It’s not hard to feel a sense of wonderment begin to sink as you drive up the Smokey Mountain on Cape Breton Island. Glimpses of steep ocean vistas and jagged cliffs stretch out before you as you ascend. In that moment it feels as though the famous Cabot Trail belongs to only you.
One of the best times to explore the Island is when the leaves begin to change. Forests of once green trees transform into shades of cardinal red and hues of golden yellow. A crispness settles in the air and a mixture of birch, pine trees and salty sea fill the breeze.
Rustic Cape Breton
Head towards the northern most tip of Cape Breton and hunker down for a few days at the Markland Coastal Beach Cottages in Dingwall. It’s a place of rustic beauty right on the ocean, and where you can come to unwind in a little cabin, hike, or curl up with a good book in one of the Adirondack chairs. That’s if you can look away from the stunning views of mountains and clear blue water. Rabbits scamper across the grass, and the calls of birds are everywhere. The Markland is a one of a kind experience.
The Beach at Markland
Markland offers one or two bedroom fully detached cottages with a kitchen, or you can slumber in one of the log rooms with a cozy Alpine feel. When you arrive drop your bags off in the cabin, and head to the beach.
The private beach is fifty acres of bliss where the only sound you will hear is the waves breaking across the shore as they leave behind stones of all colors, shapes and sizes. To say that this beach entrances you is to put it mildly – the topography of the misty mountains is unlike any place in Nova Scotia.
Chow Down on Chowder
The Markland serves up breakfast and dinner. For lunch head, up the country road a few minutes to Danena’s Bakery & Bistro, located right on the Cabot Trail, for a bowl of steaming homemade seafood chowder. It’s filled to the brim with chunks of haddock, and perfectly cooked potatoes served with a biscuit on the side. Wash it down with a cold local brew like Redcoat Ale from Breton Brewing, one of only two breweries on the island.
Hike to Beauty
Whitepoint is one of Cape Breton’s best-kept secrets. Any indication that this incredible spot was once a former fishing village is gone, and what is left is a large rugged crop of land that literally flows out to the sea. On either side of this short hike the ocean beckons and bellows out its song. You will spot a large cross on a hilltop, marked for an unknown sailor cast out to sea. Head out just before sundown for exceptional photo opportunities, as pink infused skies dance along the Atlantic.
Set Out On A Seafari
When you think of Nova Scotia, dolphins may not come to mind. Think again – the common dolphin loves the water off of Cape Breton, as do several types of whales. Put on a wet suit and hop into Dixons Zodiac Seafari for an amazing adventure.
Owner Lowell Dixon will have you watching the sea like a hawk, waiting for a large ripple that could be a minke whale, humpback, or perhaps even a 1000 lb. sea turtle. No matter what, have your camera ready for a potential sighting of one of Atlantic Canada’s majestic creatures.
After a day of exploring the abundance of beauty on Cape Breton, head back to the Markland Restaurant for a feast. Chef Patterson is making his mark with his simple yet bold menu. The concept is to utilize as many natural resources as possible.
To start, opt for the pan-seared scallops lightly tossed in balsamic vinegar. For your main, try the halibut, seared to perfection and served with a medley of roast potatoes and veggies. If it is seafood pasta you’re after, this superb dish is filled with scallops, local mussels and haddock, topped with a creamy Alfredo Sauce.
End the most perfect day by indulging your sweet tooth with the warm apple spice cake and yummy homemade maple ice cream. As you saunter back to your cabin be sure to look up at the starry night sky.