Feature Trip: Blue Rocks, NS

The picturesque fishing village of Blue Rocks is one of my favourite places to paddle in Nova Scotia. Located just outside of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the maze of blue-grey coloured islands and islets inspire the name of this area. From half day trips for absolute beginners in sheltered water to full days of fun in exposed, lumpy water for more advanced kayakers, this place has a lot to offer. Even on windy days when the sea state presents a challenge on the exposed coast, you can still get a great paddle here.

I first learned about the trip in Sea Kayaking in Nova Scotia (Route 8: Blue Rocks) by Scott Cunningham of Coastal Adventures. The kayaking route is also described in the online publication, Paddle Lunenburg-Queens – Ocean Routes. I recommend checking out these resources for planning your trip. Make sure to pick up CHS chart 4328 for Lunenburg Bay and have a compass on hand because fog can sweep in swiftly.

Shelter of Millers Pass

Shelter of Millers Pass

Access points change over time as ownership of private land and wharfs swap hands. The slips at the end of The Point Road are privately owned and should only be used with permission. The kayak tour company, Pleasant Paddling, acquired a slip here a couple of years ago and moved their base of operations permanently from Lunenburg. This is a great place to get a guided tour or to rent boats. When I bring my own boats, I park and launch from small beaches along the road on the south side of this peninsula, avoiding the congestion at the point.

Especially for multi-day trips, you’ll want to be acquainted with islands that are accessible to the public. The Mahone Islands Conservation Association (MICA) has been acquiring properties in the bay for more than a decade. Protecting and conserving the islands and shoreline of Mahone Bay, MICA ensures enduring access for recreational use by the community. The cluster of islands that comprise the Long Island chain (Long, Dry, Snipe and Centre Islands) and nearby Sacrifice Island and Shag Island (Indian Island on many charts) are all publicly accessible. Little Duck Island, due west of Stonehurst East, is also a MICA property.

The exposed coast can be fun and challenging for experienced paddlers

The exposed coast can be fun and challenging for experienced paddlers

My personal Blue Rocks highlights include:

  1. Inside of Millers Pass and Millers Island are sheltered, narrow passages that are maze-like and magical, especially on a foggy day. They are challenging to navigate and some passages are impassable at low water.
  2. Herds of seals hang out and make a ruckus at East Point Ledge.
  3. There’s a little bridge at the end of the road to Stonehurst East that you pass under between Millers Pass into Robs Cove.
  4. Beyond Tanner Pass, Mountain Cove is a beautiful, sheltered spot to stop for a picnic.
  5. More seals at the Upper Rackets.
  6. The archipelago of islands, including Sacrifice Island and Long Island to the north.

A few of the trips I’ve done here illustrate the variety of experience that Blue Rocks has to offer.

2012-08-27 - Family Paddle - rented doubles and singles from Pleasant Paddling and took 7 family members with virtually no experience on a sheltered paddle - 2.7 NM

2012-08-27 – Family Paddle – rented doubles and singles from Pleasant Paddling and took 7 family members with virtually no experience on a sheltered paddle – 2.7 NM

2013-05-18 - Buddy Paddle - a friend and I went for a longish paddle along the exposed coastline on a relatively calm day - 9.7 NM

2013-05-18 – Buddy Paddle – a friend and I went for a longish paddle along the exposed coastline on a relatively calm day – 9.7 NM

2014-07-27 - C2TC Monthly paddle - took a group of 19 paddlers with diverse experience on a marathon paddle around Heckmans Island - 13.7 NM

2014-07-27 – C2TC Monthly paddle – took a group of 19 paddlers with diverse experience on a marathon paddle around Heckmans Island – 13.7 NM

Blue rocks offers something for every level of experience

Blue Rocks offers something for every level of experience

After a day of paddling, you might consider heading into the Town of Lunenburg for some nourishment. There are many good restaurants along the waterfront and the streets that ascend steeply up from the shore. My favourite place to go is the Knot Pub, which has great character and good beer. From launch to supper at the pub, a trip to Blue Rocks never disappoints.

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