With direct flights from the UK, Newfoundland being circa 5 hours flight time is an ideal choice for a fly drive holiday. Newfoundland with a population of about 500k is located at the most eastern tip of North America and provides stunning scenery and wildlife.
Our tour started was arranged by Frontier Canada who again provided excellent service on our third holiday with them. Our tour started at Deer Lake Airport on the western side of the island very close to Gros Morne National Park. Deer Lake has direct flights from Toronto, Halifax and St Johns. We stayed at Steady Brook in the Marble Inn resort about 40 mins drive from the Airport. Marble Mountain nearby is the islands main ski resort area, but in summer offers great walks.
From Steady Brook we made our way up the Northern Peninsular to Main Brook some 6 hours drive up the Viking Trail (430). The road is over 450k long and provided great views of the mountains and the coast. Beware the road in places is poor with a number of pot holes. There are a small number of gas stations on route but food stops other than the odd general store or gas station are rare. We turned off the 430 at Plum Point onto the 432 which they say has the highest concentration of Moose on the Island. We were not disappointed, seeing a number of them by the roadside. The soil is quite poor and you often see small plots fenced off in the middle of nowhere where the locals grow vegetables.
We stayed at the Tuckamore Inn just outside Main Brook. Our stay was extended to 4 nights as our next hotel was icebound at Quirpon Island so were unable to make the boat trip across. However this gave us the opportunity to explore the area. Highlights being Conche (down a 26K gravel road) to see a suburb Tapestry at the French Shore Interpretation Centre. It shows the history of the area based on the Bayeau Tapestry. The town also has a WW2 bomber which crash landed in 1942. L’Anse Meadows National Historic Site right on the north tip of the peninsular is worth a visit where the Vikings first landed in North America and there is a superb visitor centre as a reconstruction Viking village. St Antony nearby is the home to Grenfell Historic buildings where Dr Grenfall set up the first hospital in the area over 100 years ago. The highlight of course was the 100’s of Icebergs that can be seen off the coast and in the small harbours plenty of pack ice due to the late spring.
Our next stay was in 2 hotels round Bonne Bay in the National park, although by ferry they are close (Bonne Bay Inn- Woody Point) and (Sugar Hill Inn – Norris point) they are 90 mins drive apart. We were privileged to see Whales from our hotel bedroom at Woody Point a quaint historical fishing village. Nearby is the famous Tablelands in the National Park which is a huge red coloured mountain range. The highlight was the Western Brook Pond boat tour about 45 minute drive north of Rocky Harbour. The pond is a land locked fjord and requires you to walk about 3.5k from the car park to the boat dock. The 2 hour cruise is worth the walk, the views from the boat are simply stunning with cliffs rising over 800 metres high.
Our next stay was at Twillingate (Harbour Lights Inn) which was about a 6 hour drive from Norris point. Most of the journey was on the Trans Canadian Highway. Although the only main road across the island you are still need to negotiate the odd pot hole. Twillingate is a delightful town which you reach over a series of bridges and is famous as a great place to see Icebergs. We saw hundreds! There are a number of boat tours to see them close up. Great walks, light houses and even a winery are all nearby.
We then moved onto Port Rexton which is about 4 hours from St Johns. Our hotel the Fishers Loft Inn was outstanding. The rooms are located in a number of buildings overlooking the bay. All tastefully furnished (including original paintings) the food and service is top class. Only 10 minutes’ walk we found Port Rexton Brewery, a delightful little craft brewery offering a superb selection of beers. Many people at weekends travel from St Johns to sample the beer and try the Skerwink Trail which is a 5.3k walk overlooking the historic village of Trinity. The town is full of historical buildings well maintained by the Trinity Historical Society which shows how the locals lived 100 years ago. The views are stunning and we even saw a Golden Eagle fly overhead. If you want to see Puffins, the Bonna Vista Peninsular at Elliston. They says it’s the best place in Canada to see Puffins and they are right. Look out the Bonnavista Social Club (although 40 mins drive from the town) it is a delightful Pizza restaurant overlooking a beautiful bay.
Our final stay was in St Johns at the Leaside Manor, which was a 20 minute walk into downtown. It has a bury harbour and there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Our favourite was the Yellow Belly Brewery on Water Street. Signal Hill (National Historic Site) near downtown offers great views of the harbour. Look out for Jelly Bean houses off Prescott Street (very colourful). Quidi Vidi village has a good craft centre and a super Craft Brewery. St Johns Airport is only a 10 minutes car drive from Downtown and with only a 5 hours flight to Heathrow and a 3 ½ hours time difference, no jet lag!
Newfoundland is well worth a visit. Certainly something different and the locals certainly make you very welcome and the fish and chips are superb!