Canadian Travelogue - Nova Scotia - Peggy's Cove

Canadian Travelogue – Nova Scotia – Peggy’s Cove


No location in Canada’s Ocean Playground is more quintessentially Nova Scotian than Peggy’s Cove. It’s all there: a lighthouse, pounding surf on large granite outcroppings and a tranquil working fishing community. And it’s only 50 kilometres from Halifax, the largest city in Atlantic Canada.

By The.Rohit

Early spring is a great time to photograph one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, should you want images without people in the picture

The only land route to Peggy’s Cove is Highway 333, starting at Armdale, and then routes along to coast and eventually joins Highway 103 at Upper Tantallon to the west. You then turn right onto Highway 103 and drive east back to the western reaches of Halifax at Bayers Lake. The coastal drive from Armdale to Peggy’s Cove along Route 333 is by far the most scenic and interesting, offering may little side trips to the not too distant shoreline and coastal communities.  You will have no difficulty locating Peggy’s Cove itself: it’s one of the top tourist destinations in all of Canada, so road signage is abundant.

Photographers who desire images of the lighthouse without people milling about will have their patience taxed to the limit. The task will be almost impossible in the peak tourist season of July and August, and just plain difficult at any other time of the year … except maybe the coldest days of winter. I find April is a good time as most of the snow will have melted and it is still too early for people to be thinking about visiting this Atlantic sentinel. Additionally, what little foliage there is will still be brown and this is typically a good month for storm clouds that create interesting and supportive notions of why a lighthouse is there in the first place.

The best approach to photograph the village and the lighthouse is to arrive in early morning and “play tourist,” making pictures as you meander around the harbour. You can easily spend several hours just following your nose, and there is a large restaurant on site for that moment when the light gets too harsh. Make sure to re-visit in the evening –after a noon-day nap, of course—and leave yourself lots of time to find the perfect location to get the classic lighthouse-against-the-sunset photograph.  Should you stake out a vantage point on the south side of the lighthouse there is a better chance you will be able to eliminate people from the image with creative camera positioning and sight angles. From a low elevation the camera’s line of sight will be just over the heads of the tourists who sit on the rocks enjoying the last rays of the day.  The other classic view is from the water’s edge just to the north of the little cove in front of the lighthouse itself, immediately below the restaurant. Be aware, from here you will almost be guaranteed there will be people in your picture.

By Francisco Diez

By staying to the south of the light, it is possible to keep the camera low and avoid people from creeping into the frame. Challenge yourself to look for creative images as well as portraits of the light.

When travelling along the shoreline anywhere in Atlantic Canada, but especially so in Peggy’s Cove, be astutely aware of your surroundings, rogue waves are common and have called unwary visitors to the depths to dwell with King Neptune. So, please, be careful and mindful of the signage; if those rocks are black or wet you are too close to the water’s edge. The Atlantic Ocean is huge and powerful, and its combers deserve, and demand, your respect.

Now get out there and enjoy one of the most photogenic places in all of Nova Scotia, and Canada. You won’t be disappointed.

Image by Darlene Hildebrandt

Image by Darlene Hildebrandt

**Editor’s note: the original images in this article have been replaced at the author’s request.

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Dale Wilson is a freelance photographer based out of Halifax, Canada. He has been a regular staff writer for a variety of Canadian photo magazines for 18 years. Wilson has also published or co-published four books and was the photo-editor on the Canadian best selling Canada’s National Parks – A Celebration. His practice concentrates on commercial work and shooting natural history images for four stock agencies. After a 10 year hiatus Wilson will once again be offering eastern Canadian workshops with his teaching partner Garry Black.'

Some Older Comments

  • Phil Lance August 16, 2013 01:58 am

    I visited Peggy's Cove last October, and although it was quite chilly, there were bus loads from our cruise ship that joined us. Thank goodness for the clone tool in ps elements. Presto- tourists and railing gone. This was just a great spot.

  • ELLY August 15, 2013 03:58 am

    just returned from there on Monday took some beautiful pictures of Peggy's Cove .

  • Roberto August 14, 2013 02:26 am

    I took these a bunch of years ago with a point and shoot, but I think they can give you an idea what the rest of the village looks like:

  • Isaak Boekorsjom August 10, 2013 01:12 pm

    I love it, its calm and dynamic atmosphere, beatifull. I wish one day I'll go there.

  • Douglas Larson August 9, 2013 09:30 am

    While both of the shots in this article about Peggy's Cove are beautiful, I wish Mr. Wilson had included at least one shot of the fishing village harbor and surrounding area. I have been to Peggy's Cove once, and the harbor/fishing village is beyond breathtaking.

  • Tami R August 9, 2013 09:01 am

    I am headed there this weekend!!! We are taking a cruise from NYC to Halifax. Hope I can get some good shots.

  • Shaine August 9, 2013 04:17 am

    And if there are too many people in the way; go walk around town - there are great places to snap the other maritime photos everyone likes... dorries, lobster traps, fishing snacks on post piers... its a great place to fill you're card/film

  • Cheryl Garrity August 9, 2013 03:02 am

    I am going there in early October for the first time. I will be with a group and not have control of my arrival/departure time so I guess I will have to accept what I get in the way of photo opportunities. It looks like a beautiful place!!! Maybe the tourist will make for a souvenir rather than a lovely landscape.

    Thanks for the suggestions of where to place my camera to prehaps avoid the people.

  • Sandy August 9, 2013 01:30 am

    Loved seeing this article as we will be in Peggy's Cove the first week of October. Hopefully I can get some images half as good as these!!

  • Gin August 9, 2013 01:18 am

    I was lucky enough to visit this place and photograph Peggy's Cove last year. I had no idea it was such a popular destination at the time. I was just happy to photographing everything in NOVA SCOTIA. I encourage everyone to go! the people are wonderful and the sights are breathtaking. Remember the camera and tripod!

  • Lewis August 8, 2013 07:11 pm

    Great work Dale, very atmospheric!

  • stacie August 8, 2013 03:53 am

    wow these are beautiful - i'd love to travel to canada one day to shoot! :)

  • Mridula August 7, 2013 06:21 pm

    Photographing anything in India without people is such a challenge :D