Where should I go and what should I do in Newfoundland?
June 4, 2010 2:28 AM   Subscribe

Where should I go and what should I do in Newfoundland?

I'm going to be in Newfoundland with a group of friends for a couple of weeks in July. I'll be spending the first week scuba diving (based in Conception Bay South near St. Johns) but I have no plans yet for the second week.

I would like to explore the outdoors and see some beautiful scenery and wildlife. I love to kayak/canoe and camp, and I like hiking.

Do you have any recommendations for places to go and things to see? I hear that Gros Morne National Park is beautiful but may be there are other places I should consider.

Is it possible to hire kayaks/canoes plus tents and explore the coastline without a guide? I'm not particularly averse to having a guide but most of my party are fairly experienced outdoors types so we probably don't actually need one.

Any other general recommendations for the area are also welcome.
posted by jonesor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We went in late June 2008 for two weeks. Didn't do any canoeing/kayaking, but we did a lot of hiking.
Gros Morne is unbelievable. Really beautiful, and so many different biomes in a relatively small space. We did the Green Gardens hike and the Lookout hike, but I wish we'd done the Tablelands as well. They do also have overnight hikes, but I think you might have to register for them in advance so they can limit the use of the wilderness areas. If you can manage to have at least 4 days in Gros Morne you will not regret it. You can certainly camp there.
There were a few other places we enjoyed hiking.
Near Trinity is the Skerwink Coastal Trail. Great views of the costal cliffs as the trail winds out of the forest. When we were visiting there were still a few icebergs off the coast. If you're looking for a really nice meal near Trinity, I suggest making reservations at The Fisher's Loft Inn. Easily the best two meals we had our whole trip, and they use all local ingredients.
Also, there are a few hikes in Mistaken Point Park Reserve that are really beautiful. There is one hike that takes you to a fossil bed, you have to remove your shoes to walk on it. Really amazing, we spent hours there without realizing it.
Hope you have a great trip! It's a really beautiful part of the country, and the people are really helpful & friendly.
posted by nprigoda at 3:12 AM on June 4, 2010

As a Newfoundlander myself (living in Ohio currently), I'm always happy when others go to visit my home province. I'm jealous that you'll be diving in C.B.S (My hometown is within Conception Bay South). Most likely you'll be diving between Torbay and Bell Island, and there's quite a bit of history about that area :


Since you'll be near St.John's on week one, do try to enjoy the city, especially the downtown area. Just walking the downtown is a treat.

If you've never taken a whale boat tour, I'd recommend one from Bay Bulls (not too far from the city). Although I lived in Newfoundland for 23 years, it wasn't til I took that boat tour that I saw whales close up....dozens of gorgeous humpbacks, just feet from our boat! To give you an idea how majestic it is, just feast your eyes on this piece of video (still gives me shivers) :


As for week 2, I second the recommendation for Gros Morne. You really can't go wrong. Personally I'm more of a watcher than a doer, so I prefer to enjoy the natural beauty than hiking or kayaking, but for you more active types, I'm sure there's plenty to do! Check a few tourist brochures when you arrive, or browse this site :

http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ (check the "things to do" tab)

Enjoy your trip! Would love to get a follow-up after your visit, though that's a lot to ask :)
posted by newfers at 4:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Added to favorites because I'm desperate to visit Newfoundland! I'm told that Dildo is really very nice, and worth a visit for more than just a cheap giggle (though the cheap giggle is worth it, too)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:37 AM on June 4, 2010

Gros Morne. Gros Morne. Gros Morne -- It's as beautiful as everyone says.

While in St. John's be sure to visit Signal Hill and do the North Head Trail hike. It follows the cliffs takes along the shoreline. It is the only hiking trail I know of that officially traverses the porch of a private residence (no lie). Takes less than an hour but it's awesome.
posted by dzot at 6:12 AM on June 4, 2010

If you're up for some European adventuring, you're only a short ferry ride from France.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 7:26 AM on June 4, 2010

I'm also a Newfoundlander far away from home.

Second the recommendation for Gros Morne, but it is on the opposite side of the island from St. John's. It's an 8 or 9 hour drive.

Kayaking -- try the Southern Shore, just South of St. John's. A lot of great whale-watching and a seabird sanctuary, etc. Basically the first bit of The Irish Loop: http://www.theirishloop.com/. There are several kayak-rentals listed on that site.

Be prepared to alter plans because of weather, or because you've met some people who give you different advice :-)

If you have the time, a 4-hour drive gets to you to the bottom of the Burin Peninsula, where you can take the quick ferry over to St. Pierre and experience a little bit of France.
posted by MiG at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2010

Some of the best kayaking in the world can be found along the south coast of the island (not the south coast of the Avalon Penninsula). The town of Burgeo is a good place to launch from, and you can spend several days on the rugged coastline with amazing cliffs. Perhaps a trip to the community of Grey River (only accessible by boat or helicopter). You could hit Gros Morne for a few days before heading to Burgeo. I'm trying to find pics that will do it justice but I can't. All these expats writing in. I'm a lousy mainlander who is lucky enough to live here.
posted by Brodiggitty at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2010

If you get out to gros morne, I would suggest going the extra hour or two out to the bay of islands, via corner brook. I enjoyed gros morn, but loved bottle cove and the drive to get there.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:51 AM on June 5, 2010

Also don't forget to try all the local culinary delights- jigg's dinner, moose, partridge berries, bakeapples, fresh sea food, fries/dressing/gravy and the queen of fried chicken, Mary Browns.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:56 AM on June 5, 2010

I live in St. John's and CBS is not far at all. You will want to check out the East Coast Trail. You can rent kayaking gear here.

Also yes to Signal Hill, and don't forget to balance that exercise with some fries, dressing, and gravy. Mmmmm!
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:36 PM on June 13, 2010

Thanks for the advice everyone!
I've just returned from my trip. It was awesome!

After diving and whale watching with Ocean Quest we traveled up to Gros Morne via Dildo and Terra Nova NP. We did an overnight kayaking trip in Gros Morne NP with Gros Morne Adventures, and also did a couple of hikes in the mountains.

To top it all off we visited France for the day for croissants and lunch.
posted by jonesor at 2:53 AM on July 28, 2010

Ha, I like how you say you went via Dildo- even though it's pretty much out of the way, and all the way across the island from Gros Mourne. I will admit that I demanded we take an hour long detour on the avalon just so I could get a pic of their sign.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:14 PM on July 31, 2010

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