Austere lighthouses, salt-of-the-earth people, 17th-century colonial towns suspended in time – these are the things that draw travellers to Nova Scotia. And although the Maritime province is Canada’s second smallest, you’d hardly know it in the southwest. You can drive for days through the Fundy Shore, Annapolis Valley, Yarmouth and the Acadian Shores, stopping every few kilometres to explore. Follow the parallel and sometimes intersecting Hwys. 3 and 103 to witness the best of this Atlantic destination. Leg One: Halifax to White Point (Approx. 220 km) About an hour’s drive southwest of Halifax lies Peggy’s Cove. Inhabited by fewer than 100 residents, this tiny fishing village is frozen intime, thanks to a 1962 provincial act that prohibits commercial development. Lobster traps, tiny timbered buildings and fishing nets line the narrow road that leads to iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, at the eastern entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay. Pay a visit to the lighthouse, then leave behind the rugged outcropping of granite at Peggy’s Point and follow Hwy. 103 west to the seaside town of Western Shore and nearby Oak Island. The 57-hectare island, just 200 metres offshore, has attracted treasure hunters for more than 200 years – including Errol Flynn and Franklin Roosevelt. No one knows exactly what is buried there, but some locals speculate that 17th-century privateer Captain Kidd left behind a precious bounty. Permission is needed to visit the private island, but you can still immerse yourself in the mystery at the Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island, at the south end of town. The hotel houses a small interpretive centre focusing on the island. Continue 27 km along Hwy. 3 to Old Town Lunenburg, a designated UNESCO site. The town, established in 1753, remains largely as it was when the British prescribed its original grid layout – supposedly necessary for the smooth operation of colonial towns. A distinguishing feature of the sea-facing homes here is the widow’s walk, a small, second-storey platform where sailors’ wives would stand and gaze at the ocean, awaiting the return of their husbands. Take in centuries worth of shipbuilding and fishing history at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic on waterfront Bluenose Drive (museum.gov.ns.ca/fma/en). The road is named after none other than the circa 1921 racing and fishing schooner depicted on the Canadian dime. Head to the Lunenburg Shipyard, at the harbour, to see the Bluenose II, a 1963 replica that is currently under repair. Overnight in White Point, 74 km west on Hwy. 103. Good eats and sleeps: With waterfront cabins, a stretch of sandy beach and paddleboats that patrons can use gratis, White Point Beach Resort is the perfect place for families to unwind. Choose from a selection of Nova Scotia wines with your meal at the resort (1-800-565-5068; whitepoint.com). Leg Two: White Point to Yarmouth (Approx. 165 km) From White Point, head 20 km west on Hwy. 103 and turn left on St. Catherine’s River Road. You’ll eventually reach the tongue-twisting Kejimkujik (“Ke-jim-koo-jik”) National Park Seaside. (Locals call it “Keji” for short.) Keji Seaside is an adjunct to the larger Kejimkujik National Park, which is 100 km inland. The Harbour Rocks Trail at Keji Seaside (5.2 km return) rewards morning hikers with glorious views of grey and harbour seals basking on the rocks. From here, drive around 45 km west on Hwy. 3 to Shelburne. This community was a loyalist outpost in the 1700s, when thousands of Americans who opposed the revolution arrived on Canada’s shores. The town’s preservedbuildings have been sets for period Hollywood films such as The Scarlett Letter and Moby Dick. Continue 100 km west on Hwy. 103 to Yarmouth. Arrange a boat tour of the Eel Lake Oyster Farm in Ste. Anne Du Ruisseau, 20 minutes east of Yarmouth, to see how the meaty Ruisseau oyster is farmed. At the end of the tour, you’ll sample these raw delights. Good eats: From Yarmouth, follow Cape Forchu Scenic Drive as it winds along the coastline, through tiny fishing villages, to Cape Forchu Lightstation (around11 km). At the station’s Mug Up Tea Room, munch on lobster sandwiches and seafood chowder. Call ahead to confirm off-season hours. Good sleeps: Bed down at Yarmouth’s MacKinnon-Cann Inn, where each room is decorated in the style of a decade between 1900 and the 1960s (mackinnoncanninn.com). Leg Three: Yarmouth to Port Royal (Approx. 155 km) Leaving Yarmouth, drive 60 km east to Church Point on Hwy. 1 or 101. As you travel, you’ll notice many homes displaying a blue, white and red flag with a yellow star. Welcome to Acadia, a former colony of New France. Learn about Acadian and Mi’kmaq culture at Rendez-vous de la Baie, the Acadian Interpretive and Culture Centre, a requisite stop in Church Point. Then drive 44 km along Hwy. 101 to Digby for lunch. This seaside town overlooking the Annapolis Basin is home to the famous Digby scallop. Chef Dale Nichols at Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa serves up some of the tastiest. If time permits, unwind at the spa or play a round of golf at the resort’s Stanley Thompson-designed course. From Digby, driveabout 45 km along Hwy. 1 to Port Royal. Established in 1605 by Samuel Champlain, this history-rich town was one ofthe first permanent European settlements in Canada. Fort Anne National Historic Site and the surrounding lands were the site of many battles between the French and British for control of Nova Scotia. Just to the east are the seven-hectare Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, which feature collections of heritage flowers such as the apothecary rose. Overnight in Hillsdale House, a luxury B&B run by former Edmontonian Val Stackhouse (877-839-2821). In the morning, expect to be woken by the town crier, who makes a morning stop at the inn. It’s a fitting send-off to this historic town and journey.