The scenic drive from Digby to Brier Island, Nova Scotia offers incredible, lush summer views. Its dark trees are slightly reminiscent of the thick fairy-tale forests of Bavaria in Germany, which may explain in part why this part of Nova Scotia is so popular with German and other European tourists. Even for locals, it is breathtaking, especially on a sunny day.
Roughly halfway along the route is Whale Cove Campground: a long-established private campground with a new owner, Tina Frost. Tina and her family have developed some amazing services, including a rent-a-tent service where for only $46, families are greeted with an expertly erected tent, complete with mattresses, bedding, plastic tableware, a camp stove, portable fire pit (more about this later) and fold-up chairs. If the campground isn’t too busy that day, the beds may even be inflated and made for you. All you have to bring is food.
This isn’t Glamping, in the glamorous sense. The tent and camping supplies are just like the stuff you have at home: simple, durable stuff from Sears, Canadian Tire and the Dollar Store. Since their purchase of 10 tents last summer, Tina says that they have seen so many different kinds of campers: from a family who wanted to try camping for the first time, to a couple who soaked all their own tent during a rainstorm and needed a dry place to spend the night…to an entire baseball team who rented every single tent!
And what food should you bring? Well, I recommend some butter, a few soft rolls and a tub of coleslaw. That’s because if you stay at Whale Cove, you’ll probably be having fresh lobster for supper, straight off the boat, at campground prices. That’s right- fresh lobster! Tina’s husband is a Lobster Fisherman, and so Tina has a special little lobster pound in a room next to the campground office, complete with a tank and weighing scales. The best part is, with the purchase of your lobster, Tina will lend you the pot to cook it in, plus utensils, bibs, and even a handy placemat showing you how to eat Lobster. If you are a first-timer, Tina or her daughter Tamara (who spends the winter season as a First Mate on a Lobster boat) will talk you through it. Yup, this family knows lobster!
Wondering where to cook live lobster? You can do it on a Whale Cove Portable Fire Pit! A creation of the former campground owner, it is simply a washing machine drum bolted to the bottom of an old lawnmower… and it is totally genius. We steamed our lobster in a pot over a wood fire, and it was delicious, as were the s’mores we cooked on it afterwards. There are many advantages to having a portable fire pit, but Tina’s explanation is the best: “If you make friends, and want to visit their campsite, then you can take your fire with you”!
There are many other delights at Whale Cove including a small indoor social room with free tea and coffee, gorgeous new family bathrooms (you will forget you are camping!), a dog-sitting service, a babysitting service, a super little playground, and even a small museum!
And finally, if you are lucky, you may get to meet the neighbours: Stanley Stanton and his pet deer, Buttons…who thinks he is a dog! Stanley rescued Buttons from a sticky end (he had lost his mother and was being dragged across the road by a predator) about 5 years ago, and with the unique permission support of the Hope for Wildlife Society, brought the deer up as his own pet.
Buttons now travels everywhere with Stanley in the back of his minivan, and loves visiting campers at Whale Cove. Tina and her family even keep a pack of Twizzlers in the office for Buttons; red liquorice is his favourite. Recently, Stanley got a real dog, Molly, to keep Buttons company, and the three of them travel around like three little peas in a pod, and they are just as friendly as can be.
So, if you want a really easy camping experience, complete with some warm, wonderful, delicious and slightly quirky Maritime hospitality, stay at Whale Cove Campground in Digby Neck, Nova Scotia. You will hardly have to pack a thing, and it will be an experience you’ll never forget!
Whale Cove Campground Details:
Location: 50 Whale Cove Rd, Digby Neck, NS B0V 1E0
Phone: (902) 834-2025
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based writer.
She and her family were guests of Whale Cove Campground, Digby Neck, Nova Scotia.