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Essential info for your Nova Scotia glamping dome vacation 2022

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The first time I went camping as a young boy with my parents in Ontario, nature kindly gifted us a raucous midnight thunderstorm. The rain was so heavy that the campground began to flood and the old-time canvas tent began to leak.

I remember my Dad and our neighbour outside in the rain frantically digging a trench around the tent to keep the water away. Likely as a result, my Mom declared the very next morning that her camping days were over!

Fortunately for us, that was then and this is now. Today we have something much easier and more comfortable: glamping domes.

So what’s a glamping dome and what do you need to know about them to make your vacation a success?

Check out all the stories in our series on glamping domes:

  • Glamping domes 101 – all you need to know about glamping domes and what to look for when researching and booking a dome holiday.

What is glamping and why should you try it?

Glamping (a contraction of “glamorous camping”) can refer to several different types of accommodations: RVs, yurts, tents, tee-pees (tipis), cabins, and treehouses. All of these exist in Nova Scotia — however, in this post, we’re looking specifically at the geodesic dome tents that have become so popular around the province as well as globally in the past few years.

The geodesic dome is a strong but lightweight structure invented by Buckminster Fuller around 1950. It was used, most famously, for the US pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal. You might also have seen smaller geodesic domes used as climbers in kids’ playgrounds.

The frame is based on the triangle, a very strong geometric structure. Domes don’t need a lot of materials to build and can be two to four times more energy-efficient than your home, largely because of their shape.

Many glamping domes in Nova Scotia are built to take advantage of Nova Scotia’s natural beauty and have spectacular ocean views or are elevated among the trees for a calming forest view.

You can find domes with many of the conveniences of home, such as air conditioning, heated showers, inside bathrooms, fully outfitted kitchenettes, comfortable beds and, in at least one case, in-floor heating!

Other glamping domes are more rustic and are geared for the true campers among us. The trick is to know which is which and to rent one that matches the kind of vacation you have in mind.

When’s the best time to go glamping?

Going glamping in the spring and summer is a slam-dunk. The weather is warm, the Nova Scotia waterways are ready for you to go paddling or swimming, and you’ll enjoy the blue sky, tranquil waves, and the abundant green forests. (Just bring some bug spray!) Hiking, swimming, touring, campfires, and good friends are the order of the season.

Fall is also a great time for glamping. The leaves on the trees are changing to beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows, and the views from the domes are spectacular. There are less vacationers on the road, the weather is still on the warm side, and the wilds of the province are just a peaceful place to be — and there’s WAY fewer bugs at this time of the year.

Nova Scotia fall colours are right outside your glamping dome door.. and window!

But staying in a glamping dome in the Nova Scotia winter? — Most people haven’t even considered that, but it’s worth a second look as some of the better, fully-insulated glamping domes in Nova Scotia are open year-round.

The weather may be chillier, but the glamping retreats that stay open for winter tourists have protection from the elements and very good heating systems for chilly nights (even in-floor heating in one case!). These year-round domes are often close to trails where you can go snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and more.

Planning a glamping dome getaway in Nova Scotia

Planning a glamping dome vacation isn’t that much different than planning any other getaway. But there are one or two extra steps to consider to ensure that you have an enjoyable stay.

First, let’s choose which glamping site you’d like to stay at. There are many choices around the province and the one you pick will largely depend on what kind of vacation you’re looking for:

  • Places like Cape Breton will have unbounded natural scenery and lakes and rivers to enjoy while other parts of the province will have easier access to towns and all the amenities they offer.
  • Also, consider your travel time. If you’re set on a specific location and you only have a long weekend available, driving for more than 3-4 hours to get there (often from the Halifax airport) might take up a significant part of your time. But if location is not a top priority, there are enough sites around the province that it shouldn’t take very long at all to drive to any one of them.

A comprehensive list of glamping domes in Nova Scotia

With a little bit of online searching, I found 28 sites with glamping domes in Nova Scotia, each with its own unique setting and charm. I’ve put them all in this Nova Scotia directory of glamping domes and included a map.

As you can see from the map, no matter what part of the province you want to vacation in there’s likely a dome site nearby.

Click the map to see the full size image and directory listing of glamping domes in Nova Scotia

What questions can help you find the right glamping dome?

Once you’ve decided which part of the province to vacation in, you’ll need to determine which site has the amenities you want.

You don’t want to have expectations of high luxury and arrive to find that you’ve got a rustic dome tent for the rest of your stay — similarly, you don’t want to be ready to rough it and find that you’ve rented the Hilton of geodesic domes.

So be sure of what you want up front and then do your due diligence to be sure of what you’re getting.

Even though many questions are answered by the descriptions on web sites and booking sites, sometimes it’s still worth calling and clarifying exactly what some of the marketing hype really means. Here’s some of the questions you might want to ask:

  • What size is the dome?
    • Domes come in different sizes — so for example, you could choose a smaller dome with a private hot tub if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, or a larger dome or several smaller ones if you’re traveling with a group.
  • What kind of heating does the dome have?
    • Some of the options are: heat-pump, in-floor heating, pellet stove, or space heaters.
  • Is there electricity in the dome? How many outlets?
  • Is there a bathroom inside the dome? Or is it outside (aka, an outhouse!)
  • Is there a shower inside the dome?
  • What’s the capacity of the hot water supply?
    • This can range from a small in-line heater to a house-sized 40-gallon tank — it makes a difference if there are two of you for showers in the morning.
  • What kind of kitchen facilities are available in the dome? Is there a fridge to keep your food cold? What amenities are available to cook food?
  • What size is the bed? Are there extra linens and blankets, pillows, etc?
  • How many lights? (Some domes may only have one main light that doesn’t throw a lot of light at all.)
  • Is there Wifi available in the dome?
    • You may want this or you may not — your choice.
  • What is included in the dome rental price and what features cost extra?
    • For example, some sites charge extra for the use of kayaks and canoes, for BBQ charcoal, water, etc.
  • How close are other domes or campsites? What level of privacy can I expect?
    • If you’re planning a romantic getaway for two, this might be an important point.
  • Are children allowed? (Some sites have a no-child policy).
    • If you are looking for a family-friendly option, be sure to look for locations that cater to families.
  • Is this a pet-friendly facility? More people want to travel with their pets these days and there are glamping dome sites that welcome pets and those that don’t (we even found one that allows you to ride your own horse(s) on neighboring farmland!). Be sure to ask ahead as you won’t want Fido left outside for the weekend.
  • Are there restaurants close by? Even though your plan might be to cook and eat at the dome for your entire stay, it might still be nice to get out to a good restaurant once in a while. Make sure there are a couple within driving distance that are open while you’re there.
  • And don’t forget that Nova Scotia’s natural and historic wonders are waiting for you to visit. Ask what tourist attractions are close by in case you want to enjoy some off-site Nova Scotia day-excursions away from your glamping dome.

The key is to make sure that the glamping dome and the facility offers the features that you need and want so you have a great time on your vacation.

What does a glamping dome cost in Nova Scotia?

When it comes to the experience of a lifetime, it’s OK to stretch the budget a little because who knows when you might get a chance to do it again. But you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) break your bank account to do it.

  • Prices for glamping domes vary depending on the location and the amenities offered. Generally, prices can range from $100-300 per night. Some also welcome longer stay durations. Check with the specific location for more information as prices can change.
  • Keep some room in your budget for extra spending on things to do nearby, such as restaurants, tours, kayak rentals, etc.
  • And don’t forget to check with the proprietors for any extra fees for the dome amenities on your list.

You’ve made your choice – here’s some tips for booking

Once you’ve made a choice, book as early as you can. Dome sites are pretty popular and they can be booked up for a while, particularly for the summer season. If you book early, you have a better chance of getting that one with the water view… or whatever your preference is.

Many dome sites have online booking available on travel websites. You could also just call them, but the advantage of the online sites is that they have reviews from other campers and these can be very useful in confirming your decision.

  • VRBO (Vacation rentals by owner): we used these folks to find a temporary stay when we first arrived in Nova Scotia. They have flexible cancellation policies and low service fees. One issue is the search feature on their website: once you’ve homed in on Nova Scotia, it’s not easy to find just domes. However, they do have customer reviews on each property listing once you find them.
  • Like VRBO, AirBnB has lots of useful customer reviews. But their search is also problematic. You can select the dome icon on the front page to see the available domes, but, if you try to select those in Nova Scotia only, it reverts to displaying more than just domes. I found that selecting the dome icon and just skimming through the gallery for those in Nova Scotia gave me the most complete view. The galleries show you the price per day (useful) but AirBnB’s cancellation policies and fees are different for each property (not so useful).
  • Hipcamp is a booking website geared to all types of private camping, not just glamping. Again, the search is limited and specifying Nova Scotia in the search window will show you some glamping domes, but they are mixed in with other types of accommodations.
  • Unlike the others, Glamping Hub has a good search feature — you can specify Nova Scotia and then choose “domes” under the Type of Camping menu. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s only six domes there to choose from. And you and I KNOW that there are more glamping domes in Nova Scotia than that…

What to pack for your glamping dome vacation

Your packing list will vary according to the dome site you’ve chosen, but there are a few things that every site will need:

Bring your own food: Having a restaurant at a glamping dome site is highly unusual, so you’ll need to bring some food or know where to eat nearby.

Some dome sites have fully-equipped kitchenettes with cooktops and fridges. Others have outdoor BBQ facilities for which you need to bring charcoal (or buy it at the site).

If you’re into privacy and seclusion, bring enough food for the entire stay. If there’s no fridge, then you’ll also need to bring a cooler to keep the food fresh (and probably buy ice from the proprietor to keep things cool).

You should also ask about restaurants close by in case you’d like a meal away from the glamping site from time to time.

Weather is always a factor. A well-known saying in Nova Scotia is “if you don’t like the weather, wait for five minutes!” So be prepared for anything — pack some warm clothes for cooler/ windy days and t-shirts and shorts for warmer days.

Staying warm at night can make or break your experience. Many of the high-end glamping sites offer extra blankets and pillows but, if in doubt, it won’t hurt to bring a few of your own.

I’ve mentioned above to ask about electricity and wifi. If you want to stay connected during your stay, only a few domes will have a place to charge your devices. So if there’s electricity and wifi, be sure to pack your device charger or bring a fully-charged battery bank (aka Power bank).

Here’s a few items to be sure to add to your glamping dome packing list:

  • Food (in a cooler to get it there at least)
  • Extra blankets or pillows
  • Mobile device charger or power bank
  • Plenty of clothes for varying weather conditions 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Bug spray 
  • Sunhat 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Swimsuit for the beaches or the hot tub
  • Towels and beach towels
  • Chapstick 
  • Water shoes 
  • Flashlight (headlamps are great!)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera and memory cards!
  • For those with sensitive eyes: if the moon and stars are too bright through the star-viewing skylight, bring some kind of eye cover (like a sleeping mask).

When you’re fully equipped, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy all that the site has to offer.

Now you’re set to enjoy your unique glamping dome experience

Glamping domes can be a fun and unique holiday experience and one you’ll definitely talk about with your friends and family afterwards. It’s important to do your research before booking your stay and, hopefully, this information will help you to have a great experience and create lots of fun memories to share when you are back home.

Thanks for joining us on this new adventure! Got a question or a comment? Go to the comments page where you can find our email address and drop us a line.

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