Cape Breton National Park lies on the northernmost end of Cape Breton Island and is accessed at various points off the Cabot Trail, a circular road which runs from Cheticamp via Pleasant Bay to Ingonish. At various points there are viewpoints and hikes so we stayed 2 nights in Cheticamp in order to explore the western side between Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay.
Cheticamp is a long drawn out community overlooking the sea with a pub, some basic accommodation, a garage, shop and a few places to eat. First night we had to try the local restaurant, recommended for it’s lobster. The staff were very helpful and provided an assortment of tools to fully dissect the crustacean.
We spent the next day making our way north, stopping and looking, stopping and walking at some of the many stop-offs on the route. The best stop was at an amazing look-out overlooking Pleasant Bay where we learnt that by watching the Gannets we could find Minke whales appearing from time-to-time. There was a large information board describing the whales that could be seen and why the characteristics of the bay were so attractive to these animals. As coach parties arrived, people would read the board, peer over the sea and then receive precise directions from the 2 English guides on where to see the whales. It was fun for awhale!
We descended to the harbour at Pleasant Bay, avoided the “Whale Interpretive Center” and sat by the gravel beach watching the seabirds feeding in the rich waters. Nova Scotia has many small fishing harbours and we were beginning to learn that they were, without exception, quiet, quaint and clean with free parking, excellent places to take a sandwich or do a spot of birding.
Despite the extravagant promises of the national park literature we completed day 1 without seeing a single Bald Eagle or Moose, but we did identify a frog.
Dinner was back in Cheticamp, nicely timed to conclude with a most amazing sunset