If you're on a budget a good inexpensive way to see the Halifax waterfront by sea is to take the ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth.
The Halifax/Dartmouth ferry departs every 15 or 30 minutes from each side of the harbour on weekdays and half-hourly on Saturdays and holidays. Half-hourly Sunday service (Dartmouth service only) noon to 6pm, June to September. MetroInfo: 490-6600.
The Halifax ferry terminal is located at the foot of George Street. The Dartmouth ferry terminal is on Alderney Drive at the foot of Queen Street.
Believe it or not, in 2002, the Halifax Harbour ferry service celebrated its 250th anniversary!! It is therefore the oldest passenger ferry service in North America. In fact, when it first started connecting Halifax to Dartmouth, the original ferry vessel used was a large rowboat with a sail. Of course, things have changed now with the Dartmouth III, Halifax III and Woodside I ferries, but the short ride across the Halifax Harbour is just as pleasant as it used to be. A one-way ticket costs only $2 and will allow you to enjoy a great view of downtown Halifax. Don't forget to bring your camera!
The Harbor area of Halifax is its life and breath. It was and still is very much a port city, with commuters using ferries to get to neighboring Dartmouth. It is a colorful and lively tourist attraction as well and though Hurricane Juan wreaked havoc on it, the place was just packed with people the day after trying to see all the damage that was done. It was a real gathering point and it was fun to see how the people banded together and probably were more friendly than they normally might be.
One of the highlights of a trip to Halifax must be to stroll along the waterfront boardwalk and enjoy the beautiful city, harbour, ships and the fine cooling weather. The boardwalk stretches from the casino area all the way to Pier 21, and there are several attractions, historical ships, information centre, food outlets etc conveniently located here. Parking is no problem as the carpark here is huge. To see for yourself, please have a look at the photographs here as well as the travelogue section of this VT page.
The Harbour Hopper is a vehicle that can drive and sail. The tour will take you along the major downtown sights and along the attractions at the Waterfront. There is a big Public Address system onboard with a guide. Lately there are some complains from the locals that some stories you hear are either made up or made more colourful. Nevermind, kids will enjoy this tour.
Tour operates from May through October.
If you are looking for a tour of Halifax and do not have a guide I have heard that the Harbour Hopper is probably your best bet. They operate an retired military vehicle that is amphibious (goes in water and on land). From what I witnessed the tour looks quite impressive. They give you a tour of the downtown and then go into the harbour to give you a view from the water. Did I mention that you can hear them from 2 blocks away! I believe the price is 20 dollars for a one hour tour!
The Harbour Hopper tour provides you with one of the best down-town Halifax tours available. You get to ride in this massive "Lark V" amphibious vehicle originally built for the US military.
It takes you all through the down-town area, where a very good tour guide lays more trivia and neat facts on you than you'll ever remember. Then, it drives into the Harbour, where you get a quick water-based tour of the Historic Properties and a little history lesson on the Halifax Harbour.
This is well worth the money, and it's definitely the best guided tour available in town.
The cost is about $23 for an adult.
This was a pleasant surprise for me on my latest trip to Halifax. A number of tall ships (not the tallest in the world, but cool none-the-less) have begun routinely visiting Halifax during the summer. There are a couple that even call Halifax home.
This picture shows the "Pride of Baltimore", the "Blue Nose II", and several others that I did not see the names of. You can arrange rides and harbour tours aboard all of these ships, but I'm afraid I did not see the prices, so I can't tell you how much.
As I say on my opening page, it all starts down at the harbor. This is where you'll go to find all sorts of restaurants, shops, harbor cruises and such. Street performers, buskers, all of that hustle and bustle that we enjoy about big cities.
And if you'd prefer a little bit quieter time with the waterfront, I'd suggest just getting there a bit early. Things don't really get cranked up down here until 1030 or 1100 am. So, if you go walking at 900 am or so, you'll kind of have it to yourself. :)
There is a city car park a block or two away from Lower Water Street, drive away from the area on Duke Street. I think it's at the corner of Duke and Greenville (parallel to Lower Water Street, two blocks away from the harbor)
Go on a sternwheeler type boat cruise on the Halifax Harbour. The Harbour Queen sails several times a day including an evening cruise. They have 3 hour Friday and Saturday night "party" cruises where there is live music. The boat is sheltered from the sun on the outside upper deck and has an inside heated seating area and bar as well.
They do a dinner cruise as well. You can also privately charter the boat.
Great views of Halifax Harbour and worth a trip! Tickets available at Murphy's on the Waterfront. Various prices, see website.
Another interesting activity down at the harbor involves boat-spotting. You'll find everything from giant cruise ships to tiny tugboats coming and going. I personally prefer the sailing ships, like the one I use as my main photo down below.
There are several harbor cruises, both by daylight and at dusk. Ask around and get out on the water if it suits you. Who knows, if you go down to the harbor early enough, you might manage to talk yourself onto a boat for free. A lot of these ARE private vessels. Haligonians are pretty friendly folks.
My favourite tour of the Halifax Harbour took place aboard the Mar II. If sailing is what you like to do, the Mar II is available for various Halifax Harbour cruises including pirate, cocktail and moonlight cruises.
A tour of Halifax Harbour can also be done aboard the Harbour Queen I, a Mississippi style riverboat. You can take a 2 hour history of Halifax cruise that shows points of interest around the city, a 2 hour evening dinner cruise or a 3 hour party cruise.
Kids will probably appreciate a spin on the tugboat Theodore Too that lives in Halifax Harbour. The tugboat was built in Nova Scotia, based on the storybook character Theodore Tugboat. I couldn't wait for this tugboat to be built because we were very familiar with the storybooks based on the Halifax Harbour.
The Harbour Hopper is a silly looking green amphibious vehicle that does a combination land tour and harbour tour.
The Harbour Hopper Tour is a great way to take a trip around halifax to pass various sights including Citadel Hill, The Public Gardens and Government House followed by a trip around the harbour all in the same vehicle. The tour guide gives a running commentary full of information about Halifax's history and details of landmarks along the way.
The Harbour Hoppers are refitted Lark V amphibious vehicles capable of traveling on land and water so after touring the town it's into the water for a short cruise around the harbour.
Ticket office is right on the waterfront just near Cable Wharf.
Check out the web site for more details.
Well worth doing.
Halifax is a port city and the downtown is directly located on the harbour. During the summer months, the harbour area is flooded with tourist and for good reason as there are lots of things to see including Pier 21, Titanic artefacts, the Bluenose 2 and much more....Including million dollar Yachts.
The Bay of Fundy is a a prime spot to go whale watching. The Whales come between April and September to do most of their feeding for the year. The reason this is such an ideal place is that the unusual tides and currents in the Bay of Fundy bring much of the nutrient rich ocean sediment up to the surface. This in turn fuels the food cycle (nutrients-->phytoplankton-->microrganisms-->small sea life-->small fish-->larger fish and whales).