Known for being the world’s second-largest country, Canada is also home to some of the world’s largest coastline. From stunning lakes to long expanses of untouched coastlines to explore, there is no better place for a road trip. A road trip hugging the edge of this magnificent country will open your eyes to some of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty as well as calm, deep blue waters full of rare wildlife just waiting to be spotted.
Olivia, blogger and writer behind My Wandering Voyage thinks you can’t beat Canada when it comes to coastal drives: “In Canada, we are so lucky to have three amazing coastlines – Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic. We are also home to the world’s largest lakes – so large that sometimes they’re referred to as freshwater, inland seas. Having had the chance to drive the coastal routes on the east and west coast and along the shores of the Great Lakes, I highly recommend a coastal drive to kick off a trip to Canada.”
If you’re looking to enjoy a motorhome holiday in Canada or are planning your very own road trip, carry on reading to find some of our favourite coastal drives that’ll give you a unique insight into some of the stunning locations you can visit.
The Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail hugs the northern tip of Nova Scotia and weaves its way around The Cape Breton Highlands National Park for a stunning 298km. Passing through valleys and along cliff edges, the coastal road offers you some breathtaking views of the waters below.
Jen from the Thrifty Nomads has driven many of the coastal routes in Canada, but highly recommends the Cabot Trail: “On the east coast, Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail has been a favourite drive we’ve done. There are scenic hikes seemingly every few metres, many winding down oceanside cliffs or taking you through pine shrouded forests hidden with moose (which we were lucky enough to spot). There is a cosy aura about this province, and its charming lighthouses and small towns left a warm impression on us.”
The Cabot Trail Route
The Cabot Trail can be travelled either way. As it is a large circular route, it doesn’t matter if you want to travel it clockwise or anti-clockwise. The anti-clockwise route will take you just west of Baddeck north along the coast, up to Pleasant Bay and Cape North and back down over the North River Bridge.
- Pleasant Bay
- Cape North
- Breton Cove
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park
- Margaree Harbour
The Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway has to be one of the most famous drives in Canada, not only because of its stunning views but its connections with the Rocky Mountaineer train. Starting in Vancouver and ending in Pemberton, for those who want to simply enjoy the sights of the sea, you can stop at Britannia Beach.
As well as the Cabot Trail, Ted also recommends the Sea to Sky Highway: “We’ve driven both coasts of Canada, each of which offers a spectacularly unique scenery. The Sea to Sky Highway in the west boasts snow-dusted peaks, roaring waterfalls, and infinite lookout points – all tucked alongside the Pacific Ocean. The drive was effortless to enjoy, and we always kept local homemade eats on hand (Nanaimo bars a must!) so that we could picnic with a view at a moment’s notice.”
The Sea to Sky Highway Route
Starting in Vancouver, one of the most popular cities in Canada, you will venture through the city to North and West Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay, Porteau Cove Provincial Park before the coastal sights end at Britannia Beach. You can continue the route to the end if you wish to see some more of British Columbia’s stunning sights.
- Horseshoe Bay
- Porteau Cove Provincial Park
- West Vancouver
- Minaty Bay
Georgian Bay Coastal Route
Sitting pretty in Northern Ontario, The Georgian Bay Coastal Route offers some of the most pristine views of the Canadian countryside. Deep blue waters are dotted in between dense, green forests offering some wonderful photographic opportunities.
North Eastern Ontario talk about some of the highlights of the Georgian Bay Coastal Route: “Georgian Bay is big. Once called the 6th Great Lake it provides the backdrop for a journey that winds you along the Niagara Escarpment, the La Cloche Mountains, and past some of the world’s largest freshwater beaches.”
The Georgian Bay Coastal Drive Route
Starting in Tobermory, the circular route travels anti-clockwise up around the outer edge of the bay, following the road over the French River, reaching the peak of its journey at Sudbury. The route then heads back to the water, crossing the bay on several occasions until it ends at South Baymouth.
- French River Crossing
- Gore Bay
- Whitefish Falls
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is just 5,180 square kilometres and can be accessed from the bridge across from New Brunswick. The 12km bridge that crosses the water will offer you your first sight of the coast that lies ahead.
“On the east coast, Prince Edward Island remains one of my favourite places to visit. The iconic red soil, the friendly people and the fantastic sites make PEI, Canada’s smallest province, a worthwhile visit,” Olivia comments.
The Prince Edward Island Route
The six-hour journey around the island can start wherever you wish, this route follows a few singular roads, so if you head one way, you’ll head back along the same route at some point. Passing through many of the island fascinating towns like Kensington, Summerside and New Glasgow there is plenty to see and being on an island, you’re going to have stunning sea views on a regular basis. The route on the island can be changed and adapted depending on what sights and stops you would like to see.
- East Point
Fundy Coastal Drive
Sitting on the east coast of Canada, the Fundy Coastal Drive stretches along the entire southern shoreline of New Brunswick and offers views aplenty. This route is also recommended by Becky, the brains behind the blog The Global Grasshopper. She tells us about her experience of the drive:
“I would recommend taking the Fundy Coastal Drive, which is a very scenic drive, it starts at St. Stephen and ends in Sackville and takes you along the unspoilt southern shore of New Brunswick on the East Coast of Canada.”
The Fundy Coastal Drive Route
Becky carries on to describe the sort of sights you can expect to see on the route: “The coastline and sea views here are spectacular and pass through sleepy communities, striking lighthouses and a variety of interesting historic sites including Canada’s oldest city, Saint John. Although Fundy Bay is easily the highlight of this wonderful trip, and this is a place where humpback whales and white-sided dolphins can be spotted (at certain times of the year) and it’s also famous for being home to the world’s highest tides.”
- Saint John
- Fallsview Park
- Fundy National Park
- Saint Stephen
So, if you are planning your next Canadian adventure, why not consider one of these stunning coastal drives? Canada has something to offer travellers of all types, whether you want to spend time along the coast or enjoy the splendour of the countryside. A self-drive Canada holiday offers you a whole new perspective of Canada.