5 Best Beaches in Cape Breton

I took a walk with my family on Dominion Beach on Sunday.  It was raining.  It’s been raining a lot lately.  That has never stopped us from enjoying the many great beaches of Cape Breton.  Our rainy day walk inspired me to think about the best beaches in Cape Breton.  I decided to put together a list for the inevitable sunny days of summer when more people are apt to venture out to our wonderful coastline. 

I have picked 5 beaches – one ocean side beach from each county in Cape Breton and one from the Bras d’Or.  I have considered numerous factors to help create the list – ease of access, availability of parking, washroom and changing facilities, presence of lifeguards and variety of activities available.  So, here goes…The 5 Best Beaches in Cape Breton…

1. Dominion Beach (Cape Breton Regional Municipality) – Dominion has it all. It is a long strand that is ideal for many activities.  It boasts a long boardwalk that is used by residents year round.  The beach itself is great for exploring – searching for beach glass, shells and rocks.  It also has fabulous views of Lingan Bay and it is very common to see many types of sea birds, bald eagles, great blue herons and other wildlife at the beach.  The beach is supervised in the summer, making it a safe place for families to swim.  It has ample parking, showers, change rooms and washrooms.  Being in Dominion, it is easily accessible by public transit from Sydney and Glace Bay.  It is the closest guarded beach to the largest population centres in Cape Breton.

2. Point Michaud Beach (Richmond County) – Point Michaud is popular for surfing. In fact, Richmond County runs surfing camps there all summer long.  There is also the Mi’kmaw surf program which sees youth from all Cape Breton Mi’kmaw communities descend on the beach to learn surfing and lifesaving skills.  And there is more to Point Michaud than surfing.  It is a beautiful long beach that is great for exploring.  It is supervised as well with separate areas for swimming and surfing.  Its colder water and consistent surf make it a great beach for a refreshing dip and body surfing.

3. Ingonish Beach/Freshwater Lake (Victoria County) – This is another place which has it all. Not only will you find one of the most incredibly beautiful supervised beaches on the island, but you will also find the beach at Freshwater Lake.  There is a hiking trail that hugs the lake where loons make their nests along the banks.  The beach is located within Cape Breton Highlands National Park and is close in proximity to other park assets.  For instance, the world famous Highland Links golf course is right next door.  The beach area has washrooms and change rooms and boasts other recreation facilities as well.  You could decide to play a game of soccer or tennis with your friends before having a dip in the Atlantic.  You can do that right at the beach.

4. West Mabou Beach (Inverness County) – Beautiful sand dunes and incredible views of the Cape Mabou Highlands come to mind when I think about this incredible beach. It is a wonderful provincial park with warm water that is great for swimming.  There are numerous hiking trails available at this beach as well.  For families with children, there is a small stream that enters the beach which is perfect for children to play in.  This beach is definitely the best on the Gulf Coast of Cape Breton.  This beach isn't supervised by lifeguards. 

5. Big Pond Beach (Bras d’Or Lakes, CBRM) – I expect to get the most debate around this one since there are so many great inland beaches. However, I maintain that Big Pond tops them all.  The reason is that it has incredibly clear water that gets deep quickly and is usually calm.  It makes for one of (if not) the best places to jump in the water and swim in Cape Breton.  You can spend hours just diving underwater and becoming a seal for the day.  For straight up swimming, Big Pond is the best beach on the Island.  You get the added bonus of a great drive along Route 4 to get there.  In addition to swimming, it is a great place to have a picnic with your friends and family, watch eagles and kingfishers over the lake and stretch out and relax on a hot summer day.  Big Pond is unsupervised.

Thus ends my list of 5 Best Beaches in Cape Breton.  I could have easily made a list of 25 and I know many of you have your favourites. I welcome your feedback and comments.  I would love to hear what your favourite beaches are and why.  At the end of the day, the more people out enjoying our incredible natural assets in Cape Breton the better.  Be sure to be sun safe and surf safe.  Grab your family and friends and go check them out this summer and fall.  Cape Breton is a playground.  Go out and play!

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madeline yakimchuk Follow Me
For this of us who kind of know Cape Breton, but may not know how to get to these places, could you give some details on were these places are? Google Maps lists two Big Ponds in CB.
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
Thanks for the comment Madeline. There are links provided on all the beach names except for Big Pond. The links take you to descriptions, addresses and maps. I looked for a similar site for Big Pond and couldn't find one. It is the Big Pond Beach out on Route 4 just past Ben Eoin. It is not the one in Sydney Mines area. Hope that helps.
Mathew Georghiou Follow Me
Ok, so I'm a landlubber that never goes to the beach, but this was a GREAT article ... nicely done, Wayne .... and I can see that this post is already very popular!
madeline yakimchuk Follow Me
Yes. I was so impressed I want to visit all five... I have a request in for more data on how to find them. It was certainly not intended as a criticism.
Dannie Brown Follow Me
Oh Mathew, you really need to visit the beaches. Great fun in the summer here in CB.
Christian Murphy Follow Me
You should never leave out Aspy Bay. That beach is incredible and on a clear day you can stare out at St. Paul Island..
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
Thanks Christian. It is an incredible place for sure. It is definitely one of my favourites.
gina feetham Follow Me
yes Aspy is by far one of the BEST beaches to visit in Cape Breton. a little bit of a hike but well worth it! and dont forget Big Glace Bay beach. (#6)
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
I wrote this about Big Glace Bay years ago. It'll give you a good idea about how much I love that beach. ;) http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-big-glace-bay-beach/#.V2FYmrsrLcs
gina feetham Follow Me
Thank You for that! I grew up in Glace Bay on Lake Road and spent many summer days on this beach. I have even swam that Channel from South Street. Unfortunately I am one of those who left Cape Breton for Ontario many years ago (80's) but return every summer. Big Glace Bay Beach is ALWAYS my first stop.
Flora Campbell Follow Me
Aspy Bay is a beautiful, peaceful place.
Steven Rolls Follow Me
Although I have never swam there, I am partial to the image of the turquoise waters of Marble Mountain Beach.There are always people, boats, jetskis around and it just screams get in the water and enjoy yourself.
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
I swam at Marble Mountain years ago and it is an incredible place. I remember the water being cold. I'm not sure if it is always cold or if it was the time of year.
Alain Pelletier Follow Me
Port Hood is known as being home to the warmest waters in Eastern Canada. One of our five sandy beaches is supervised by lifeguards. Water temperatures vary between 22 and 24 degrees Celcius.
Dannie Brown Follow Me
I have visited all of these beaches at one time or another, but I have been swimming only at Big Pond beach. It is an awesome place to swim for all of the reasons you mentioned. But, living in North Sydney now for the last 6 years, my place of choice to swim has been Groves Point. It doesn't have much of a beach at all, but it's close. Thanks for the links to the beaches. See you at the beach this summer.
Aaron Doncaster Follow Me
Wayne!!! It has not been called rout 4 for a long time The road is called the East Bay highway.
Gary LeDrew Follow Me
I guess you have never been to kennington Cove.
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
I have been there many times and it is a fabulous beach. I have some very fond memories of Kennington Cove. :)
Barbara Moseychuck Follow Me
Narrowing it down to 5 must have been hard...since our beautiful Island is littered with so many wonderful beaches, from seacoast to lakes, rivers, and waterfalls...we have an abundance of naturally sourced waterways and ways to enjoy our water!
Ken Clark Follow Me
As children we went to Lingan Beach on a warm summer Sunday afternoon - in the back of a farm truck. It was great fun to spend the day in the sand and surf. Where does it fi in your top ten?
Tyler MacDonald Follow Me
where is Big Glace Bay beach? its just as good as Dominion, minus the boardwalk. Morien sandbar as well.
Joe Ward Follow Me
I really like the Port Morien sandbar. Great spot.
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
Big Glace Bay is one of my favourite beaches. I also love Morien sandbar. The other things Dominion has that BGB doesn't have are change rooms, ample parking, lifeguards and it is on the bus route. So it is more accessible than perhaps any beach in CB. Here's a piece I wrote a few years ago about BGB, just to illustrate how much I love that beach. http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-big-glace-bay-beach/#.WZWWBFWGPct And here's one I wrote about Morien: http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-port-morien-sandbar/#.WZWWXlWGPcs
Donelda MacDonald Follow Me
Nice article Wayne. I like Irish Brook beach- it's off of French Road, heading to Gabarus (also home to beautiful Belfry Beach). It's very secluded and you have to do a small bit of climbing downhill to get to the ocean and before that you can even cross the brook. One morning my dog was swimming and not that far in the distance from my lab was this enormous seal (I guess they're all enormous). Needless to say, I tried to get the dog to shore in a hurry! If you walk to the other side there is a lake. It's my absolute favourite spot.
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
Thanks Donelda. I love Belfry Beach and Morrison Beach and often see seals at both. I don't think I've been to Irish Brook Beach but it sounds equally lovely. Here's a piece I wrote about Morrison Beach: http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-episode-10-morrison-beach/#.WZWXSFWGPct
Eileen Forrester Follow Me
Great article. We all have our favourite beaches & as you referenced this was "your" list based on "your" criteria & one from each county. We loved going to Irish Cove, Groves Point, Dominion, Whale Cove & Point Michaud so I guess they were our top 5 although we have ventured to many other beautiful beaches in Cape Breton over the years with our children. Most of us always use the term route 4 not East Bay Highway unless you live in that area I suppose. Enjoy your favourites everyone. We are blessed that so many beautiful beaches are here on Cape Breton Island, a true treasure trove indeed!
Wayne McKay My Post Follow Me
Thanks for the feedback. I love all the beaches you mentioned as well. There's almost too many to choose from, which is a good thing. This weekend, I was at the beach at the end of Beach Road in Eskasoni. That is a gorgeous one too. :)
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