Top 10 Newfoundland’s Northwest Coast MUST DO List
Top 10 Newfoundland
By: Mike Argyle
1. L’anse aux Meadows – Almost 500 years prior to Columbus’s arrival, the Vikings landed at what is now known as L’anse aux Meadows, established a village and then within a generation, left. What remains at the site is the excavated remains of this settlement, along with some recently constructed sod houses to give people an idea of what the place looked like nearly a millennia ago. If you can make the trip to the northern most point in Newfoundland (about 6 hours north of Corner Brook), you must visit this site. You can take a few days to do it, by staying at a bed and breakfast, or do it all in one day (it is doable but involves a lot of driving), but you will regret being so close to one of the New World’s most important historical sites and skipping he chance to bear witness to its humble majesty.
Best time to visit: Spring through fall, with summer hours being longer.
2. Iceberg Watching – Harbinger of Armageddon or not, watching these giant ice cubes float along the coast is something worth seeing. When you realize the part exposed is a fraction of the total size, you’ll realize what the old saying really means. This is the oldest water in the world, and while it is breaking up at an alarming rate, it doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon either.
Best time to visit: Spring through July with greater frequency the further north you go.
3. Saint Anthony – Just about the furthest north you can go in Newfoundland and still find all the comforts of home, Saint Anthony is a great spot to see icebergs, hike, watch the fog roll in off the bay and take in some local colour. To reach it, get on Route 430 North, the Viking Trail, and follow it until it ends (about 30 minutes further than the L’anse aux Meadows turnoff). Take a drive out to Fishing Point Cove and see one of Newfoundland’s most important cultural symbols – the lighthouse – but not before taking in arguably the greatest Canadian symbol: the only Tim Horton’s coffee shop for five hours.
Best time to visit: Any time of year, but keep in mind winter will be very cold.
4. Hike Green Gardens – Do you have 8 hours to kill and don’t mind getting a little dirty or hating your life the next day? Then Green Gardens is the hike for you! Nestled next to the Tablelands, down the road from Woody Point (just off route 430) lies one of the most challenging day hikes in the province that will take you up and down five hills (ranging from 100-300 meters in elevation), out to the ocean, twice through a stream and by some of Newfoundland’s most pristine natural sights. At 15km, don’t plan on doing anything else the rest of the day.
Best time to visit: Summer, preferably a few days after it rains as it can be muddy.
5. Spot Moose – This is probably the easiest thing to do as it requires no effort and sometimes not even a vehicle. For those not familiar with moose, imagine a two meter tall at the shoulder and 500 kilogram deer with a giant face. At dawn and dusk, moose like to reacquaint themselves with the road and can on occasion cause minor accidents. Wait, change ‘on occasion’ to ‘always’ and change minor to ‘major’, because if you don’t come close to an accident while visiting, you should go out and buy a lottery ticket. If you find yourself out and come across one of these magnificent creatures, be careful, as males or females with a calf can be aggressive, particularly in hunting season.
Best time to spot: Any time, however keep in mind fall is hunting season.
6. Norris Point – Situated on a natural harbour on the edge of Gros Morne National park, this is the ideal point to stop in on your trek up north. Not only are there great photo opportunities by the water and in the hills, but you can rent a kayak to tour the bay, do some hiking and then grab a pint of Eric’s Red Cream Ale while you watch some whales at sunset. It really can’t get much better than this.
Best time to visit: All year, but warmer months are best.
7. Gros Morne National Park – French for ‘Large mountain standing alone’, this national park is home to Newfoundland’s second highest peak at 800m and is quite an impressive sight. If you feel bold, you can climb this mountain, keeping in mind it is an eight hour return trip and not at all a simple one. If not, be content to take in the rugged beauty on highway 430 and the many trails (in particular, Baker’s Brook Falls – a 2-3 hour return walk to a very powerful small waterfall), but be wary of the many moose who call this park home.
Best time to visit: All year.
8. Eat Lobster/Crab/Moose – You can’t go to Newfoundland and not sample the food that makes it famous. If you love lobster, you have come to the right place, as this will probably be the cheapest and best lobster you will ever find. Enjoy crab legs? Eat as many as you’re able to crack open. Up for something different but very familiar? Grab a moose burger and see the other thing moose are prized for aside from their heads.
Best time of year to eat: All year, but lobster/crab is best during late spring/summer.
9. Go Fishing – Seems like an obvious outing but still one worth mentioning as this area is dotted with lakes and rivers, teaming with fish. Find a boat and head out onto the water for a day in the Newfoundland wilderness. Be forewarned though, the waterways within national park grounds are subject to very strict poaching laws with fines for anyone who violates them, so do your research before hand as to what you can fish for and where.
Best time of year: Summer for more favourable wind.
10. The Arches Provincial Park – Situated about halfway up highway 430 is The Arches National Park, a rock archway along the ocean’s edge created by the pounding of the waves. If you know Australia’s Great Ocean Road and its London Bridge, imagine a similar thing, except smaller (and able to be climbed!). This is a great place to stretch your legs on your way up to L’anse aux Meadows, or just to chill out at for the day.
Best time of year: All year.