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Cape Breton base?

Fort Worth, Texas
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62 posts
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Cape Breton base?

Hi everyone,

My husband and I are planning to spend 7-8 days in NS in mid-June. We are really going for the Cabot Trail--we love hiking and being outdoors in nature, but we don't really want to camp or be totally isolated. We'd also like to be around some nice restaurants, and arts and culture stuff.

(1) Would you recommend to base out of one place? If so, which location would you recommend? After a day in Halifax ans the drive, we'll really only have 5 days in Cape Breton.

(2) Which side of the cape has better hikes or mountains/scenery? (we're not beach people, so we won't be swimming)

(3) What is the best place to kayak? Would it be too cold to enjoy kayaking in mid-June?

It seems like St Anns is a nice area, but I've also read that the scenery is more dramatic on the western side, so I'm torn as to how to plan our time. I should also mention that we'd like to avoid most of the super-touristy areas. I can't tell if Baddeck fits into this category. We'd like the authentic experience, if possible, without roughing it too much.

Thanks for any guidance you can give!!

Cape Breton Island...
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1. Re: Cape Breton base?

Baddeck is very touristy and a little expensive. Maybe base yourself in Sydney where it wont be too hectic and do your day trips to Baddeck, Louisbourg, and the Cape Breton Highlands. One day you can check out Baddeck/St. Anns. the next day do Louisbourg, then spend two or 3 days hiking in the highlands. Both sides have great scenery, mountains and beaches. I personally like the eastern side but to each is own. P.S. too cold in June to swim in our ocean but just wear layers when kayaking because it may still be a little chilly in early June on the waters.Bras d'or Lakes for kayaking.

Sydney
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2. Re: Cape Breton base?

Lonestar traveller,

My wife and I operate a B&B in Sydney and , with close to a thousand guests each summer have a fairly good idea of most of the tourism related things on the Island. If what you really want to do while in Cape Breton is experience the outdoor/nature, I would likely not stay in the Sydney area. The best kayak operator on the Island is, in my opinion, North River Kayak just north of St Ann's. You can go to his web site (and to a lot of other attractions) from my own site at (www3.ns.sympatico.ca/paradisefound). Another good attraction in that area is the Bird Island Boat Tour which is about 3 hours. The highlight of the tour is the puffin colony on the Island. Most of the real good hikes are in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park anywhere from Cheticamp in the west to Ingonish in the east.

As for a place to stay, it is very difficult to get the mix that you want and be able to do the nature related things and also be in an area that will have good restaurants, cultural events, etc. Baddeck is one option but it can be a bit too touristy. If you stayed in Baddeck you could drive to any of the hikes in less than 2 hours and go kayaking in North River in less than an hour. You could also drive to Louisbourg to visit the Fortress in about 1 1/2 hours. If you stay in Baddeck, a B&B that might meet your requirements would be The Worn Doorstop B&B. A second option would be to stay in Cheticamp on the north west corner of the park. They have quite a few restaurants and there are many good hikes close by. Near Cheticamp I would recommend Pilot Whale B&B.If you decide to stay in the St Ann's area, The Chanterelle Country Inn is superb and it also has an excellent restaurant. In the Cape North area I would recommend Oakwood Manor B&B.

Hope this is of some help

Fort Worth, Texas
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3. Re: Cape Breton base?

Thanks to both of you for your help. It's so nice to have your expertise!

We've decided to spend a few days in the St Anns area, probably at the Chanterelle, and enjoy some kayaking, the artists, and some trails. We'll probably do this after the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

We're still debating about the best place to stay for the western/central parts. My husband thinks maybe Cape North. From the guidebooks, I can't tell how remote it is compared to Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay or Ingonish. Our main goal is to hike, whale watch and experience nature, but we'd also like to have a few choices for some nice places to eat. What would you suggest between Cape North and the other places?

Also, we're considering making the drive from Halifax to CP Highlands Park area in one day, since we'd like to spend as much time in the CP area. Are there any places you'd recommend for a break along the way?

Thanks again!!!

Sydney
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4. Re: Cape Breton base?

My choice would be Cheticamp simply because there are more restaurants and other things to do in the area. A lot of the better hikes are closer to Cheticamp. You can actually take a whale watching tour out of Cheticamp but they take you up to the area off Pleasant Bay anyway so I believe it is better to take one of the tours out of Pleasant Bay and actually spend less time on a boat ride and more time seeing whales. Most of the operators in Pleasant Bayguarantee sightings.Driving time from Cheticamp to Pleasant Bay is only about 35 minutes and it's only another 35 from Pleasant Bay over to Cape North so nothing is really far. There is really only one good restaurant in Cape North while there are many either in Cheticamp or a reasonable drive from Cheticamp.

nova scotia
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5. Re: Cape Breton base?

I agree with pfound- the west side of the island in areas such as Cheticamp or Margaree would be the ideal base for the things you would want to do.

As for the water for kayaking- it would be cool at that time of the year- September is the best time- but it certainly would be refreshing considering it's is supposed to snow in that area tonite!

Don't be alarmed- just a freak weather pattern- I was down in Margaree two weeks ago and it was 30C ( 86F) for two days.

Fort Worth, Texas
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6. Re: Cape Breton base?

Thanks for the feedback. We're now looking into Cheticamp and the areas around there. Pfound recommended Pilot Whale for Cheticamp, but does anyone have recommendations for the areas closer to Margaree, or other recommendations for Cheticamp? It doesn't seem like there are as many options for those areas. By the way, Pfound, we are very excited about the Chanterelle in St Anns. The place looks excellent from what we can tell. Thanks for the tip.

Also, my husband would love to know if there's anything fun that you'd recommend to do that's not in the Doers and Dreamers guide?

You guys are great. Thanks for the help!

nova scotia
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7. Re: Cape Breton base?

Lonestar,

We have stayed at both the Whale Cove cottages and the Island Sunset Resort in Belle Cote ( for a wedding) . They are owned by the same people but certainly very different in terms of cost, amenities and scenery. The Whale Cove would be a good base, there are walking trails and a good beach across the street, and you would have to cook your own food. The Island Sunset is an upscale resort but they do have a restaurant and they are basically on the beach. There is also the Duck Cove Inn as well- all of these are in and around Margaree Harbour.

Sydney
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8. Re: Cape Breton base?

I am obviously biased towards B&Bs as I think you get more bang for your buck. The room rate includes a full, often gourmet breakfast. Most B&Bs have internet available frr, parking free, and one on one engagement with the host/hostess who are normally more than ready to provide you with good information on what there is to do in the area - sort of like this forum. A good B&B in the Margaree area is Chimney Corner B&B in Chimney Corner just south of Margaree harbour off Rte 219. It overlooks the water and is a most tranquikl spot. Bob & Jan are excellent hosts and Jan's breakfast is superb. They alo have 3 cottages on the property.

Fort Worth, Texas
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62 posts
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9. Re: Cape Breton base?

We're still looking at the options from Mabou to Cheticamp. It looks like Cheticamp is really the best spot to be close to the park, but there seem to be fewer good choices for accommodations than down towards Margaree and Mabou. I have written the two resorts in the area to see if they'd offer any kind of discount, but no response yet.

Has anyone stayed at Pilot Whale chalets recently? There aren't many pictures available on their website. What kind of furnishings do they have (modern or more dated)? How was the mattress and linens?

Thanks!

10. Re: Cape Breton base?

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