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10 things you need to know before visiting Atlantic Canada

By Candice Walsh
May 16, 2019, 2:34:25 PM EDT

Atlantic Canada encompasses Canada’s easternmost provinces: Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. There’s something for every traveler, whether chance encounters with friendly locals, endless lobster boil-ups, coastal hiking trails, or simply sitting in a pub watching a traditional music session in action. Life is simple here, but even so, there are certain things to keep in mind before you begin your trip.

1. It's Impossible to See All in one Trip

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The Atlantic Canadian provinces appear as mere blips on a map compared to the rest of Canada, but in reality, the region is incredibly large. Travelers often make the mistake of trying to jampack their itinerary to fit it all in, but driving times are long and unpredictable weather can often throw you off schedule. Consider this: from the northern tip of Newfoundland to its capital city of St. John’sis nearly 12 hours of driving time. If you’re planning on hopping over to Nova Scotia, it’s at least an eight-hour ferry ride, followed by another lengthy drive through Cape Breton to reach Halifaxand the neighboring provinces. Take this all into consideration when you’re planning your itinerary. Most travelers would be smart to only explore one province per trip, to truly be able to appreciate each for their beauty and uniqueness.

2. Pack for Every Season

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You might not need to pack your swimsuit if you’re visiting Atlantic Canada during the winter months, but the daily weather in this region can be extreme from one day to the next. You very well might be greeted with chilly temperatures on the day you arrive, and then experience a heat wave the next day. Check the weather reports and you might find alerts for heat waves, severe rainstorms, and frost warnings—all within the same week. So come prepared. Assuming you’re visiting in the busiest spring or summer months, you’ll want to pack a few extra layers as well as rain gear (although umbrellas often don’t fare well in the windy coastal areas). Fall tends to be cooler, but with temperatures ideal for hiking and getting outdoors.

3. Watch out for Moose


(Photo/Cindy Creighton/Shutterstock)

As they say in Newfoundland and Labrador, put your moose eyes on. Although Prince Edward Island is exempt from this issue, the risk of running into moose while driving throughout the other Atlantic Canadian provinces is a real issue. In Newfoundland, you’ll find road signs informing visitors of how many moose/vehicle collisions have already happened this year, and the numbers are nearly always high. Moose are hard to see while driving at night (and especially at dusk), and their uniquely long-legged stature means they’ll collapse heavily onto your windshield if you drive into one. But don’t let that frighten you off. Just stay aware of your surroundings, and if you’re driving with a passenger, ask them to be vigilant, especially at dusk.

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