Best known for the Cabot Trail, one of the world’s most scenic drives, Cape Breton Island offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, glacier carved hills and jagged cliffs, dense forests, and spectacular vistas of the Cape Breton Highlands. But as the locals will tell you, the island’s greatest natural treasures are best explored with lots of detours.
Here are seven ways to get lost and discover the beauty of Cape Breton Island.
1. Meat Cove
Looking like a scene straight out of Game of Thrones, on the most northern tip of Cape Breton Island, the rural fishing community of Meat Cove is surrounded by cliffs, deep valleys and rugged landscape.
Location: Meat Cove, Nova Scotia B0E 2P0
2. Middle Head Trail
Following the peninsula separating two ocean bays, this moderate hike takes about 90 minutes and ends on cliffs overlooking Cape Smokey and Ingonish Island.
Location: Middle Head Hiking Trail, Victoria, Subd. A, NS B0C 1L0
3. The Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour
With friendly service, a warm atmosphere, and a menu filled with freshly caught lobster, crab, and mussels, the Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour is a great stop for visitors and locals alike. We had the BEST clam chowder soup at this restaurant.
Location: Chowder House, 90 Lighthouse Rd, Neils Harbour, NS B0C 1N0
4. Mary Ann Falls
A dusty drive and short hike on the eastern side of Cape Breton Island leads visitors to Mary Ann Falls, a perfect place to go for a dip next to a picturesque waterfall.
Location: Mary Ann Falls, Victoria, Subd. A, Nova Scotia, B0C 1K0
5. Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
Yes, you likely already know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but did you know that he also achieved Canada’s first powered flight, built the world’s fastest boat, and was the second president of the National Geographic Society? Learn about his numerous inventions and achievements at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.
Location: Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, 559 Chebucto St, Baddeck, NS B0E 1B0
6. Ingonish Beach
When you’re ready for a break from the Cabot Trail, the Atlantic Ocean’s saltwater is just a few steps away from Freshwater Lake at Ingonish Beach. With change houses, washrooms, seasonal lifeguards, a playground, and nearby hiking trails, this beach offers a quiet place to cool down and unwind.
Location: Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia B0C 1L0
7. Lookout stops
One of the best things about travelling along the Cabot Trail is the abundant number of lookout stops. While some of the official stops offer large parking lots and red Muskoka chairs from Parks Canada, it’s equally as common to see visitors pulled over at the side of the road taking in the island’s dramatic and rocky coastlines.
What is your favourite Cabot Trail detour? Share your picks in the comments below!
Looking for more east coast trip recommendations? Read my review of Peggy’s Cove.