Paddle Lunenburg/Queens

Ocean Route 4: LaHave Islands

Record #: LQR0008
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019
Last Full Update: 14 Jan 2015


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
Lower Lahave, NS
Areas Served Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)


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

Description & Services

Information This popular group of 20 closely-packed islands has lots of beaches, wilderness campsites, wildlife, and hiking with both protected and challenging routes. 
Where: South east of Bridgewater 
Skill Level: Beginner to Expert 
Time: One day or multi-day 
Distance: Many options 
Click map to enlarge 
These idyllic islands, like most of Nova Scotia’s coast, have a long history of settlement and many older homes remain today. Five of the islands are now connected by bridge or causeway to the mainland and are home to year-round residents. Most of the islands also have a few summer residences except for Cape LaHave Island which is common land. Fishing is still an important part of island life. Many homes have their own wharf, a necessity from the pre-road days when people traveled everywhere by boat including school and church. 
The LaHave Islands are hilly, mostly forested and ringed with rock piles and beaches. They are well-suited to small boats as the water level between some of the islands is very shallow at low tide. Deer are often glimpsed on the two biggest islands and seals can be seen fishing in False LaHave and other areas. 
Water Safety Notes (see also Ocean Notes
Currents - In the narrow channels between the islands, you can expect gentle currents as the tide changes. Look at the direction of the eel grass under water to see which way the current is flowing. Also if you are unsure of the route, look for tree poles stuck in the mud through Wolf Gut to mark the channels. 
Tides - Because the water depth is shallow, the tide moves in and out very quickly over the beaches. Pull boats well up on shore (especially during a full moon when the tide is higher and before a storm) or you may be swimming for the mainland. 
Winds and swells - The wind can come up quickly from the east through False LaHave and Bell Channel creating choppy little waves. The east side of the two big islands is exposed and you may encounter a sizable swell there. The south side of Cape LaHave Island has two challenging headlands, Green Point and Cape LaHave, that can be dangerous with no easy place to land unless it is a very calm day. 
Landing spots - There are many beaches and options for protected landing spots. Cape Bay Beach is not recommended because of surf unless it is very calm or you are here to surf in a play boat. 
Boat traffic - This is an active fishing community so expect small fishing boats as well as a few motor boats and sail boats. 
Points of Interest 
1 LaHave Islands Marine Museum - A collection of marine artifacts relating to local history located in a former church. Open July and August, 10 am to 5:30pm. Call (902) 688-2973 for more information. 
2 The Squam - Good clam digging 
3 North Shore Mosher ’s Island - Sea caves about 3 m deep. This coast has an intermediate rating. 
4 Thrum Caps - The name for a rounded rocky island outcrop. A short climb with good views. Look for iron pyrite rocks near the north west cove of the larger island. 
5 Cape Bay - A large bay that gets too shallow for paddling at low tide near the head of the bay.This is a safe way to get to Cape Bay Beach though you may encounter a stiff wind from the south. Plan your trip around the high tide so you can get close to the dunes. Low tide will mean a long if not impossible walk through the muck. There is a trail to the beach near the head of the bay on the west side. This trail also leads to a good camp site but if you plan to stay here, be aware of tides for your arrival and departure. 
6 Cape Bay Beach - A spectacular beach with huge sand dunes and big surf. Good for body surfing if the waves aren’t too big. 
7 Halibut Bay - A pretty spot with beaches and headlands for hiking. Look for swallow nest holes in the banks of a circular clump of earth and softwoods at the head of the bay. Getting around Halibut Head may be tricky because of surf. An alternate is to land at the cove just north of the bay and walk over. A somewhat exposed campsite is just east of this cove out toward Halibut Head. 
8 The Creek on Cape LaHave Island - A long narrow hidden channel. Enter from Cape Bay or via a short haul over the dune from the west side. 
How to get there 
Take Exit 12 off Highway 103 and go through Bridgewater and down along the west side of the LaHave River to LaHave. Stop at the bakery there for lunch and treats for later. Continue to Crescent Beach. Or take Exit 15 at Italy Cross and drive to Petite Rivere along the river (See River Route 6) and left from there to Crescent Beach
Access Point One - Crescent Beach 
At the island end of Crescent Beach, turn right into a small parking area on George Island. From here it is possible to launch at the main beach on calm days or continue through the parking area down a short road to another smaller beach. Return your car to the parking area once you have unloaded. Landing and launching can be very tricky here if there is a swell coming in between the rocks that guard this beach. If the wind comes up while you’re out, paddle to the bridge on George Island and walk back to your vehicle 
Access Point Two - Bush Island ramp 
Go to the end of the road on Bush Island for this excellent protected public launch area with parking for about six vehicles. 
Access Point Three - Government Wharf on Bush Island 
Turn right at the government wharf sign down a short road. Here there is a fish plant, numerous wharfs and slipways but no easy launching. Use the smaller slipways and park off the road. 
See map for established camping spots. (C) 
Bring lots of water! Use existing sites rather than create new ones. 
Nearby Risser’s Beach, a provincial park, also has 92 camping sites if you are planning a day trip to the islands. The Park is open from Victoria Day weekend in May until Thanksgiving in October. 
Beginner route - Put in at Bush Island ramp and paddle up the protected channel of Wolf Gut and through Baker Gut and back to the ramp. There is a small beach with limited camping on the east side of Middle Island. The west side of Cape LaHave Island is also fairly protected and has excellent camping spots. 
Intermediate route - Intermediate paddlers may enjoy a paddle around Mosher Island to explore the sea caves and maybe go for a hike at Western Head. Expect open seas on the east side of the island. Mosher’s also has many good camp sites. 
Expert route - A paddle around the big island especially Cape LaHave should be attempted by expert paddlers only. 
No connections to other routes in this guide. 
For more information 
Contact Cape LaHave Adventures 
Topographic map: LaHave Islands 21 A/1
Eligibility Ages: 16 year(s) and up 
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level

Special Information