Tancook Island Family Fun


Tancook Island

“That was one of the best days, ever!”

The boys cannot stop raving about our trip to Tancook Island!

Little do they remember, we actually took a family trip to the Island 4 years ago, but being so little, they didn’t remember it all. I have no doubt they will remember this trip!

The idea to go to Tancook Island was actually my father’s plan. His friend and former colleague, Kendra operates a few businesses on Tancook (more later) and convinced him to come out for the day, and he convinced us!


Tancook Island

Big Tancook Island is located approximately 6 miles off the coast of Chester, Nova Scotia. It measures approximately 4 km long and 1.6 km wide, forming roughly a “C” shape. There are about 112 people living full time on the Island. When you count the part-timers and weekend residents you can double that number.

Getting There


The Ferry to Tancook leaves from Chester.

The ferry leaves from Water Street on a predetermined schedule.


View Schedule.

You cannot take your car on the ferry, but you can take a bicycle.


There is long term parking along Water Street, or several 12 hour parking lots indicated on the map.


The cost is $7 each (children 12 and under are free) for a round-trip voyage. Cash only. (STC)

The regular ferry to Tancook is getting repaired so there is a “bus ferry” now. Climb on board the bus to sit as you make the crossing. Always an adventure in Nova Scotia!


The ferry ride takes 50 minutes, first stopping at Little Tancook Island (where you can get off, too) and then heading over to Big Tancook Island.


Getting around the Island

When we stepped off the ferry, someone was there handing out maps of the island, which were incredibly helpful! It lists all the key points of interest and the washrooms.


When we went 4 years ago, we walked around the Island, but with small children, we didn’t see much (but enjoyed what we did see!). My sister and brother-in-law did walk the Island easily this time, but we knew the kids wouldn’t be able to handle that much walking, so we brought their bikes.


Bike rentals

My dad and I rented bikes from Brass Bell Café & Bicycle Rentals. When you come off the ferry and look up the hill to the left, you can easily see where to go. Just follow the big BIKES sign.

New : The bike share is still available – RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK! Brass Bell Bicycle Rentals is not renting bikes or taking reservations until the business finds new, affordable insurance coverage! You can borrow bikes for a donation. 


Dad’s friends Kendra and Patrick greeted us at the bike rental and gave us some great advice of where we should go during the day.


The bikes are very high quality, and I loved the baskets on the front! They do have bike helmets, but we brought our own from home.

Biking around the Island, was by far the best way to discover the Island.



Exploring the Island

Our first stop was a picnic in the park above the docks.


Luckily, it came with its very own stocks to help control unruly children!


We started our journey by biking down to the North end of the Island to get a view of Little Tancook Island.


This goes by Norma’s Treasure Chest shop, one of the gift shops on the Island, full of some new and previously loved items.

From the North End, we headed back to the centre of the Island and stopped to meet one of the Island’s favourite characters: Ruby at the Sea Myst Gift Shop!


Ruby is a 3-year old pig (with painted toenails) who stays at the Sea Myst Gift Shop on the waterfront. Stop to feed Ruby, take a moment to sit on the dock, and check out the amazing jewellery and clothes in the shop!


The road to the left leads to the elementary school and its small playground. There is also a tourist centre and a shelter in case it rains!

We headed straight up the hill to the opposite side of the Island. This took us 10-15 minutes to get to the other side by bikes (or 30mins by walking).

Be sure to stop at the Wishing Stones Gallery & Museum. They have wonderful art and a great collection of old-fashioned artifacts.


The owners are so friendly and great to stop and talk to!


The Southeast Cove is the swimming spot on the Island.


The cove is very shallow and sandy, making it warm and safe to swim.


Some of the Island children left their boats for the boys to play with.


Thomas and I scoured the beach and ended up with fistfuls of seaglass!


No visit to the Island is complete without stopping at Caroyln’s Restaurant for an ice cream. Be wary, there are lots of rules in here, and you are left wondering why the owner has decided to work with the public, but it’s all part of the experience!



What the Kids Say

The Island is bigger than you think it would be.

You should bring your bikes. You could walk it if you really like walking, but biking is more fun. Especially going down the hills!

I really liked Ruby the pig, because she was the only domestic pig I have ever seen! I even got a job exercising the pig!

I liked getting icecream and going to the beach. I liked kayaking on the beach.


Further information on accommodations, points of interest, places to eat and shop, and information about the Island can be found on the Tancook website.

Tancook Island is definitely Family Fun and a place you should add to your bucket list!




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5 replies
  1. shelley
    shelley says:

    I am curious – love the article, it’s a big help – can one ‘hop’ from Little Tancook to Big Tancook on your return fare? How long can you visit Little Tancook before having to head out to Big Tancook and then return to the Mainland? Love the photos and the information! Thanks again.

    • ValleyFamilyFun
      ValleyFamilyFun says:

      Great question!! I don’t want to definitively tell you and give you the wrong information. But, from what I can remember, the ferry stops at Little Tancook and THEN at Big Tancook and then back to the mainland. So, if you got off at the little island, checked the ferry schedule and caught it to the big island, you would probably be ok.
      I’m not sure how many touristy things there are on the little island though. Check the ferry schedules, for sure, though! I’ve never been to Little island. Just the big.
      It’s an awesome place to visit!!

      • Shelley
        Shelley says:

        Thank you Laura! Will do 🙂 My girl (21) discovers Sea glass and her Man is a Geology seeker so I am trying to include everyone’s interests while planning a coastal exploration of NS.


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