A red wooden deck juts out from a rocky hilltop, overlooking stunning views of a vast, sparkling lake surrounded by lush greenery.
View from the Baccalieu Coastal Drive

Travel

Embark on a Culinary and Adventure Journey Through Newfoundland

By Mark Hacking
Off the east coast of Canada, the sparsely populated island of Newfoundland remains a rocky slice of heaven with award-winning restaurants, inspired accommodations, once-in-a-lifetime adventures, and notable worldly comforts all its own.
A white pony stands and peers out from a rustic wooden stable. There is a sign in front of the gate with its name on it.
Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary

A man wearing a backpack walking on a path alongside a calm body of water. There is a wooden red house with white trim in the distance against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.
Fogo Island

Things to do in Newfoundland

SEE & DO


Whale Watching

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


Petting Ponies

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


Go Fishing

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


DRIVING ROUTES


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.


Irish Loop

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.

A white bowl with cod and corn chowder, garnished with green dill. The bowl sits on a wooden table.
Bangbelly Bistro

A tall industrial brick building has yellow words painted on it. In front of the building, there are two cylindrical stainless-steel tanks that have pipes, valves and a ladder.
The Merchant Tavern

A restaurant dining room with wooden tables and chairs, decorated in a rustic style with exposed beams and stone walls. There is artwork displayed on a wall and large windows at the back of the room which offer scenic views.
Mallard Cottage

A plate of food and a cocktail beverage on a table.
Mallard Cottage, one of Canada’s best restaurants, serves gourmet fare

EAT


Bangbelly Bistro

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

A large, contemporary building perched on stilts on one side, sits on top of a rocky hill that overlooks the ocean. The building is primarily made of wood and glass and has floor-to-ceiling windows.
Fogo Island Inn

A cozy living room with large floor-to-ceiling windows offers a spectacular view of the ocean. The room is decorated in a modern Scandinavian style, with light walls, wood floors, and pops of color from the artwork and furniture.
Fogo Island Inn off the northern coast features rooms with spectacular views

A bedroom with a bed and a colorful landscape painting hanging above the bed. The bed has a dark wood frame and white bedding. There are two white pillows and two colorful patterned pillows on the bed.
Goose Cove Retreat

A yellow house with many windows next to a large rock. The house is two stories tall with gray and white trimmed windows and red doors.
Cape Race Newfoundland

STAY


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


GETTING THERE

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.