Acadian Attractions on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia

Last Updated on June 9, 2024

In the summer of 2024 the municipalities of Argyle and Clare, part of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia, will be home to the Congrès Mondial Acadien 2024. Taking place from August 10-18, 2024. Also known as the Acadian World Congress, the nine day celebration will bring together Acadians from all around the world to celebrate and discover their culture in Southwestern, Nova Scotia.

During the congress there will be big Acadian family reunions, live music, delicious Acadian food, kitchen parties and so much more. Aside from all of that there is also so much Acadian history and culture to take in! Here is my guide to the Acadian attractions on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia so you can make the most of your visit whether you are here for the Congrès or another time of year.

Acadian flag in the wind

Who are the Acadians?

The Acadian’s are one of Nova Scotia’s founding cultures and make up 50% of the residents of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores area. Acadians are the descendants of French settlers who first came to eastern Canada between 1604 and 1755. From 1755 to 1764 during the Seven Years War the British and New England militia expelled many of the Acadians from the area by force which in turn caused at least a third of them to die from being poorly treated and disease. This period of time is now known as the Great Expulsion.

These days Acadians are a recognized minority in the province and the French dialect they speak is a mix of English, 1700’s French and the Mi’kmaq language. Visiting many of the places listed in this post will help you learn more about the Acadians as a whole and their history.

guided tour of the bay st marie visitors centrre

When is the Congrès Mondial Acadien 2024

The Congrès Mondial Acadien / Acadian World Congress (CMA 2024) will take place from August 10th to 18th, 2024. The Congrès takes place every five years and this will be its seventh edition. It is expected to bring over 30,000 new visitors to the province from around the world. The Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia where the Congrès is taking place is also home to the largest Acadian community in Nova Scotia.

A Guide to the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia

Whether you are visiting for the Congress, you are wanting to learn more about your Acadian history or you are just looking for great places to explore in Southwestern Nova Scotia then this is the guide for you. From the best Acadian museums to visit to Acadian dishes to eat, beaches to explore, places to stay and more.

Visit Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse or the Historical Acadian Village of Nova Scotia is a must see. Step back in time and see how the Acadians originally lived in Nova Scotia in the early 1900s. Located in Lower West Pubnico on 17 acres of beautiful land overlooking the Pubnico Harbour this community is the oldest Acadian region still inhabited by descendants of its original founder from over 350 years ago.

While visiting learn about Acadian customs and traditions from the museum re-enactors. Tour an Acadian home, learn about blacksmithing, visit the post office and boat shop too. At the historic village they also have a great gift shop of Acadian and Nova Scotian items as well as a cafeteria serving up delicious Acadian food. This is a great spot along the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia to try your first rappie pie.

The museum is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $8 for students, and $4 for ages 6-17.

quilt making demo at the musee de acadiens des pubnicos

Check out the Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos

If you are wanting to get even more immersed in the Acadian culture and history then you also need to visit this museum. The Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos / Pubnico Acadian Museum is another great step back in time. Here re-enactors will guide you through a traditional Acadian garden and show you various vegetables, fruits and plants that the Acadians used to grow in Nova Scotia. Learn how they were used for food, medicines and more.

Inside the museum you can learn about quilting, local Acadian history and research your Acadian ancestors. The museum is also the Père Clarence d’Entremont Research Centre (Centre de recherche Père Clarence d’Entremont) and for $5 you can use their computers and go through their archives to learn about your Acadian history and family ties. Even if you think you might not have any, you could be surprised!

The museum is closed in the winter months but with advance notice they will open for access to the family archives and research centre.

The museum is $4 for adults, kids under 12 are free.

Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre

Stop into the Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre

The Rendez-vous de la Baie Visitor Centre is located in Church Point on the campus of L’Université Sainte-Anne, the only French language University in Nova Scotia. The visitor centre is home to the Clare Visitor Information Centre as well as an Acadian interpretive centre and museum. Visit to get first hand knowledge from the guides about travel and things to see and do in the area. You can also tour the museum at the centre with a guide in both French or English. Or explore on your own reading the many interpretive panels showcasing Acadian history and life in the region of Clare and Baie St. Marie from the past to present day.

The interpretive centre museum is free to visit.

information panel about smugglers cove nova scotia

Take a Self-Guided Acadian Shores Interpretive Tour

As you explore the whole Yarmouth and Acadian Shores area of Nova Scotia from Yarmouth County to the Municipality of Clare be sure to stop at the many interpretive panels along the way. Follow a digital map HERE or grab one in person from the visitor centre. (There is a new map and website coming in July 2024.) The tour will take you to 38 Acadian heritage sites in South Western Nova Scotia from museums to churches, to lighthouses, parks and more.

Catholique Église Sainte-Marie Saint Mary's Catholic Acadian Church in Nova Scotia

See the Catholique Église Sainte-Marie

The Catholique Église Sainte-Marie (St. Mary’s Catholic Church) is in located in Church Point, NS next to L’Université Sainte-Anne. The church is the largest wooden church in North America and is quite the spectacular site to see. Standing 185feet tall at it’s highest point, it took two years to build and is made entirely of wood all the way to the very top of the steeple. Based off of another church in France Catholique Église Sainte-Marie was built to be a centre for Acadian Parishes.

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Construction began in 1903 with over 1,500 parishioners helping to build it. A museum was established in the church in 1969 and later expanded to being the entire church along with a gift shop. However in 2019 the entire building closed due to disrepair and much needed funds. In November 2023 after failed fundraising efforts the church was deconsecrated and now it’s fate remains unknown. However you can still see it from the outside and its size is really impressive.

Acadian welcome sign by Hecktic Travels

image credit HeckticTravels

Celebrate at the Festival Acadien de Clare

You might already be celebrating Acadian culture and history during the The Congrès Mondial Acadien / Acadian World Congress but every year they also celebrate with a big festival in Clare, Nova Scotia. Arrive a week early and celebrate at the world’s oldest Acadian Festival, Festival Acadien de Clare from July 27 – August 3rd, 2024. There is a large parade, a lumberjack competition, live music, dinner theatre, a food and artisan market, and more.

Celebrate National Acadian Day on August 15th

On April 15th, which is National Acadian Day, the festival Acadien de Clare also celebrates with a huge tintamarre. Crowds of people march the streets of Salmon River to Church Point making as much noise as possible to commemorate the Acadian expulsion and to celebrate National Acadian Day.

A guide from Tusket Island Tours holds a 7lb lobster on a lobster boat while smiling at the camera

Learn from Present Day Acadians

Once you have had your fill of Acadian history visit a market or take a tour with local Acadians who will share with you parts of their life and way of living today.

Take a Boat Tour to the Tusket Islands

Operated by an Acadian fisherman, Tusket Island Boat tours take you out from theWedgeport wharf on a real lobster fishing boat to explore the Tusket Islands. Learn all about lobster fishing from actual lobster fishermen, see how they set and pull traps and learn about lobsters. Be entertained with live music featuring some classic Acadian songs, visit their fishing shack on Big Tusket Island and dine on delicious seafood chowder made from a recipe passed down for generations.

Tickets start at $120 per person and $60 for kids. Deep sea fishing charters are available as well.

Cailin holding a bar clam and pitch fork whilie smiling at the camera

Book a clam digging tour

Nova Scotians and especially Acadians love clams. Cooked in various ways, they are a commonly used ingredient in the popular Acadian dish rapure aka rappie pie. In Clare along Baie Sainte-Marie there are several great places to go digging for bar clams and you can book a tour through the Baie Sainte-Maire tourism desk to learn how! It’s not guaranteed to find enough clams for a feast but you can definitely try. At the very least you will appreciate them more while dining on them later for dinner at a restaurant.

Clam digging tours last an hour and are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 5-16. Book your tour online HERE.

pears, blueberries and other fresh fruits at the belliveau cove farmers market

Shop at the Belliveau Cove Saturday Farmers Market

To meet more local Acadians and local Nova Scotian artisans be sure to check out the Belliveau Cove Saturday Farmers Market. Taking place every Saturday at the Belliveau Cover Municipal Park from May 25 to Sept 28, 2024, 10am to 2pm. On Friday nights from late June to early September this is also a great spot to enjoy a seafood dinner also known as Beaux Vendredis seafood suppers serving up lobster, crab and clams while enjoying live music. On Sundays stop by the park for the Art Sundays market from July 2 – Sept 3, 2024, 10am to 3pm. Here you will find great folk art, unique paintings, rug hooking and more.

Smugglers Cove Nova Scotia

Explore the Beauty of the Aacadian Shores of Nova Scotia

The Acadians love this area of the province for a reason as it is so beautiful and full of life. That is why so many remain living here today and this part of Nova Scotia is home to the largest Acadian colony. There are many must see beaches, parks and hiking trails in the area for you to explore. One of the most popular being Mavillette Beach Provincial Park a 1.5km long gorgeous sandy beach surrounded by sand dunes. At low tide you can seemingly walk forever as the sun heats up the sand flats, then once the tide returns the shallow water is warmed by the sand making it a delight to swim in.

Up the hill from Mavillette Beach is the Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park. Home to a lighthouse at the edge of a lookoff point overlooking jagged weathered sea cliffs. The lighthouse park is a great spot for a picnic on a nice day.

Not to far from Mavillette is Smugglers Cove Provincial Park. A public day use park with picnic tables and a large staircase leading to the ocean. In the early 1900’s the cove was popular with rum smugglers, hence the name. Today it is a gorgeous park and cove with a mysterious sea cave that you can kayak to.

For hiking options check out the Wedgeport Nature Trail, a coastal walk that is part boardwalk, part beach stones. The trail is a 2.3km loop and fairly flat. Another similar trail but a bit longer is the Pubnico Point Trail overlooking the coastline and a large wind turbine farm.

cape forchu lighthouse in yarmouth nova scotia

Climb to the Top of the Cape Forchu Lighthouse

Another gorgeous spot to visit is the buoy wall and False Harbour beach on the way to the Cape Forchu Lighthouse. If you arrived in Nova Scotia by taking the CAT Ferry from Bar Harbour, Maine you might have already seen this apple core shaped lighthouse as you headed for Yarmouth harbour. Get out and walk around the paths of Leif Erikson Park and the rocky coastline it sits upon. Also visit the gift shop and restaurant. For great views take the guided tour to the top of the lighthouse. Climb 77 steps to the top for great photographs no matter the weather.

acadian food rappie pie outlet

Where to Enjoy Acadian Food on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia

The Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia are full of Acadian delicacies that date back hundreds of years and delicious seafood made by modern day Acadian Chefs and families. Here is a great list of great Acadian food and where to enjoy it.

La Cuisine Robicheau

If you are looking to try authentic Acadian foods while visiting there are several great options to choose from. One of my favourites is La Cuisine Robicheau in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia. An Acadian family owned and operated restaurant serving up delicious local dishes. I suggest having the Au Gratin Special. Fresh local scallops and lobster served in a melted cheesy cream sauce. Also try the fricot, clam or chicken rappie pie and the haddock smothered in a hot cream lobster sauce. Heaven. They also have a large dessert menu with house made cheesecakes and pies. Be sure to visit with an empty stomach. Also note that they are not licensed but you can BYOB.

robicheaus au gratin special from la cuisine robicheau

La Cuisine Robicheau also has three shipping container AirB&Bs called Cabane d’Horizon that you can book to stay in. Located next to the restaurant the family also owns a food truck serving up great food including some of the best poutines I’ve ever had in my life. Although not really “Acadian food”, I highly recommend the Thai Chicken Poutine or of course the Lobster poutine. The Chef of the family is Chef Shane Robicheau and is by far one of the best Acadian Chefs in the province.

lobster dinner at the searoots dining experience

Searoots Dining

Also run by Chef Shane Robicheau is the Searoots Dining experience. One of the most unique dining experiences in Nova Scotia. Join Acadian Chefs Shane Robicheau and Paul Thimot for a delicious seafood feast on the sand at low tide. Dine on a delicious meal of seafood and locally made items, while enjoying local drinks and listening to live music. Forage with the chefs and learn about unique foods from the area. The Searoots Dining dates and locations for 2024 are currently TBD.

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haddock in a lobster cream sauce at École dans l'Anse Resto sur Mer

École dans l’Anse Resto sur Mer

École dans l’Anse Resto sur Mer basically means the School in the Cove on the Sea. This once school house is now a restaurant with two lovely Airbnbs on top and it has gorgeous views of Bay St. Marie. Visit here for everything from lobster mac’n’cheese to fish cakes, haddock and scallops and more. They also serve chicken or bar clam rappie pie and an excellent haddock in a lobster cream sauce.

Acadian Grocery Stores

All of the grocery stores in the area have many Acadian and French culinary items for sale. If you are staying in an accommodation where you can cook then be sure to visit a local grocery store. Many of them sell already prepared rappie pie and other tasty Acadian dishes that you can just take home and cook or heat up to enjoy. They also sell the ingredients to make rappie pie like dehydrated potato aka rappie pie mix that you just add broth, onions, salt and pepper and the meat of your choice too then bake yourself. A great grocery store to visit is Comeau’s Farm Market or Robichaud’s Red & White in Meteghan, Nova Scotia.

crabs for sale at the BMC seafoods market

BMC Seafoods Market and Take Out

One of the best places to get fresh seafood on the Acadian Shores is from BMC Seafoods. Stop in to their fish shop to grab everything from live crabs and lobster to haddock, salmon, clams, scallops and more. They also sell their own lobster dips, and seafood chowder. If you are wanting to eat right away BMC Seafoods also does take out. Their menu has cheeseburgers and wings, lobster rolls, clams and chips, fish cakes, fish and chips and more.

pink lemonade giggle juice from boatskeg distilling

Enjoy Acadian Beverages

Along the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia there are great wine, cider, beer and spirits makers for you to enjoy. Maison Meuse & Fils is the only winery located on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia. They have been growing grapes since 2014 and create organic artisanal wine on their two acre estate. You can visit the vineyard by booking an appointment in advance. You can buy a bottle at one of 17 Signature NSLC Stores or visit them at the Belliveau Cove market.

Boatskeg Distilling Co. is owned and operated by a great Acadian family. Their original plan was to make delicious rum but while waiting for it to age in hidden barrels they dabbled in making vodka and ended up making one of the best vodka’s I’ve ever tasted. Go for their now aged delicious rum but stay for their heavenly salted caramel vodka. At their distillery you can buy drinks to go or stay and enjoy their unique cocktail menu. Try their other spirits (peanut butter rum anyone?) and new canned drinks like Strawberry Hard Ice Tea or the Giggle Cocktail in Pink Lemonade flavour. They also have a great outdoor patio and often have live music.

(Always have a designated driver. Drink responsibly.)

tasting apple cider at corberrie cider co

If cider is more to your liking then be sure to visit the tasting room (by appointment) at Corberrie Cider Co. or grab some of their great ciders to go from the Belliveau Cove market. Corberrie is an Acadian owned cider producer and they are owners of the only apple orchard in Southwestern Nova Scotia. Their five acre property grows various kinds of apples that help produce their ciders. In the fall you can go apple picking in their orchard as well. Grab a few bottles at the market, from their tasting room or enjoy one with dinner at a local restaurant.

an acadian flag blows in the wind at the cozy point retreat in church point nova scotia

Where Can I Stay on the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores?

Whether you are visiting for the Congrès Mondial Acadien 2024 or just looking to explore Southwestern Nova Scotia there are lots of accommodation options. From hotels to motels, Inns, B&B’s lodges, luxury Glamping domes, campgrounds and tons of AirB&Bs. I have had a chance to stay at quite a few and here are my recommendations.

If you are having a hard time finding a place to stay for the congres connect with Marcel at the tourist office who is organizing the bed bank.

rodd grand hotel in downtown yarmouth nova scotia

Hotels in Yarmouth

The two best hotels to stay in in Yarmouth are the Rodd Grand Hotel and the new Tru By Hilton. The Rodd Grand is centrally located in town with many shops, restaurants and the farmers market just a few minutes walk away. If you are arriving on the CAT Ferry this hotel is a two minute drive from the terminal and offers discounts to ferry passengers. The property also has a great pool and some unique history.

The Tru By Hilton hotel in Yarmouth is a new fresh and modern hotel. They offer a fun breakfast buffet in the mornings and have a great pool on site with a slide. The hotel is located in a commercial area of town so a car is needed for getting around.

cabane dhorizon shipping container airbnb in saulnerville nova scotia

Unique Accommodations on the Acadian Shores

Previously I mentioned Cabanne d’Horizon which is owned and operated by the Robicheau family in Saulnierville. The property has three shipping containers that have been converted into unique tiny homes. Elegantly decorated with gorgeous views of the ocean and all the amenities you could need. Stay for a night or a whole week. Also bonus you have La Cuisine Robicheau and Le Ptit Robicheau Food Truck right in your backyard. Each container sleeps up to four people, and two have hot tubs.

Nova Scotia LOVES Geodesic Domes and there are many throughout the province. The Acadian Shores however is home to one of the very BEST. The Cozy Point Retreat located in Church Point, Nova Scotia. The Acadian owners Guy and Sandra spared no expense when building this gorgeous dome. The Cozy Point Retreat glamping dome sleeps four people comfortably in two king sized beds. The dome is located on a lake with your own private dock, kayaks and paddle boards. They have everything from a hot tub to yoga stage, pizza oven, a fire pit, places to relax and more.

wood fired hot tub at the trout point lodge image credit davey and sky

image credit DaveyandSky

Lodge’s on the Acadian Shores

The Argyler Lodge is located on the quaintly named Lobster Bay in Argyle, Nova Scotia near Pubnico. The lodge has five rooms with Queen beds and private baths as well as a seasonal dining room serving up award winning seafood feasts. Book your stay at the same time as their Lobster Bay Culinary Experience and learn how to prepare and boil a delicious lobster dinner right on Lobster Bay and enjoy it too.

One of the most luxurious places to stay in the area is probably Trout Point Lodge. I haven’t had a chance to stay there yet myself but the reviews are always great. Described as a Luxury Wilderness Retreat the lodge and it’s dining room are their own tourist attraction as they offer quite the experience to guests. The lodge also offers activities like forest bathing, kayaking, stargazing, spa services and more.

coastal dream airbnb on the acadian shores of nova scotia

AirB&B’s on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia

There are tons of AirB&B’s all around Nova Scotia. From tiny homes to apartments to cabins, cottages and even mansions, everything is available to rent. One AirB&B in the area that I’ve enjoyed is the Coastal Dream AirB&B located in Mavillette, NS only a few minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches. This AirB&B is located right on the ocean and sleeps four comfortable or up to eight including the pullout couches. There is a full kitchen, a large living room area with tons of space for playing games and two small bedrooms, with one being in the loft.

Another great spot that I haven’t had the chance to stay in yet is the Argyle Forest Loft. Located in Central Argyle near Pubnico this modern boutique loft accommodation is the perfect little getaway in the area.

the acadian community of cheticamp in cape breton nova scotia

Other Acadian Nova Scotian Communities to Explore

While the Congres is taking place on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia this isn’t the only Acadian area in the province. Other Acadian communities in Nova Scotia include Tor Bay, Cheticamp, Louisbourg and more. Also nearby to Nova Scotia of course is New Brunswick which is full of even more Acadian communities with almost a third of the province’s population having Acadian ancestry.

These Acadian attractions on the Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia are just the start of what this area of Nova Scotia has to offer. No matter the time of year you visit you will be sure to enjoy delicious food, see beautiful sites and meet the best people. What else should I add to the list of Acadian related attractions? Which spots are your favourite?

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