I’m still sitting here a couple weeks after our drive through the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, trying to figure out how I lived my early life in Nova Scotia and Summer visits, not even touching foot in Cape Breton? It really surprised me that I spent the last 35 years so close to this part of Nova Scotia without experiencing the very Canadian thing to do, drive the Cabot Trail. Of course I always heard of its beauty and saw short clips on TV commercials, thinking ” One day I’ll get there”! Haha Well this past August I got there!
My younger sister and I came up with this plan on a whim. Literally, we knew we were going to hit the road in the Mazda CX-50 and just drive our way up the province to Cape Breton without any real plan of where to head first, where to eat, where to stay… Spoiler alert: We stayed the night in the back of the Mazda CX-50 with the seats down, an air mattress, sheets and pillows haha
We left our parents place in Mahone Bay bright and early in the morning and took off on the open clear road. We knew that we wanted to start up the centre and loop around on the left side against the coast to stop at beaches and really get a good scenic drive.
Up through Baddack and across we made our way up to Cheticamp and kept driving up to start of the Parks Canada Cabot Trail. You will need to get yourself a Parks Canada pass so pre-plan or visit at the visitor centre there to purchase one. To enter the National Park, you will need to pay a fee of $7.50 per day. Once paid, you will have access to all of the trails located within the park (the Skyline Trail, Franey Trail, etc.). You will be given a white receipt to put on the dash of your car to prove that you paid, and how many days you have access to the park.
WHEN TO VISIT THE CABOT TRAIL
I would suggest visiting in the Summer and Fall months. To get the best weather and leave colour changing. The winter months are cold, it gets dark early, and most places are closed. Also, the roads along the Cabot Trail have lots of turns and twists so it would be much more difficult to drive there in the winter.
Our first few hours in Cape Breton, I’m telling you it poured, so dress for the unpredictable weather. Sneakers, hiking boots, rain jacket, layers, etc.
One stop we really wanted to make was the Skyline Trail. Unfortunately for us, the weather was insane and it kept us from making it to the finish line. The wind and rain picked up so intensely we turned back around to the car. It’s quite a long trek, about 7 kilometres around hike. But from what I’ve seen in photos completely breath taking! There’s plenty of parking, restroom before entering parking and a little map located on the beginning of the trail. All in all it is quite easy to find.
While driving through we stopped at every beach and every scenic spot we could find from the start of the trail to about Pleasant Bay Area. Now the real question is either driving the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise and the real answer is counterclockwise so that when you’re driving around the most scenic spot you are closer to the ocean views. Either way it worked out really nicely for us and we enjoyed it. Lots of beaches to stop at and take photos soaking it all in.
SCENIC STOPS & DRIVING MAZDA CX-50
The whole Cabot Trail is beautiful and worth every second. The drive was so smooth and exhilarating in the Mazda CX-50. The rolling hills and ocean views over looking. We defiantly stopped at every spot we could to stretch our legs and check out cool rocks and shells. Just remember to use driver safety when stopping at these spots!
The Mazda CX-50 was a very comfortable drive there and back being about 12 hours in total driving time for us. It had lots of safety features like Driver Attention Alert (DAA), Distance Recognition Support System (DRSS), Emergency Lane Keeping with Blind Spot Assist and Smart City Brake Support Rear (SCBS-R) and more that kept me feeling safe on the road. It has the active driving display that shows the speed on the front of the drivers window.
Good fuel range and cargo space in the back. This vehicle is really equipped to handle any terrain and weather.
Inside the interior is soft, rich and full of detail. The comfort is beyond anything I’ve ever had in a vehicle with heated and cooling seats. It curves to your body frame and snugs you in like a warm hug. With Bose system and ApplePlay, you can really get far in style and comfort driving with this. I absolutely loved the colour too. See your local Mazda dealer for more details on the Mazda CX-50. I promise it won’t disappoint!
Please stop here! Its a big turnoff spot just a few kilometres away from the end of the trail to Cheticamp. It’s incredible, the views are insane and the ocean is as far as the eye can see!
On our way back from exploring the Cabot Trail we stopped in Cheticamp and explored a little before it got dark. We stopped for lobster rolls and enjoyed the historic spots like St.Peters Church built in 1893. It’s grand and beautiful sitting just on the side of the road not hard to find. Cheticamp is rich in Acadian culture. Chéticamp has proven to be one of the most active Acadian communities in the Atlantic Provinces. In the years after the Deportation, it was the mountains and the ocean coast which drew Acadians from the south coast of Cape Breton and from Prince Edward Island to this area.
This is where we decided to sleep for the evening. This beach will provide free overnight beach spots you can stay at overnight. We loved it. We pumped up the air mattress cleaned out the back seat, cracked the windows and listened to the waves crash all night. So quiet and still. Such a comfy sleep. Late in the night we could see lightning light up the sky across the ocean.
The next morning we were up bright and early and set off on our drive home. Yes, we stayed only one night. It can be done haha I wish we had more time but this was all we had and wanted to make it happen. So the drive home we made sure to take advantage of every gorgeous beach stop. Walk the boardwalks and dip our feet in the sand. Taking it all in while we could.
While visiting Inverness we found some really adorable shops, some were closed on the day we drove through but its a very quaint little town to stop in. We grabbed coffee at a little coffee shop and moseyed around checking it all out. I also had a little birdie tell me you can find amazing beach glass at Inverness Beach!
Port Hood is another really cute town to stop at and explore. Known for FIVE BEACHES just in this little area. We stopped and checked out Boardwalk Beach. The boardwalk was long and beautiful. The sand was the best colour and the water was of course gorgeous. The beach is nice and long with tons of space!
Whether you stop for just a night or plan a whole few days travelling around the whole Cabot Trail. I have to say there are endless things to do and to stop at. I found the best information on Tourism Nova Scotia website. Plus, along the way points of interests are marked. One thing I would recommend is filling up when you see a gas station or stopping at any grocery stores for items when you see them. Spots like that are few and far in between. I would also come prepared for just about anything haha. But I will also add that there are emergency phone stops in some areas as well for safety!
We had the best time and next Summer when were back visiting family in Nova Scotia I think we’ll head on over to the other side of the island and check out that part of Cape Breton and all it’s cool history! You could really spend a good amount of time taking in its rich culture and amazing views. Once in a lifetime trip and I’m so glad I got to experience it with my little sister!
Disclosure: This blog post was part of a sponsored collaboration with Mazda. All views and opinions are that of my own!
Keisha Lynne, xx