I just returned from the east coast and from the bottom of my heart I believe that everyone needs to go to Cape Breton now. If there was ever a travel prescription for obtaining inner peace it’s this emerald island just off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Full disclosure, I didn’t always feel this way. I actually hated Cape Breton for a long time. My family roots run deep on this island, so every single summer vacation growing up was spent there visiting family. By the time I was a surly teenager I had had enough and refused to go. “Um, like, there’s so many better places out there,” I’d say with an eye roll and a hair flip. Sigh, youth is wasted on the young.
I’ve been to many of the places I would have deemed better back then —The Islands of Tahiti, Iceland, France, Italy — and while I loved them all, it is Cape Breton, the place I rejected for so long, that has captured my heart for good. I am the Prodigal Daughter returned, and I am so grateful that Cape Breton welcomed me back with open arms. Home for less than a week now, I’m already researching places to rent for the entire summer next year; I simply can’t wait to return.
What makes this island paradise so special will be different for everyone, but I can tell you that if you’re seeking peace and an escape from the frenetic pace of your life, then head east young man, head east.
Five Reasons to Go to Cape Breton
The Cabot Trail
My cousin Tanya is a nervous passenger in a car, so the day we hit The Cabot Trail, I let her drive my car. Halfway through the trip though, I couldn’t take it any longer. I forced her into the passenger seat because if a road can be sexy as hell, The Cabot Trail is the hottest thing out there. Oh baby, those curves are hot.
Built for drivers, this road twists and turns 298 kilometres around Cape Breton offering stunning views the entire way. Frequently getting top billing in Top Ten Lists around the globe for best highway and most scenic drive, if driving turns you on, then get thee to the Northern Tip of Cape Breton and hit the gas baby.
I have a theory that the further east you travel from Ontario, the nicer the people get. We’re Canadian and yes, we’re all nice, so don’t even think about at’ing me on this. I’m not suggesting Vancouver is filled with mean people, just that if the sliding scale starts at Nice in Vancouver, and ends with Nicest in Newfoundland, then Cape Bretoners are pretty damn close to perfection.
The first time someone asks if “you’re from away”, or calls you “dear” in their wonderfully unique Cape Breton accent, you’ll get a little tug on your heart strings. Welcoming and warm, Cape Bretoners treat everyone like family and their attitude is contagious. I guarantee you’ll return home a littler nicer yourself.
If there was a natural habitat for me, it would most definitely be on a beach. In Cape Breton, I returned to the motherland. From hunting for sea glass on Florence Beach, to swimming in the Bras D’or Lakes at Groves Point, to jumping in the waves at Ingonish, I lived in my swimsuit and lapped up every delicious moment getting salty.
Water is every where on this island though, so you can also cool off in the Gypsum Mine near Cheticamp, dunk in the freshwater lake just steps from the ocean at Ingonish, and wash off the salt under a gorgeous waterfall at Black Brook Beach.
The best part of all of this is that there are so many options to enjoy the water in Cape Breton, there is rarely overcrowding anywhere you go.
I wasn’t kidding about prescribing Cape Breton for your stress earlier. Dr. Candace here, and the science is conclusive that spending 20 minutes a day in nature can dramatically reduce your stress levels. It stands to reason then, that a trip to Cape Breton is like throwing yourself in a natural detox tank.
Cape Breton has a wonderful lack of commercialization, and an abundance of wide open spaces. I didn’t get to hike on this trip, but when I return next year, I am definitely hitting the trails in the highlands for some serious de-stressing.
Cheaper Than Therapy
Accommodations in Cape Breton range from high end like the Keltic Lodge to modest, like camping in the Cape Breton Highlands with Parks Canada. Finding a place to stay that is suited to your budget is easy.
Here’s the absolutely joyful part about Cape Breton though. You’ll find no outlet malls, crazy theme parks, or tourist traps to drain your wallet. What you will find are amazing cultural experiences like ceilidhs and natural excursions like checking out Puffins on Bird Island. More importantly though you’ll find wide open spaces to clear your head and fill your heart. Cheers to you Cape Breton, I’ll see you next summer.