If you're only truly content when getting off the beaten track, a detour along the Minas Basin and Cobequid Bay might be one of the highlights of your trip to Nova Scotia. With the exception of Truro, this region is rural, quiet, and full of hidden surprises. You can turn down a dirt road, shut off your car's engine, and not hear much other than the wind and some birds. You can trek along spectacular hiking trails or picnic alone on a long stretch of remote and misty coast, literally watching the tides roll in -- and you'll almost certainly be alone. Tourists haven't wised up to this region yet.

There's a rich history here, though it tends to be hidden and subtle rather than preening and obvious. Don't look for the quaint seaside villages or the surf-washed rocky coast for which Nova Scotia is famous, either; that will have to wait until you get to Yarmouth and the South Shore. The natural drama here is pegged to the region's profound remoteness and the powerful but silent tides, among the highest in the world.