim Vacations (tel. 800/567-6666; www.maxximvacations.com) has a six-night special - "The Whales, 'bergs and Birds" Newfoundland and Labrador package, starting at $979 per person. Packages include round-trip airfare from Boston to St. John's, six-nights accommodation and car rental with unlimited mileage and a whale watching boat tour. See Humpback whales, seabird colonies, and a massive iceberg parade. Their regular seven-night Whales package is usually $1,299 per person. Add $100 from Chicago or New York, $120 from Miami and $190 from Los Angeles.
Maxxim also has several escorted motor coach tours to multiple provinces, Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec Maritime. Their "Atlantic Maritime" tour is a six-night escorted tour that takes in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Tours depart weekly on a Friday throughout July, August and September is priced at $1,669 from Boston, $1,679 from Atlanta and $1,779 from Chicago or New York. The price includes round-trip airfare, six-nights accommodation and all sightseeing.
Midweek and 14-day advance purchase round-trip airfares this summer from New York to Halifax range from $268 to $503 on various airlines through Cheapflights.com (www.cheapflights.com). Direct flights tend to be a little more expensive, starting at around $393. From Miami, the prices range from $370 to $533 and from Los Angeles from $418 to $598. Flights to Montreal are cheaper, starting at around $200 round-trip from New York.