While there is no shortage of beaches near Halifax, swimming in the ocean in Nova Scotia is nothing short of an accomplishment given the frigid water. On the Dartmouth side of the bridge, Lawrencetown is a favorite with surfers and wave jumpers, and is dependably foggy and cold. Slightly closer to town is Rainbow Haven, a more sheltered and thus marginally warmer beach. Both are supervised. Crystal Crescent, on the Halifax side of the harbor is beautiful though busy, given its proximity to town. The main beach and the nearby (but out of view from the main beach) clothes-optional area are unsupervised. Queensland beach on St. Margaret’s bay is supervised, and also quite popular given its proximity and tendency to be the warmest of options near Halifax . Martinique beach is unsupervised, the longest in the province, and beautiful. Also beautiful, but extremely cold is the beach at Taylor Head on the Eastern Shore – a Provincial Park that also has quiet trails in the woods. If you have more time, head to beaches on the Northumberland Straight, where water is usually more tolerable (at least by mid-summer).
A somewhat warmer prospect than the ocean, there are many lakes in and around Halifax . The following is but a sample and locals often have their personal favorite swimming hole they would recommend if you ask. Well-loved and close the city centre are Chocolate and William’s Lakes. While the former has a supervised beach, the latter is less frequented and thus cleaner and quieter, with the nicest swimming spots a short walk through the woods (look for cars parked alongside Purcell’s Cove Road). Larger and also popular is Papermill Lake in Bedford , which has several supervised beaches. Birch Cove Beach on Lake Banook in Dartmouth is a supervised local favorite for swimming. Lake Banook also has several paddling opportunities and trails, with one leading to the Shubie campground.
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