Cape Breton Island Things to Do

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    MacIntosh Brook Trail

    by GentleSpirit Written Dec 7, 2012

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    This was one of the shorter hikes we did. It was only like 3 kilometres and took maybe 40 minutes at a reasonably relaxed pace. As I remember we had just eaten lunch, so it was perfect.

    It is not a difficult hike, its more of a stroll really. You go up one side of the brook and down the other, ending at a waterfall. You can hear the birds, the gentle rippling of the brook, its a beautiful little trail.

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    Skyline Trail

    by GentleSpirit Written Dec 7, 2012

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    The most well known, and most popular, trail in Nova Scotia is the Skyline Trail. Why? Well one reason has to be that it is so accessible. In 2001 the redid the trail to protect some of the fragile ecosystem, building boardwalks. For the first part of the loop a wheelchair would probably be able to handle this trail. Its generally nice and flat and easy to negotiate.

    The views are breathtaking! For us it was even better because we started early in the morning and while some of the group was grumbling that it was so early and they were a bit cold, we ran across the moose (see my wildlife tip). The first part of the trail has wide paths, often gravel, and goes through some neat forest, no problem. You will see the deep crevasse of the mountains and the highway carved into the sides of the mountains and you get to see this amazing coming together of mountains and the water! It is said you can sometimes see whales swimming from some of the lookouts. (we didn't unfortunately).

    In all the 9.2 km Skyline Trail took about 2-3 hours to finish. The return part is a little rougher, and more challenging, but you are more likely going to be so amazed at the scenery that you won't care much one way or the other. Definitely do this one!

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    Coastal Trail

    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 5, 2012

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    This was a nice hike! we got bored with the Jack Pine Trail, it just wasn't scenic (or challenging) so a few of us took the well marked Coastal Trail. We had plenty of time and it was well worth the effort.

    If you hike this trail you will get a wonderful taste of Cape Breton's shoreline, the magnificent vistas over the water. the boulders, You will be going through a lot of forest since a lot of the rocks are too rough.

    Be careful to wear proper hiking boots, some of the rock can be slippery

    Length- 11.3 km loop
    Elevation- minimal
    Difficulty-moderate
    Terrain- pine forest, boulders, granites
    Trailheads- Black Brook Cove (same as Jack Pine), Halfway Brook

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    Jack Pine Trail- Highlands National Park

    by GentleSpirit Written Dec 5, 2012

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    If you want to go for a nice walk rather than a serious hike, Jack Pine would be a good trail for that. It is fairly easy with small elevation gains. You basically go through a Jack Pine forest, which is common in Canada but not so common on Cape Breton. There are some interpretive panels through the walk. What we did was finish this walk, which is only 1.5 km and connected to another more challenging trail.

    loop- 1.6 km
    difficulty- easy
    landscape- pine forest, come hills,
    trailhead-The trail starts from the Black Brook parking lot in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Black Brook is about 20km north of Ingonish. Park at the upper end of the parking lot after crossing Black Brook on a bridge.

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    Museum- Whale Interpretive Centre

    by GentleSpirit Written Nov 1, 2012

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    Located in the fishing village of Pleasant Bay, this is a small museum that has good exhibits about the 16 types of whales found off Nova Scotia. (Sixteen types!!) There is a nice exhibit about local marine life and you can sometimes see the whales from the patio of the museum (using binoculars) More an educational thing than anything else, they offer bus tours, educational tours

    Open June 1- October 15

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    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park
    • Whale Watching

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    Whale Watching

    by GentleSpirit Written Nov 1, 2012

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    Pleasant Bay from the Cabot Trail

    This was an option on our tour. From the website, Salty Bear stops for the night at Pleasant Bay.

    From May until Mid-October you can see whales( fin whales(huge:75 ft),humpback whales(entertainers),pilot whales,minke whales,and dolphins/porpoises.)

    There are several different outfits along the north/west coast of Cape Breton Island

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    Hop on/hop off bus tours

    by GentleSpirit Updated Oct 31, 2012

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    There are two companies that run hop-on/hop-off bus tours that go through Nova Scotia. I can tell you both companies are good. You usually will have a bus with about 10-15 others. Most of the people on these tours are young(ish) backpackers. On the tours I took I was the only American and the oldest in any of the groups. Neither was a factor really.

    With both companies you will see a lot of things, especially in the wilderness/outdoors. For example, if you want to take some time to see Halifax or Baddeck (for example) you can jump off the bus at a certain stop. You arrange with the company where/when you would like to rejoin. In my experience, the best use of hopping off and staying in a town/city is to engage in the usual tourist activities. On the tours you tend to have relatively few of these (visiting museums, sights etc)

    The people on the tours are mostly pretty nice. This sort of tour is really not for people that prefer to stay in hotels and luxury. The hostels are all clean and comfortable. You can ask for a private room at the hostels, many of them have at least one or two.

    1. Moose Network- Moose operates throughout Canada. However, the only tour they offer that goes through Cape Breton is quite expensive (Schooner) A good company with a solid reputation.
    website-- http://www.moosenetwork.com/content.php?id=60

    2. Salty Bear- http://www.saltybear.ca/
    This is a local Nova Scotia operation. Coincidentally, it is run by a guy that used to work for Moose elsewhere. I found their service to be excellent. We had a lot of fun, got to do a lot and everyone on the tour seemed to really have had a great time. Since its only Nova Scotia/PEI it will come out much cheaper than Moose. Guides are all locals that know Nova Scotia very well.

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    The Scenic Cabot Trail

    by GentleSpirit Updated Oct 31, 2012

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    This is easily considered one of the most amazingly scenic drives anywhere. The Cabot Trail winds around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, passing through Cape Breton Highlands Park. It is 298 km (185 miles) long. There are phenomenal views everywhere- of the rugged coastline, of the mountains, of Bras d'Or lake, and the valleys. Don't miss this, it is extraordinary!

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    I finally saw a moose!!!

    by GentleSpirit Updated Oct 31, 2012

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    When we rode into the Cape Breton highlands park we were told to look out for moose, they would be there and in good numbers cause it was breeding season. Everyone started oohing and aaahing when we first caught sight of a moose walking in the forest, we were probably only 5 minutes inside the park at that point. So yeah, maybe we would get to see the moose! Neat.

    We drove up some more and parked and headed off for the Skyline Trail. After walking a little bit (not more than 15 minutes) I turned into a clearing and whammo! the moose was right there! Just relaxing, getting something to eat, apparently not too concerned about our presence! He let me get pretty close without flinching. Exhilarating!

    It seems seeing a moose is really not that uncommon at all in the Highlands Park, but getting this close to one can't be that common.

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    Bras D'Or Lake

    by GentleSpirit Written Oct 24, 2012

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    This lake, which takes up 100 sq. miles (260 sq km) is an inland arm of the Atlantic Ocean. At the lake bottom is geological foundation of gypsum, limestone, salt and shale. The two large channels limit the volume of salt water entering the lake, so Bras D'Or Lake is only about half as salty as the ocean,

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Fishing

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    Salt Mountain Trail-Wycocomagh

    by GentleSpirit Written Oct 24, 2012

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    Located just outside the village of Wycocomagh, in the center of Cape Breton Island, by the Bras d'Or lake, is Wycocomagh Provincial Park. Wycocomagh comes from the MikMaq meaning "head of the waters"

    It is a fairly short hike, only about 2.5 kilometres, but don't make the mistake of assuming its a nice little walk in the park. It is a steep trail, considered 4 on a scale of 5. At the top you will be 750 feet (230 meters) above Bras D'Or Lake.

    Look out carefully for trail markings as the trail is steep and slippery. You will definitely want to have good hiking boots for this one.

    The view at the top is well worth the climb.
    , we did this at the end of the day, the whole group was able to do it though it was grueling for some.)

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    Joe's Scarecrow Village

    by GentleSpirit Updated Oct 22, 2012

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    This was a real fun thing. We were on the road near Cheticamp, all of us fired up to finally see the highlands and get out into the fresh autumn air and go hiking. We were in a village called Cap Lemoine, when we came upon Joe's Scarecrow Village. At first we had to do a double take, it looked like a bunch of people, somewhat oddly dressed in a field there by the road. But no, these were scarecrows.

    Joe Delaney and his sons created this little entertaining jewel almost by accident. He was a retired janitor and had set up some scarecrows in the field to do what scarecrows do, scare away the animals. Apparently he was encouraged to put up more scarecrows when tourists would stop and take pictures. By 1986 there were 46 scarecrows. In 1986 they were vandalized and only one scarecrow survived. With contributions Delaney rebuilt and expanded, until there were 100 scarecrows.

    this was a truly fun, silly thing. They didn't charge admission but donations were gratefully accepted. There was a small gift shop and snack bar there.

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    CAP LEMOINE

    by LoriPori Updated Oct 3, 2012

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    Welcome - Bienvenue a Cap Le Moine
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    Located in Inverness County. along the Cabot Trail CAP LE MOINE is a small community on the western side of Cape Breton Island and south of Cheticamp.
    We stopped at a parking area along the Cabot Trail as the views were absolutely stunning. I took lots of pictures and Hans took lots of video.
    Also when we were driving along the Cabot Trail in this area, I noticed scarecrows in the fields. I thought they were there because of Halloween, but when I did some research on the area, I found that these were part of Joe Delaney's Scarecrow Collection. In the 1980's Joe Delaney tried to plant a garden in Cap LeMoine but his efforts were thwarted by crows. His neighbours jokingly suggested "growing scarecrows" to ward off the pesky birds. Influenced by the local tradition where people dressed up in costumes, Joe placed two scarecrows in his garden. It became such a hit with the locals, he decided to create additional ones. Joe and his son made scarecrows in the image of some famous people.
    Joe passed away, but his family continues the tradition. I only wish I had taken some pictures of them.

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    VISIT THE ACADIAN TOWN OF CHETICAMP

    by LoriPori Written Oct 2, 2012

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    Bienvenue - Welcome to Cheticamp
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    Thursday September 13, 2012
    I loooooved everything about CHETICAMP - its location - The atmosphere - the Acadian Culture - the beautiful sunny day we were there.
    Cheticamp is a thriving fishing village on the west coast of Cape Breton Island and the western entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The downtown area overlooks a large Bay.
    The population of nearly 4,000 is made up mostly of people of Acadian descent and Cheticamp is the largest Francophone enclave on Cape Breton Island.
    Things to do in Cheticamp includes visiting "Les Trois Pignons" and Jean's Gift Shop, both of which display beautiful hooked rugs of which Cheticamp is the Center and well known for.
    The locals have a "joie de vivre" - Joy in Living, as the community hosts many concerts, dances and musical events throughout the summer months.
    This is why their town motto is "Toujours Chantante" - Always Singing!

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    CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK

    by LoriPori Written Oct 1, 2012

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    September 12 & 13, 2012
    Hans and I entered CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK at the Eastern Entrance at Ingonish. The Western Entrance is near Cheticamp. Entry Fee for Seniors was $6.80 or $13.60 for the two of us. The Permit is valid for a 24 hour period and the Expiration time is clearly marked on your receipt. You must keep this receipt handy in case it is asked for.
    The Park has so much to offer including scenic lookouts such as Lakies Head, Sunrise and Green Cove on the Eastern Side and Veterans Monument, Cap Rouge (my favorite) and Grand Falaise on the western side.
    The Park also offers 25 Hiking & Walking Trails, Beaches and Picnic Areas with clean washrooms and camping with 6 campgrounds.
    One third of the Cabot Trail runs through the Park.

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Cape Breton Island Things to Do

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