I am pleased to welcome Amanda Cashin (@AmandaCashin) to The Local Traveler. Amanda is a talented photographer based here in beautiful Nova Scotia. Read on for Amanda’s adventures in Brier Island.
Since Gillian started tweeting about a summer of adventure I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my past visits to Brier Island – or about planning my next visit! Brier Island is a relatively tiny mass of land on the western most tip of Nova Scotia. It is a rural location with a slow and calm pace, with ecotourism and nature adventures that are anything but tiny.
Brier Island is approximately 45 minutes from Digby. There are two short ferry rides before arriving on the island (one of which goes against the current and is a bit of an adventure in itself!). While waiting for the first ferry onto Long Island there is a lovely view of Boar’s Head Light.
Both times that my partner and I visited we stayed at Brier Island Lodge . Brier Island Lodge is home to High Knoll Farm and there are many sheep, chickens and other animals grazing the property. Knoll Farm is the kind of farm where no animals end up as dinner; they happily roam the property and mingle with guests; the sheep doing their fair share to contribute to lawn mowing duties. The lodge itself sits on the Eastern tip of the island with a lighthouse view from every room.
Brier Island is approximately 6.5 km long by 2.5 km wide. A large portion of the island is a nature preserve, an initiative of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (@NCC_CNC). Within its small land space and along its perimeter of rocky shorelines it is home to one of the richest ecosystems in the province. It hosts hundreds of species of birds each year and its micro-climate allows for unique and rare plant varieties to cover the island and line its coasts.
And that doesn’t even include the marine life! Humback, Finback and Minke whales are common sites on one of the whale watch tours on the island. Brier Island is considered one of the best locations for whale watching in the world. If you want to talk adventure, what is more exciting than seeing a massive whale breach only feet away from the relatively tiny boat in which you float.
And when a 25 foot minke whale swims directly beside your boat to spout a spray of salt water into your face, I consider an adventure to have taken place. It is truly worth the stinky whale breath smell and really is a once in a lifetime experience. During my second visit to Brier Island, and second time on Mariner Cruises (@MarinerCruises), I was so lucky as to witness a feeding frenzy. From schools of mackerel to porpoises and minke whales splashing about in the beautiful Bay of Fundy, with seagulls flying overhead…. it is an adventure I will never forget.
Fair warning to whale watchers; the temperature out on the Bay of Fundy can be as low as 20 degrees less than on land. When I visited it was the end of August and I wore a winter jacket on the boat. The folks who run Mariner Cruises are exceptional though and provide hot chocolate and blankets on the ride back to land; a cozy and delicious treat. They also provide educational demonstrations along the way.
Rugged trails cover the island making for a more than adventurous hike or mountain bike ride. The entire perimeter of the island can be hiked, although with several particularly rough sections along the route, and with areas of unmarked trails; some of which are on private property. The locals however are friendly and don’t mind sharing the views of the ocean or the three lighthouses that scatter the coast.
I hope to return in the fall and hike the 20 km distance around the island, where we will most likely encounter hawks, eagles, shore birds and the occasional seal. We plan also to stay once again at Brier Island Lodge and mingle among the sheep, then enjoy a soak in the Jacuzzi tub. With rates at a maximum of $139 for a room with a queen bed, lighthouse view and Jacuzzi tub, I think that is a steal – and a great way to end a day – especially if you were out adventuring in the Bay of Fundy or hiking 20 km in pristine nature.
About Amanda Cashin: Though rural at heart Amanda currently enjoys life in Nova Scotia’s beautiful capital city. She is passionate about sharing the province’s beauty, nature and culture with folks near and far. You can check out her photos at amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com and read about her beachcombing and trail-roaming adventures on her blog BeachcomberandTrailroamer.com. Amanda is also a member of the Local Wishlist. Follower her on Twitter at @AmandaCashin .