Geodesic domes are popping up like mushrooms all over the province – but how did this glamping craze begin? Explore the fascinating history of geodesic dome camping, and find out how, when, and where your family can experience geodesic dome camping in Nova Scotia.
The History of the Geodesic Dome
Although German architect Walther Bauersfeld built a dome-shaped planetarium just after the first world war, most people credit American inventor, author and visionary Richard Buckminster Fuller as the true inventor of the geodesic home. Fuller had the dream of creating the ultimate pre-fab: a structure that could be manufactured in advance, and then shipped or flown to any location to be quickly reconstructed.
Fuller coined the term “geodesic” and in 1954 was granted US Patent 2682235A for his structure with a “finished assembly as to give an extremely favorable weight-strength ratio, and withstand high stresses.” Looking to the example of Henry Ford’s Model-T, Fuller believed he had invented the perfect, affordable modernist home.
The problem was, with the exception of Fuller and his wife who lived in a geodesic dome from 1960 to 1971, few American families actually wanted to live in one!
The easily constructable domes became popular as futuristic-style exhibition spaces beginning with the gigantic Montreal Biosphere at Expo ‘67, and continuing with “Spaceship Earth,” Epcot Centre at Walt Disney World, Florida. One of the most stunning examples of dome architecture still in existence is a series of biosphere domes spanning 5.5 acres at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK.
The dome-revolution in camping began in 1975 when California-based adventure company The North Face created an oval-shaped geodesic tent called the Oval InTENTion. Unsurprisingly, several of the designers were Fuller-afficionados. According to North Face lore, Fuller himself climbed into the Oval InTENTion prototype, giving his seal of approval.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and A-frame tents have been relegated to history while permanent geodesic domes have become synonymous with another camping trend: glamping!
And so, geodesic domes have come full circle – from portable tents back to permanent structures.
Geodesic Dome Camping in Nova Scotia
In Nova Scotia, the geodesic dome craze started in Cape Breton. Now, geodesic domes are popping up like mushrooms along coastlines, rivers, apple orchards and forests all over the province. To help you plan your next “Atlantic bubble vacation,” check our list of geodesic domes in Nova Scotia:
1. True North Domes, Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton
True North Destinations is a 5-star eco-retreat with 10 luxury domes, each with a full kitchen and bathroom, TV, wrap-around deck, barbecue, and private hot tub. True North has one accessible dome (Abby #9). True North is open through the winter on weekends and select weekdays only. No pets allowed. Minimum two-night stay. Children welcome. No pets.
True North Domes Website: www.truenorthdestinations.ca
True North Domes phone number: 902 224 3055
2. Cabot Shores, Indian Brook, Cape Breton
Cabot Shores Wilderness Retreat has off-grid geodesic domes perched on elevated decks in an apple orchard, offering stunning views over the Atlantic of Bird Islands and the Cape Breton Highland Hills. All Domes are suitable for 1-2 people, but The Luna Dome and the larger Apple Dome are connected, which is great for families. Cabot Shores is a year-round resort, but the only year-round dome is the Atlantic dome, which has a wood stove. At Cabot Shores you can kayak, canoe, and paddleboard. In the winter, grab a pair of snowshoes and join a guided hike. No pets allowed in the domes.
Cabot Shores Website: www.cabotshores.com
Cabot Shores phone number: 1-866-929-2584
3. Sissiboo River Retreat, Weymouth
Open year-round, the friendly folks at Sissiboo River Retreat Glamping Adventures are new to the scene, but they’ve arrived in style with luxury domes that have a loft area, kitchenette and bathrooms, wrap-around deck and barbecues. One of their goals is to support other local businesses, from building supplies to soap, wall art, signature mugs and local coffee. Sissiboo also works with locals to create adventure packages such as whale watching tours, spa services, boat charter tours, Acadian culture tours, and even ATV tours to showcase the beauty of this part of Southwest Nova Scotia. two-night minimum. Pets welcome.
Sissiboo River Retreat website: www.sissibooretreat.ca
Sissiboo River Retreat phone number: 902-308-8888
4. Valley Sky Glamping, Annapolis Valley
Popular with the influencer crowd, Valley Sky Glamping has luxury domes nestled in the Annapolis Valley. Perfect for a couple’s getaway, or a base for your next Annapolis Valley wine tour or apple-picking adventure, each of the two domes at Valley Sky has its own wrap-around deck, kitchen, luxury interior, and private hot tub. Valley Sky is open year-round. No pets, no children. two-night minimum stay.
Valley Sky website: www.valleysky.ca/
Valley Sky phone number: 902-385-2267
5. Port Wade Glamping Domes, Annapolis Royal
Open year-round, about 20 minutes from the beautiful town of Annapolis Royal, the Port Wade Glamping domes have all the modern conveniences of a cottage, including wrap-around deck, barbecue and fire-table. Inside, the modern interior includes an Alexa! For a virtual tour, check out influencer Cailin ONeil’s Tiktok video. Port Wade Glamping Domes welcome one-night stays as availability allows. Children and pets are welcome.
Port Wade Glamping Domes website: www.portwadeglampingdomes.ca
Port Wade Glamping Domes phone: 902 247 0501
6. White Point Lakeside Glomes, Hunts Point
They’re finally here! The much-anticipated Lakeside Glomes at White Point Beach Resort are located a short walk from the ocean, overlooking White Point’s lake. These year-round luxurious domes have a wrap-around deck, propane fireplace and in 2022 each one will have its own hot tub. All the amenities of White Point are available to glome guests. These domes are for adults only, and there is a two-night minimum stay. No pets. You can check out their virtual Lakeside Glome tour here.
White Point website: www.whitepoint.com/
White Point phone: 1 800 565 5068
7. Breezy Petals Camping Resort, East Hants
Breezy Petals Camping Resort is located close to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, offering fun dome accommodation options for families, including a party-dome, which can be rented – along with Zorb Balls – by the hour, plus enjoyable family activities such as Yoga by the Dome, and mini-golf. This family-run campground is open in summer only at the moment but they plan to open year-round for the 2022-2023 season.
Breezy Petals website: www.breezypetals.com
Breezy Petals phone: 902 414 5915
8. Sensea Dream Cocoons, Chester
Hidden in a lush forest by a lake, and conveniently located next to Nova Scotia’s only Nordic Spa, the year-round Sensea Dream Cocoon will open to the public soon…we hope! For a sneak preview check out this Facebook post or Youtube video from Nova Scotia bloggers, Davey and Sky.
Sensea Dream Cocoon website: www.sensea.ca
9. Blue Bayou Resort, Dingwall, Cape Breton
At Blue Bayou Resort, a lakeside dome village combines traditional site camping with comfortable dome accommodation. Choose from a variety of sites that come with a bathroom and kitchenette-equipped dome and fire pit. The domes are available during the summer season only. Children and pets welcome.
Blue Bayou website: www.bluebayouresort.com
Blue Bayou phone: 647 995 1633
10. Archer’s Edge, Judique, Cape Breton
Archer’s Edge has the right approach to relaxation: no kids, no pets…and no Wifi! With stunning sunsets, these clifftop domes are the perfect place to disconnect. Archer’s Edge is located near the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre and the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. Two-night minimum stay. Summer season only.
Archer’s Edge website: www.archersedge.info
Archer’s Edge phone: 902-435-5844
11. Kayak Cape Breton, West Bay
The perfect launching point for exploring Isle Madame, Louisbourg or the Cabot Trail, Kayak Cape Breton offers a variety of eco-conscious accommodations including an off-grid geodesic camping dome, in a private setting with an eating area, outhouse, and access to a private-access beach. Summer season only.
Kayak Cape Breton website: www.kayakcapebreton.ca/the-dome
Kayak Cape Breton phone number: 902-951-0132
12. Sky Bubble Hotel at the Deep Sky Observatory, Tusket
The Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region has some of the world’s darkest skies, and the Deep Sky Observatory is here to help you discover them. After booking one of the Observatory’s deep sky experiences you can sleep in a heated bubble (not technically a geodesic dome, but close enough) on the site, next to the Quinan River. There are two sky bubbles available – one for couples and another larger one for families. Children welcome. No pets. Shared bathroom. Wifi available. Summer season only.
Sky Bubble Hotel website: www.deepskyeye.com
Sky Bubble Hotel phone 902 648 2723
13. Quinan Dome, Tusket
Not far from the Deep Sky Observatory, there is another dome, tucked into the woods next to beautiful Kegeshook lake. With off-grid power and running water, a kitchenette, and an outdoor shower, dome-guests also have access to a canoe and an outdoor firepit. This dome-home is rented through Air BnB. Your hosts are Tammy and Gilles. Season begins in March.
Quinan Dome website: Air BnB listing
Quinan Dome phone number: 902 740 2749
“Everything You Need to Know about Geodesic Dome Camping in Nova Scotia” was written with the assistance of Tourism Nova Scotia, which did not review or approve this article.