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The Ovens – Riverport

1 Aug

A few weeks back, while touring Annapolis Valley, I came across a twitter photo of The Ovens.  Initially, I didn’t believe it was located in Nova Scotia.  It reminded me of pictures taken in the Mayan Riviera.   It was all turquoise waters flowing into waterfront caves.  Stunning.  So stunning that I tried to make Drew turn the car around from my beloved Annapolis Valley. Continue reading


Ironworks – Lunenburg

28 Jul

For our wedding, our good friend Josh (@trinitygoldNS) gave us a bottle of Pear vodka from Ironworks (@Ironworks_NS).  What made the bottle really exceptional was that it wasn’t just pear-infused vodka, it had a full pear grown right into the bottle.  From then on I have been desperate to get to their distillery. Continue reading

The Chowder Trail: The Grand Banker & The Old Fish Factory

27 Jul

There have been some really brilliant things happening in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia recently.  From our NS wineries posts, readers will know that we’re big fans of the Winery Passport.  We’ve already visited ten of the twelve wineries featured, and after my mother’s guest post featuring Jost and trying Petite Rivière’s Tidal Bay, we’re eager to visit all twelve.

Continue reading

South Shore Fish & Chips Tour

10 Aug

Last week, I, the male half, went for an impromptu fish & chips tour of the south shore of Nova Scotia. I had a work engagement in Yarmouth and decided to use this as an opportunity to test the famed seafood of our historic south shore.

I tried three places along the Lighthouse Route, the Grand Banker in Lunenburg, Rudders in Yarmouth (see previous Rudders review here) and the Fos’c’le Tavern in Chester. I’ll be brief about Rudders & the Fos’c’le Tavern because my mama raised me that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all (or in this case, keep it short). It may have been because it was a special, but I was in no way impressed with the fish & chips at Rudders. It was shoestring fries and glorified fish sticks. Great place but I recommend sticking to the chowder. The Fos’c’le Tavern fared better, but the coating was that hard, crispy coating that’s alright but still pretty greasy. The chips were better, meaning they’re the kind of fries you want to marinate in malt vinegar.

I’ll focus on Lunenburg’s Grand Banker, far and away the best fish & chips from this expedition, if not the best I’ve ever had (an honour formerly held by Piper’s Pub in Antigonish). The light coating was just right, the fries were homecut and matched by the homemade cole slaw and tartar sauce. The tartar sauce had shredded carrot mixed in, which made me skeptical until I tried it and became a believer.

The place itself has an appropriate nautical theme given its view overlooking the gorgeous Lunenburg seascape. I paired my lunch with A Garrison Tall Ships Amber ale (solid go-to local brew). The place was packed for lunch on a Wednesday so I’d recommend getting there when the lunch crowd dies at 2, grab a window table and relax with a book after your meal.

La Vista Restaurant

25 Mar

Enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and friendly service at La Vista dining room, Oak Island Inn’s on-site restaurant. The menu incorporates lots of local fare, from ‘That Old Dutchman” cheeses to muscles fished right out of Mahone bay. They also have a fair sized wine list featuring a number of local wines. The atmosphere is great for a romantic dinner, a family gathering or a business meeting. The flaws – Despite great effort from the staff to help navigate the menu, there are some limitations for those with allergies. Also, your morning coffee or tea will add an extra $2.50 to your breakfast.


Drinks: $3.90+   Appetizers: $5 – $12  Mains:  $21 – $24

We Recommend:

The Indian Point Muscles and the Mango Curry Chicken

Hint: When staying at the hotel with the family, kids eat free, making it easy to justify the $23 steak.

Aqua Spa

21 Mar

‘Aqua’ is a full service spa located on-site at the Oak Island Inn Hotel. The spa offers an extensive list of services, from pedicures to salt scrubs, as well as direct billing options for those with massage coverage. Guests can relax in a quiet waiting room, or browse the many products, jewelry and purses on display in the lobby.

While visiting, we indulged in a massage, manicure, pedicure and signature facial (thanks to a great special they were offering for March). Both massage therapists were good but the room was a little chilly and frequently picked up noises from other hotel guests. The other services were all superb, especially the facial which included a back, neck and arm massage. Also of note, all manicures and pedicures include your bottle of polish.

Similar to all of our staff experiences at Oak Island, the staff at Aqua Spa went above and beyond to ensure top service.

Pros and Cons: Oak Island Inn

20 Mar
A view of Oak Island Inn

The view from Oak Island Inn's balcony.

Cost per person: $450 (tax and tips included)

Total length of stay: 4 nights

Our cost per person included all of our meals, drinks, gas, activities, and a combined total of 7 hours at the spa (including all tax, gratuities and trips to the vending machine). The hotel had a number of on-site amenities including a pool, hot tub, sauna, full service spa($), mini golf, tennis court, outdoor pool/bar (closed until May), two dining areas($)  and occasional live music. It also had a lot of scheduled activities for children, which, while not directly beneficial to us, kept the kids out of sight for most of the trip and allowed us to sneak quite a bit of the free popcorn to snack on during mini golf. The pool area is surrounded in floor to ceiling windows, giving the illusion (and warmth) of a hot summers day on the beach.

We both left feeling just as relaxed as we have from previous trips down south, and having participated in roughly as many activities (i.e drinking, laying by the pool and the occasional participation in more active on-site activities and off-site excursions). The main differences that we noticed was the inability to drink poolside, tanning weather and culture – Although we found that the people that we met in Mahone Bay offered just as much of a unique perspective. Some positives – No waiting at the airport, cramped 4 hour flight, vaccinations, slow internet connections or lengthy bus rides.

All in all, the pros far outweighed any cons. More entries on the food, spa and surrounding areas coming soon.