‘There, that’s what we want to see,’ shouts our captain, pointing. My head flings back as the Zodiac flies through the open water towards a plume of ocean spray. Metres from our boat, there’s a breach, then a tail slap and more spray. Two giant humpback whales. ‘Meet Flip and Flop,’ the captain announces smugly. Flip and Flop glide only inches away, dwarfing our boat. They perform to wails and applause from a grateful audience. I am in awe and keep my camera tucked firmly in my bag — I want to enjoy every moment. The spectacle lasts for 40 minutes or so before we bid farewell and head back to shore.
I’m on a road trip through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, two of the three provinces that make up The Maritimes. Part of the world’s most extensive coastline, it’s home to hundreds of lighthouses and my favourite dish, lobster.
On the roadside leading up to the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, large steel pots bubble away, filled with the morning’s catch. I order a lobster roll and eat it to the sound of sea shanties played on an accordion by an elderly lady at the base of the lighthouse.
Later, driving along the winding roads of Nova Scotia, I head for the colourful town of Lunenburg but not before lunch — lobster with Thai noodles in a peanut sauce, served with a biscuit (a savoury scone) in Mahone Bay.
Lunenburg, one of the first British colonial settlements and a Unesco world heritage site, is full of vibrantly painted homes that have earned it the nickname ‘Unesco fresco’. It’s also home to Bluenose II, the fishing schooner which can be seen on the Canadian ten cent coin. After a dinner of red pepper lobster dip and scallops, locals entertain with spooky tales over a night cap at The Knot, the town’s only pub. I run home and barricade the hotel room door.
The next morning I cross inland for Luckett Vineyards on the opposite side of the province. It’s run by British expat Pete Luckett, whose love of home is apparent by the two London black cabs in the parking lot. One is a J-Reg just like my dad used to drive; the other looks like it’s been plucked from the set of Peaky Blinders. A (working) red telephone box proudly stands in the middle of the vineyard and Alan, the ex-black cabbie, with his Cockney accent, pours wines named ‘The Old Bill’ and ‘Phone Box White’ over a lunch of lobster seafood chowder.
I travel across the Bay of Fundy on the ferry to New Brunswick and head for the town of St Andrews. My hotel, The Algonquin, is eerily familiar. ‘Feels like you’ve been here before?’ asks the receptionist, spotting my bemused look. ‘This is where Stephen King wrote The Shining, where he took inspiration for The Overlook.’ Over dinner I hear more scary tales of jilted brides, night watchman, and bell boys who haunt the odd narrowing hallways as I remove my huge steamed lobster from its shell.
Car snacks replenished — Twizzlers, crisps, lobster-flavoured — I hit the road, back to Halifax where my trip began. There’s time to squeeze in a tour of the Titanic exhibition at the Maritime Museum and that classic Canadian dish, poutine (chips, cheese and gravy to Brits). With a side of lobster, of course.
Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762 456) is offering a 10-night holiday to Atlantic Canada from £2,299 per person. This includes three nights at the four star The Lord Nelson Hotel and Suites. Two nights at the three star Oak Island Resort. Two nights at the four star Digby Pines Golf and Spa Resort and three nights at the four star The Algonquin Resort, all on a room only basis. The offer also includes car hire throughout and return flights from London Heathrow with Air Canada. This is based on departures on 10 June 2020.