Paddle Lunenburg/Queens

Ocean Route 3: Chester Islands

Record #: LQR0006
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019
Last Full Update: 19 Mar 2014


Public Bulletin
Neither South Shore nor the Lunenburg-Queens Recreational Coordinators/Directors Association own or control the canoe routes, portages or campsites listed in this guide, and assume no responsibility or liability for the safety of those using the canoe routes, walking the portages, or using the campsites. 
lt is recommended that users approach all canoe routes, portages and campsites in a safe and responsible manner. Conditions can change through fluctuating water levels, natural debris, and logging activity. Arrangements must be made directly with the owners of the portages and campsites. 
South Shore and Lunenburg-Queens Recreational Coordinators/Directors Association are not liable for any errors or omissions in this guide.


Located In South Shore Region
Where To Find Us
Chester, NS
Areas Served Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)


Phone 902-275-3490
Contact Chad Haughn, President, LQRCDA

Description & Services

Information A group of 12 islands offering scenic views of the bay and beautiful oceanfront homes as well as many sandy beaches for picnics. 
Where: Off shore from Chester 
Skill Level: Beginner 
Time: A day trip 
Distance: A 14 km loop around the islands. 
Click map to enlarge 
Two of the access points are in the charming village of Chester. The islands are mostly wooded with the exception of Meisners Island with its expansive estates and Quaker Island with its dramatic grassy slopes and lighthouse. If you have a taste for architecture, many big beautiful homes have been built along the shore and on some of the islands.The largest one looks like an English manor and dominates Lobster Point. Respect the privacy of home owners and don’t land on beaches with homes nearby. 
There are plenty of beaches on the uninhabited islands. A beach on the west side of Mountain Island provides an easy landing spot and an established camping area. Clay, Birch and Quaker all have beaches on the north side where you can pull up for a picnic. The sand bar between Big and Little Gooseberry blocks passage at low tide but makes for a good place to swim. Saddle Island is connected in the middle by a sand bar. The southern half is home to a large cormorant colony. Osprey nests can also be seen on some of the islands. 
Water safety notes (see also Ocean Notes
Winds - The wind can come up quickly and swing around especially in the afternoon. Use the lee route to your advantage. Once past the islands you are into open water and ocean swells. 
How to get there
Take Exit 7 or 8 off Highway 103 (see insert) for Access Point One, Two and Three. Take Exit 9 or 10 for Western Shore. 
Access Point One - Tancook Ferry Wharf, Chester 
Located on Front Harbour. Follow the signs to the wharf. The wharf itself is not suitable for launching but to the right of the wharf is a small ramp. Parking is available but may be full as this is a busy spot. 
Access Point Two - Bridge to the Peninsula, Chester 
This bridge is just past the public swimming pool. Park on the road. Put in on the right side just before the bridge or on the left side just after the bridge at a small public beach (Freda’s Beach). Pick the side that is the most sheltered as you travel up the Peninsula. 
Access Point Three - Graves Island Provincial Park 
This park is about 3 km north east of Chester off Route 3. Public water access is just before the causeway to the island on the left. There is a ramp here and lots of parking. From here you can go under the bridge and follow the mainland or go around the island. Saddle Island is about 3 km away. The ramp can still be used when the park is closed. 
Access Point Four - Wild Rose Park, Western Shore 
A Municipal Park along the shore in the village of Western Shore with parking and two boat ramps. From here it is about a 4 km paddle to Big Gooseberry but there are smaller islands close by. 
Graves Island Provincial Park is a 50 ha park with 73 campsites, walking trails and water access (see above). Phone (902) 275-4425. The Park is open from Victoria Day weekend in May until Thanksgiving in October. 
Land and Lunch 
As this is a developed area, you can “land and lunch” at a few oceanside restaurants. Paddle north west of Chester to just past Shaw’s Island and have lunch at the South Shore Marina. (10 km return) Or carry on to Chester Basin and eat at the Sea Shanty. (14 km return) Around Chester, explore Back Harbour and then paddle up to the Rope Loft on Front Harbour for a bite. 
Not an option: Oak Island 
Many books have been written on this famous island, alleged site of Captain Kidd’s treasure. However, it is closed to the public and no tours are available. 
Ocean Route 6: Mahone Bay - Paddle south west toward Squid Island to connect to the Mahone Bay Islands near Indian Point. 
Topographic map: Chester 21 A/9
Eligibility Ages: 16 year(s) and up 
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level

Special Information