My husband & I toured Cape Breton from July 29 - Aug 5 and had a great trip. We flew to Halifax and rented a car. We decided to spend 2 days in 3 different places so we could really explore. We stayed along the coast rather than going through Baddeck. The first was 2 nights in Mabou. This area has beautiful farms and is very pretty. We stayed at the Duncreigan. It was very nice, with a great breakfast. We were a liitle disappointed in the lack of view from our room but other than that it was fine. We discovered Inverness 15 minutes north the morning we left Mabou and wished we had stayed there as there were more restaurants and pubs and is right on the ocean.
The drive from Mabou around to Ingonish was spectacular. We picked up some cooked lobster and fresh bread in Cheticamp and ate it for lunch at a picnic table in Pleasant Bay. We left the Cabot trail to go up to Bay St. Lawrence. The detour was well worth the time. There are a couple of whale watching tour boats there. Dennis Cox, our captain was persistent in making sure we saw whales and did not give up even after a couple of hours. We ended up seeing many pilot whales that were all around and even under our boat. Took us right up to Cape North and into a cove to see several harbour seals and tooks us back close to shore to see some facinate rock formations and water falls. The whole cruise was a generous 3 1/2 hours. A snack of fried clams for the final leg of our drive to Ingonish tied us over until a fantastic dinner at the Seascape Coastal Retreat in Ingonish, which was a great finish to a memorable day. We spent 2 nights there in a lovely little cottage right on the ocean with a great view. The cottages were a little pricey $250 a night, but that did included a full breakfast. We ate dinner both nights at the same restaurant because it was so good. Our explorations in the Ingonish area included a drive through Neils Harbour, a walk to the end of White's point... which is a must do! Indescribable beauty!! A snack of fresh raw oysters at a picnic table from a "camp ground and oyster mart" WOW!
Day 5 was off to Louisbourg. More breathtaking scenery along the way. We took the scenic route from Glace Bay and passed through many quaint hamlets, with beautiful sandy beaches. Louisbourg is a great little town with lots of history. We stayed a Mid-town cottages. Very clean, cosy and reasonable, and within walking distance to everything. We went to a show at the Louisbourg Playhouse... Laughter and Lyrics. Cape Breton Music with a few hilarious skits mixed in.. definately a highlight of our trip. Crabfest was that weekend and although we couldn't be there the Sat. night for crab, we went the Fri night for the freshest mussles we've ever eaten and some great music.
We spent our last night downtown Halifax, a wonderful city and flew out the next day. We highly recommend taking your time to explore Cape Breton as there is far more to experience than just a scenic drive around the Cabot trail. The people, culture and food, food, food... are worth the time! Definately one of our best trips. My Husband had an injured foot so we didn't get to do any hiking...next time!