Boating Atlantic 2022

Halifax Harbour


Halifax Harbour, Photo by Julie Dunphy

Please note that docking may not be available due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please check with for up to date information.

Halifax Harbour, a large natural harbour on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, consists of the main harbour, the Narrows, the Bedford Basin, and the Northwest Arm. The entrance to the harbour has McNabs Island on the eastern side and Herring Cove on the western side. It is a very busy harbour with a Canadian Navy Base, Irving Shipbuilding, commercial wharves for shipping, fishing boats, cruise ships, tour boats, yacht clubs, as well as public marina docks offering facilities for the local boating community and visitors. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the waterfront provides information about the significance of the Halifax Harbour as well as a link to the many ships and recreational boats that have frequented the harbour. The Halifax Municipality connects alifax and Dartmouth with two bridges, the Macdonald and the A. Murray MacKay, across the harbour. Halifax Transit also runs a ferry service. Recreational boating is popular from May to October and the Halifax Waterfront Marina offers multiple berthing locations, providing more than 457 metres (1,500 feet) of floating docks for recreational boats along the downtown boardwalk. Historic McNabs Island, which has nature trails through the provincial park on the island, is also accessible for boaters by means of a floating dock on the west side. Day berths along the Halifax waterfront are free of charge for boats with registered berthing pass. Call 902-229-2628 to obtain a pass. Information about berth locations and how to book a berth can be found at or email The Halifax Waterfront Marina welcomes visitors from around the world, including cruisers, superyachts and Tall Ships. Their presence in the harbour adds to the bustling spectacle that is the Halifax waterfront.


Large vessels entering Halifax Harbour are subject to compulsory pilotage, with harbour pilots boarding at the pilot station off Chebucto Head. Recreational boaters should check the Atlantic Pilotage Authority website at to find out the schedule for commercial traffic.
Recreational Boaters should note the following:

  • Halifax Traffic is the primary point of contact for all users.
  • Monitor VHF Channel 12 and/or 14 (and 16) when in Halifax Harbour and approaches.
  • Inside Duncan Reef H1 buoy, VHF12.
  • Outside Duncan Reef H1 buoy, VHF14.
  • Large commercial vessels are hampered in their ability to maneuver and require a lot of “searoom”. Communicate with other vessels to discuss and make passing arrangements. Pilots are always listening and want to assure safe passing.
  • Keep a safe distance away from commercial traffic: Visibility from the Bridge perspective of large commercial vessels is hampered by cargo, height of eye and other factors. If you get too close, the PILOT CANNOT SEE YOU, and may lose tracking on Radar.
  • If a Pilot loses sight of a smaller vessel, he/she is left to assume that
    the worst has happened and may take evasiveaction placing the safety of the ship, and port and other vessels in the area, in danger.