Contributor Review – Victoria S
Local Expert. Visited 2023
Crystal Crescent Beach is absolutely gorgeous! The water’s crystal clear blue colours are breathtaking to gaze at but don’t be deceived – the water temperatures are anything but Caribbean. Most of the year the water is quite cold! Only the brave go swimming, even on a sunny summer’s day. Crystal Crescent has multiple beaches, the first being family-oriented, the second with a younger vibe, and the third (the naturist beach) being a mix of couples and older folks. It’s pretty laid back and feels safe for all. From October to June, the sunshine is longer as this is the North Atlantic Ocean. Year-round, fog can randomly roll in, which is pretty cool to see but will quickly cover the sun and make it chilly!
It’s about a 15-minute walk to the naturist beach from the parking lot though there is a man-made trail, making it reasonably easy. The walk is mostly flat. There aren’t any vendors on the beach, so make sure to bring food and drink. The nude beach (southern cove) is about 120 metres long and separated from the other two beaches by an easy 1 km stroll over a marshy headland. This cove is where nudists congregate and is by far the most popular nude beach in the Maritimes. This section of the beach also happens to be right in the middle of a rock-climbing area, so you might see the odd climber during your visit.
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During high season you can rent a paddle board at the first beach’s main entrance (right by the first parking lot) and walk with it down to the naturist beach, but the water is quite wavy, and since the water temperature is so cold — it’s not worth the risk of falling in, in our opinion!
Crystal Crescent is one of the very few naturist beaches in Nova Scotia. Make sure to keep your clothes on until you reach the naturist beach, and cover up when you leave — it’s definitely still taboo in this community unless you’re in the designated spaces. Canadian nude beaches are generally very relaxed and easygoing, this place is no exception.
Crystal Crescent is a beautiful beach that is part of a hiking trail, but the naturist beach itself is in an enclave and cove and feels very private overall. During peak season, all the beaches are pretty busy, particularly the clothing-mandatory beach by the first entrance, with the naturist beach being a bit quieter.
It’s a trek to get to Crystal Crescent, so ensure you’re equipped with snacks, water/drinks, and sunscreen! Drinking is technically illegal on beaches in Nova Scotia, but it’s rarely enforced and usually not a problem — just be discreet!
If you’re coming from Halifax, bring your own food and drinks because there’s only a small general store in Sambro.
Maritime hospitality is real and alive; you may end up chatting with some friendly (and not creepy) locals! Enjoy it. Also, be aware that cell service is spotty, depending on your carrier, so anticipate not having any, just in case. Unfortunately the beach is not wheelchair accessible. It might be difficult to find shade on the beach because the trees in Nova Scotia are generally small, so if you’re prone to getting sunburned, bring a sun umbrella..
Questions? Comments? Add your thoughts or photos below!
You’ll need to arrive at Crystal Crescent beach by car. It’s about a 25 minute drive from downtown Halifax through the pretty, straightforward tree-laden Old Sambro Road. You can also take a bus closer to the beach but will need to grab a taxi for the rest of the way, which will cost about $50 or more, and cell service is spotty — we wouldn’t recommend it. When driving, turn off into Crystal Crescent Beach Road and follow the signs; drive past the first parking lot and go to the second one for closer access. You’ll turn left onto a gravel road until you reach the beach.
There’s a large free parking lot by the beach entrance and an outhouse at the beginning of the trail. Follow the path and walk for about 15 minutes to the naturist beach. Bring comfortable shoes for the walk. While the trail is man-made, it rotates between a dirt or gravel road and a wooden boardwalk.
Mishoo's in Sambro is the closest spot to pickup lunch on the way to the beach and it is fantastic!
We tried the fish n' chips and a world famous 'flaming donair' - both are sensational.
There aren't really any accommodation options close to the beach, which kinda adds to the appeal of the remoteness.
You could try car or wilderness camping nearby but it is definitely not allowed anywhere near Crystal Crescent Beach.