Brier Island is one of those special places where you go and become totally lost in the beauty and tranquility around you. This small island is home to whales, seabirds, flora, fauna, shipwrecks, lighthouses, hiking trails and about 200 people.
The island sits at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world. It is also the most western point of Nova Scotia.
Only 7.5 kilometres long, 2.5 kilometres wide and with 25 kilometres of shoreline, it is easily hiked in one day. You can only reach the island by taking a 10-minute ferry ride from another island called Long Island.
This, of course, adds to the uniqueness of this special place.
There are few roads here and only one that is
paved. I really loved this part of the
island. It was great to be in a place
that seemed to stop the clock.
Brier Island is the most western point in Nova Scotia. It is part of the Digby Neck & Islands Scenic Drive.
Take highway 217 west from Digby toward the East Ferry on Digby Neck. Take the 10 minute ferry ride to Tiverton which is on Long Island.
Continue on the 217 to Freeport and take a second 10 minute ferry to Brier Island.
The island is about 1 hour 45 minutes from Digby and about 4 hours from Halifax.
Westport is the only village on the island. There is 1 gas station, 1 general store, 2 restaurants, 1 inn, 1 small motel, 1 B&B, 1 vacation rental and 1 Lodge on the island. Check reviews for these accommodations!
Digby is only 1 hour 45 minutes away and there are lots of options for accommodations there.
Many places also offer accommodation and whale watching packages so make sure you inquire when you make your travel plans.
Check out all accommodations in the Digby area and find the right one for you!
I suggest 1.5 days on the island. A half day for a whale watching cruise and a full day to explore the island on foot. You could also do lots of exploring by bicycle.
Unfortunately, we only had 1 day for a whale watching tour and an exploration of the island. We do plan to go back and stay overnight on the island to really explore it!
There are 2 whale watching tours and they generally have a morning, afternoon and evening cruise. The chance of seeing whales is very good. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and they love showing off their little corner of the world to visitors.
We did our tour with Mariner Cruises and we must have been out on the Bay of Fundy for 4 hours. It was sunny day and it was fantastic. We had the good luck to see a Right Whale which is an endangered whale. There are only about 300-400 hundred left in our oceans.
My cousin has taken tours with Brier Island Whale Cruises several times and she loves them. They have a boat similar to Mariner Cruises and they also have tours on a zodiac. This looks quite exciting!!
Welcome Aboard Whalewatching tours also operate on the island. This company also owns the Brier Island Lodge.
We got some lunch from the Lighthouse Cafe before we started our walking tour. We ordered take-out since we had our little dog with us and had our lunch on a wonderful picnic area overlooking the Westport waterfront. It was a perfect spot for an outdoor lunch.
If you plan to go to island make sure you get a copy of this map. We got a copy at the Digby Visitor Information centre. The map is extremely useful. The Brier Island Lodge developed it and I thank them greatly for allowing me to use it on my site.
It shows all of the major points on the island including the hiking trails.
The southern end of the island and the Joshua Solcum monument was our first stop. The monument is near the picnic area across from Peter's Island on the map.
A very simple modest stone structure in memory of the first man to sail around the world solo. His writings are still renowned today by die-hard sailors. I think the secret dream of every sailor is to do what Joshua did.
Joshua's family moved to Brier Island was he was eight years old. He would leave at age 16 for a life on the sea.
We then hiked along the coast near St. Peter's Island. It was very foggy so we could barely see the island.
This area had an astonishingly beautiful coastline of basalt rock and many birds. We could hear a curious water formation caused by the colliding of the incoming and outgoing tides. It was awesome.
Next stop was Brier Island Lighthouse also known as the Western Light. I had seen lots of pictures of this lighthouse but this was my first visit. A beautiful lighthouse with red and white stripes from top to bottom. We roamed around the cliffs for a while.
There was a very eery calm about this place. Being on our own here was magical.
The sun was beginning to set and it was spectacular. My nephew loved it here. There was a very large pile of rocks not far from the lighthouse. There was a sign attached encouraging others to help the pile grow. Of course, we did our part and added some rocks.
We also managed to have some time for a quick visit to the Northern Light before the ferry arrived and our departure from the island. This is a wonderful area overlooking the Bay of Fundy, Long Island and Grand Passage. The water was very calm at this point and it was very relaxing to enjoy this view.
There is a coastal hiking trail that stretches from the Northern Light to the Western Light. You hike around several coves, bird nesting areas and have tremendous views of the bay. It was too late in the evening for us to hike but this would be a wonderful day excursion.
The first part of this hike takes you to Seal Cove where there are, of course, lots of seals. The cove is only about 10 minutes from the Northern Light. You might have a better chance of seeing the seals at low tide. At one point you'll start to see the Western Lighthouse in the distance.
Remember that many sections of the hiking trails are on the Nature Conservancy of Canada land or private land. Most are not marked or maintained and can be wet and rocky. Also be aware of the tide schedule if you plan to venture down to the shore.
Island residents are happy to share their piece of paradise but please be mindful of their wish for privacy.
Brier Island is one of the most charming places to visit in Nova Scotia. It is a special place that can be enjoyed in the fog or sunshine, on the bay whale watching or hiking on the coast. I felt totally cut-off from the world when I was there and I loved it.
Can't wait to go back!
Do you have a great story about your visit to this magical place? Do you want to become a part of Your Nova Scotia Holiday?