A picturesque island paradise that’s been rated the #1 Island in North America; a scenic haven with miles of coastline; and a great outdoors filled with endless opportunities for recreation—all of this (and more) can be found on what is often referred to as Canada’s best island: the Nova Scotian gem of Cape Breton.
While not as talked about as other scenic Canadian coastlines such as Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island has developed a reputation for its rugged, spectacular scenery that includes a parade of Instagrammable landscapes—from rolling forested hills to spectacular coastal views; wild waterfalls, and a saltwater inland sea, Cape Breton Island has rightfully earned its accolades as one of the most beautiful islands around.
About Cape Breton Island
Situated on Canada’s East Coast lies the enchanting island of Cape Breton. A scenic gem at the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island is connected to the mainland by the mile-long Canso Causeway—but it might as well be a world away. Known for its stunning natural beauty that includes miles of glorious coastline, Cape Breton is known for its scenery—but it’s the island’s culture and history that truly sets it apart. Also known as Unama’ki, the island is a place where cultures come together to form communities rich in ancestry and a proud (yet ever-present) past: a melting pot of Aboriginal, Gaelic, and Acadian cultures that is the real beating heart of this amazing coastal wonder set to the backdrop of heart-stopping scenery that sets the stage for outdoor adventure and recreation—the ideal way to explore, learn, play, and simply bask in this historic Canadian haven.
The Great Outdoors
Cape Breton Island may only be just over 100-miles long, but it’s packed with enough outdoor adventure to peak the imagination of any traveler looking to explore its wide and wonderful wilderness. From hiking and cycling, to waterfall watching and kayaking, Cape Breton Island’s iconic scenery awaits intrepid travelers looking for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.
Soak Up The Scenery
There are plenty of ways to appreciate the majestic beauty of Camp Breton Island while relaxing and simply soaking up nature’s most stunning sights from any number of scenic spots throughout this idyllic island.
- Though it’s dubbed a ‘lake’ Bras d’Or is actually Canada’s inland sea—a saltwater paradise ringed by verdantly green forested hills set among the water. And Bras d’Or like is more than just stunning scenery, it’s an epicenter for both culture and conservation, too
- Cape Breton’s South Coast consists of a number of fishing villages, keys, and hidden coves along the Canso Causeway all the way to historic Louisbourg
- The coastal communities of Canada’s Musical Coast may be known for their enduring musical traditions, but this area of Cape Breton Island also has plenty of scenery—including the Celtic Shores Coastline and Trail; Highland hiking and coastline views; and spectacular vistas that include nearby Blueberry Mountain
Take A Hike In Cape Breton
Known as a hiker’s paradise, Cape Breton is home to a number of scenic trails that explore the area’s diverse natural landscape—waterfalls, mountains, forests, and coastline as far as the eye can see, shape the island’s distinctive topography and make for exciting outdoor adventures that make it easy to explore this iconic isle. Below are some of Cape Breton Island’s top hikes, all of which are located in Cape Breton Highlands Park and part of the larger Cabot Trail, unless otherwise indicated.
- Acadian Trail Panoramic coastline views set the stage for this over 5-mile moderate hike that leads visitors high above the Chéticamp River.
- Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail A coastal hiking experience filled with stunning ocean vistas, this easy 1.3-mile long loop begins in front of the Louisbourg Lighthouse across the harbor from the historic Fortress of Louisbourg This trail is not a part of Cape Breton Highlands Park
- Aspy Trail A rugged, moderately difficult 6-mile return trail along the Aspy fault, this trail is known for tranquil forest scenery and is home to species like the barred owl and the great horned owl—so be sure to bring those binoculars!
- Skyline Trail A level boardwalk trail awaits hikers on this easy five-mile loop that offers dramatic views of the rugged coastline and plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching—including whales in the nearby Gulf of St. Lawrence.
More Outdoor Fun In Cape Breton
- One of the best ways to experience this famed coastline is by water—and kayaking and canoeing is the best way to do it
- Adventure on two wheels awaits visitors who embark on a cycling adventure on one of Cape Breton Island’s many cycling routes, including the popular Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
- Sleep under the stars and enjoy the vast beauty of one of Cape Breton’s wooded hideaways or ocean retreats with a view just waiting for travelers who want to camp out
- Go chasing waterfalls at one of the island’s top spots for catching these watery wonders. Some of the most popular include North River Falls (Nova Scotia’s tallest); MacIntosh Brook Falls; Beulach Ban Falls (located in Cape Breton Highlands Park); and Corney Brook Falls
On the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia lies the beautiful island of Cape Breton. Famed for its stunning scenery and unforgettable views, this idyllic isle is also home to a cultural and historical heritage that is ever-present in the very landscapes that make up this charming Canadian gem. And with the well-earned moniker of Canada’s #1 Island, Cape Breton will surely continue to enchant and delight visitors in its own little corner of Nova Scotia for years to come.