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The Ultimate Road Trip Accessory

Picture this: Two Canadians, sporting Canadian tuxedos (all denim everything), maritime folk ditties on the radio, the smell of maple syrup potent, with kayaks and lobster bibs folded in the back seats of the car. We west coast kids were ready to take on the east.

Packing up Oru Kayak

Photos by Taylor Burk, Words by Hayley Gendron

Picture this: Two Canadians, sporting Canadian tuxedos (all denim everything), maritime folk ditties on the radio, the smell of maple syrup potent, with kayaks and lobster bibs folded in the back seats of the car. We west coast kids were ready to take on the east.

In July, as wildfires burned through BC and Alberta, it was a good time for us to escape the smoke and finally visit the Easternmost provinces of Canada (massive thanks to those risking their lives to contain the fires). We would spend just over a month roadtripping from my hometown of Acton, Ontario, through to Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

Kayaking for beginners

Although snacks are and always will be the most important road trip essential, our kayaks quickly made their way up the ranks. They proved useful in countless situations. For example, our sleeping arrangements often saw us cuddled up in the back of our vehicle with the Orus upright beside us, acting as a barrier to protect us from onlookers in Walmart parking lots. Amazingly, it turns out they are actually super fun to float in on the water as well.

For the both of us, this trip would be our first time paddling the Atlantic. From rugged, moody cliffs and otherworldly sea stacks to crystal clear white sand beaches, we would soon learn that Eastern Canada boasts some of the most impressive coastline out there.

Kayaking Eastern Canada

I’ve put together our top three picks of must-paddle spots on Canada’s Atlantic coast.

  1. Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

This wilderness park is tucked away in the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world cruise up and down some of the most pristine coastline in the province. We went for an overnight backcountry hiking trip through the forest above the 180m (600ft) sea cliffs, which reminded us a lot of the Oregon coast. What really drew us in were a collection of massive red rock sea stacks called the ‘Three Sisters’. These giant spires burst out of the ocean in peculiar shapes, somehow staying balanced and surviving relentless Atlantic storms.

Kayaking in Canada

Ocean kayaking

To paddle to the Three Sisters, we dropped in at nearby Spicer’s Cove in low tide, which required us to carry the kayaks several hundred metres from the car to the shoreline.

In order to explore the Sisters in both high and low tides, we relaxed on an unnamed red rock beach and played with starfish while waiting for the water level to rise. Cape Chignecto is full of backcountry campsites, and a handful of those are remote beach sites that are exclusive to kayakers.

As the difference between low and high tide in Cape Chignecto is up to 12 metres, by the time we got back we were almost able to kayak right up to the car.

Carrying Oru Kayak

Loading up an Oru Kayak

  1. Meat Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Weird name, I know. If you drive the famous Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, and then keep driving north on a windy dirt road until you hit the ocean, you will find the tiny, isolated community of Meat Cove. Only 65 souls reside in the northernmost settlement in Nova Scotia. Giant cliffs and rock faces jet out of the Atlantic and smooth out into rolling, grassy hills making for some beautiful hikes in the area.

Oru Canadian Coast

Kayak camping

At the literal end of the road and top of the hill in Meat Cove there is a drive-in campground where every site has a front row view of the bay, where minke whales and seals swim by on the regular. You can carry your kayak down a short trail from your campsite to the beach where you put in, and chances are you’ll be the only ones on the water. Paddling here is incredible. You can explore big caves and coves, spot wildlife, and enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets from the Atlantic.

Carrying Oru Kayak
Kayak paddle strokes
  1. Percé, Quebec

The Atlantic coast of Quebec tends to get overlooked by those making a trip to Eastern Canada. Our advice to you: don’t overlook it. The entire Gaspé Peninsula is stunning, and full of quiet towns with bright coloured houses scattered along the shoreline. Some of our favourite lighthouses were along this stretch, and Forillon National Park is a must-see. As you drive towards the tip of the peninsula, you begin heading down a steep hill and the teeny tiny village of Percé comes into view. Percé is one of the most picturesque towns imaginable, with white character homes and churches perched atop cliffs looking over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Immediately off the coast is Percé rock, the king of all giant-rocks-sticking-out-of-the-ocean. It dwarfs any of the other sea stacks in the maritimes.

River kayaking

Oru Kayak Bay

The rock is only a short paddle away, and exploring its sheer faces and huge door-like arch by kayak makes you feel like you’re in a totally different part of the world. The only downside is having to dodge the aerial bird poop bombs from the hundreds of seabirds that call the rock home. You can also kayak out just a few kilometres off the coast to Bonaventure Island, home of one of the largest colonies of northern gannets in the world, and where 293 species of birds visit at any given time of the year. It doesn’t smell amazing, but the birds are beautiful, and seeing tens of thousands in one place transports you straight into a Planet Earth documentary, with David Attenborough’s voice narrating your thoughts.

Kayaking on the coast

How to pack a kayak

These are just a few of  the hundreds paddling opportunities in Eastern Canada. In addition to the world’s second largest body of water, there are countless lakes and rivers to explore by kayak. So, for your next roadtrip, let the west winds take you east and don’t forget your Oru (or snacks)!

Paddling an Oru Kayak