The Cabot Trail
With its salt-tanged fishing villages and mountainous interior cloaked in dense woods, Cape Breton is the prize of Nova Scotia, a green getaway splashed with lakes and lapped by the blue waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. No visit to Cape Breton Island is complete without experiencing the Cabot Trail. This world renowned attraction winds its way along the northern tip of the island and showcases some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Canada. Although it is only 298 kilometers long, you could spend days taking in all of the many museums, galleries, music and other attractions found in the still vibrant Gaelic and Acadian cultures along the way.
Learn about all the other things created by the inventor of the telephone at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. The museum brims with photos and memorabilia, including a full-scale reproduction of the pioneering hydrofoil Bell built during World War I. While in Baddeck, boat around Bras d’Or Lake for a view of the Bell mansion, as well as nesting bald eagles and the lush Baddeck shoreline. Amoeba Sailing Tours offers daily 90-minute sailing trips on its 67-foot (20-meter) handcrafted vessel that Captain John Bryson’s parents built nearly 30 years ago.
Home to rugged headlands, sandy beaches, lush green valleys and wild, open barrens, Ingonish is the gateway to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Park is known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery, with steep cliffs and deep river canyons carved into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean. One third of the Cabot Trail runs through the national park along the coasts and over the highlands and it is a drive you will never forget.
Nearby, golfers will enjoy playing the 18-hole Highlands Links, a former world top-100 and the best course in Canada in 2000 by Score Golf magazine.
Take the alternate scenic route between Neil’s Harbour and South Harbour, which follows the coastline where the Cabot Trail veers inland. The road may not be quite as good, but the scenery—and the unvarnished seaside hamlets along the way more than make up for it.
Wheel over for lunch at the Rusty Anchor restaurant in Pleasant Bay for a truly authentic experience – Lobster rolls on the Cabot Trail featuring fresh lobster meat with just a little butter, served on a toasted roll. On a warm day, enjoy your food out on the terrace, with its panoramic ocean views. While you are in the area, check out the Whale Interpretive Centre for insight into the lives of these fascinating sea creatures.
Grab some fresh baguettes at Aucoin Bakery in Petit Étang where the bill of fare is an illustration of the cultural differences between this Acadian region and the Scottish towns on the Atlantic coast just an hour away.
Just outside the park, take a whale-watching cruise out of the Acadian village of Chéticamp. Pods of pilot whales are common, as well as bald eagles and moose feeding on the near vertical slopes where the park headlands drop into the sea. Back in Chéticamp, the boardwalk overlooking the harbor is a great place to watch the sun go down while listening to live Acadian music.
Margaree & Inverness
South of Margaree Harbour, the Cabot Trail swings inland, and the rolling farmland of the Margaree River Valley cradles the road back to Inverness. If your timing is right, stop in for Celtic music at The Barn on the grounds of the Normaway Inn or meet us back at the Public House in Inverness for more of the same.
“The Mini Cabot Trail”
If you don’t have time to experience all that the Cabot Trail has to offer, take a drive down Broad Cove Marsh Road and it’s as if you did. Breath-taking scenery boasting incredible ocean views and the slow drive will leave you with a deeper appreciation of what life is like in Cape Breton. Only a short drive from Cabot Cliffs, this is one not to be missed!