The Wild Newfoundland & Labrador
This was my first visit to the most Eastern Coast of Canada has been one of the most incredible places to visit this far. Going into this trip I had imagined it would be much like other East Coast areas of Canada but I soon found out it is much more wild and full of life than originally thought.
I only had six short days in this beautiful province so I didn't get to see everything, but it was the kind of trip where every day ended feeling like the best day ever. The animals, the ocean and the people all made this location a top one in my travels!
I was lucky enough to also bring my mother on this trip. She had never expected to ever go to Newfoundland in her life but she wants to go back with my Dad to show him the splendors of this wild province.
Much of the wildlife is seasonal, whales are usually around all year long but make sure you check what is abundant at the time of year you visit. Summer is usually a safe bet. Being that we came mid-July the Caplin bait fish are spawning at this time meaning all of the whales and birds are feeding on them for either breeding season or in the case of humpbacks to fatten up for their migration to the warm waters of the Dominican Republic to birth their babies and mate. The Caplin also lay their eggs on the beaches so it is apparently quite a sight to see when they ‘roll.’ This is literally the fish rolling up onto the beach! We didn’t get to see this but it sounds like quite an event.
Perhaps it was the time of year, or because the ocean is more full than others, but it felt like stepping back in time to when thousands of whales ruled the ocean. Every time we drove or walked by the coast we would see at least one most times two or more humpback whales. It wasn’t only humpbacks, although they are most common, Fin, Minke, Orca and rare times Blue whales can be seen here.
The bird life was also astounding. I think a personal and crowd favorite is the Atlantic Puffins. They are much smaller than I imagined and they are terrible fliers! They spend their whole lives out at sea swimming the surface until they come to the coast to breed and raise chicks, usually when the Caplin have migrated north to provide plenty of food for their chicks. They nest on Islands away from predators in small burrows and are so entertaining to watch as they waddle around and struggle to fly.
Other birds include the Common Gannets, Common Murre, Black-Legged Kittiwake, Razorbill and Cormorants. All and more can be found at the Bird sanctuary at Cape St Mary’s. Here lies an ecological reserve with a famous ‘bird rock’ where thousands of these birds nest, majority being the Gannets.
Their are a major amount of Moose in Newfoundland, an introduced species that is actually quite detrimental to the vegetation and auto traffic. A local said that for every four people there is one Moose on the Island. Invasive species often have lasting negative effects on the resident species of flora and fauna.
We were quite south however many more larger mammals reside here in Newfoundland more abundant further North such as woodland caribou, (on major decline due to a disease infecting the brain of the animals) arctic fox, polar bears (way North) and snowy owls. We did happen to see a little fox.
What to Bring:
Summer is quite warm with Temperatures of about 25C but as you get to the Coastal areas it gets about 10 degrees cooler I find. Especially when there is fog or rain. I had a pair of good hiking shoes, sandals, long pants, shorts, sweater, windbreaker and puffy jacket and it was very comfortable, gloves might be a good choice too if you get cold fingers easy. A hat to shield the sun for sure (one that stays on in wind). Binoculars are also something I really wished I had for the wildlife sightings.
Here is a Day to Day Guide on where we went and what was special about the locations.
Day One and Two: St. John’s
Accommodation: Inn at Mallard Cottage
We had such a fun time in St John’s colorful city as we explored Signal hill, Quidi Vidi, Jelly Bean Row, Cape Spear and Cuckold’s Cove near and around.
Quidi Vidi is such a cute fishing inlet where adorable classic houses are on stilts in the water. Signal Hill is always quite busy it seems but there are some spectacular sunsets/sunrises from up on this hill. Cape Spear is a classic beautiful lighthouse where you can always sight whales normally.
Restaurants: Yellow Belly and Mallard Cottage are both exceptional and in need of reservations, and they are both locally owned.
Day Three: Bay of Bulls, Ferryland and Trepassy
Accommodation: Edge of Avalon Inn
What an amazing day this was. It was truly one of my favorites as we watched whales in the fog on O’Brien’s Whale Watching Tours to start. After following two Humpbacks we went to an island full of Puffins, Common Murre and Kittiwake. Black backed Gulls sat watch for a little Puffin meal, sadly puffins are apart of their diet!
We continued to Ferryland Lighthouse for lunch and it was the most amazing picnic I have ever had. The lighthouse makes picnic lunches for you to take out and watch the whales with by the lighthouse. They provide a blanket and all the fixings, you just have to enjoy and book early (they book up 3-4 months advance!).
The last stop of our long day was Trepassy, which is a small town near the west coast with a lot to offer. Edge of Avalon Inn was a comfortable stay with a great warm owner who made us feel at home.
Restaurants: Ferryland Lighthouse Picnics and Edge of Avalon.
Day Four: Cape Race, St. Vincent’s Beach and St. Mary Lighthouse
Accommodation: Bird Island Resort
I instantly fell in love with Cape Race, not the pot hole drive to it but the lighthouse was probably my favorite of the entire trip. Sadly we barley saw it with the fog, however I would rather have the fog. It made the mood so natural and exactly how Newfoundland should feel. The lighthouse is surrounded by huge surge channels making it the most beautifully composed lighthouse I have ever been to, I could only imagine the photos to be had here if the fog would have let up. It was still may favorite though.
St. Vincent’s beach was also probably the most incredible experience I will ever have when it comes to whales. The beach is a complete drop off with an undertow current trapping the Caplin fish, so the whales come within 15 meters of you to feed. They burst out of the water with their mouths full and we watched them for hours! Their was quite a crowd out here to enjoy the spectacle.
St. Mary Lighthouse is also a nice little lighthouse surrounded by steep cliffs, where the ‘bird rock’ is also located. We only had time for the lighthouse for the evening sunset and it made some nice images and a great way to end the day.
Restaurants: We made our own dinner in the kitchen at our accommodation. Choices are limited here.
Day Five: Bird Rock, Trinity and Port Rexton
Accommodation: Other House Vacation Home
Bird Rock was an amazing start to our day. Thousands of birds surrounded us above and the chatter was a treat for the ears. We had fun watching the Gannets fly around for a bit by the cliffs until we headed off once again.
We arrived in Trinity for another boat tour, but this time a Zodiac boat and I highly recommend it! It was so fun bouncing through the waves and we were even lucky enough to have a humpback swim under our boat! They came so close to us it was incredible. We also were taken to an iceberg which I though was super special. They look like three story buildings towing above and seem so out of place, it was an exquisite experience.
Back in Trinity we headed to our Accommodation which was an entire adorable house. It was small and cute and I want to live there! The town is a historical site so everything is very old fashioned and it is absolutely charming. I highly recommend staying in this little town. We headed out to Port Rexton to capture some images of the Iceberg which was also quite nice and then we had a lovely dinner at the Twine Loft at Artisan Inn. It is the most incredible little restaurant with amazing food and wine selections. It was my favorite place for food on the entire tour.
Restaurants: Twine Loft at Artisan Inn
Day Six: Bonavista, Elliston and St John’s
Accommodation: Murry Premises Hotel
This day was pretty relaxed with our trip coming to an end. We went to Elliston to see more Pufins but sadly they were a bit far for my camera lens and there were not as many as usual. It was still fun to see them waddling around.
We went to Bonavista to check out the Coves and caves around the area and got stopped by some friendly ponies (my weakness). We then checked out the pretty lighthouse where we saw Orca, icebergs, a fox and yes, more puffins!
We wrapped up our week with a little lunch and then drove back to St John’s to fly out the next day.
The entire trip exceeded my expectations by far but if I came back to the area again these are the spots I would have to revisit.
-St Vincent Beach
-St Mary’s Bird Island
The trip was more than anything I had ever expected and I hope you enjoyed the blog. Please leave a comment for what you want to see more of in my blogs!