The Best Spots To Visit On Cape Breton IslandOn November 3, 2022 by jmweb
Cape Breton is always a gorgeous destination. In the fall, the colours of the leaves change and the majestic beauty comes out in full stride. Photographers from far and wide flock to the Island. I always visit in the fall as I love the magnificent beauty. In 2021, I started in Quebec City and followed the fall foilage East as the colours changed. Ending up in Cape Breton just in time. In 2022, as with everything from July on, I was late only making it to Cape Breton at the end of October.
As photographers flock to the Island every fall, so don’t tourists. The festival Celtic Colours comes alive with many different performances all over the Island. Everything from Celtic music to tap dancing starts in various locals all across the Island. And lately, a food truck festival has been popping up.
Music plays an important role in Cape Breton. In every corner you will find musical references or the ability to buy local music. It’s capped off with a huge fiddle in Sydney, the capital of Cape Breton. The gigantic fiddle is right along the harbor where the cruise ships dock.
If you haven’t guessed, Cape Breton is a favourite destination of mine.
In 2021, when FujiFilm was lending me their new GFX 100 s to play around with, where did I go? Cape Breton.
In 2022, Hassleblad was going to send me their new X2D to play with. After the X2D ended up in the water prior to being shipped to me, I went to Cape Breton with my Sony A7r IV’s.
Everyone asks, where do I go in Cape Breton? Well, let’s get onto it.
1. The Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail starts around the Red Barn Gift Shop and ends around the Englishtown ferry. It definitely consists of a wide area that takes hours to travel. The road takes you around many twists and turns as you navigate around the Northern areas of Cape Breton.
Every corner is an opportunity for something new to see. There is no shortage of beauty everywhere on the trail. My favourites are along the coast where the sea meets land. Combine nice waves with a beautiful coast and you got an incredible image.
2. Fortress of Louisbourg
The Fortress of Louisbourg, on the Eastern part of Cape Breton, brings you back to a historical area built in the 1700’s. In the 1960’s & 1970’s the federal government rebuilt a quarter of the fortress using different items such as the old brick. It was a major investment in a marvellous place and every time I visit, I wish the federal government would invest more.
Before ever doing business with the Fortress (they are a client), I loved the place. To this date, I still love it. The historical components are just something I absolutely love getting involved in. Over time I have made many friends at the fortress and was honoured when I was asked to do a book on it years ago.
I visited the Fortress right before going to Newfoundland this year. During this visit, one of the staff recognized me from my many visits and mentioned they have a house you can rent out for the night. They thought I’d enjoy it and it just so happened, the house was available that night I was there. Of course I had to rent it. I thought this was great as I had wanted to do some astrophotography that night. It was supposed to be clear, till sunset happened and the fog set in. It was eerie but awesome.
They also usually rent out tents (see below) but this year they cut the tent rentals short (I’ve never stayed in the tents, yet).
A secret tip: Across from the Fortress of Louisbourg is a lighthouse, it is the oldest Lighthouse in Canada. It’s definitely worth the trip over and makes for a great sunrise or picnic location. It was featured on my first jigsaw puzzle for Cape Breton (bottom left).
3. Eygpt Falls
One of the most popular waterfalls on the Island is Egypt Falls. For the most part, the hike is on an hill (up or down depending on the direction) with a larger decline/incline at the end. Thankfully, there is a rope for people like me who aren’t fans of heights. I do use the rope when going down as it helps slow me down. While going up the incline, I usually just run it with my camera gear on my back. The hike is definitely worth it if you are able too. Be sure to bring waterproof footwear.
4. Beulach Ban Falls
Another popular waterfall is the Beulach Ban Falls. It’s easier to get to than Egypt Falls as it is a relatively short walk on mostly even ground and is a gem of a spot. Beulach Ban Falls is on the opposite side of the National Park as Cheticamp and is right close to a small National Park campground. It may or may not be closed currently due to Fiona damage but it was upon writing this blog (October, 2022).
5. Cape Clear
Cape Clear allows for some incredible panoramic views. The beauty of this location hasn’t fully been captured yet. I’ve hoped to capture it from the air however I haven’t been in Cape Breton at the right time and place. Ideally, I’d love to capture it from the air in a helicopter. Helicopter tours used to be offered pre-Covid and I didn’t make it during peak fall foliage in 2022 to find out if they are.
6. Meat Cove
The Northern tip of Cape Breton Island is always worth a visit. On the rare occasion, you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights from here. I’ve only ever observed them twice during my trips to Cape Breton but there is plenty of trails up here to hike around.
7. North River Falls
For those a bit more adventurous, North River Falls is a gorgeous long hike into the wilderness close to Baddeck. It can also be accessed via other ways, i.e. helicopter (above). There are additionally two other waterfalls you can access via the same park.
If you’re up for a hike, go for the four hour adventure in and be marvelled by a gorgeous waterfall. But be sure to climb the hill so you can see the entire height of it.
On my most recent visit (late October 2022), I was also informed you can access the top of the waterfall via the many dirt roads that are networked in the back woods of Cape Breton. It’s the same road network that allows you to access Cape Clear. It is on my list of things to do on my next journey over.
However be forewarned, some of the back roads require good tires. As there is no cell phone service in most areas, it would be a hike to call for help. That said, lots of the back roads lead to great spots!
I could probably rave about other waterfalls….and it was a planned book which I’ll probably finish eventually so for now, I’ll quit talking about the waterfalls but know there are plenty.
8. Gypsum Mine
Only a few kilometres away from Cheticamp is the Gypsum mine. It was a huge economic driver of the community way back when. There was a train (after horse and buggy) that transported the gypsum from the mine to the Cheticamp Harbour to a 5000 ton ship. Now a days it plays a role in being a beautiful lake to go swim in or for people to take selfies at.
9. Cabot Links
The golf course in Inverness is world-renowned. People travel from all over to play here. Some driving in others flying in via plane or helicopter. And depending on the success of their newest endeavour, they may be expanding.
10. Black Brook Cove Beach
Black Brook Cove Beach is one of my favourite destinations in Cape Breton. Sadly, it’s not your typical Cape Breton scene. If I post a photo and ask where it is from, most would think Newfoundland over Cape Breton, but it is on the Eastern shores of the highlands is this gem. I’ve wanted to use this image on my jigsaw puzzles but since its not something you’d quickly identify as a Cape Breton scene, I haven’t.
Behind the Black Brook Cove Beach are trails you can go in and explore that take you out around multiple coves. The trails & coves in the back of there are gorgeous and if you’re lucky you might just capture a crew of fishermen working along the coast.
11. White Point
Close to Neil’s Harbour, is a beautiful location to go for a shorter hike. It’s White Point which lives up to its name. It also has a good amount of bird or sea life activity to capture some imagery of.
Now there are many more spots I could include like Mabou, Franey Mountain, Pleasant Bay, Baddeck, Isle Madame, Sydney, etc, but I’ll save that for another blog post.