About the Top of the Island

At the Top of Cape Breton Island, first-time visitors find an environment that's both breathtaking and serene; a place where rugged mountains slowly yield to pounding waves, with long stretches of sandy beaches the result.

It's in this area of small communities flanked by the largest wilderness area in Nova Scotia on the north, the wilderness of the world famous Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the south and west, and the Atlantic ocean making up the remaining boundaries that the descendants of the early Highland Scots mixing traditional fishing livelihoods with more contemporary service-oriented professions having to do with environmental tourism.

Here services for visitors emphasize modern seafood restaurants and lodging while encouraging exploration of cultural and outdoor attractions involving:

  • The summer habitat of plentiful numbers of humpback, fin, pilot and minke whales, as well as their dolphin and porpoise counterparts;
  • A resident bird population that swells by the season, and draws bird fancier from all over North America
  • A system on self-guided and, better yet, guided hiking routes that allow visitors to escape from crowds and to experience one of North America’s most scenic landscapes in a one-on-one fashion while learning about the people and practices of the area, both past and present;
  • Outdoor adventure operators who use sailing and motorized vessels to view whales, guided and self guided bicycle, kayak and canoe touring (as well as snow shoes and skis) to help clients to immerse themselves in a wilderness beauty they may only experience once in their lifetime. Clients of these operators are treated to up close and personal encounters with large species such as whales, moose, eagles as well as the smaller foxes, voles and shorebirds;
  • A location mid-way between two of the Fabulous Foursome Golf Courses,Highlands Links in Ingonish and Le Portage in Cheticamp.
  • A modern interactive museum that brings the history of the Scottish Gaelic-speaking highland settlers to life, complete with the hardships and rewards of early settlement. Here visitors re-live shipwrecks, snowstorms, quilting bees and a culture of home-produced food, textile, implements, clothing and entertainment.
  • Protected pristine sand beaches that stretch on for miles along the isolated coastlines, with cliffs which are gradually being worn down by the pounding surf, changing into impromptu tanning salons for resident seal colonies.
  • Juried Cape Breton artists and artisans, who offer their pottery, rug hooking, weaving, silk, jewelry, quilts and prints for retail alongside Scottish tartans, kilts and drums.

Here Scottish céilidh and classical concerts are weekly summertime events, culminating with the Celtic Colours Festival in October, and summertime play production celebrates a vibrant highland heritage, while just to the south evening National Park interpretive programs compliment ones visit.

Here, in the autumn, the region hosts the annual Hike The Highlands Festival, lodging visitors in the heart of the area where the majority of the Festival's designated guided hiking routes are located.

Here, in the winter, reliable snow conditions make the region's 50+ kilometers of machine-groomed ski trails a Nordic skier's delight, while guided snow shoe and ski excursions into the highland wilderness results in encounters with wintering moose populations, as well as with coyotes, eagles and smaller mammals.This is a region ready-made for visitors seeking authenticity in their family vacation. The authenticity of:

  • An environment unspoiled by industrial or commercial growth;
  • A way of life little changed by "progress";
  • A friendliness known the world over;
  • A grouping of artisans interpreting the surroundings in which they've chosen to reside;
  • Support services designed to enhance one's experience with the authenticity of the area without modifying it;

We invite you to share our home, to meet our people, to enjoy our environment, and to take home memories of our natural wealth.