Hawaii and California may get more attention, but the Nova Scotian capital has waves that will surprise - and challenge - even experienced surfers. From beach breaks to point breaks, here's an insider's guide to the best spots within half an hour of downtown, and where to kick back after a day in the surf.
BY DAY: HARTLEN POINT The nearest wave to the city, Hartlen Point is a picturesque cobblestone beach outside of Halifax Harbour's eastern edge. This fickle wave is not for beginners or the faint of heart. Unfortunately, the quickest access route involves trespassing over military property, so law-abiding surfers should park before the golf course and take the slow route along the shore.
BY NIGHT: OBLADEE WINE BAR 1600 Barrington St. Obladee is a much-needed touch of sophistication leading Halifax's downtown revival. Great atmosphere and a long wine list make it a must-see après-surf spot.
BY DAY: COW BAY Halifax's home for wave variety, with at least five point breaks that peel both left and right. Beginners should head to a wave called the Moose, aptly named after the massive animal standing in the parking lot. Cruise down Cow Bay Road: If you pass a moose statue, you've gone too far.
BY NIGHT: TOM'S LITTLE HAVANA CAFE 5428 Doyle St. Tucked away on a back street downtown, Tom's is a great low-key locals' spot to quench your thirst with friends. It's a cozy space with soft, relaxed lighting - just what you need after a day of pounding surf.
BY DAY: LAWRENCETOWN The East Coast surf hot spot, Lawrencetown is a beautiful sandy beach 25 minutes from downtown. Hook up with local pro Nico Manos, who runs the East Coast Quiksilver Surf School, for lessons and rentals.
BY NIGHT: BROOKLYN WAREHOUSE 2795 Windsor St. Fine dining and drinks in a relaxed, casual atmosphere in the city's edgy North End. Brooklyn uses many locally sourced ingredients and its Caesar is a perennial award winner.
BY DAY: SEAFORTH This spot is home to a racy right-hand point break. It's for experienced surfers only: When Seaforth is firing, it attracts a crew of skilled surfers who don't take kindly to rookies choking their valuable aquatic real estate.
BY NIGHT: ROGUE'S ROOST BREW PUB 5435 Spring Garden Rd. Head to this microbrewery after the novelty of drinking Keith's in Nova Scotia wears off. Rogue's has a proper India pale ale, as well as several other tasty brews and good food.
BY DAY: MARTINIQUE In between Halifax's main surf breaks, there are dozens of lesser-known waves. But you'll have to put in some time to earn an invite from the locals. In the meantime, pack a lunch and head out to Martinique, a classic East Coast beach break. Sprawling white sand lined with small, grassy dunes - it's a world away from downtown Halifax that's only 45 minutes away.
BY NIGHT: THE LOWER DECK 1869 Upper Water St. Rowdy crowds, thumping Celtic music, worn-in wooden floors and a permanent faint smell of beer: The Lower Deck is a quintessential Maritime cliché.
Special to The Globe and Mail