Alexander Graham Bell once said, “I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.”
I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical of this quote upon first reading it. I mean, the Rockies, the Alps, the Scottish Highlands… those are all pretty impressive and beautiful things. Could a sparsely-populated island in the Canadian Maritimes really compare?
Well, the truth is that it kind of can.
When my family found out we were stopping in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on our last shore day of a family cruise, we were a bit perplexed. Everything I was reading said there wasn't much to see/do in Sydney apart from a giant fiddle and some historic houses. How would we fill 8 hours?
The trick, we discovered, is to get out of Sydney and explore the rest of Cape Breton Island. Because, as Bell asserted, the beauty of this place will surprise you.
A DIY Cape Breton shore excursion
When we got to Sydney, we rented a car and immediately took to the famous Cabot Trail, a scenic route that skirts the coastline of Cape Breton Island and takes you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We didn't have time to drive the whole trail since we had a ship to catch, but we did drive a few hours into the Cape Breton wilderness.
At our halfway point, we stopped in a sleepy little fishing village that I have now dubbed The Prettiest Place You've Never Heard Of.
This is Margaree Harbour.
The Wikipedia page for this town consists of one sentence; the town itself consists of a small collection of houses and cottages; and the only living things we saw at the harbor were sea birds.
On such a warm, sun-kissed day, Margaree Harbour absolutely took my breath away.
I now understand completely what Alexander Graham Bell meant.
It just goes to show you that sometimes it's the unexpected places that end up sneaking up on you to steal your heart.
And Cape Breton Island? Most definitely a place I need to return to!
What do you think? Can Cape Breton compete with those other scenic places?