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!