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Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

Kalamazoo, MI
Level Contributor
41 posts
64 reviews
Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

We will be arriving in Nova Scotia August 26th through September 4th. We plan on spending the first and last day in Halifax but have a week we would like to use on Cape Breton Island. Our main interests are hiking, some water activities (kayaking/whale watching), eating seafood and staying in a great place with ocean views. We really are nature/hiking people and don't care much about shopping or seeing any of the tourist sights. We also don't want to be going going going every second of our trip so I'm trying to narrow down our choices. We have a flexible budget and are not concerned about staying at the cheapest places. I have every guide book and the Nova Scotia Dreamers guide. I think I've given myself information overload!

Should we stay in one place on the island and drive every day? Or is it better to do a day or two at Cheticamp, Meat Cove and Ingonish? I'm not sure how to divide up our time. Also, is it wise to just stay on CBI so we're not rushed or do we have time to use a day or two in the main part of NS? I appreciate very much any advice we can get.

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
14,258 posts
172 reviews
1. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

Cape Breton is bigger than you may think and staying in one place would mean a lot of driving.

I would take a chance and not book ahead (maybe just each day as you have an idea where you are going).

Advocate Harbour...
Level Contributor
1,606 posts
21 reviews
2. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

With your likes, I would split your tour into two areas. In Cape Breton there are some nice hikes in the highlands around Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay, plus yo would have the whale watching there. The other area is off the beaten tourist routes, but offers some of the best wilderness hiking in eastern Canada plus a only place on earth expereince of the highest tides on earth, in one of the wildest most natural areas of Nova Scotia - the Cape Chignecto/Advocate Harbour area.

For a day hike you will not find a more picturesque hike than from Elliot Brook to Seal Cove in Cape Chignecto Park. There is also the 3-4 day coastal route, but that can easily be broken into day hikes. Cant beat the sea food at the Wild Caraway in Advocate Harbour, the top rated restaurant in NS here on TA! A great place to stay in Advocate is the right on the beach Driftwood Park Retreat. www.driftwoodparkretreat.com Check out the reviews here on TA 'things to do' for tours in the area. The recommended expereinces site at www.bayoffundy.travel has links at the Advocate listing to the park to see more about the trails. Its a 3 hour drive from Halifax to Advocate.

Cape Breton Island...
Level Contributor
1,565 posts
79 reviews
3. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

So we have 8 days on the ground . I would leave the Halifax part to the end unless it fits to go there first because of your arrival time. Cape Breton has three main loops. The cabot Trail one is one that has no shortcuts.; you travel the whole loop, or go in and out , as we say. Best hiking is near Pleasant Bay, best kayaking supplier is in Cape North , If you want the fun side and some Celtic music you need to be near the Judique to Cheticamp stretch, the on the 4th day travel to the other side by Louisburg . So , I'm inclined to suggest stay at least 3 days on that west side of the island and then on the 4th or 5th day aim to go around the Trail full circle and end up near to or in Louisburg or Sydney ( see Paradise Found ) and leave the island from that side of the Island . Traveling from Halifax to margaree is about a 4 1/2 -5 hour drive. To drive from Margaree to Pleasant bay is like 45 minutes. then to Ingonish would be maybe 2 hours, no side trips though. Then

Kalamazoo, MI
Level Contributor
41 posts
64 reviews
4. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

Thank you so much everyone for your suggestions! I will check out everything you've said. We're so excited to be visiting such a beautiful place. Thanks again!!

Cape Breton Island...
Level Contributor
1,565 posts
79 reviews
5. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

By the way, if you have the patience, you can STREET VIEW the Cabot Trail , but is not very accurate with the way the photos match the exact address .

It's the same problem as with Google maps, you plot something but it doesn't end up exactly where it should .

Toronto
Level Contributor
102 posts
36 reviews
6. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

I agree with everyone's comments. Best to stay to keep moving, and stay in one place only for a day or two. Every single stop is unimaginably beautiful, so your only dilemma is having too many options.

So in the spirit of trip planning - I'll offer another option. Donalda's Puffin Tours. Delightful! Not only do you see hundred of puffins in their natural environment, but sea lions and eagles as well. Plus, Donalda was a lobsterfisherwoman, and will offer a fascinating glimpse of real life on the island.

http://puffinboattours.com/tour.html

Kalamazoo, MI
Level Contributor
41 posts
64 reviews
7. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

I read about the puffin tours and thought it sounded great. We are traveling in late August and it sounded like we would miss the puffins, from what I read. Is that true?

I am trying to narrow down options, but it is so hard. Wish I had more time because I keep reading about the Digby scallops and now I want those too! Guess I'll have to come back to NS again!

Advocate Harbour...
Level Contributor
1,606 posts
21 reviews
8. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

As the puffins move off the Islands back to sea they become more difficult to spot, and by late August if you are going specifically for the puffins you will likely not see much if any. For the Digby scallops - you do not need to go to Digby for those. The Digby scallop fleet actually fishes the entire NS Bay of Fundy, with Digby just being thier home port. The scallops the fishermen get in places like Advocate Harbour are the same as the ones in Digby - in fact the Digby Scallop fleet can be seen just offshore in Advocate quite often during the season. Its just that the Digby fleet is much larger than the one in places like Advocate so people associate the Bay of Fundy scallops as "Digby scallops"

Cape Breton Island...
Level Contributor
1,487 posts
2 reviews
9. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

YUMMY scallops...I will be having them Monday for supper on the BBQ. I love them wrapped in bacon usually but pull them through a skewer with red/green peppers and onions. So tasty. They are also good just fried with butter. My mouth is actually watering just thinking about them.

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
14,258 posts
172 reviews
10. Re: Narrowing down our options in Nova Scotia

Sunday I had scallops on a caesar salad at Wild Caraway in Advocate Harbour on Sunday. An amazing feast for $10.

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