Cape Breton Island Region
Cape Breton Island is ranked as the #1 Island in North America by Travel + Leisure magazine and home to the Cabot Trail which was ranked in USA Today’s 10 Best Motorcycle Trips, MSN Travel’s 10 Most Underrated Attractions, and Zoomer’s 7 Greatest Road Trips. You may want to check your brakes before heading to Cape Breton. The world-renown Cabot Trail, with its dramatic coastal views and highland scenery, can be rather steep. Not to mention you’ll want to stop a lot while on the island.
5 Amazing Hikes
- Hike the Highlands, 26 hiking trails in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park ranging from east strolls to challenging climbs – all leading to panoramic views of canyons, highlands, and seacoasts.
- Hike 10 Trails in One Day in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the Cabot Trail. This hiking challenge welcomes visitors to experience 10 shorter trails while discovering a variety of habitats—Acadian, Boreal, and Taiga. The park’s staff can help choose the right trails for you. Then, bring a list of your completed trails, along with photos, back to the park’s centres for a chance to Win a Prize.
- The Skyline Sunset Hike at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the Cabot Trail is one of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Signature Experiences. The guide will lead you out to one of the best views in the province, on top of a mountain headland, overlooking the ocean at sunset.
- Hike the Lighthouse and Old Town Trails in Louisbourg. Every offers impressive views of the Fortress of Louisbourg and its rugged coast. The 2-kilometre Lighthouse Trail starts at the Louisbourg Lighthouse and winds through forests and wetlands, along the coast where soldiers once stood guard protecting Louisbourg Harbour. The nearby 2.25-kilometre Old Town Trail lies just outside the fortress walls, with interpretive panels telling the story of the people who once lived and worked there.
- Hike the Cape Mabou Highlands, a 30-kilometre wilderness trail system known for remarkable cliffs and rolling hills. Such as Beinn Bhiorach (Steep Mountain) Trail, about 225 metres high.
Get to know Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Communities
10 Don’t Miss Outdoor Adventures
- Snorkel with Whales! Don your mask, snorkel, and fins for a soft in-water encounter with whales. All equipment, including wet¬suit, is provided during this guided tour where you’ll explore the underwater environment of coves and sea caves that are only accessible by boat. The slow-moving fin whales and large pods of pilot whales will welcome you into their environment—turning the tour participant into the exhibit!
- Go kayaking to evoke your inner artist with North River Kayak Tours. Dipping your paddle alongside seals and seabirds, while surrounded by our rugged coastal cliffs, can bring out the artist in anyone. North River Kayak Tours offers tours like The Songwriting Kayaker and The Painted Kayaker.
- Attend a powwow at the Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre. Experience a story over 10,000 years in the making. Learn about the music, storytelling, nature, food, language, and spirituality of Nova Scotia’s first peo¬ple, the Mi’kmaq, in a beautiful setting on the shores of the sparkling Bras d’Or Lake.
- Cycle the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail.This 92-kilometre multi-use trail winds through the communities of Judique, Port Hood, Mabou, and Inverness. Along the way, you’ll find active fishing harbours, beaches, exhilarating views, museums, restaurants, and accommodations. Include the trail in a multi-day cycling or trekking itinerary, or stop for an hour or two to take in the natural beauty of this area.
- Whale watching off the shores of Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp where pods of Atlantic pilot whales spend their summers gorging on squid.
- Tuna fish and experience the ultimate adrenaline rush as you battle the giant Bluefin tuna with Dawn Treader Tuna Charters or It’s Now or Never Tuna Charters.
- Go salmon fishing on the Margaree River. For generations, anglers have been lured to the Margaree’s tumbling rapids, deep pools, and still marshes.
- Take a Bird Island Boat Tour to see the Puffins. The dramatic Bird Island rise from the seal like rocky pillars. Take a tour with Bird Island Boat Tours, winner of a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and see thousands of nesting sea birds and over 300 pairs of Atlantic puffins.
- Sail the Bras d’Or Lakes with Cape Breton Sailing Charters. Known for gentle, fog-free waters, beautiful anchor-ages, and hundreds of coves and islands, it is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
- Schedule a beach day and swim in the Atlantic. The warmest waters on the Island can be found Ingonish Beach, if waves is what you love, grab your boogie board and head to Black Brook Beach.
Plan Your Cape Breton Golf Getaway
NEW Cabot Links, North America’s only Authentic Links: Playing the authentic seaside links course, Cabot Links, comes with the exhilarating understanding that you’re playing the game exactly as its inventors had intended. This demanding authentic links course opened in 2012 and has quickly become one of North America’s most talked about courses.
- Best New Course in Canada (SCOREGolf 2012)
- Canadian Modern 2014 (Golfweek’s Best, 2014)
- #42, World’s 100 Greatest Golf Coures (Golf Digest, 2014)
- #82, Top 100 Courses in the World (GOLF Magazine, 2013)
- Highland Links, Ingonish – #55, 100 Best Golf Courses Outside of the United States (Golf Digest 2012)
- The Lakes, Ben Eoin – Best New Course in Atlantic Canada (SCOREGolf 2010)
- Bell Bay, Baddeck - #3 Top Rated Public Golf Course in Atlantic Canada (Score Golf 2013)
Best Photo Spots
Inverness Beach, Inverness
Stoll along the boardwalk along the sand dunes to reveal a 1.5 km sandy beach bordering on some of the warmest ocean waters in Nova Scotia. Continue walking a bit further down the boardwalk to take in some of the golfing action at Cabot Links, Canada’s first true links course.
Highland Village Museum, Iona
Located in picturesque Iona, overlooking the beautiful Bras d’Or Lake, the Highland Village Museum brings to life Nova Scotia’s Gaelic culture, heritage, and hospitality. Experience life as a Gael during your tour of this living history museum and be sure to take part in a traditional céilidh. Sláinte!
Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Experience an eagle’s view of the Cabot Trail from a headland cliff while hiking this mostly level boardwalk in the Cape Breton National Highlands Park. Keep an eye out for whales in the Strait below and for wildlife and the many boreal birds that call the area home. Be sure to pack your camera for this hike.
Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Having received such accolades as the Best Motorcycle Trip in North America by USA Today, and 20 Roads You Should Drive in Your Lifetime by Business Insider, visitors flock here to experience the breathtaking Cabot Trail. From panoramic roadside look-offs, pristine beaches, and maintained hiking trails, you won’t be disappointed.
Bell Estate overlooking Bras d'Or Lake, Baddeck
One of 16 designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Canada, the Bras d’Or Lake is Canada's largest inland sea, a perfect mix of salt and fresh water. Located in the heart of the Island, sail, paddle, and explore by land the many hidden coves and islands located throughout the lake.