Newfoundland, the land of beautiful places and even more beautiful people. On the extreme eastcoast of Canada is “The Rock.” An island that when you get on, you do not want to get off. The land amid the seas holds so many treasures. Home to the Viking settlement of Lief Erikson, the only known Viking settlement in North America. The colorful city of St. John’s and the beautiful wonderful people within it will keep you smiling. The beauty of Gros Morne and one of the few places in the world you can touch the earth’s mantle. No matter where you are on the island, there is a treasure around every corner.
Fun Fact: Newfoundland is pronounced. “Noo fuhnd luhnd.” If you say “New Found Land” someone will correct you. Lol
How To Get There
There are only two ways to get on the island of Newfoundland. By Plane or Ferry.
Arrive by Plane
There are three airports you can fly into on the island.
- St. John’s International Airport (YYT)
- Gander International Airport (YQX)
- Deer Lake Regional Airport (YDF)
Fun Fact: Gander Newfoundland became famous in 2001 for its heartfelt generosity when 38 US planes with 7000 passengers and crew were stranded there during 911. Homes were opened and everlasting friendships made when Gander showed the world how to be kind.
Arrive by Ferry,
Arriving by Ferry gives you the option of three ferries.
- North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
- Crossing Time: 6 -8 hours
- North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, Newfoundland
- Crossing Time: 16 hours
- Blanc Sablon, Quebec to St. Barbe, Newfoundland
- Crossing Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basque is the most widely used ferry. When crossing on this ferry, make sure to call for reservations before making all your travel plans. There are cancelations all the time, and you can call every 30 minutes to check if there is an opening, so do not be discouraged if the day and time you are looking for are not available. There are also cabins you can rent on both ferries leaving from North Sydney that will make your crossing more comfortable.
The Ferry from Blanc Sablon to St. Barbe is your ride to Labrador. If you have time, pop on over and explore some of Labrador. You will be glad you did.
Places to See
1. L’Anse aux Meadows
On Newfoundland’s far north coast is the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America. Leif Erikson, on an excursion to the west of their homeland of Greenland, landed on the coast of Newfoundland. L’Anse aux Meadows is what is left of this extraordinary journey.
The remnants of this once vibrant village are a selection of mounds with name plates as to what buildings the village would contain. Cookhouses, blacksmith shops, and lodging cabins sat on this site thousands of years ago.
On the grounds of the original site is a small re-enactment site. See how the Vikings lived in their grass-covered houses. Learn Viking saga and folklore around the fire in the cookhouse at one of their featured events. Meet a Viking as he tells you and shows you life as a Viking. Visit the extensive museum at the entrance and see artifacts found at the archeological site.
A path snakes along the treacherous cliff-lined ocean front. Follow the path and discover the fairy houses arranged throughout the path while you enjoy the incredible views.
Only two kilometres from L’Anse aux Meadows is Norstead. A replica of a Viking trade of port as it would have been in 790 AD. Various buildings, including a blacksmith shop, boathouse, chieftain hall, and church, that gives you that walk-back-in-time feeling. Actors in the village tell you of days long ago and show you the life of a Viking.
Visit the “Snorri,” a replica of the Viking ship Lief Erikson would have used. Over 1000 years ago, this great explorer left Greenland and travelled over 1500 miles in a wooden boat with canvas sails. In 1997, a replica of the ship and the journey was performed by twelve men. The excursion took three months to complete in this historical recreation. In 1998, the New Vinland Foundation donated the ship to Norstead, and you can view it in the boathouse.
Along the north shore of Newfoundland lives a microorganism that is among the first on this planet. Thrombolites or Living Rocks are bun-shaped rocks that are shaped from living organisms made of tiny algae and bacteria. The only form of life 3 billion years ago, these rocks tell a story steeped in history. Looking out over the field of white buns, you would never guess that these were the life forms first on this earth. Living, growing creatures that feel and look like white buns of rocks. There are only two places on earth you can now find these ancient and resilient organisms. Here in Flowers Cove Newfoundland, and Hamlin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Take the time to see and feel the little creatures that started it all.
4. The Arches Provincial Park
Arches Provincial Park, located on the east side of the island, is a beautiful example of Mother Nature’s power. Through years of pounding surf, wind and weather, holes have developed in the cliff of rocks. These “arches” have taken thousands of years to create. The sheer size of the cliffs and the arches within it are staggering. Through the years, water has eroded the rock, producing these beautiful works of nature’s art. There were once four arches. One has fallen, and through the years, as erosion eats away, the others will also fall. The arches are a must-see when visiting Newfoundland. A work of art that will not be here forever.
5. Gros Morne National Park
Truly a natural wonder, The Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park has an interesting and ancient beginning. Half a billion years ago, two continents collided. They collided with such a force that the inner part of the earth was thrust through the ground. This spectacular event was responsible for the creation of what we now call the Appalachian Mountain Range. It took 400 million years of erosion for the mantle to show itself. What we see here at Gros Morne is the layer of the earth’s mantle that is normally many miles below the crust. An orange-brown dirt lays beside lush green forests. Take a journey to the center of the earth without going underground at Gros Morne National Park.
6. Dildo Newfoundland
You go there for the name but you stay there for the people. Dildo Newfoundland was one of the funnest places I stayed in Newfoundland. This seaside town has a warm-hearted feel as soon as you enter. Driving along the coast, you come to Dildo Harbour. It’s a beautiful spot where you can watch the fishing boats come in with the day’s catch. There is a great restaurant right on the dock, and in Dildo, you can stay in your RV right on the dock. The moon and the lights of the town glimmering on the water is a sight you will never forget.
Just down the road was Dildo Brewing Company. A great bar and restaurant overlooking the bay. You will have a great time mixing with the locals and sampling some excellent beer. Across the road is the S. U. F Lodge. When you are there on Saturday or Sunday in the summer months (May – September), take a look at the local products that are offered at the Dildo Cove Vendors Market. A fun time is gaurenteed when you are in Dildo.
7. St. John’s and Signal Hill
St. John’s Newfoundland is everything you have heard and so much more. A colourful city filled with warmth and laughter. The houses in St. John’s are brightly coloured, lined along these sometimes steep streets. Within the city of St. John’s is St. John’s harbour. A working industrial harbour. A strategic major hub for ships. The harbour caters to every kind of ship. With services such as container shipping, repair and fueling, and an active fish-handling port, it is a constant buzz of activity. Take a walk down Water Street to visit the many shops and restaurants along this pedestrian street. St. John’s is a major city with a small-town heart.
Signal Hill is located in St. John’s at “the narrows.” This Hill would become a significant place in Canada’s history and the world. From the 1600s until the First World War, it became an important military point of defence of St. John’s Harbour, for what was once British land. The uppermost peak, called Ladies Hill, held battles to keep the French from taking over the land. Men would sit on top with signal flags of any ship that was travelling into St. John’s Harbour.
The large tower atop Signal Hil, Cabot Tower, was built in 1900 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the 400th anniversary of the arrival of John Cabot. It would become instrumental in both the defence of St. John’s and the development of trans-Atlantic and wireless communication.
Overseas communication began at Signal Hill, with the first cable-transmitted message from Ireland being received in 1909. By 1931, Signal Hill had 8 trans-Atlantic cables running from Ireland and the United States. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first wireless signal from Cornwall England. It was simply the letter “s.” In 1920, Marconi transmitted the first human voice across the ocean from Cabot Tower.
The history and design of St. John’s and Signal Hill will keep you interested. The people will make you want to come back for more.
Fun Fact: Although the French did not capture Newfoundland as its own, you can still visit France while in Newfoundland. The Islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon are the only land left in North America that is owned by France. They can be reached by plane or Ferry but remember to bring your passport, it is France after all.
Bonavista Newfoundland has beautiful views, exciting history, and wonderful people. This lovely town sits on the coast with breathtaking views of the cliffs and ocean scenery. Home to the replica ship of Matthew, John Cabot’s historic ship, and beautiful Cape Bonavista, it was named Chevrolet’s Most Roadtrippable Town in Canada. With its multicolored fishing huts dotting the shoreline and the drive to Cape Bonavista to visit the statue of John Cabot and the beautiful lighthouse at the top of the cape, it truly is a most Roadtripplable Town.
9 Dungeon Provincial Park
Near the Cape of Bonavista is Dungeon Provincial Park. Offering a spectacular view of nature’s power, these cliffs have become a natural wonder. To say that the caves and cuts into the rock are enormous is an understatement. Standing on the edge of the precipice, looking into the giant hole with its outlets or inlets into the sea, you get the feeling of the kind of power wind and water have. Over 10,000 years of weathering and pounding surf have created this natural wonder. To get an idea of the sheer size of the bridge mother nature has created, the picture below is my girlfriend Kim standing on the bridge.
We can not talk about Dungeon Provincial Park without mentioning the horses. Within the park are horses roaming. These horses are from local area farms and are taken to graze in the park. Newfoundland is a rock, and grazing land is at a premium. The horses add a beautiful, serene ambiance to this magnificent natural wonder.
10. Elliston and The Puffins
Elliston and its coastline community have an intriguing title and some beautiful sights. Elliston is known as the “Root Cellar Capital of the World” with several hundred root cellars in use today. The oldest root celar was built in 1839 and is still in use. Neighbours would get together and build the root cellars into the rock and hillsides to keep their fruits and vegetables that were grown in the summer for winter use. Communities working together to keep their families fed for the long winter months.
These sweet, beautiful-looking birds are a rare find on land. The Puffin Viewing Center in Elliston gives you the chance to see these small but mighty birds in the wild. These seabirds dive into the water to catch their prey. They nest on coastal cliffs during May – September and then fly out to sea as winter comes. When you look at the small stature of the puffins, they look so delicate and yet can survive winter on the ocean. A must-see when visiting Newfoundland
Where to Stay
RVer’s and Campers
Newfoundland is an RVer’s and Campers dream come true. Boondocking is actively encouraged in Newfoundland. As long as it is not a Provincial Park or National Park with no camping rules or private property with no overnight parking signs on it, you can pull up a spot. Places like Cape Bonavista have 3 nights minimum, and if you see a bluff overlooking the ocean, go ahead and enjoy the stars. There are camping provincial parks on the island that all have great facilities at prices you can afford.
By Plane and Car
There are a host of ways to stay on the island. Hotels with major brands such as The Marriot, Hampton, and Holiday Inn can be found in major centers. Small inns such as Genevieve Bay Inn on the north side of the island, or AirB&B’s like Olive’s Garden in Comfort Cove, will guarantee you a great stay every time. Check out the selection on their website for all your options.
When you visit Newfoundland you will find that it’s more than the spectacular views and ancient geology. You immediately feel the community and warmth of the people. That mixture will give you everlasting memories of a wonderful travel destination.
Have you had a favourite experience in Newfoundland or know of other great places to visit? Tell me about it in the comments.
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next time.