Difficulty level
Primary Activity
5 Night, 6 Day

Canada, Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Island Sea-Kayak

Five nights; six days of spectacular adventure by sea kayak, with nights in cozy inns.

“The meals prepared by Freewheeling and served by our guide were truly outstanding and quite a departure from what might be found in restaurants along the way.” – Will S.


  • See the Cabot Trail while paddling super natural places along its coast.
  • The simple beauty of paddling between mountains and sea, in a remote island setting not on the way to anywhere.
  • Mabou magic.
  • Acadian culture in Cheticamp. Learn about the 1755 expulsion of Acadians and their re-settlement.
  • A mix of sheltered inlet paddling, and open coastal stretches, all with great scenery and nice beach stops.
  • You may see whales from the shore and eagles in the sky.
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park – a natural treasure.
  • The Markland Inn – a spectacular place far from crowds.
  • Abundant fresh seafood.



Requiring moderate fitness levels, these cover terrain with hills and valleys, and tend to include distances of 50-80km (30-50mi.)/day cycling, or 3-6 hours of walking per day. Most Freewheeling Adventures fall into this category, and are suitable for most ability levels.

The paddling can be done by reasonably fit beginners, and will satisfy seasoned paddlers if they don’t mind taking it slowly or arranging a private trip. Staying in luxurious inns, instead of camping, means light, agile kayaks, easy paddling, and top-quality cuisine in comfortable settings. There are some vehicle transfers between inns and paddles – a chance to sightsee on and marvel at the Cabot Trail.


Start: Halifax, The Lord Nelson Hotel, 09:00, day one, for 3½ hours transfer to Baddeck. Please contact us to arrange pickup from other Halifax locations, or Halifax Airport at 09:45. To skip the long transfer, consider a one-way flight to Sydney, and a one hour taxi to Baddeck.

Finish: Halifax, The Lord Nelson Hotel, 17:00, day seven.

Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.


Meet in Port Hawkesbury 11am. 45 minute transfer to Mabou. Afternoon sea kayak four hours.

An optional transfer departs Halifax 8am. Otherwise, meet 11am morning in Port Hawkesbury (a good place to park your vehicle if you’re driving yourself). Enjoy an al fresco lunch on arrival in Mabou, in preparation for an afternoon of introductory paddling in Mabou Harbour. The gentle wetlands of the lower Mabou River are ideal for a warmup paddle. It’s a lovely inlet, leading to coastal scenery rivalling Scotland’s, with gorgeous hillside meadows tumbling down hillsides toward the sea. We look forward to showing you the beauty first-hand. Afterwards, you can choose to dine pub-style at the Red Shoe or fine dining at the Glenora Distillery. L (Meal inclusions shown for guided trips only)

Glenora Inn & Distillery, Glenville


Paddle Port Hood to Mabou ~25km.

Launch at the Port Hood beach, for a paddle first to the inhabited but beautiful Port Hood Island, then along the coast with the prevailing tailwind toward Mabou. The West Mabou beach makes a wonderful stop before entering Mabou Harbour. BL

>Same lodging


Paddle the Acadian shore. Up to 30km.

Early transfer to Cheticamp, the Acadian settlement on the boundary of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Paddle from the beach along the coast toward the park, and return along the outer shore of Cheticamp Island, where nesting birds may compete for your attention with the whales often spotted along this shore. BL

Maison Fiset House, or, Auberge des Pecheurs, or , Silver Lining Inn, Cheticamp


Paddle the three harbours. ~15km, flexible.

Transfer along the most magnificent stretch of the Cabot Trail to Dingwall, to explore South, Middle, and North Harbours. These intricately-shaped protected inlets are connected only by paddling tiny channels across the beaches into the sea – an exciting series of narrow openings. Your lodge for the next two nights is wonderfully-situated overlooking one of the beaches. BLD

Markland Inn, Dingwall


Paddle Bay St. Lawrence, Meat Cove, and Cape North. Up to 30km.

The northern tip of Cape Breton Island is really something special. Whether you’re on the shore looking to sea or at sea looking ashore, the cliffs and beaches here are particularly scenic and enchanting. You will launch in bay St. Lawrence, and venture out to where whales gather – no guarantees, but the likelihood of seeing them is high. You are likely to remember today’s paddle as a highlight of life. BL

Markland Inn, Dingwall


Paddle Baddeck. 5-10km.

Transfer today from the northern tip of Cape Breton back toward civilization, stopping for lunch and a paddle in Baddeck harbour, to see the lighthouse and the estate of Alexander Graham Bell. Return to Port Hawkesbustry by 4:30pm, or Halifax by 7:30. B

All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.

Guided: C 3695 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 6 days, 5 nights, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 2 dinners, sea kayak equipment, luggage handling, full-time guide, van support, maps and route notes, transfer from/to Halifax, 15% sales tax

Single Occupancy: 735

All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.


2022 Guided dates:

  • Jul 3-8
  • Aug 14-19
  • Sep 11-16

2023 Guided dates:

  • Jul 2-7
  • Aug 13-18
  • Sep 10-15

New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.

Interested in custom or private departures?

Please see above for accurate pricing and inclusions, unless we have proposed a customized trip for you and those details are provided in your custom proposal.

1. Choose an advertised date to join a small group, or see our Join a Group page to see where groups are already forming.

2. Pick your own dates. We will confirm quickly, and are happy to talk with you as you make your choice. If you would like a private guided date, price remains the same as advertised if you have at least six. If you prefer self-guided, we usually only require two participants to initiate a new date at the advertised price, and can sometimes reduce prices for you if you have four or more.

PLEASE NOTE: Trip Cancellation Insurance is highly recommended. If this is not provided by your credit card or elsewhere, please let us know and we can provide recommendations.


Getting There:

If you fly: If you fly: The best option is to fly to Halifax (YHZ). We meet you at your inn in Halifax, for a transfer (four hours) to Cape Breton Island with the Freewheeling shuttle. We depart Halifax 8am, day 1. Halifax’s downtown core is located about half an hour from its airport. Taxis are readily available; Maritime Bus offers an airport express shuttle ($40 roundtrip or $22 one way); and Halifax Transit provides hourly departures on its MetroX bus service ($4.25 fare).

If you fly privately: Land at Port Hawkesbury airport (YPS). We will pick you up there ~11am, day one.

If you drive: Meet at the tourist bureau parking lot in Port Hawkesbury, NS, 11am day one. It is 300km from Halifax, 1400km from New York, and 1900km from Toronto. You can park there for three days.

To Do:

If you have one day:

Rent a car (we can drop you at Halifax airport on day 6), and visit Wolfville, from where you can experience the highest tides in the world by car or on a 4-hour hike, visit wineries in the Gaspereau Valley, or just enjoy the rural university town.

Join us for a day trip kayaking on the South Shore, or rent a bike from our HQ and ride the Aspotogan loop.

If you have several days:

Extend your trip by joining one of our other rides in Nova Scotia, or the adjacent provinces, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland.
We recommend the following accommodations in Halifax for before or after your tour; please let us know if we can assist with reservations:

• The Lord Nelson, 1515 South Park Street Ph: 902-423-6331 or 800-565-2020
• Prince George Hotel, 1725 Market Street Ph: 902-425-1986 or 800-565-1567
• Halifax’s Waverley Inn, 1266 Barrington Street Ph: 902-423-9346 or 800-565-9346
• The Halliburton Inn, 5184 Morris Street Ph: 902-420-0658 or 888-512-3344