Cape Forchu Beaches

Nova Scotia, Canada

Starfish Rating of 3.5

Claim to Fame

The Cape Forchu Light Station went into operation in 1840 and is a famous landmark; the area is littered with shipwrecks.

(click image to enlarge)
image courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism
  • Where are they? at the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) from the seaport town of Yarmouth, near the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Fundy
  • Coordinates: latitude» 43.8067°
    longitude» -66.1583°
  • Water Type: saltwater
  • Climate: temperate maritime
  • Development: developed areas; cottages and permanent homes
  • Length of Beach: varies, multiple beaches
  • Type: black rocks (Cape Forchu Beach), mixed pebbles (False Harbour Beach) and beige sand (John's Cove Beach)
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Cape Forchu is an island, linked tightly (by a causeway) to the Nova Scotia mainland, and very close to the town of Yarmouth, which has been a seaport for centuries. The causeway that connects the mainland to the island is a two-lane paved road, with sandy shoulders and a giant concrete wall on the north side; at times, despite its height, waves come crashing over it and the road is impassable. Residents of "The Cape", as it is lovingly known, ensure they have provisions at all times in case of such an event.

This area is widely known for its lobster fisheries (you can buy a lobster right out of the boat!) and rugged coastline. Yarmouth and Cape Forchu are one of the foggiest places in Canada, but also have a very mild temperate climate. Samuel de Champlain, who explored this part of the world in 1604-1608, approximately, named the area; the French translation is "forked tongue of land", and indeed, The Cape is split into two forks. There is a Cape Split elsewhere in Nova Scotia (Annapolis Valley), so this name suits the region well.

Cape Forchu's harbor area may be small, but it represents a large portion of the Nova Scotia lobster catch. With a total population of about 80 people, many of those fishermen and the rest mostly cottagers, this is a quiet, very serene place with a distinctly ethereal feel, especially when the fog lingers. From almost anywhere on The Cape, which sits on a high rocky terrain, one can look across the water and see the town of Yarmouth's harbor area and the boats coming and going, or look out toward the ocean and thrill to breathtaking sunsets.

Cape Forchu, like its neighbor, Yarmouth, has been a seaport, fishing harbor, water transportation hub, trade center and lighthouse base since the 17th century. Many of these business activities have carried on for 400 years without interruption, although technology has shifted the way some of it is done.

The Cape Forchu Light Station was put in place to guard the narrows as ships made their way into the larger harbor at Yarmouth. Due to the presence of so many rocks and boulders, the natural harbor was dangerous. Visitors to the area still enjoy the pleasures of visiting shipwrecks, some of them very old. The Yarmouth County Museum, in the town of Yarmouth proper, preserves the history of these wrecks, including parts of some of them, and logbooks with registry of captain's names and other fascinating details.

The Light Station sits high on a rocky outcrop, the north side of which is a nearly sheer slope down to the ocean. A number pf people have lost their lives here, slipping down the fašade into the churning waters and warnings are posted everywhere. The Light Station is now also a museum and tea room, with places on the grounds for picnicking and perches to enjoy the view of the constant movement of the ocean. The 2-million candlepower beam can be seen 30 nautical miles away.

There are three interesting (not tropical sand and surf, but places to explore and meditate in synch with the sea and the tides) beaches in Cape Forchu, all of which we have visited and are enchanted by. Each is distinct from the other. Let's tour the beaches of Cape Forchu:

Cape Forchu Light Station Beach

A walker's beach, starkly black, like a moonscape from a futuristic movie, this beach sits in the shadow of a formidable, venerable lighthouse complex.

False Harbour Beach

The gateway to an ocean, the view feels eternal and the moodiness of the waves give it a mysterious sensibility.

John's Cove Beach

One of Nova Scotia's smallest, most personable beaches, this is also one of its best-kept sandy secrets for you to enjoy.

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