A trip through Eastern Canada offers a wealth of options when it comes to breathtaking views and outdoor activity. Worth the three and a half-hour drive from Halifax, Cape Breton Island offers an incomparable escape into nature.

From whale watching to cycling the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island offers its visitors a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with nature through magnificent sightseeing spots and outdoor activities. You likely won’t be able to see all that this island has to offer in one trip, but a visit to one or two landmarks might have you coming back for more in the future.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Take a day trip to Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Mountains meet the sea at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where hiking trails are complimented by breathtaking views. On your journey have your camera ready! You never know when a wild moose will peer through the luscious trees or a bald eagle will soar through blue skies. If you’re lucky, you might see a whale breaking waves in the Atlantic Ocean.

With a total of 26 different trails, Cape Breton Highland National Park Hiking adventures provide a range of experiences from easy, family-friendly walks to more challenging climbs that are rewarded with beautiful views of canyons and seacoasts. To prepare for your hike, choose a trail based on difficulty, distance and time required at the park’s official website.

Cabot Trail Cape Breton NS

Cycle the Cabot Trail

Looking to get active? Cycling the Cabot Trail will have you working up a sweat. Considering that one-third of the trail runs through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, visitors will be tempted to make stops along the way to capture some picturesque views.

Known as one of the best spots in North America for a bike tour, serious cyclists will want to set aside five to seven days to complete the entire 300 km loop. If you plan on cycling the entire loop, you will pass by several towns and historical sites, including the village of Baddeck, which was at one-point home to Alexandra Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. You may also pass through Margaree Valley, known for its fly-fishing spots. Bike rentals are available, so those looking to cycle through smaller portions of the trail can also do that.

Cape Breton Whale Watching Nova Scotia

Watch for Whales 

Sit back and enjoy one of many whale watching tours available around Cape Breton Island. This relaxing experience can quickly turn to exhilaration at the sight of a fin tip. Tours can often get you within proximity of Minke, Humpback and Pilot whales, as well as the occasional seal.

For those who want to whale watch at their own pace, some of the best spots are located along the scenic Cabot Trail at Pleasant Bay and Ingonish Beach. Both are ideal locations for sightings of these majestic mammals.

Margaree River Nova Scotia

Experience Beautiful Sunsets and Fishing at Margaree River

A fisherman’s dream, Margaree River is Cape Breton’s largest watershed encompassing waters that span the Highlands to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. A common catch here might include Atlantic Salmon, Sea Trout or Gaspereau. Fly-fishers from all over the world flock to the Margaree River in October of each year to test their luck at catching one of the hundreds of Atlantic Salmon that make their journey back to the river to spawn.

Don’t fish? No problem. There’s much more to the extensive Margaree River system. Visitors can explore some of the land’s greenery which includes stands of maple-elm forest and alkaline bog among other rare greenery. Those interested in geology will take an interest in sinkholes which are after-effects of Supercontinent Pangaea, and faults in the land around the river system that provide some evidence of the collisions that formed the Appalachian Mountain Chain. Others might prefer a canoe ride down the river or simply listening to the calming, consistent flow of water while taking in a gorgeous sunset.

Bras d Or Lake Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Take a Sailing tour of Bras d’Or Lake

Located in the center of Cape Breton Island and known as one of the best spots for sailing in North America thanks to its unique landscape, Bras d’Or Lake is connected to the great North Atlantic by three natural channels. Within this UNESCO recognized biosphere, you will find diverse marine wildlife, low tide, no fog, many anchorage points and more than 20 launch ramps for trailered boats.

Those hoping for an adventure on the water can make the most of its 450-square-miles with a Bras d’Or Lake boating experience. Whether renting or bringing your own, sailboats, jet skis, yachts and other watercraft are welcome here. Perhaps no activity is more popular here than sailboat racing. Regatta Week, otherwise known as a boat race, is an annual tradition hosted by the Bras d’Or Yacht Club, dating back over 100 years. This event offers thrilling sailboat and yacht races for participants and onlookers with the bonus of social events and classes for hopefuls.

Keen to experience more of Cape Breton? Take a break from hiking, whale-watching and exploring the island’s rugged beaches at these pit stops around and along the Cabot Trail.

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn in Sydney, NS for their suggestions.

Choice Hotels in Nova Scotia