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I am a big fun of a partially submerged tour! Particularly those duck related ones where they ask everyone to quack. Everyone needs a good quack every now and then! The amphibious tour in Halifax Nova Scotia is called the Harbour Hopper and is Atlantic Canada’s number one tour. It is well worth doing and good value for money. Here’s how it all works.
How to get to Halifax and how to get around
Halifax is an international airport and the main airport for Atlantic Canada. It contains pre-clearance for US customs which is super helpful.
You won’t need a car within Halifax itself as most of the key things to do are within walking distance. However, if you want to go beyond Halifax (which you totally should as there are loads of fab day trips) either look at a tour (see below) or hire a car.
Boutique Hotels in Halifax
Halifax is a little light on the ground when it comes to the full-on boutique hotel movement. But that’s ok as my gosh it is a town with a lot to offer in terms of food, wine, views and things to do. And there are quite a few very nice hotels with good thread counts available!
I stayed at the Delta Halifax (thanks for sponsoring my stay guys!). I had a lovely stay. The staff are super friendly and the location is great. And the food!!! I must confess I was a little snobby going in when it came to the food and boy did I get it wrong! I had a fantastic seafood dinner there (and thanks to George for the introduction to Digby scallops!) and they have a great local wine list. The breakfast is also sensational – a choice of a la carte or a fantastic buffet breakfast menu.
If you really want another option then you will be looking at B and Bs – here are a few that sounded decent:
Planning your Harbour Hopper Tour
The place to buy tickets (or pick them up) is the brightly coloured Harbour Hopper office on the Halifax Harbour. The Harbour Hopper departs and finishes just behind the Amos Pewter store in the carpark.
This is a popular tour so you are best to book it ahead of your visit.
Do bring an extra layer of clothing as it can get cool on the water.
Tour dates and times
The tour runs from late May to the end of October. Depending on the time of year there can be anywhere from 6 to 20+ cruises per day. The most cruises are during the peak season of June-August and on the weekends.
The tours tend to leave on the 15 minute marks of the hour eg 00, 15, 30, 45
The tour lasts for 55 minutes.
The Harbour Hopper Tour
The tour starts on firm ground in the car park behind the waterfront office. It covers the streets of Halifax before it heads into the harbour. The route covers the Citadel Hill National National Historic Site (I have no idea how it actually managed to make it up and down this tight hill!), the Victorian Public Gardens, St Pauls Church and Halifax’s main drag Spring Garden Road.
It then heads downtown and into Halifax Harbour. The boat heads past George’s Island Lighthouse, the Halifax Harbour Boardwalk, the stone buildings of Historic Properties and much more.
One of the highlights (although that is probably not the right word) of the tour for me was learning about the 1912 explosion in Halifax Harbour. This is still the biggest non-nuclear man-made explosion in history. I had never heard of it prior to visiting Halifax. It occurred in December of 1917. A Norweigan vessel collided with a French ship in the harbour and the cargo of the French ship was ignited.
Unfortunately, the explosion happened after impact. Many residents had made their way to the harbour after hearing the noise of the collision. More than 2000 people were killed in the explosion. Many more suffered from terrible injuries – particularly to their eyes as people were watching the port when the explosion happened. A terrible tragedy.
The guide will also take you through the history of the harbour and its role in World War 2.
The tour then heads into the water. You will head along the waterfront (well not quite along as you’ll be in the middle of the harbour but you get what I mean). This is where you are likely to get your best photos – particularly of the stunning Macdonald Bridge that leads into Halifax. This is also the best angle for photos of the historic buildings along the waterfront.
The tour will take you past the key sites including the Maritime Museum (which I highly recommend).
The Harbour Hopper leaves the harbour the same way it came in and then returns to the car park where you began the tour.
Our guide was brilliant. He was very knowledgeable which you would expect but also rather amusing which is always appreciated!
Other Halifax Tours You Might Like
There are loads of great things to do around Halifax. Why not take a Segway Tour of the Harbour? TheAnnapolis Valley is absolutely stunning and can be visited as a day tour from Halifax. And don’t miss seeing Canada’s iconic Peggy’s Cove and lighthouse.
Lunenburg is a must not miss and you can combine it with lovely Mahone Bay in one day trip from Halifax.
Things to do around the Harbour Hopper Tour
The pickup and drop off points for the Harbour Hopper Tour are virtually half way along the Halifax waterfront. This means you are extremely close to some of the best activities to do in Halifax.
I enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the Bicycle Thief restaurant after my tour. It is located on the waterfront. They, of course, specialize in seafood. I had an amazing seafood pasta.
The Maritime Museum of Halifax is also only a short walk. This museum is full of fascinating remanents from the Titanic including an actual deck chair. I certainly didn’t know until I visited Halifax that it was the biggest port close to where the Titanic sank. The bodies of those who didn’t survive were brought to Halifax for identification.
Seaport Farmers Market, North America’s oldest farmer’s market is also only a 5-minute walk away. The market is open every day but the biggest days in terms of stall holders and visitors are on the weekend. It is a brilliant market and I highly recommend you visit. Read my post on Halifax Farmers Market for everything you need to know.