While it wasn’t planned, 2018 truly has been the year of island hopping in Atlantic Canada and I couldn’t ask for any better perk to living on the East Coast.
After talking about it since we first met – three years ago in November – Dan and I finally booked some vacation time, hopped in the car and spent four days on beautiful Cape Breton Island at the end of September.
Coastal views, roaring waves, and scenic cliff-side roads – it was even more perfect than I remembered it from my first visit and it was so awesome to experience it with Dan as it was his first time in Cape Breton.
If you’ve done the world famous Cabot Trail before, you know that you can do it clockwise or counterclockwise. We opted for counterclockwise, as in my opinion, it’s just a little more exciting if you’re on the outside lane on some of those windy, steep cliffs.
We spent our first two nights in Ingonish at the gorgeous Castle Rock Country Inn. It was my second time staying there and it’s a short 10-15 minute drive to some great scenic spots and restaurants. We had a wonderful evening out for dinner at the Keltic Lodge, which is a resort worth checking out even if you’re not staying there.
We spent the third night of our trip in Cheticamp at the Ocean View Motel and Chalets which was such a cute and cosy spot. While in Cheticamp, we had an incredible meal at Harbour Restaurant and Bar. I HIGHLY recommend the Bayside Fettucini FILLED with seafood and if you love coconut cream pie, make sure to leave room for dessert OR bring a piece back to your hotel like I did!
In four days, we saw so many incredible things and visited the cutest seaside towns, that it’s next to impossible to mention every stop but here are a few of the highlights from our trip!
BLACK BROOK COVE BEACH
This little cove within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is easy to spot from the road and I highly recommend exploring. It’s home to rolling, crashing waves that I could have watched ALL day long. It’s about 8 minutes from central Ingonish.
ST. PAUL SOUTH WEST LIGHTHOUSE IN DINGWALL
One thing about travelling with me, if there is a lighthouse, I will make sure we go visit it, but it was actually Dan that suggested we go off the Cabot Trail to visit the cute little seaside town of Dingwall. The St. Paul South West Lighthouse and Museum (free to visit) is definitely worth taking 15 minutes to check out. We learned a ton of history about St. Paul Island, which was really cool.
The drive to Meat Cove is definitely NOT for the faint of heart, but take one look at their world map at the famous Chowder House of thousands of visitors this summer alone from ALL over the world and you’ll realize, you’re definitely not the only one crazy enough to make the trip. Make sure to splurge on a seafood chowder while you’re there – it’s fresh and delicious and great to enjoy while you take in the otherworldly views of Meat Cove.
OK. Not that I’m about picking favorite beaches, but if I had to pick a favorite beach on Cape Breton Island, it would be Ingonish Beach hands down. We made sure to stop by in the evening as well as the morning to enjoy the turquoise blue waters, rolling waves, and soft sand.
MOONRISE FROM BEACH CROSSING ROAD
The full moonrise was definitely a highlight of our trip and we ALMOST missed it. On a whim, we decided to check out Beach Crossing Road (the name was obviously enough to catch my curiosity) and just as we were about to head back to the inn, we spotted the moon coming out of the water. It was BREATHTAKING!
THE FAMOUS SKYLINE TRAIL
This was my second time doing Skyline Trail and while we didn’t get to see any moose this time around (when I first did it years ago we saw THREE!) – the views were epic as always and we had a blast. We were also insanely lucky because the trail closed down due to aggressive moose behaviour a week later.
Skyline is a MUST if you’re doing the Cabot Trail and with two trail length options to choose from — both under 10kms — it’s a great hike for all ages.
As you can probably tell, we fell absolutely in love with Cape Breton Island on this trip and we still have so many other towns, spots, and hiking trails to explore on our next visit.
What is YOUR favorite spot to explore on the Cabot Trail?