Paddle Lunenburg/Queens

Ocean Route 8-1: Port Joli Harbour

Record #: LQR0013
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019
Last Full Update: 27 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
Port Joli, NS
Areas Served Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)


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

Description & Services

Information A long, shallow, protected harbour with lots of beaches. 
Where: South west of Liverpool 
Skill Level: Beginner 
Time: Day trip 
Distance: 8 km from the Government Wharf to the head of the bay - return 
Click map to enlarge 
This harbour was named by the explorer Champlain in 1604. He must have seen many beautiful places on his travels in Nova Scotia but choose to call this one Port Joli (Pretty). 
It is well deserving of the name. The harbour is ringed by small white sandy beaches that offer easy landing and invite lounging, swimming or strolling from beach to beach. In between the beaches are marsh grass flats and at the head of the bay is the Port Joli Migratory Sanctuary, feeding grounds for Canada geese and other waterfowl. 
A road runs up the eastern side of the bay and private homes are scattered along the waterfront. The headland is part of a 2210 ha ( 5460 acre) national park, Kejimkujik Seaside, well worth the 3 km hike in to an expansive beach and lagoon. 
The western side of the harbour is completely forested and includes the 687 hectare (1675 acre) Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, opened in 1997. 
Water Safety Notes (see also Ocean Notes
Tides - Because Port Joli Harbour is so shallow, the high tide and low tide lines are quite far apart. This can make for a long haul to put in or take out at low tide through sand/mud/eel grass (up to 200 m). The tide moves fast over shallow beaches so watch for disappearing boats when pulled up for a break. The sand bars can also create swells. One advantage of the shallowness is warm water. 
Winds - The prevalent wind is from the south west making the western side the protected route on gusty days. When the wind is opposing the current, you may get waves that steepen rapidly and break. 
Points of Interest 
1 Port Joli Migratory Sanctuary - A feeding and resting area for waterfowl who feed on eel grass and mollusks. Managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. 
2 Sanctuary Observation Point - with interpretive panels, erected by the Port Joli Conservation Society 
3 Kejimkujik Seaside Trail Head - See Ocean Route 8-2: Kejimkujik Seaside for more information. 
4 Thomas Raddall Provincial Park - See below 
How to get there 
Travel 28 km west of Liverpool on Highway 103 or 42 km east of Shelburne and turn onto the St. Catherines River Road near a small community hall. 
Access Point One - Durham Road 
Look for the sign marking this road 1.3 kms off the higway just past a church. At the end of this road is a small public area maintained by the province with parking, a turnaround and easy access to the beach. 
Access Point Two -The Government Wharf 
This wharf is at the end of the St. Catherine’s River Road 6.6 km from the highway just past the trail head into Kejimkujik Seaside. The wharf is closed now and is not safe. A small beach on the right is sheltered by the wharf and provides access. The water is deeper here than at Durham Road. Be careful to park off the road and not block local traffic. 
Thomas Raddall Provincial Park across the harbour has 43 wooded camp sites and numerous short trails. Launching from the campground is possible but requires a portage down a 400 m trail to the campers’ beach. If the tide is out, the portage will be longer. Parking is available at the trail head for registered campers. The day use beach is about 600 m from the day use parking lot. The Park is open from Victoria Day weekend in May until Thanksgiving in October. 
Sandy Bay: 
On a calm day you may want to paddle beyond the protection of the harbour and explore Sandy Bay on the western side. You may encounter large seas at the mouth of the harbour. Beginners should stay inside the headlands and avoid getting into the swells further out in the bay unless traveling with a guide. 
For more information 
An excellent brochure on Thomas Raddall Provincial Park provides information on natural habitats, wildlife, geology and cultural history. As well, a human history of the park area was done in 1993 by Danielle Wharton. 
For route information, contact the Rossignol Surf Shop
Ocean Route 8-2: Kejimkujik Seaside 
Topographic map: Port Mouton 20 P/15
Eligibility Ages: 16 year(s) and up 
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level

Special Information

Established 1998
Tags Canoe/Kayak ; Maps ; NS Trail Guide ; Recreation Categories ; South Shore Connect