Embarking on an unforgettable Canada East Coast Road Trip, spanning 11 days of exploration, we set out from the GTA to uncover the captivating treasures of the East Coast. With our trusty campervan converted for adventure, we left the urban bustle behind, drawn by the allure of pristine landscapes and unforgettable experiences. Join us as we relive the thrill of our road trip, spanning Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia, each unveiling its unique charm and wonders.

Canada East Coast Road Trip Summary

Total Kilometres driven: Approximately 5500km

Travel Period: Beginning of August

Total days: 11 days (While we would have loved more time in each province, tight vacation days inspired this efficient itinerary – perfect if you’re pressed for time like we were!)

Provinces we visited: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia

Road trip style: Opting for adventure, we transformed our 2016 VW Tiguan into a makeshift campervan, enabling us to camp in national parks and spend most nights sleeping in the car. Occasionally, we treated ourselves to traditional accommodations for variety. This balance provided the best of both worlds – the freedom of nature-bound campgrounds and occasional added comfort. Plus, the cost savings were certainly a welcome bonus!

Itinerary Summary: We kicked off our road trip from our home in Vaughan, Ontario. Since we live in Ontario, we wanted to spend the bulk of our time in the more distant provinces – New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. Our itinerary looks somethings like this:

  • Day 1 – Ontario (Bainsville)
  • Day 2 – New Brunswick (Mount Carleton Provincial Park)
  • Day 3 & 4 – PEI (Charlottetown, Montague, Greenwich Beach, Brackley Beach, Cavendish)
  • Day 5, 6 & 7 – Nova Scotia (Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, Kejimkujik National Park, Cape Breton)
  • Day 8 & 9 – New Brunswick (Fundy Bay National Park, Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park)
  • Day 10 – Quebec (Grand Falls in New Brunswick)
  • Day 11 – Ontario (home)
Canada East Coast Road Trip

Day 1 – Ontario

We left our home in Ontario at about 5pm and began making our way to our first destination. Since Ontario is our home province, we didn’t bother to make any stops in Ontario – we wanted to use this day to cover as much distance as possible. We arrived at our campground in Maplewood Acres RV Park at around 9:15pm (we weren’t previously aware that their offices close at 8pm, but they were kind enough to wait for us!). They are very conveniently located close to the Ontario/Quebec border and the facilities were very clean.

Drive Time: 5 hours

Day 2 – Drive through Quebec and arrive in New Brunswick

We departed our campground in Bainsville, Ontario in the morning and started driving towards our final destination for the day – Mount Carleton Provincial Park in New Brunswick. Our second day also consisted of quite a bit of driving time, but we did manage to get a few breaks in. The most memorable stop would have to be at Notre dame du Portage – where we could unwind on a nice quiet beach.

Canada East Coast Road trip
Notre dame du Portage

Just before reaching the park, a moose unexpectedly crossed our path. We arrived at the Armstrong campground within Mount Carleton Provincial Park at around 6:30pm. The park offered an abundance of activities, making us wish we had more time. Our campsite lacked reception but the visitor center conveniently offers complimentary Wi-Fi – something to keep in mind and a reminder to download your offline Google maps, especially if, like us, you hadn’t foreseen this necessity!

Drive Time: 7 hours 41 minutes

Day 3 – Prince Edward Island

After preparing breakfast at our Mount Carleton Provincial Park campsite, we took a 5 minute stroll to the beach. Despite an unintentional wrong turn as we exited the campground, we seized the opportunity to explore Williams Falls and made the most of the detour.

Our journey continued as we set our course for Prince Edward Island. Our route took us across The Confederation Bridge, treating us to a breathtaking ocean vista. There’s a toll fee of $50.25, payable upon your return bridge crossing – unless, like us, you accidentally opt for the ferry route (more about this later on).

On the way to Charlottetown, heavy rain prompted us to seek dinner at the indoor Founders’ Food Hall & Market. We opted for Mexican cuisine at Tekila (highly recommended!). We intended to drive the Points East Coastal Drive, and while we did reach Point Prim Lighthouse, further downpour led us back to Montague—our pre-booked night stop.

Drive Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

Day 4 – Prince Edward Island

Setting out from our lodging at Montague, we journeyed towards Greenwich in Prince Edward Island National Park. There, we explored Greenwich Beach and indulged in a 1.5-hour hike on the exquisite Greenwich Dunes Trail (a must-do!). Our next destination: Brackley Beach. Jess attempted to go for a swim but it became quickly evident that we’re still getting used to Canada’s chilly waters. She returned as fast as she had ventured out 🙂

Next, we settled into our Cavendish campsite within PEI National Park. From here, we made our way to Cavendish Boardwalk, where we explored a range of food and merchandise stalls. Back at our campsite, we lit a campfire, had dinner, and were treated to a lovely sunset.

Drive Time: 2 hours

Day 5 – Nova Scotia (Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, Kejimkujik National Park)

At daybreak, we bid farewell to our Cavendish campground and hit the road towards Halifax. We faced a minor setback when Google Maps led us onto the ferry route instead of the bridge, resulting in a slight delay to our travel plans. Determined to recoup the lost time, we opted to simply drive through Halifax, catching a fleeting glimpse of the city’s essence before redirecting our course to the iconic Peggy’s Cove.

While Peggy’s Cove draws its fair share of tourists, the visit is undeniably worthwhile. This charming fishing village boasts the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse. Our journey also led us to the Swissair Flight 111 memorial during our return.

En route to Lunenburg, we made a detour to Oak Island, but unfortunately, visitor access was closed. Our path then led to Lunenburg, another vibrant fishing town. A speedy meal stop later, we made our way to our ultimate destination, Jeremy’s Bay Campground within Kejimkujik National Park.

Drive Time: 8 hours 18 mins (incl. time spent on ferry)

Day 6 – Nova Scotia (Kejimkujik National Park to Cape Breton)

We wished we had more time at Kejimkujik National Park. It offers a variety of trails and well-kept camping facilities, making it a great place to explore. Our morning started with a visit to the beach near our Jeremy’s Bay campground, followed by a quick 15-minute hike to Slapfoot Beach.

Continuing our journey to Cape Breton, we took a lunch break at Vernon’s Diner. Upon arriving in Cape Breton, our Airbnb welcomed us with its prime location along the Cabot Trail, conveniently a mere 15-minute drive from the charming Baddeck town – where we ended up having our dinner.

Drive Time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Day 7 – Nova Scotia (Cape Breton)

Rising early, our Cabot Trail journey commenced with an anti-clockwise route, beginning from Englishtown. Aboard the Englishtown cable ferry, crossing was swift and cost-free. While morning rain persisted, the afternoon unveiled splendid weather, enhancing our experience along the famous Cabot Trail.

We made several stops along the Cabot Trail, and here are some of the most memorable ones highlighted. Our first stop at MacKinnons Cove rewarded us with sightings of around 5 playful seals. A serene stop at Pleasant Bay Beach allowed us to immerse ourselves in the coastal allure. Despite the weather affecting our plans to hike the Skyline Trail, we made the best of it by exploring the Bog Trailhead—a brief 10-minute walk that showcased the natural wonders around us. Our visit to La Bloc Beach added another picturesque memory to our collection.

To close off this incredible day, we headed back to Baddeck for dinner at The Freight Shed (they had great vegetarian options!).

Drive Time: 4 hours

Day 8 – New Brunswick (Fundy Bay National Park)

Our journey led us from Cape Breton to Fundy Bay National Park, where we immersed ourselves in a two-night camping experience at the Point Wolfe Campground. After checking in, we made our way to the Dickson Falls Trail, where we enjoyed the beauty of a really nice waterfall. We then explored the Shiphaven Trail and savored the captivating scenery at Point Wolfe Beach—a true gem. As the sun began to set, we turned to our campsite to prepare dinner. It’s worth noting that while privacy might be limited at the Point Wolfe campsites, the facilities remain commendably clean.

Drive Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Day 9 – New Brunswick (Hopewell Rocks + Fundy Bay National Park)

With heavy morning rain, we relished a bit of extra sleep. Once the weather subsided, we made our way to the Herring Cove Picnic Area, utilizing its shelter to cook breakfast. We then headed to Hopewell Rocks to witness the mesmerizing low tide phenomenon (tip: consult the tide times at the Fundy National Park Visitor Centre). To access the site, we paid the provincial park entrance fee of $15.54 plus tax. Spending approximately 1.5 hours at Hopewell Rocks during low tide was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Upon returning to Fundy National Park, we set out on the Caribou Plain Trail, an adventure that allowed us to further immerse ourselves in the park’s natural wonders.

Drive Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Day 10 – Quebec

We started the day by preparing an early breakfast at our campsite before setting off towards our pre-booked accommodation in Quebec City. We made a stop at Grand Falls on our way to Quebec City — a truly spectacular waterfall nestled in New Brunswick, and surprisingly free from tourist crowds. Our journey continued as we made our way to Quebec City, where we settled in for the night at Camping Chalets Lac St. Augustin.

Drive Time: 7 hours 17 minutes

Grand Falls – New Brunswick

Day 11 – Ontario

Prepared breakfast at the chalet in Quebec City and departed towards our home in Vaughan, Ontario. We stopped at an ONRoute in Napanee for a quick bite along the way.

Drive Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

Canada East Coast Road Trip Tips

  • Pro Tip: When using Google Maps, download your offline maps in advance and adjust your settings to avoid tolls and ferries – perfect if you’re aiming to sidestep them, just like we did.
  • Booking: Securing your campsites well in advance is a smart move. Prime spots get snapped up quickly, and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
  • Rainy Realities: Be ready for frequent rainfall; it’s part of the journey. Unless it’s unsafe, don’t let it disrupt your plans.
  • Cabot Trail Strategy: Opt for an anti-clockwise Cabot Trail drive for continuous coastal views that’ll leave you awestruck.
  • Vehicle Prep: Ensure your vehicle gets a thorough check before hitting the road. Steering clear of car troubles is crucial to maximizing your travel time.

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