With 33 countries under my belt, I’ve experienced some of the most amazing cities that the world has to offer. From great beaches, climate, friendly people, personal interests, world-famous attractions, architecture, history, and culture, there are many different factors that make a city great, let alone top ten!
#2 Ingonish, Canada – Splashing around in the ocean, jumping off of cliffs, boogie boarding, water chicken fights, and late-night horseshoes followed by later nights fueled by music and card games…the memories of my youth.
Splashing around in the ocean, jumping off of cliffs, learning how to roll in a wave, boogie boarding, and water chicken fights were all part of our daily beach adventures when I was a child. Singing, dancing, playing horseshoes or cards, and drinking until the wee hours of the morning filled my early adult life and shaped the bond between my family members. All of my fondest family memories took place in one location. When I think about being “home” or reflect on my greatest form of happiness it is Ingonish, Nova Scotia that holds my heart. The visual beauty captivates me and the continued cultural connections keep me falling in love over and over again. As you experience Smokey Mountain, Black Brook Beach, Black Brook Falls, Ingonish Beach, and a little cottage on Swamp Road, you will have a glimpse of my life and become part of it.
Every time I drive over Smokey Mountain, part of the world famous Cabot Trail, I remember the countless times I made the journey in my grandparent’s Nissan truck. We’d sing “On Top of Ol’ Smokey”, stop at look-offs, and cringe at the never-ending drop from the top of the mountain. The bold highlands towered above us and the spectacular ocean views below. The sight of Smokey Mountain Ski Resort is the first indication that I am back in Heaven. I take that turn with a smile every time. There are just some places that fill your heart with comfort and joy; Ingonish does that for me.
I’ve been around the globe and swam in many waters, but the warmth of the French Riveria or the shimmering, crystal blue Caribbean Sea don’t hold a candle to the large refreshing waves at Black Brook Beach in Ingonish. Flanked by a spectacular highlands, the panoramic views are astonishing. Although the August breakers can be extreme and the water is cold enough to make your whole body hurt, it is worth every goose bump. If you’re strong enough to stand up against the waves and thick-blooded enough to brave the icy waters, you can consider yourself a true Nova Scotian.
When I first introduced Darren to Black Brook Beach, the initial look of complete shock, as his toes touched the water, said it all. IT IS COLD! It’s cold enough to make your teeth chatter, your body tingle, and your… skin shrivel up. He wasn’t far behind me as I dove in and embraced the salty sea and I admired his ability to adapt. We brought the water-proof camera with us and made an adventure out of our afternoon at the beach.
A stop at Black Brook Beach wouldn’t be complete without hiking the trails and exploring the hidden coves.
Black Brook Falls opens the hiking trails with an inspiring view of the jagged cliffs and busy beach below, but it is the hidden cove that makes me take a deep breath, relax, and truly enjoy the surroundings. Listening to the waves crashing on the rocks and watching teens jump from the cliffs above always transfers me to a simpler time where worries are washed away.
Ingonish Beach is a step even further back into my past. Before I was old enough to bravely boogie board the huge waves or shiver through the freezing waters, my family took me to the lake at Ingonish Beach. It may have been there that I developed my fear of water creatures because we were constantly brushed by eels, but it didn’t seem to bother me as a child. Besides, as a child, I always had my massive grandfather to fend of any unwanted guests. He was Poseidon, the God of the sea, and nothing could hurt me in his presence.
With hiking trails, the life-guarded ocean, playful swings, the fresh lake, cold showers, tennis courts, and a soccer field, Ingonish Beach is a great place to spend the day with family. My younger sister and brother may remember playing tennis in the evenings there or flying high on the swings, my parents may remember cooling off in the clear ocean, and my grandparents may have a special affliction for the ice creams from the small vendor, but it’s the picturesque lake look-off that makes me a child all over again.
Swamp Road, with its distasteful name and hidden locale, makes my face glow and my heart race with anticipation. Upon arrival, I can always expect a alcoholic drink, or several, and several more, horseshoes, singing, dancing, and with the presence of my brother, good ol’ Cape Breton music and guitar playing. The grass may be tall and the bugs a plenty, but none of that matters when I’m playing Hearts with my grandparents, listening to my brother play the guitar, surfing in the kitchen with friends, or dancing to the Yellow Submarine with my sister, Suzanne.
During each trip to Ingonish, I embrace the ocean, stroll bare-foot along the beach, and watch life happening around me during the day. A family and friends ceilidh completes the evening and makes Ingonish an unforgettable experience. As you journey through my childhood and into my adulthood, it’s a life filled with oceans, fun, laughter, and music. Ingonish shaped my life and made me the person I am today.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: