The Cheticamp coastline is unbelievably beautiful. I have driven it and I have cycled it. I am always in awe of the beauty and ruggedness along this coastline. There are some look-off spots along this stretch of the Cabot Trail so you can stop and admire the view.
I encourage you to stop as it is totally worth it!!
This area has been relatively isolated given their location on the island. But because of this have been able to maintain their unique identity. This is a special place and you are going to love it.
The village was officially founded in 1785 by 14 original settlers. Although the area had been used for hundreds of years as a fishing station for fishermen from the Island of Jersey.
Many families settled here in the years following the Acadian Expulsion (1755-1763) by the British on mainland Nova Scotia. Acadian culture, language and music has survived and continues to thrive in the area.
Cheticamp is located on the west coast of Cape Breton Island on the world-famous Cabot Trail. You will come across the acadian communities of Belle Cote, Terre Noire, Cap Le Moine, St. Joseph du Moine, and Grand Ētang before you reach Chéticamp.
If you are just entering Cape Breton via the Canso Causeway it is 144 km (89 mi) from the causeway following route 19. You'll see the sign for route 19, the Ceilidh Trail and Cheticamp as soon as you cross the causeway. The Ceilidh Trail will lead you directly to the Cabot Trail at Margaree Harbour.
If you are already in the Margaree area just follow the Cabot Trail north. The village is about 35 km (21 mi) from Margaree.
If you are on the east side of the Cabot Trail in the Ingonish area follow the trail north through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and you'll see the signs. Ingonish is about 85 km (52 mi) from Cheticamp.
There are several hiking trails in the Cheticamp area. I have several listed on my Cheticamp hiking trails page. There are differing difficulty levels so hopefully you'll find one suitable for you.
You can also walk along the dirt road on Cheticamp Island. From here you'll have a great view of the village, the highlands and the ocean.
Making your way up the coast you’ll come across Grand Ētang. It is here where you will find the Mi-Carême Centre. Have you ever heard of mi-carême? This carnival is celebrated in the area mid-way between ash Wednesday and Easter.
This is a very rich part of the Acadian culture and it is celebrated every year. Mi-Carême is an ancient tradition and has been celebrated in many European communities since the middle ages.
Basically, the idea is that people take a break from the penance associated with the period of Lent to have a party and to celebrate with food, music and drink. Folks disguise themselves from head-to-toe and go door-to-door and their neighbours try to guess who they are. They celebrate together once they have guessed and then they go to the next neighbour.
Over time folks have become very creative in their costumes. Masks have become very colorful and have actually become an art in the community. The Mi-Careme Centre sprang from this. New Orleans has their Mardi Gras and Cheticamp has their Mi-Careme.
Les Trois Pignons is the local cultural and genealogy centre that tells the story of the area. It also acts as a visitor information centre with everything that you might need to know during your visit. It is located at the north end of the village.....you can't miss the red roof.
You can also learn about the history of rug hooking in the community and how it became a very important part of the economy. What was once a cottage industry has become a world-wide cultural export. Read about Elizabeth LeFort (1914-2005) and how she started it with her special talent for rug hooking.
She has made rugs in the likeness of the Queen, Prince Charles, Pope Jean-Paul II, Prime Minister Trudeau and Jackie Kennedy. Her creations have been displayed in Buckingham Palace, the White House and the Vatican.
St. Peter's Church (Eglise Saint-Pierre) dates to 1893. It is a beautiful structure built by the community. It dominates the skyline of this small place and can be seen from afar. You can see it from the Skyline hiking trail on a clear day.
Head over to Cheticamp Island and you’ll find a great place to walk and you'll have great views of the village and the highlands. You'll also have a great view of St. Peter's Church and the entire village and waterfront.
The Saint-Pierre Beach & Campground is awesome and offers 144 serviced sites for motorhomes, trailers and tents. There is a mix of wooded and open sites. Facilities include a canteen, recreation room, playground, tennis, mini-golf and washrooms and showers.
This is a great location with a long stretch of open beach frontage. To get to island turn left onto Cheticamp Island Road just before you enter the village and watch for the signs.
Boardwalk Mathieu in the centre of the village is a very nice stroll. It is not long but very relaxing. There is often music on the boardwalk so ask the locals if any activities are planned. There is a great view of the harbour and the sunset behind Cheticamp Island. A great walk after dinner.
This coastline is another great place in Nova Scotia for whalewatching. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and love taking folks to see the whales. You'll also get a wonderful view of the highlands and the Cape Breton coastline.
Do you like to golf? Le Portage is an 18-hole golf course with awesome views of the ocean and the highlands. There is a driving range, a putting green and a pro shop. Don’t have your clubs? No problem, Le Portage will take care of you! You can even have golf lessons!
There is a wide variety of accommodations along this coastline. From hotels, motels, lodges, B&Bs and vacation rentals.
Trip Advisor is my place to look for accommodations when in Nova Scotia. The customer comments are invaluable.
Tip: Be careful of the location of where you book. The last time I stayed here I booked a room in the middle of the village so I could easily walk to a restaurant for dinner.
There are several restaurants to choose from when visiting this area.
You are in Cape Breton so there is lots of seafood here.
Trip Advisor is a good place to check out the restaurants and the customer comments are always helpful.
Tip - Be sure to stop at Aucoin's Bakery if you are heading north on the Cabot Trail. A great little bakery with lots of goodies for the road.
There are many options to see live music in this area. The boardwalk in the middle of town often has live musicians.
The Festival de l'Escaouette is in August and has activities with music, song and dance. This is the best way to experience acadian culture. Les Trois Pignons will be able to give you complete details of all activities.
There are also a couple of restaurants/pubs in the village that offer not only good food but live music. Check out the Doryman Pub & Grill, Laurie's House Resto & Lounge and Le Gabriel Restaurant. These are all located on the main street so are easy to find!
This village is a full service community with restaurants, accommodations, shops, grocery stores and banks. This is an Acadian community and even though they are surrounded by English they have maintained their French language and culture. So, this is the time to practice your French.
Remember that Les Trois Pignons is the local visitor information centre with everything that you might need to know during your visit. They will also be able to tell you about any special events that you may not be aware of.
I have a great e-book called 44 Awesome Things to see on the Cabot Trail (+ 17 tips for along the way) that might interest you. This book is an awesome reference for touring the Cabot Trail. I include all of my favorite spots plus much more!
If you continuing south on the Cabot Trail check out the Ceilidh Trail. If you love celtic music this is a great area to explore.
Do you have a great story about your visit to this magical place? Do you want to become a part of Your Nova Scotia Holiday?