Margaree Salmon Association

Margaree Salmon Association. The association is heavily involved in salmon conservation and habitat restoration, and has put together a pamphlet, available on its website, outlining Margaree River fishing etiquette. In addition to the fishing advice, the pamphlet lists the names and contact information of guides who know the river well and can help you catch that trophy-size salmon. The guides typically charge C$200 per day. Margaree Harbour, NS. 902/248–2578.

Captain Zodiac Whale Cruise

Captain Zodiac Whale Cruise. The operators of these cruises aboard Zodiac vessels are so confident you'll spot a whale—finbacks, humpbacks, minkes, and pilots are the ones most sighted—that they'll refund your money if you don't. Trips (C$49) take place daily from May through October. Chéticamp, NS. 902/224–1088 or 877/232–2522.

Le Portage Golf Club

Le Portage Golf Club. The beautiful but formidable holes at Le Portage overlook the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Course designers Robert and David Moote incorporated 60 sand bunkers, which together with the area's heavy winds provide no end to challenges no matter what your skill level. 15580 Cabot Trail Rd., Chéticamp, NS, B0E 1H0. 902/224–3338 or 888/618–5558. Course: 18 holes. 6777 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $39/$59. Mid-Apr.–Oct. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro-shop, lessons, restaurant, bar.

Little Pond Stables

Little Pond Stables. Daily horseback rides travel along wooded trails, beaches, and foothill paths. Tours (from C$30 to $60) last between 30 and 90 minutes and set out at 9 am, noon, 3, and 5:30. Other activities include pony rides (C$1 per minute or C$25 for 30 minutes), wagon rides, and winter sleigh rides. 103 LaPointe Rd., 5 km (3 miles) north of Chéticamp, off Cabot Trail, Petit Etang, NS, B0E 2M0. 902/224–3858 or 888/250–6799.

Whale Cruisers Ltd.

Whale Cruisers Ltd.. This outfit runs three-hour tours (C$40.25) aboard a 13-meter (42-foot) vessel two or three times daily from mid-May through mid-October. Government Wharf, Main St., Chéticamp, NS, B0E 1H0. 902/224–3376 or 800/813–3376.


Captain Mark's Whale & Seal Cruise. Sightings are guaranteed on tours, from June through mid-September, aboard inflatable boats (C$44) or a 42-foot research vessel (C$35). Well-trained guides and researchers from Dalhousie University narrate the tours on the research vessel. Harbour Rd., off Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay, NS, B0E 2P0. 902/224–1316 or 888/754–5112.

Fiddlin' Whale Tours. Captain Stan MacKinnon adds music to the whale-watching mix, so you can enjoy his traditional Cape Breton fiddling as you scan the waves for whales (C$40, plus C$2 for parking). This may seem like a bizarre pairing, but apparently whales respond to the pitch and sometimes contribute their own songs. An on-board hydrophone helps you hear them. Harbour Rd., off Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay, NS, B0E 2P0. 902/383–2340 or 866/688–2424.

Cabot Links

Cabot Links. As Canada's only true links course, designed by Rod Whitman and opened in 2012, Cabot Links has caused much excitement among players and golf media alike, and with good reason. Set along the rugged Cape Breton seashore near Inverness, it is both challenging and stunningly scenic, and comes with superb lodging and dining options as well. This is a walking-only course, so no buggy rentals. 15933 Central Ave., 22 km (14 miles) north of Mabou on the Cabot Trail, Inverness, NS, B0E 1N0. 902/258–4653 or 855/652–2268. Course: 18 holes. 6942 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $130/$150. Mid-May–mid-Nov. Facilities: Putting green, pull carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro-shop, restaurant, bar.

Mabou Highlands

Mabou Highlands. The Cape Mabou Trail Club maintains 35 km (21 miles) of nature trails, 14 in total, on this mountain range. Gaelic-speaking immigrants from Scotland settled this region of plunging cliffs, isolated beaches, rising mountains, and glens, meadows, and hardwood forests, and some of the trails follow tracks made by carts traveling to and from the pioneer settlements. Today the area is so hauntingly quiet that you might halfway expect to meet the sidhe, the Scottish fairies, capering on the hillsides. Trail maps can be purchased from local retailers or online.

Mabou, NS.

Captain Cox's Whale Watch

Captain Cox's Whale Watch. Several tours (C$45) in a speedy Zodiac set out daily from July to mid-September from Bay St. Lawrence Wharf. Tours last between 2 and 2½ hours, and if you don't see a whale, you get another trip for free. Bay St. Lawrence Rd., off Cabot Trail, Bay St. Lawrence, NS. 902/383–2981 or 888/346–5556.

Eagle North

Eagle North. Based in Dingwall, which neighbors Cape North, this outfitter offers kayak tours (from C$45) as well as boat and bike rentals (from C$15 and C$10 per hour respectively), from May through October. 299 Shore Rd., South Harbour, Dingwall, NS, B0C 1G0. 902/383–2552 or 888/616–1689.

Oshan Whale Watch

Oshan Whale Watch. The C$30 charge for a 2½-hour trip on a working lobster boat is a bargain, and if you don't sight a whale, you get another trip free. 3384 Bay St. Lawrence Rd., Bay St. Lawrence, NS, B0C 1G0. 902/383–2883 or 877/383–2883.

Highlands Links

Highlands Links. Perennially ranked as one of Canada's top courses, Highlands was designed by Stanley Thompson, who dubbed it "the mountains and ocean" course. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, 247 Keltic Inn Rd., Ingonish Beach, NS, B0C 1L0. 902/285–2600 or 800/441–1118. Course: 18 holes. 6592 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $79/$105. Mid-May–late Oct. Facilities: Putting green, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro-shop, lessons, restaurant, bar.

North River Kayak Tours

North River Kayak Tours. Half-day (C$64) and full-day (C$109) guided excursions are conducted from mid-May to mid-October by this outfitter. A light lunch is included in the former, and full-day tours include a hot lunch cooked on the beach. Basic rentals are also available. Aspiring songwriters—no experience required—can take the Songwriting Kayaker Tour (C$249), including a full day of kayaking, a night's stay at a B&B, a songwriting lesson from an East Coast Music Award–nominated musician, and a copy of the tune you create. 644 Murray Rd., 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Baddeck via Cabot Trail, North River Bridge, NS, B0E 1B0. 902/929–2628 or 888/865–2925.

Fortress of Louisbourg property

Fortress of Louisbourg property. The sprawling property has a series of free hiking trails, some with historical and First Nations relevance, that lead to a lighthouse, redoubts, and a swimmable beach at Kennington Cove where the conquering New Englanders and Brits both came ashore. 259 Parks Service Rd., Louisbourg, NS, B1C 2L2. 902/733–2280.


Rising Tide Expeditions. You can dip into the past with a full-day kayaking excursion called "Fortress of Louisbourg: Paddle Through Time" for C$135 from May through October. Other packages combine kayaking with hiking or yoga. 8806 Gabarus Highway, 55 km (34 miles) from Louisbourg (by road) via Hwy. 327, Gabarus, NS, B1K 2S4. 902/884–2884 or 877/884–2884.

Peterfield Provincial Park

Peterfield Provincial Park. Take a hike through history at this park on the south arm of Sydney Harbour. Initially developed as the private domain of David Matthews, a onetime mayor of New York City who remained loyal to the crown during the War of Independence, its 56 acres are laced with trails. 1126 Westmount Rd., off Hwy. 239, Westmount, Sydney, NS, B1R 1C6. 902/662–3030 Nova Scotia Provincial Parks. Free. Mid-May–mid-Oct.


Bell Bay Golf Club. In addition to panoramic views from nearly all its holes, the club has a highly regarded golf school and one of the largest practice facilities in Eastern Canada. Thomas McBroom, responsible for several dozen courses in Canada, along with some in Europe and the Caribbean, designed Bell Bay. 761 Hwy. 205, Baddeck, NS, B0E 1B0. 902/295–1333 or 800/565–3077. Course: 18 holes, 7037 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $70/$85. Mid-May–Oct. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.

Boat Tours

Amoeba Sailing Tours. Take a tour aboard a sleek schooner (C$25), lasting from 90 minutes to two hours, which views bald eagles and the Bell Estate. Trips depart daily at 11, 2, and 4:30 from June to mid-October, with an extra sailing at 6:30 pm in July and August. Baddeck Wharf, Baddeck, NS. 902/295–2481 or 902/295–1426.

Donelda's Puffin Boat Tours. The Bird Islands, 2 km (1 mile) from the entrance to Bras d'Or Lake, are the breeding grounds for Atlantic puffins, as well as other seabirds and gray seals. To see them, sign up for one of these narrated nature cruises (C$38). From mid-May to late September, boats depart daily from Englishtown, about 28 km (17 miles) northeast of Baddeck. 1099 Hwy. 312, just before the Englishtown Ferry, Englishtown, NS, B0C 1H0. 902/929–2563 or 877/278–3346.

Paddle Dog. Easy 90-minute to 2-hour guided kayak tours on Bras d'Or Lake are offered three times daily in July and August (C$44). 22 Water St., Baddeck, NS, B0E 1B0. 902/929–2628.

No Header

Iona, 77 km (48 miles) south of Baddeck, is admittedly off the beaten path. To reach Iona from Baddeck, follow Highway 105 to Exit 6, which leads to Little Narrows, then board a cable ferry for the two-minute ride to the Iona Peninsula (C$5; 24 hours a day, year-round). If you’re big on Gaelic culture, a visit to the living history museum there will be ample reward.

The 40-acre "village" is set high on a mountainside with a spectacular view of Bras d'Or Lake and narrow Barra Strait. Its 11 historical buildings (among them a forge, a school, a church, and a barn filled with heritage breeds of livestock) were assembled from all over the province to depict the Highland Scots' way of life, from their origins in the Hebrides to the present day. Costumed animators who tackle daily chores lend the village a further touch of authenticity and are always on the ready to give an impromptu Gaelic lesson. Interactive programs include games and activities for children. There's a gift shop on-site as well as a Genealogy and Family History Center (open by appointment) that may be of interest to anyone with Cape Breton blood in their veins.