If a person were to do an internet search of Newfoundland, they would find more websites devoted to the dog breed than to the quaint, relatively untamed Canadian province of Newfoundland/Labrador. Newfoundland isn’t as well-known to travelers as Quebec or Ontario or some of the other bigger provinces, but its charm and character won’t disappoint.
While Labrador is sparsely populated and part of the mainland, most of the province’s population of 530,000 resides on the island of Newfoundland. In years past, the waters were fished by the British during the summer months. The Brits would return home in the winter, but as time went by some of them decided to stay and tough out the cold.
Eventually, more of them started staying and the capital city of St. John’s began to develop and grow and now houses 40% of the population. As Newfoundland further developed, smaller fishing villages with brightly colored clapboard houses began to spring up along the rugged coastline.
Today, Newfoundland is full of quaint seaport villages and some of the friendliest and most welcoming folks a visitor to this land of enchantment will ever find. Read on to find out what you might be missing.
St. John’s is the oldest and most easterly town in North America. It offers all the charm of a small town along with the sophistication and modern conveniences of a larger city.
The city is a maze of narrow crisscrossing streets which were originally carved out by horse-drawn carriages. Brightly colored homes known as jellybean row houses line the steep rocky hills overlooking the Atlantic, precariously perched as though a huge wave might carry them out to sea at any moment.
Quidi Vidi is a small fishing village which is actually a part of St. John’s and is considered a city within a city. Things have not changed much over the years and the experience is like stepping back into time.
To say the best seafood on the planet can be found in St. John’s would be a gross understatement. If it’s seafood related, the people here know how to whip it into a gastronomical delight beyond description. They have survived on seafood since the island’s early settlement days, and simply due to their location, they still do. Chances are whatever meal is served was still in the ocean an hour or two before it was cooked. Many award-winning chefs are bringing local seafood and foraged/hunted game to new levels.
The streets of St. John’s are lined with lively clubs, cafes, art museums, boutiques, and galleries where local artisans have their works for sale. Live music is never a problem to find and theater groups are quite active. George Street is the place to be. Every year an annual five-day George Street Festival is held with almost non-stop live music, beer drinking, dancing, eating, and a flat-out great time. The entire city turns out.
Parks and Historic Sites
There are several popular nature parks which are nothing short of amazing. At Torrent River Nature Park located at Hawke’s Bay, there is an underwater observation window for watching wild salmon as they fight their way upstream to spawn.
Not far away from Torrent River is Port au Choix National Historic Site where for thousands of years four indigenous tribes fished the surrounding waters. It’s easy to imagine how life must have been for them prior to the island being modernized.
Gros Morne National Park is the most popular attraction of all. It’s a glacier-carved fjord with 2000 foot walls on either side and its beauty is beyond measure. Boat tours are available and they are highly recommended.
L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site is home to the first European settlement formed by Vikings from Norway and Greenland. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Terra Nova National Park is where you will find marine exhibits including an aquarium with a touch tank. There are miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails and the park runs along the coast so there are lots of places to walk along the beaches and go exploring. There is also a very good chance of spotting bald eagles swooping down on their prey as the park is a nesting grounds for them.
A large portion of Newfoundland remains wild and untamed. There are adventure tours available which take visitors to view humpback whales and an endless variety of seabirds. Newfoundland has the largest consolidation of humpback whales in the world so spotting these majestic mammals is guaranteed.
In addition, visitors will see massive icebergs, capes, small villages, an abundance of wildlife, and the natural beauty of this cold weathered paradise. Ziplining and high rope walking are popular activities. The scenery and deep depths of the canyons add to the thrills of both, making them adventures you won’t soon forget.
Snowmobiling through the wonderland of the terrain is an activity to not be missed. You’ll feel as though you have become lost in a never before seen wilderness just as the early explorers witnessed it for the first time.
Whitewater rafting at Aspen Brook is some of the best to be found anywhere. Badger Chute is the area where the water gets more intense and rafters must shoot the rapids.
Imagine picnicking on the soft green grass bordering a rocky cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean as the waves break on the shoreline below. Can it get any better? No. It can’t.
Fishing remains as incredibly good as it has always been. Anglers will have no worries when it comes to finding a charter boat to take them out. The sea captains know the best spots and no one ever comes back empty-handed. It’s also easy to find a cafe that will be more than happy to cook your catch for you.
Putting together an itinerary when visiting Newfoundland is difficult to accomplish with so many things to see and do. One week-long vacation is not enough time to see it all and you’ll find yourself immediately planning a return trip. Whether relaxing, enjoying a great nightlife, touring the island, or eating yourself to death with the greatest seafood found anywhere is on your agenda, Newfoundland has it all.