Cape Breton Island is a beautiful and diverse destination in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located on the eastern coast of the country, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Canso. Cape Breton Island has a rich and varied history, influenced by the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, Scottish, Irish, and other cultures. It is also home to stunning natural scenery, such as mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, and oceans.
One of the main attractions on Cape Breton Island is the Cabot Trail, a scenic road that loops around the northern part of the island. The Cabot Trail offers spectacular views of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is the largest protected area on the island. The national park covers more than 950 square kilometers of land and water and hosts a variety of wildlife, plants, and ecosystems.
The purpose of this article is to offer some suggestions for when to go, how to get there, the best hiking trails, accommodations, and things to do in and around the national park.
When to go to Cape Breton Island
The best time to visit Cape Breton Island depends on what you want to do and see. Generally, the peak season is from June to October, when the weather is warm and sunny, and most attractions and activities are open.
However, you can also visit in other seasons, such as spring or fall, when the island is less crowded and more colorful. Winter is also an option for those who enjoy snow sports or cozy indoor activities.
How to get there to Cape Breton Island
The easiest way to get to Cape Breton Island is by flying to Sydney Airport (YQY), which is the main airport on the island.
You can also fly to Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ), which is the largest airport in Nova Scotia, and then drive or take a bus to Cape Breton Island. Take a ferry from Newfoundland or Prince Edward Island to Cape Breton Island.
Hiking Trails: Cape Breton Island
One of the best ways to experience the beauty and diversity of Cape Breton Highlands National Park is to hike on its trails. The park offers over 25 hiking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging climbs, and from coastal views to forested landscapes. Here are some of the most popular and scenic hiking trails in the park:
Skyline Trail: A 7.5 km loop with amazing views of the Cabot Trail, the ocean, and the wildlife. Easy and level, with boardwalks and steps. Trailhead on the Cabot Trail at French Mountain.
Franey Trail: A 7.4 km loop that climbs 335 m to Franey Mountain. Breathtaking views of the canyon and the ocean. Steep and rugged, with switchbacks and stairs. Trailhead off the Cabot Trail near Clyburn River.
Middle Head Trail: A 3.8 km loop that follows a peninsula between two bays. Stunning views of the ocean, Cape Smokey, and Ingonish Island. Moderate and level, with some rocky sections. Trailhead beyond the Keltic Lodge.
Fishing Cove Trail: A 12 km return hike that descends 355 m to a cove and a campground. Beach, swimming, and camping options. Difficult and steep, with stream crossings and bridges. Trailhead on the Cabot Trail between Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay.
Accommodations in Cape Breton Island
It has a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s budget, preference, and location. Whether you are looking for a cozy hotel, a rustic cottage, a spacious campground, or a unique stay, you will find something that meets your needs and expectations. Here are some of the best places to stay on Cape Breton Island:
Hotels: Some of the top-rated hotels are the Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa, the Inverary Resort, the Silver Dart Lodge, and the Cheticamp Outfitters Inn. The rates vary depending on the season and the room type, but they usually range from $100 to $300 per night.
Cottages: Some of the most popular cottages are the Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort, the Chanterelle Country Inn & Cottages, the Markland Coastal Beach Cottages, and the Sea Parrot Ocean View Manor. The rates vary depending on the season and the cottage size, but they usually range from $150 to $400 per night.
Campgrounds: Some of the best campgrounds are the Broad Cove Campground, the Cheticamp Campground, the MacLeod’s Beach & Campsite, and the Hideaway Campground & Oyster Market. The rates vary depending on the season and the site type, but they usually range from $20 to $50 per night.
Unique Stays: Some of the most amazing unique stays are the Tree Pods at Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort, the Yurts at Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort, the Lighthouse at Louisbourg Harbour Inn, and the Train Station Inn. The rates vary depending on the season and the stay type, but they usually range from $100 to $300 per night.
Things to Do on Cape Breton Island
It has a lot more to offer than just hiking in the national park. There are plenty of things to do on Cape Breton Island that will appeal to your cultural, historical, recreational, and educational interests. Here are some of the best things to do on Cape Breton Island:
If you want to learn about the rich and diverse culture of Cape Breton Island, you can visit some of its museums, galleries, historic sites, and festivals. Some of the most recommended cultural activities are:
The Gaelic College: This is a cultural institution that preserves and promotes the Gaelic language, arts, music, and crafts. The Gaelic College is open year-round from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is $10 per adult and $5 per child.
The Fortress of Louisbourg: This is a historical site that recreates the life of a French colonial town in the 18th century. The Fortress of Louisbourg is open seasonally from June to October from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is $17.60 per adult and $8.80 per child.
The Celtic Colours International Festival: This is a musical event that celebrates the Celtic heritage and culture of Cape Breton Island. The Celtic Colours International Festival is held annually in October at various venues across the island. The ticket prices vary depending on the event.
If you want to have some fun and adventure on Cape Breton Island, you can try some of its recreational activities. Some of the most popular recreational activities are:
- Whale Watching: This is an exciting activity that allows you to see some of the majestic marine mammals that inhabit the waters around it. The whale-watching season runs from May to October. The tour prices vary depending on the operator and the tour type.
- Golfing: This is a relaxing activity that lets you enjoy some of the finest golf courses in Canada. You can play golf at courses such as Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs, Highlands Links, or Bell Bay Golf Club. The golfing season runs from May to October. The green fees vary depending on the course and the time.
- Fishing: This is a rewarding activity that allows you to catch some of the abundant fish species on Cape Breton Island. The fishing season runs from April to October. The fishing licenses and fees vary depending on the location and the type.
If you want to learn something new and interesting on Cape Breton Island, you can participate in some of its educational activities. Some of the most fascinating educational activities are:
- Eskasoni Cultural Journeys: This is an immersive experience that teaches you about the Mi’kmaq culture and history on Cape Breton Island. Eskasoni Cultural Journeys is open seasonally from June to October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission fee is $25 per adult and $15 per child.
- Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site: This is an informative site that showcases the life and inventions of Alexander Graham Bell, who lived in Baddeck for many years. The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is $7.90 per adult and $3.90 per child.
- Glass Artisans Studio & Gallery: This is a creative place that displays the work of local glass artists on Cape Breton Island. The Glass Artisans Studio & Gallery is open seasonally from May to October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission fee is $10 per adult and $5 per child.
Cape Breton Island is a place that will captivate you with its natural beauty and cultural diversity. It is a place that will inspire you with its history and creativity. It is a place that will challenge you with its adventure and fun. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Cape Breton Island and experience its wonders for yourself. You will not regret it!