I’ll admit, this is a tough list to confine. Anyone who has visited Canada’s Cape Breton Island, lauded as one of the top islands in the world, knows that there are many, many reasons to make a journey to this Atlantic Canadian locale. But, as a teaser, here are ten to get you started.
The scenery, non-golf edition – Whether you are looking to check out the Fall foliage on the Cabot Trail or the dramatic, wave-crashing shorelines and beaches within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, your camera and senses will get a workout.
The people – On various trips to Cape Breton I have always been welcomed with open arms. The warmth of the people, their humbleness, and generosity, knows no bounds. I’ve been welcomed into restaurants after-hours and you’ll never been lost; hesitate once and expect a slew of locals to offer up assistance.
The music – Music is the lifeblood of this island. It’s part of a culture where learning to entertain yourself and each other has a rich tradition. You can find yourself in a pub or a church hall and see a fiddle, guitar, or even a banjo to appear. If you can time it right check out the Celtic Colours Festival, which has highlighted the best of Celtic music for the last two decades.
The food – You can’t have a party without food (and maybe a libation or two) and there is plenty on offer in Cape Breton. It ranges from top-level dining at places like the Purple Thistle Dining Room at the Keltic Lodge Resort or Panorama at Cabot Links, to so many local fresh seafood places where you can enjoy Lobster, Scallops, and more plucked from the nearby sea.
The 16th hole, Cabot Cliffs – Yes, a single golf hole should be enough to attract you to Cape Breton. This cliff-hanger par 3, with the beach and ocean waters lapping between the tee and green, has been one of the most photographed holes in the world since it came to be. Don’t expect that to change.
Keltic Lodge/Highlands Links renovations – The iconic resort, now 75 years old, has new life under the management of GolfNorth. More than $5.5 million has been poured into the modernization of this resort that resides on a breathtaking peninsula of land that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. This has been accomplished while maintaining the residual charm established over many decades. That carries through to their fabulous Stanley Thompson-designed Highlands Links Golf Course where General Manager Graham Hudson and his team have been breathing new life into a classic with the help of architect Ian Andrew. It’s inspiring golf on a tremendous landscape.
Glenora Inn & Distillery – Single malt fans will need to make this a stop on their Cape Breton journey. For 26 years this distillery in Mabou has been crafting some beautiful products in limited quantities; they produce about 150 barrels a year of their products. You can stay on-site at their Inn or enjoy a tour, a tasting, or even a meal.
Baddeck – In this village in Victoria County, along stunning Bras d’Or Lake, you’ll find history…and golf. It is the home of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and the Bell Bay Golf Club – both worthy of your time. The Bell Bay Golf Club hosts the Mackenzie Tour’s Cape Breton Open.
Cape Breton Miner’s Museum – Spend some time here, especially with the guidance from a real “Man of The Deep” and you’ll get a proper feel for the industry that was the heart of this island for so many years. It’s authentic and will open your eyes to a whole other world.
Cabot Links/Cabot Cliffs – Two of the top golf courses in the world have risen from the shorelines near Inverness. Already heavily booked into 2017, the dramatic courses crafted here by Rod Whitman & Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw are simply one of the best golf experiences you will ever know. Accommodations, dining, and a pub are on-site as well as fairways you won’t want to stop walking.