Canada, North America, The Maritime Provinces

Cape Breton Island: the Jewel of Nova Scotia

September 20, 2013

Today is my brother’s birthday, so if you know him, go wish him a happy birthday! :) 


One of my main reasons of doing this trip is to drive the Cabot Trail. Actually, it’s pretty much the only driving force (pun intended!) behind this trip. Located on the northern part of Nova Scotia, specifically on Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is hailed by many to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. I mean, you know something is legit when it makes it onto National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime” list! The 298 Km trail hugs the outskirts of the island, with the most stunning scenery situated within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

By the third day we were together, we have the whole getting-ready-in-the-morning routine down to a pat. We know who’s going in first and how long each person takes to transform his/herself from their sleepy-self to their somewhat-awake state of existence. And so it went the morning before we drove the Trail. We spent the day before going around P.E.I., only checking into our Charlottetown hotel around 10 PM at night. After getting roughly 6 hours of sleep, we forced ourselves out of our blankets, got ready, and grabbed a quick breakfast (with free Tim Hortons Coffee!) at the lobby before heading out to catch the 9:30 AM ferry from Wood Islands, PEI.


The ferry ride itself was smooth-sailing and nothing exciting; it was definitely better than the crossing I did from Ireland to England or from England to the Netherlands. We sat down, each of us with our own go-to activity (journaling, for me) and occasionally munched on the bag of Jalapeno Cheetos that we picked up from the Atlantic Superstore in Moncton. *Pro-tip: always have snacks with you on road trips!
Leaving PEI

Leaving PEI


An hour later, we arrived at Caribou, Nova Scotia, to a bright and sunny day with a gorgeous blue sky that was decorated with wisps of white clouds. This was the only day it didn’t rain while we were in the East Coat – what a perfect timing! After an obligatory stop at a Tim Hortons, we promptly started our driving itinerary for the day. Our destination? Cape Breton Island.


It would take us another 2 hours to get to the Visitors’ Centre at the island, but the drive felt very quick. You see, driving in the east coast is very different than driving in Toronto. As someone who often drives up and down the Don Valley Parkway and travels east and west on the 401, I’m used to the crazy driver who suddenly cuts in front of me (sans signal, mind you), not fearing one bit for his life nor mine. I’m also used to seeing thousands of other cars speeding by and sky scrappers lining up on either side of the highway. This was not the case with Nova Scotia. The blue sky takes up 80% of what you can see, the almost-empty road unfolds before you and, sometimes, if you are paying attention, you can see it curving at a distance as it meanders around a hill or a valley.
Photo by Jess

Photo by Jess

We got to the Visitors’ Centre, went in, grabbed some maps, consulted the guide inside and was consequently told that it would take us closer to 5 or 6 hours to drive the entire trail. Considering it was only about 11:30, we figured even if we stop for an hour for lunch, we would still have enough daylight to see everything. We decided to start from the western coast and loop clockwise to the Eastern coast before arriving at our accommodation at East Boularderie.

With this plan in mind, we slowly made our way around the coast, passing by charming villages, and stopping as often as we please. Below is a collection of pictures that we took during this drive. I hope you enjoy them.

Cute welcome signs (like this one) are scattered throughout the Trail.

Cute welcome signs (like this one) are scattered throughout the Trail. Photo by William.

Cabot2 Cabot3 Cabot4 Cabot5

Photo by Jess

Photo by Jess

Cabot1 Cabot6 IMAG1586-1

Scrolling through my pictures, I feel like a failure because none of them does justice to how beautiful it actually was. Yet, I also feel like I couldn’t take enough pictures as every viewpoint we stopped at gave a beautiful view that took my breath away. It is really no wonder why this drive made it onto the coveted National Geographic list – it’s simply stunning and it definitely deserves the title as one of the Drives of a Lifetime!

1 Comment

  • Reply Beautiful Churches: L'Église St-Pierre, Chéticamp | Tales of a Pilgrim September 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    […] were only 90 minutes into our drive around the Cabot Trail when we passed by the church. I don’t really know what compelled me to turn into the parking […]

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