Embark on a Culinary and Adventure Journey Through Newfoundland
Things to do in Newfoundland
SEE & DO
From the town of Trinity, embark on a whale-watching tour hosted by Sea of Whales Adventures. During the two- or three-hour tour, closely track humpbacks searching for capelin to eat. seaofwhales.com
Among the Change Islands, on a small archipelago on the ferry route from the mainland to Fogo Island, make a stop at the Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary. A breed raised to work in coal mines and other hazardous settings, the animals were close to extinction before Netta LeDrew took it upon herself to open the sanctuary with the help of donations and volunteers. She accepts help from visitors, but you need to book in advance. 709.884.6953
Take a fishing excursion in pretty Petty Harbour with outfitter and community nonprofit Fishing for Success. The story of Newfoundland is the story of the cod fish, but today there are restrictions on cod fishing to protect the fisheries. This educational organization founded in 2014 respects those rules, imparting traditional fishing knowledge and skills to visitors and Newfoundlanders alike. Take home the fillets you catch or donate them to local food banks. fishingforsuccess.org
Village Walking Tour
Local guide Al Dwyer grew up in the town of Tilting on Fogo Island and the walking tour he now leads traces the steps of his childhood. Visitors see the house where he was raised, the building down the road where fresh-caught cod were cleaned, and the well where he chipped away ice to draw water. It’s a fascinating look at what must have been an incredibly difficult childhood in a small fishing village. 709.266.7644
Baccalieu Coastal Drive
Another road with plenty of history is the Baccalieu Coastal Drive, which skirts the coastline of the Avalon Peninsula. Encounter coastal towns with quaint, one-note names such as Cupids, Heart’s Content, Heart’s Desire, and Heart’s Delight. The route also passes through Harbour Grace, the town where Amelia Earhart embarked on her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. The first woman to accomplish such a feat, she’s honored with a statue at the southernmost entry point to the town. A former fishing outpost, Harbour Grace has been scarred by fires over the years, but there remains a faded glory to the place.
Discovery Global Geopark
Across Trinity Bay from the Baccalieu Coastal Drive is Discovery Global Geopark, which received a UNESCO designation in 2020. Hiking routes cross the 444-square-mile area that includes 27 towns, and the Discovery Trail drive follows picturesque routes 233 or 230. Begin in the town of Trinity, passing though quaint seaside settlements enroute to the northern tip of the peninsula and the town of Bonavista. Of late, this town has seen has seen a tremendous resurgence, in part through the annual Bonavista Biennale celebration of contemporary art in late August/early September.
A 194-mile drive that begins and ends in St. John’s, the Irish Loop heads south or east, depending on which side of the loop you tackle first. Both ways reveal stunning scenery with highlights such as the town of Ferryland, arguably the most picturesque in Newfoundland. Another worthwhile stop is St. Vincent’s Beach, one of the best places on dry land to spot whales. Swing past Cape Race Lighthouse, where the distress signal for the HMS Titanic was received.
Created by a former chef at the Fogo Island Inn (which houses the area’s other high-end restaurant), this café is not formal, but the food is flat-out fantastic, so reserve your table in advance. bangbelly.com
The Merchant Tavern
Inside a former bank building in downtown St. John’s, the tavern was created by Jeremy Charles, two-time winner of Canada’s Best New Restaurant Award by Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and the chef featured on the Newfoundland episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. themerchanttavern.ca
The Mallard Cottage
Nestled in the picturesque Quidi Vidi Village, just five minutes from downtown St. John’s, this dining venue occupies one of the oldest surviving buildings in the province and makes regular appearances on the annual Best Restaurants in Canada list. mallardcottage.ca
Growlers Ice Cream
Another spin-off of the Fogo Island Inn, this unique shop is located in Joe Batt’s Arm on Fogo Island and incorporates local, seasonal ingredients, such as partridgeberry jam. They continually experiment and refine flavors according to the season’s offerings. 709.658.7015
Fogo Island Inn
Seemingly perched at the edge of the Earth, Fogo Island Inn is hard to get to even after you’ve landed on Newfoundland. Situated on Fogo Island off the northern coast, it’s accessible only by ferry or private aircraft. The other tricky part: There are only 29 rooms, so reserving your place requires plenty of advance planning. If you do manage a stay, the reward will be a level of tranquility not easily achieved in more convenient locations, plus a hearty mix of foraged ingredients and homespun recipes in its spectacular restaurant with soaring ceilings and imposing views of the North Atlantic. fogoislandinn.ca
Goose Cove Retreat
The glorious Goose Cove Retreat in the heart of Trinity is essentially a luxury home divided into three segments, painted in different colors. The property has everything needed for a truly restful stay: a gourmet kitchen, sauna, hot tub, fire pit, bicycles, and a waterside dock. If you’re lucky and it’s the right time of year, whales may pass right by the dock. goosecoveretreat.com
Cape Race Newfoundland
Another inspired private home—or, rather, a series of private homes—is Cape Race Newfoundland. Owned and operated by Ken Sooley, whose family has been on the island for generations, Cape Race operates a boutique travel firm and owns seven original homes in St. John’s, Bonavista, and Heart’s Delight. Each has been restored to its former, modest glory—in other words, the simple yet charming abodes aid guests in gaining a feel for life in Newfoundland in the early 20th century. caperace.com
Most international flights land in the capital city of St. John’s, a straightforward starting point for day trips in the northeastern corner of the province. You can also fly through Gander International Airport, which is closer to the center of the island and the setting for the smash Broadway hit Come From Away. A number of regional airports dot the island from east to west, since the network of roads is not as extensive as the area is vast.
Traveling by car from point to point in a reasonable amount of time means reconnecting with the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs through the middle of the province. The road stretches for 561 miles—but it’s the least scenic route and far from the coastal towns, where the true beauty of Newfoundland reveals itself.