Being A Tourist in Your Own Province
Question: How can you tell all the Newfoundlanders in heaven?
Answer: They’re the one who still wants to go home.
Whether you have spent the majority of your life living in Newfoundland, or have recently moved here, you know how fortunate Newfoundlanders are to reside within this special province. But what does it actually mean to become a tourist in your own home? It means immersing yourself fully into nature, wildlife culture, history and folklore more than you ever have before.
Rediscover Newfoundland this summer with a rejuvenated wanderlust for adventure. Explore the culture, communities, and nature Newfoundland has to offer. Reacquaint yourself with the island Newfoundlanders are lucky enough to call home.
As a native Newfoundlander and a tourist operator, I have my own personal take on this province as well as the advantage to see it through the eyes of guests from outside the province, country, and continent.
Once you have heard tourists’ words of praise, you start to really appreciate it. Unlike them, you do not have to travel here, plan a car rental, or find adequate accommodations. You are probably able to do day trips from your doorstep, go on a hike, a boat tour, kayak, or ride a bike around some historical parts of Newfoundland and still be back home in time for supper!
Everyone will be ready this summer to partake in adventure and beat the cabin fever into submission. Let your wild side out and explore this beautiful province we call home!
Newfoundland features the largest annual migration of returning Humpbacks in the world. We also have one of the most northern Gannet colonies, and an 800 km wilderness trail from St. John’s to Port aux Basques. This trail takes you through some of the most unspoiled wilderness you may ever experience. By sea or by land; fish, hike, bike, or drive the majestic contours of this one of a kind island. It’s the perfect time to explore and experience the phenomenons of nature this province has to offer.
Take advantage of the knowledgeable, world-class tourism operators that are located throughout the island. Whether it’s SCUBA diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, or boating, we recommend getting out to see the natural wonders near our shores.
Venture inland by bike, ATV, or hiking. We know you’ll discover a newfound appreciation for the nature surrounding you. You might even be able to catch your lunch during the recreational fishing season. Mussels, scallops, trout, salmon, and codfish abound or buy it from the local fisherman who can sell you lobster, crab and many different kinds of fish. Nothing beats a feed of fish cooked over an open fire or a Coleman stove in one of our provincial parks or campground sites! Don’t feel like cooking? Well there are plenty of restaurants, pubs and microbreweries to sample local and nouveau fare alike.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, to capture the moment as it’s happening must be worth at least a million! If you’ve never stood in the path of a towering mammoth of ice while it bears down on you. The picture is a great take away but it will never beat the feeling of standing in the frigid air blowing from it. A close second is to savour the taste of victory from your iceberg in your drink of choice whilst remembering the awesome experience. Iceberg water is the purest water you can find. It allows you to savour the flavours of your favourite drink. I believe it does add a unique taste but how can something so pure add flavour? But it certainly seems to!
Icebergs arrive in the most mysterious places and circumstances, as the passengers of the Titanic unfortunately found out. Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s ship even ran into an iceberg on its return voyage home.
When viewing icebergs, it’s important to prioritize safety. Read about iceberg safety tips before you travel. You can safely view icebergs with a number of operators in the province in a variety of places. A couple of useful tools to plan your excursion is Iceberg Finder sponsored by Newfoundland Labrador Tourism or Newfoundland Iceberg Reports on Facebook.
Newfoundland Labrador Tourism is a great resource to plan your vacation listing everything from accommodations, tours, packages, and bargains as well as festivals and scheduled events across the province. It’s especially useful for timing the perfect Iceberg expedition. We are very fortunate Trinity is in an area of Iceberg Alley where icebergs reside during the season. Here is a typical summary of what we have seen in a week during the peak of the iceberg season.
There are several tourism companies around Newfoundland that specialize in iceberg viewing like ourselves. While it’s always nice to catch a glimpse of an iceberg as you’re driving by, nothing beats seeing one up close and personal on a boat tour. See icebergs in detail; a masterpiece 10,000-15,000 years in the making! Here is a great iceberg from 2018 at Amherst cove taken by our drone.
Whales and Seabirds
Whales return to Newfoundland for the annual spawning of the Capelin. These small fish sustain the life cycle of the whale that may not feed again for up to 8 months until their next annual migration. Some of the whales that frequent our waters are Fin, Minke, Sperm, Sei, Pilot and everyone’s favourite, the Showman of the Ocean, Humpbacks! More social than the rest, these cetaceans amaze us with their antics of breaching, tail lobbing, and Pec fin slapping. These more social whales have left long standing impressions on our guests. When the magic comes together, it’s the experience of a lifetime, our theme and mantra! Here is a magical moment we experienced during the 2018 whale season.
Gannets, Puffins, and the Bald Eagle are seen on almost every tour during the peak of summer. The Puffin is the parrot of the sea; awkward and clumsy, they lose their ability to fly if they eat too much capelin! It is comical to watch a Puffin trying to take to the wing while colliding with the very ocean he is trying to escape.
Bald Eagles are growing in number from year to year with several nesting on our tour route. To see eight, ten, or twelve mature adults on the beach fighting with their fledgling for capelin is quite the sight.
This best method to observe whales, birds, and icebergs is by watching from smaller tour boats, kayaks, and zodiac RHIB boats like ours. It also helps to be in one of our cozy floater suits for your individual comfort.
We are fortunate in Newfoundland to have a number of knowledgeable and experienced boat tour operators located across the island. Some of the more popular locations that are great for whale watching include: Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Trinity, Twillingate, White Bay, Strait of Belle Isle, St. Vincent’s, Cape St. Mary’s, Cape Race, Witless Bay, and St. Anthony.
During peak times, we often see icebergs, whales, and a variety of marine birds all during a single tour. Your home province is a place to discover new things about nature, wildlife, the geography and the geology of the place we affectionately call The Rock.
Walking and hiking the broad expanses of wilderness is another excellent way to explore the nature and landscapes of Newfoundland. The province has long recognized the accessibility as well as the beauty of the wilds here. Trails are provincially, regionally, and even municipally sponsored, like the Skerwink Trail in Port Rexton.
Hikes can be a great escape from the towns and the city while experiencing all Newfoundland has to offer. Our hiking trails bring you to places dedicated to foot traffic only. Experience front-row views of the ocean from locations like the Signal Hill Trail, offering a unique and picturesque view of St. John’s Harbour.
Walk through history and culture while being one with nature on the Skerwink Trail, located near Trinity. The Skerwink Trail is a 5.3km hike near Port Rexton which is rated one of the top ten trails in North America.
Experience hiking at various skill levels as you scale the Gros Morne Mountain Trail. Challenge the climb to the top and experience the beautiful vistas that Grose Morne has to offer.
For more trail inspiration, checkout this list of the top 16 hiking spots in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The province’s network of parks and private camping facilities are a comfortable option for your travel plans. Most parks have full amenities such as showers, laundry facilities, and individual electrical and water hookups at the campsite. So whether you’re travelling in a fifth wheel or a pup tent, you can be assured of a comfortable stay close to nature. Family trips are enhanced by staying in campgrounds with close quarters and shared experiences reaffirming family bonds. Aren’t you feeling the love already?
Newfoundland has three recognized National Parks offering opportunities and experiences to explore the province from different perspectives. Their interpretation centers and facilities are second to none. Be sure to stop in to see them especially at Terra Nova and Gros Morne parks. Here’s a list of resources for the National Parks in Newfoundland:
The National Parks and National Historic Sites as well as the Provincial Historic sites are incredible venues to explore nature and learn more about the island. These sites include many interpretive centres that detail many interesting facts, folklore, and history. If you’re looking for something a little smaller, there are also over 30 Provincial Parks you can visit in Newfoundland & Labrador. These parks are a great way to spend time in nature while travelling and exploring towns and communities.
To get a better idea of where some of these parks are located check out https://www.nlcamping.ca for more information.
Everyone loves a delicious home cooked fish and brewis, scruncheons (ask your cardiologist) and onions, jiggs dinner, nan’s homemade bread, and freshly cooked cod. Becoming a tourist whilst relishing historical Newfoundland dishes is a must.
Try food from local restaurants and experience their take on certain Newfoundland dishes, or try something haute and nouveau. Our heritage has brought us a culinary experience that cultivates local root vegetables, salted or cured meats, as well as a plethora of wild game such as moose, caribou, rabbit, seal; fish stocks such as flounder, cod, salmon, mussels, scallops, crab and lobster.
Experience a lobster boil up over an open fire in a provincial park campground, now there’s a Norman Rockwell moment! The dining culture across the province has become varied and inventive to satisfy the meandering palette of the travelling public. Restaurants and pubs have varied their menus to rejuvenate old favourites like traditional Jiggs Dinner, Cod Tongues (YUM!) and fish and chips. See the Mallard Cottage menu for an example of how inventive the local entrepreneurs get with traditional dishes. You’re sure to find a local culinary delight no matter what community you visit.
If you choose to imbibe, there are locally crafted spirits available across the island. Microbreweries and local distilleries have become a popular industry across the province. Head to a local tap room and see which spirits are in store. There are craft breweries located far and wide across Newfoundland. Checkout the complete list of craft breweries here: https://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/trip-ideas/travel-stories/ale-tales-story-of-craft-beer
If beer isn’t your fancy, Newfoundland also has a large presence in other types of drinks at places like the Newfoundland Distillery located in Clarke’s Beach that offers a variety of Spirits in their tasting room.
We’ve all experienced Newfoundland dining from our own perspective but as a tourist in your own province, you may find a couple of new favourites.
As we all know, Newfoundlanders are entertainers and storytellers by nature. As a mainlander once said to me, “sure you all sing and play down there”.
You never have to travel far to find a party, usually just find the nearest kitchen. We love to share our culture with loved ones, close friends, and even complete strangers. There are so many places to find entertainment around the island. Talk to the locals, read the cork boards at the markets, surf the internet, peruse the local shops, restaurants, and stores. If there’s something happening it’s sure to be on someone’s wall! Locals know where to find the best entertainment. “Come and be one of us” is a favourite local expression.
Culture & History
Newfoundland has a rich cultural heritage. We’ve heard stories passed down from generation to generation from relatives, but sometimes it’s easy to take that for granted.
The best way to be a tourist in your own province is by immersing yourself in the culture. Each region, town, and community has their own history making Newfoundland culture so unique. There are a number of museums and historic sites located throughout the province that can help you discover history in a new way. We would recommend the following:
- The Rooms: A beautiful building dedicated to sharing the history, art, and culture of Newfoundland.
- Bell Island Mines: Enter the depths of the mines and discover the history of Newfoundland’s mining industry, iron-ore production, and Bell Island’s community.
- Heart’s Content Cable Station Provincial Historic Site: Visit where the first permanent telegraph cable connecting Europe and North America was hauled ashore.
- The Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity: The theatre offers a variety of award winning plays celebrating the history and culture of Newfoundland performed by local artists as well as historical reenactments such as the Trinity Pagean acted out by locals of the historical events in Trinity’s past.
Discover even more museums and sites Newfoundland has to offer.
Social & Local Media
Start planning your adventure across the island by doing some classic social media research. We would recommend following Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism social media pages and keeping up to date on their website. They work closely with local tourism companies and frequently share valuable information.
Follow local hashtags such as #ExploreNL to see what other locals and visitors alike are up to. This is a great way to discover how other people are spending their time, and to find some hidden gems!
We would recommend checking out Guide To The Good, a Newfoundland based company which promotes local sustainable social enterprises. This can help determine the communities, shops, and restaurants you’ll visit when travelling around the island.
When you do set out on your adventure, remember to share your experiences with others using the #ExploreNL and #ExploreCanada, or any number of hashtags like: #whales #iceberg #humpback …well you get the idea.
Now you’re well informed to travel within Newfoundland & Labrador! Go forth, explore, and may the travels you experience live long into the hearts and minds of you, your travelling companions, and the people you meet along the way!