Visiting Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Visiting Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

At the northern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Victoria County lies the small rural fishing village of Bay St. Lawrence.  If you want to experience some of the most spectacular scenery you have ever seen and meet some of the friendliest people you will ever encounter then this is the vacation for you.

The area has a heavy emphasis on its Scottish Gaelic heritage with events such as the Celtic Colours Festival, held each October, as well as promotions through the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.  Many of the residents of the tiny village descend from families that have lived in the area for five generations or more since the 1850′s.

We flew in from Montreal to Halifax and connected from Halifax to Sydney.  From Sydney we rented a car and drove about 4 hours on the Cabot Trail to the Bay. Of course you can make the drive more quickly but between the many breathtaking lookouts and viewing points, as well as the wonderful little shops along the way selling tasty food and lovely arts and crafts, our trip took longer.  Let me start by saying it is the “drive of a lifetime.”  Nowhere else in the world have I experience the spectacular beauty, the rugged and breath-taking scenery at every twist and turn in the road.

Along our drive we saw many bald eagles and other birds of prey and at one point had to stop the car to let a family of partridges cross the road. When we got down to Bay St. Lawrence we stopped in the Bay St. Lawrence community center for lunch at their well-appointed tearoom.  The atmosphere was friendly and everyone made us feel like we were part of the community.  The food was hearty and delicious and during our 7 day visit we lunched here at least five times.

Visiting Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

There are so many things to do in the area but sightseeing and outdoor activities, like camping, hunting and fishing, hiking are the specialties – something for everyone.  Whale watching is a popular event.  The warm waters off the Top of the Island are the summering grounds of an impressive variety of whales. Minkes, pilot whales, fin whales and humpbacks, as well as the occasional pod of belugas.  A whale watch we tried when we were in the area was Oshan Whale Watching, run by Captain Fraser, from a five generation family of seaman – we highly recommend the tour.  To find out more go HERE!

Music and festivals are an integral part of  life in many communities throughout northern  Cape Breton Island. Opportunities to experience various types of live music present themselves in many ways all year round.  We were fortunate enough to attend a lobster dinner at the Firehouse in Bay St. Lawrence and Fiddler Dwayne Cote and Hilda Jennings provided the entertainment for the evening.  There was amazing music, great food, and lots dancing for everyone. We had a lot of fun and we were even encouraged to try square dancing which we did with mixed results – LOL!  An evening to remember!

We stayed at Amy Fraser and Kevin MacKinnon‘s home (they are my cousins) and this provided the opportunity to learn about the local folklore, community issues, and customs in a manner we otherwise might have missed. Their hospitality was second to none we have experienced anywhere.   Amy and Kevin and their wonderful children, Danielle and Karl, seem to have more friends and relatives visiting on daily basis than most city dwellers have in a month!  We got to meet people who have been in the Bay all of their lives and others who chose to settle there for its wild beauty and honest way of life.

Visiting Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

If you don’t happen to have close relatives in Bay St. Lawrence there are several lovely places to stay locally as well as camping for those who like sleeping under the stars (with Moose and Bears!!)  Check in at the community center for accommodation details.

If you are a fan of hiking there are trails ranging from easy to difficult.  In Bay St. Lawrence there are some of the most scenic day hiking experiences in North America.  Local tour operators offer guided half day and full day hikes into these areas, and add to the tours local commentary relating to the history, culture, wildlife and anecdotes of the area. These operators select their routes based upon the interest level and fitness of the group.

Come to Bay St. Lawrence – the beauty and pristine natural conditions, the pure air and water, the starry nights, and warm local flavor will charm you as it has us.

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Annemarie is a Mom whose daughter (Robyn) has left the nest and now she is traveling the world experiencing everything the world has to offer. You can find her sipping martinis in some of the most exotics locations in the world, having a beer at her local pub or canoeing on a beautiful lake in the Adirondacks.

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20 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Frances February 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for a great article on Bay St. Lawrence. Most people write only about the Cabot Trail, which is a lovely drive. I always stress that tourists don’t realize what the misdirected by not taking the 15 minutes or so that it takes to drive off the trail and visit the other villages. A big event in our area, besides the lobster dineds is the annual crab fest and fishing derby that takes place on the 3rd. Sunday in July.

  2. Jeff February 23, 2013 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Meat Cove puts all of that to shame for everything just mentioned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • admin February 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      No arguments from me. I have been to Meat Cove many times and the views are spectacular.

  3. sandy dunphy February 23, 2013 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Bay St Lawrence ,Capstick and of course Meatcove are amoung the most beautiful places in Cape Breton i think!!

  4. Len February 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Having travelled to Bay St Lawrence, Capstick and Meatcove on multiple occasions I agree that the spectular views in Meatcove are second to none. If one has the opportunity to take a boat ride along the coast from Bay St Lawrence out and beyond Meatcove it will only enhance your appreciation of the amazing scenery and vistas along the northern tip of the island and at the right time of year there are whale pods for the viewing.

    • admin February 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      True, Meat Cove certainly has some of the nicest scenery I have ever seen!

  5. Chris June 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    God’s country! The most beautiful place on earth.

  6. Barry MacNeil June 19, 2013 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I came down the road in last photo , In 1956, Brakes gave out as we got to the bottom. My Grand-parents owned property, about the 3rd post from the last picture, only been 57 years, we were young and Crazy. Thank you Lord, Ted Chung (Korean) driver, and cousin Linden MacIntyre. Outside of Port Hastings, most beautiful part of Cape Breton..

    • Robyn Good June 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Very true Barry – a lot of my family lives in Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove. Love the area!

  7. Annemarie June 28, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Such a gorgeous area, I absolutely love it. Stunning scenery and great people!!

  8. Ali July 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Nice that you had family to stay with. I’m sure that helped out a bit with expenses.

  9. Susan October 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos, it is somewhere I would love to visit.

  10. Allie October 28, 2013 at 1:54 am - Reply

    This place looks amazing

  11. Janelle October 28, 2013 at 1:54 am - Reply

    Doesn’t look like my cup of tea

  12. Pamela October 28, 2013 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Looks beautiful, would love to go for a hike!

  13. DD October 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    What a gorgeous view!

  14. BusyBee October 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    How pretty! I love anywhere near the water that isn’t too busy. Looks perfect

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