With so much of the great outdoors to explore in Nova Scotia, it makes sense to make your base in the great outdoors. The camping sites on this list range from provincial parks to glamping to wilderness camping, which gives you the option to start at your comfort level. Start a new tradition, find a new place, or revisit an old favourite, especially if you’re reuniting with friends and family. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular place, I suggest you book soon—summer is on its way, even if it doesn’t feel like it yet!
Battery Provincial Park
St. Peter’s Cape Breton is a lovely small and quiet town with plenty of natural beauty to enjoy. If you want to enjoy that during every minute of your vacation, Battery Provincial Park has campsites by the sea. There are both serviced and unserviced overnight sites, as well as 4 pull-throughs for RVs. There’s a picnic area for meals, a beach for swimming, and hiking trails crisscrossing the campsites, so you don’t even have to leave the park to have a great outdoor stay.
10110 Grenville Street, St. Peter’s; 902-535-3094 or 888-544-3434
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Blomidon Provincial Park
Watching the Bay of Fundy tides change is an awe-inspiring experience, but it’s also time-consuming if you want to see the whole process—it does take twelve hours after all. To get around this, and to enjoy great views of the Bay, come and stay at Blomidon Provincial Park! Their campsites have everything from wooded to open, so you can choose your vacation aesthetic. The sites are unserviced, but there are flush toilets and showers available along with grills and a multi-purpose building for activities, so you get to have the best of both worlds.
3138 Pereau Road, Blomidon; 902-582-7319 or 888-544-3434
Bowers Meadows Wilderness Area
Bowers Meadows is a protected area in Shelburne, which means when you come camping here, there are no official campsites. You’re allowed to do it, along with hiking and fishing, but you’ll be choosing your own wilderness experience, so it’s a real adventure. This is a place to get away from civilization entirely, so if you love the outdoors, it’s a great place to stop. Just remember to be respectful of the wildlife and remember the old nature maxim: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. We want to make sure this area remains wild for future generations!
Broad Cove Campground
Broad Cove is one of the best-known campsites within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, mainly because it has something for everyone! The campsites are mainly close to the beach, but there are some wooded ones if you need your dose of forest sleeping. There are also oTENTiks, which are described as wooden tents and are perfect for beginner campers. With activities in the evening and the whole of the park to explore, Broad Cove is ready for you to discover and enjoy your ideal camping vacation.
Dancing Moose Cafe Cottage and Camping
The Dancing Moose is just as charming as the name implies. The site has camping cabins, similar to the oTENTiks at the national parks. You’re still getting a taste of the outdoor living experience, but you have some facilities on hand like bathrooms and mattresses. These cabins are perfect for a multigenerational family trip, a trip with little kids, or just if you want an in between place to enjoy both nature and comfort. Also their café is gorgeous and their specialty is Dutch Pannekoek, which is kind of like pancakes—you literally cannot go wrong with a place that specializes in pancakes.
42691 Cabot Trail, Birch Plain, Cape Breton; 902-929-2523
On the edge of Long Lake Provincial Park you’ll find the Devil’s Jaw Protected Wilderness area, which is made up of a bunch of different trees and has a lakefront. It’s perfect for birdwatching and it’s a protected habitat for wood turtles. Like Bowers Meadows, there are no distinct campsites, but you are allowed to camp provided that you have a campsite lease at Long Lake. And if you’re interested in range shooting, the Bull Meadow Range Complex is within this protected area (don’t worry, it’s well-defined from the rest of the forest and has quite a barrier around it, so everyone stays safe).
Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park
Waterside camping is always great, and at Ellenwood Lake you can jump in the lake any time you like. Their campsite is one of the more developed on this list—while most of the sites are unserviced, you can access a dishwashing station, the beach, flush toilets and showers, a playground and more. Bring your own boat and go for a paddle, hike the trails, or grab yourself a fishing license for sport fishing. It’s also close to Yarmouth, so if you want to take a day trip into the town, it’s easy peasy and you’ll be back in time for sunset.
1888 Mood Road, Deerfield; 902-761-2400 or 888-544-3434
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Fishing Cove Backcountry Campground
Another great campground in the Cape Breton Highlands, Fishing Cove takes “it’s about the journey” very seriously. This wilderness campsite has 8 sites beside the cove, and it takes quite a while to get there through the park. And by quite a while, I mean it’s a 12km trail out to the campground. This takes wilderness camping to a different level, and it’s certainly not for beginners. But if you want to commit to being in the wild and love to hike, this is the place for you!
21425 Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Pleasant Bay
902-224-2306 or 902-285-2691
Glamping Off the Beaton Path
Glamping is committing to camping in comfort, and Glamping off the Beaton Path is ready to deliver. The tents have wooden walls and canvas roofs, so you get a fun in-between near the ocean. There’s even a wheelchair-accessible unit, so you can bring everyone to glamping. Like oTENTiks and cabin camping, this is a great option for you to get a taste of the outdoors and see if you like it, love it, or want to be outdoors but not at night.
Cape Breton; 902-258-2907
Graves Island Provincial Park
Graves Island is one of the bigger campgrounds on this list, with 92 different sites (including some walk-in sites if you decide to be spontaneous. You can bring a boat, go fishing, go hiking, and swim. The camp’s facilities are great, and since there are so many sites it’ll be easy to have a group camping adventure. There’s also plenty of nearby activities to do both inside and outside, so day trips are easy and fun!
230 Graves Island Road, East Chester; 902-275-4425
Hideaway Campground & Oyster Market
This campground is unique, as you might be able to tell from the name. The campground itself are awesome, with a playground, horseshoe pits (horseshoes included, don’t worry), and a recreation hall for rainy days. They also have a trailer on the property to rent and some camping cabins, so it’s good for everyone. But in addition to being a campground, it’s also an Oyster Market. You can go to the patio and get oysters, snow crabs and lobsters at the eatery—and fresh ones too! A high-class seafood experience while you’re camping will make this trip remarkable.
401 Shore Road, South Harbour; 902-383-2116
Hyclass Ocean Campground
If you’re looking for a camping experience designed for families, Hyclass Ocean Campground is the place for you. There’s a beach, horseshoes, and plenty of birds to see (including herons and eagles!) There are dozens of places to go in the surrounding area if you want further outdoor adventures, or you can just rent a boat and go out on the water. Introduce your kids to the great outdoors, and who knows? You might all make some camping buddies!
11373 Highway #4, Havre Boucher; 902-232-3117 or 1-866-892-3117
Hubbards Beach Campgrounds and Cottages
Hubbards Beach Campgrounds and Cottages is a classic campground on the South Shore, with the beach calling you at all times of the day. You can camp in the cottages, tents, or in the RV park, so you can choose your level of outdoorsy. Hubbards Beach is a great beach for all ages, especially because they have reliably warm water all season long. There’s a canteen on site that has excellent food (including delicious burgers), or you can head up the road to the Shore Club and their world-famous lobster buffets.
226 Shore Club Road RR#2, Hubbards; 902-857-9460 or 1-855-858-9460
Ingonish Beach Campground
Another great family-friendly campground in the Cape Breton Highlands, Ingonish Beach Campground is actually just outside of Ingonish Beach village. You can walk right to the supervised beaches, both at the ocean and the freshwater lake. This campground has oTENTiks, serviced sites, a tennis court, a soccer field, and a playground. And of course, you’ve got the rest of the national park to explore, so if the campground feels a bit too confined you can wander into the wilderness at will.
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Iron Mountain Cabins
Iron Mountain Cabins presents a unique take on the cabin camping idea. These are wilderness cabins, and the entire site is actually off the grid, so you’ll be able to really “get away from it all”. You’ll still have access to comfort, including beds, tables, and even a kitchen in the largest one. And there’s a Nova Scotia first on site—a fully off-the-grid pub, featuring snacks and drinks for all ages. With the property on the Great Trail, it’s easy to enjoy the wilderness by foot, bike, or 4×4 for activities that include fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and so much more.
901 Whycocomagh Mountain Road, Whycocomagh; 902-932-7137
Islands Provincial Park
If you want some water between you and the rest of the world, the Islands Provincial Park can deliver. You’re close to Shelburne, which means you’re still close to the rest of the South Shore, but once you cross the bridge, you’re into the park proper. All the sites are unserviced, so it’s very traditional camping, but they still have showers and a dishwashing station available. Paddling and fishing in the area is particularly good, so grab a fishing license and rent a kayak or canoe and you’ll be done with the mainland your whole trip.
183 Islands Park Road, Shelburne
Kejimkujik National Park
Kejimkujik is one of the most popular campsites on the mainland, mainly because of the wide range of things to do within this national park. Its borders encompass everything from flat trails to backcountry hiking, and there are places to swim, fish, and learn about Mi’kmaq history. They also have Kejimkujik Seaside, where you can observe oceanside life and participate in activities to learn all about the aquatic connections in the area. Even the camping options are varied—you can camp in the backcountry, at one of the front-country camp sites, or you can check out Jeremy’s Bay Campground, which is next to Kejimkujik Lake and has several unique facilities, including a LIBRARY. I know where I’m staying!
1188 Saint Catherine’s River Road, Port Joli; 902-682-2772 (Mid-May to October) or 902-682-2770 (January to Mid-May)
Laurie Provincial Park
If you like celebrating holidays, why not visit Laurie Provincial Park during its 60th season in operation? Laurie Provincial Park is a classic lakeside park (Grand Lake to be exact), so you can enjoy all that has to offer. The campsites are unserviced and in the woods, so you’ll get lots of peace and quiet. You can spend the whole day at the lake, have a picnic by the shore and then kayak into the sunset, coming back just in time to have s’mores at your personal fire pit.
4949 Highway 2, Grand Lake
MacLeod’s Beach Campsite
MacLeod’s Beach Campsite is one of the oldest campsites on the East Coast, and that history has prepared them to give you a fantastic camping experience by the beach. There are 150 sites that will welcome everyone from those who want a wooded site with no services to a full hookup for RVs. They’ve got an impressive range of facilities on site, including showers, laundry facilities, a rec room and a camping and grocery store! With a long sandy beach with warm water and hiking trails throughout the grounds, you might never want to leave MacLeod’s, but if you do Inverness is close by and you can explore everything the western shores of Cape Breton have to offer.
1485 Broad Cove Marsh Road, Dunvegan; 902-258-2433
Meat Cove Campground
If Meat Cove isn’t the most northern part of Cape Breton, it’s pretty close. Meat Cove Campground is just outside this little town, and it combines rugged camping conditions with amenities to make this an unforgettable trip. They have a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, kayak rentals, and hiking trails nearby. It’s right on the edge of the Cape Breton Highlands too, so you can always go further south and have a day trip adventure in the Highlands before you go north for fresh seafood chowder and a night under the stars.
2479 Meat Cove Road, Capstick, Cape Breton; 902-383-2379
Mira River Provincial Park
This is the only campsite on this list that’s on a river instead of a lake or an ocean, and boy does it deliver. There’s a pretty even distribution of serviced and unserviced sites, and they all have campfire rings and picnic tables, so you’re set. There are two beaches on the Mira River, one for everyone and one for campers, so if you want to have a beach day with visitors you can do that easily. The Mira River is a beautiful area of Cape Breton, and if you want the full experience, camping is the way to go.
439 Brickyard Road, Albert Bridge; 902-563-3373
Norse Cove Camping
Don’t worry, you don’t have to dress like a Viking to stay here (although if you want to you absolutely can). It’s a bit smaller than some of the other campgrounds on this list, but you’re still able to find places to stay either in their tent sites, Nordic huts (including three deluxe ones), and the RV sites. Your stay comes with a huge number of extras, including extensive facilities, the Longhouse with board games and shelter for rainy days, outdoor games like washer toss, and of course the ocean is right there for swimming or boating. In fact, boating is a great choice here, because they have a Sea Kayak centre where you can rent kayaks and equipment, take a guided tour, and take lessons if you’ve never been on a kayak before and you want to learn now!
51 Dewolfes Road, Tangier; 902-430-4559
If you want an ocean view campsite, it makes sense that you can find it at Seabreeze Campground. Sitting on the Eastern Shore, the area has diverse terrain, islands, and of course the ocean to explore and enjoy. It’s got plenty of amenities and you can also rent canoes and kayaks, as well as do some saltwater fishing (license required of course). Seabreeze has frequent activities, including group campfires, mussel boils, and potluck Saturdays (some of these have been restricted due to COVID-19 for now).
230 Fox Island Main Road, Fox Island; 902-366-2352 or 1-866-771-2267
Sherwood Forest Camping Park
If you want to play Robin Hood, there’s no better place to do that than Sherwood Forest Camping Park. Although I’m not Robin Hood could have imagined all the things you can do in this Forest. While the sites are mainly unserviced, the Camping Park has washrooms, shower, a laundromat, and a camp store. On top of that, the activities are endless—they have two pools, a pond for fishing, a rec hall, basketball courts and even an arcade.
6890 Highway 1, Coldbrook; 902-679-6632 or 1-888-679-6632
Thomas Raddall Provincial Park
Named for a famous Nova Scotian author (whose books are kind of sad but they are very well-written), this provincial park is the perfect place to start a family camping story. The sites are unserviced in this wilder park, but you won’t miss electricity when there’s so much stuff to do! There are over 11km of trails through the forest and along the coast, there are historical sites to find and explore, and there are three beaches that are perfect for swimming. Keep an eye out for your feathered friends—with four bird sanctuaries nearby, it’s not uncommon to see rare and unusual birds swooping around overhead or diving into the water.
529 Raddall Park Road, East Port l’Hébert; 902-683-2664 or 888-544-3434
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By: Adrienne Colborne