If Rissers Beach is my favourite swimming spot, Crescent Beach is my favourite running spot. Although Crescent Beach is a beautiful place I’ve never come here to swim, always passing it by for Rissers, its more amenable neighbour beach with the ice cream, real washrooms, changing facilities, and picnic tables.
It wasn’t until I took up running that I began to truly appreciate Crescent Beach.
This 2-kilometre-long stretch on Nova Scotia’s gorgeous South Shore is a runner’s dream at low tide, with plenty of hard-packed sand to run on and (in my experience) relatively few people. The beach is a bit too far from Halifax to attract many of the city dwellers, and anyone who camps is at Rissers Beach Provincial Park. What I see here are local people, many with dogs or just out for a walk.
If you’re running more than 4k, there’s a short sand access road at the far end of the beach that connects with the main road, and you can take this up through some of the LaHave Islands. It’s a beautiful area with views of working harbours and fishermen’s homes piled high with lobster traps.
Although the road completely lacks shoulders, if you run without headphones and stay alert, you’re safe here because there’s relatively little traffic. The few locals who do drive by always give me the east coast neighbour wave (a lifting of the fingers without taking the hand off the steering wheel) as they go by. Many seem somewhat bemused, which I suppose makes sense. After all, if you spend your days fishing on the ocean – a physically demanding job if ever I’ve seen one – I can’t imagine running is high on your list of leisure activities.
At times, the bugs can be bad here, which makes the post-run stretch a bit tricky. Mostly, though, the ocean breeze keeps them at bay.
And that’s why I love running here so much. The ocean breeze invigorates while the waves, beach, and tour through the islands keep me distracted. The smell of the ocean – sand, salt, and seaweed – gets into your hair and your shoes and your sinuses and there’s no better smell on earth.
Invariably, I get a PR when I run here, but more importantly, I finish my run in a fantastic mood.
There’s just something magical about Crescent Beach.
Crescent Beach is on Route 331, just before Rissers Beach Provincial Park if you’re coming from Halifax. It’s on the eponymous Crescent Beach Road, which makes finding it on your Google Maps app delightfully easy. Park right at the entrance to the road so you can run the whole beach.
Insider tips for runners heading to Crescent Beach:
- Change before you go – no changing rooms here.
- Don’t mix it up with “Crystal Crescent Beach” (which is near Halifax)!
- If you’re looking for a post-run snack, either the LaHave Bakery (on the Halifax side of Crescent Beach) or the Best Coast Coffee Gallery (further down the South Shore) are good bets, and your sweaty post-run grossness won’t seem too out of place as there are lots of cyclists stopping in to both cafes.
- If you need shower and changing facilities, pop into Rissers Beach, just a couple of minutes up the road. Parking and admission are both free there and they have real showers.
- Bring your iPhone, because you’re going to want a photo of this beautiful beach!
Have you been to Crescent Beach? What did you think? I’d love to hear about it – share your experience in the comments!Google+