We’ve said it before: Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore is the province’s great unclaimed treasure. Its bright seaside villages and beaches are every bit as lovely as any properties you’ll find along the South Shore. The small town life is just as charming and old-fashioned. The only difference? These are more affordable.

History is close to the surface in the eastern half of Halifax County. Many of the homes you pass along the old Highway 7 look much as they did when they were built, and they have that square-built, no-nonsense, ageless style that could mean anything from the 1880s to the 1930s. Front porches, painted shingles, overgrown lilac bushes… everything you’d associate with your nana’s home in the country. In addition to older homes, you can also find newer bungalows and family homes, often sited to best take advantage of the view.

Life here begins and ends with the Atlantic. The rocky coves and inlets’ evocative names  — Three Fathom Harbour, Widgeon Gut, Buttermilk Channel — hint at long-ago voyages and shipwrecks. There may be fewer privateers hereabouts today, but moored fishing vessels are a constant along the coast, and the freshest catch you can find is straight out of the boat.

As you might expect, the coast is scattered with small museums that illustrate the lives of earlier settlers. The Acadian House Museum in Grand Desert and The Fisherman’s Life Museum in Head of Jeddore both give an idea of hardscrabble times in the region, while farther along the highway in Lake Charlotte, Memory Lane Heritage Village paints a pretty picture of rural Nova Scotia in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

But please don’t think that this area is stuck in the past. Far from it! The small businesses and cottage industries popping up all along the shore show that Halifax County East is proof that it’s an area on the rise. Bakeries, farm markets, and little bistros are launching up and down the coast. Experimental projects are also underway: The Deanery Project in Ship Harbour helps locals develop sustainable building techniques that will work on our difficult maritime region.

Each small town has its own small grocery store, bank, and often an emergency clinic, so all of the essentials are very close at hand, wherever you end up. What’s more, the country dining rooms in this area are fantastic. In particular, you must try both the Salmon River Country Inn and Liscombe Lodge.

Living lightly on the land is easy along the shore. Its beauty is breath-taking, and there are so many ways to enjoy it. The lengths of deserted, sandy beaches at Martinique Beach Provincial Park are just minutes from Musquodoboit Harbour, and the beach at Clam Harbour Provincial Park only fills up during the annual sandcastle contest in August. And if forests are more your thing, well, you’re spoiled for choice. The well groomed Musquodoboit Trail System stretches for miles, the Tangier Grand Lakes Wilderness is rugged and untamed, and Taylor’s Head Provincial Park is somewhere in the middle.