I went on a whale watch out of Cheticamp late September of 2006. All we saw were pilot whales .... which were great but I was hoping for more of a variety. We ran into tourists in Annapolis Royal who had done a whale watch in the Bay of Fundy (same week we were there) and they saw humpbacks. That's what I was really hoping for.
We went on a zodiac out of Cheticamp. I loved the zodiac. You are closer to the water and thus closer to the wild life....in this case the pilot whales. The pod we were following were swimming all around us!!! You do have to put on a full length flotation suit. My sisters were concerned that they wouldn't be able to get into them (being large women) but we all did fine. We had to climb down into the zodiac from the dock via ladder. Access would be difficult for anyone who is handicapped. It was a bit of a challenge for us who are not coordinated. But I would choose the zodiac again. They can go quite fast, your close to the water, you are experiencing the sea spray in your face.....and the view of shore line was spectacular.
Do a search on this forum for whale watching and you will learn a great deal. There is good whale watching from Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay. I have been to one or the other three times and always saw more than pilot whales. However the biggest whales are in the Bay of Fundy area (Briar island, Digby).
I'm not sure anyone really answered your first question! In Cape Breton, the best whale watching is likely out of Pleasant bay, with Cheticamp on the western side and Bay St Lawrence on the eastern side close seconds. The boats from either Cheticamp or bay St Lawrence generally head up towards Pleasant bay anyway because that is usually where most of the whales are. Most operators in Pleasant bay guarantee - there is a reason for that. Whale watching any farther south in Cape breton (Ingonish for example) is not nearly as consistent.
As pointed out by another poster, if what you have your heart set on is seeing humpbacks, go to the Bay of Fundy. You may see the occasional humpback in Cape Breton but it is nowhere near as likely. I think though that, overall, the regular and consistent sightings of other species in Cape Breton matches or exceeds the Bay of Fundy.
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