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Newfoundland Trip Ideas - August

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Hello.

We are planning a trip to Newfoundland for early August 2016. We will have about eight days after flying in and out. We're coming from California. We are an active family of three. Our son is eight and a half. We like hiking, biking, walking around cities, history and some museums. We may also do some kayaking and/or a boat excursion.

Unfortunately it seems the flight from California will require at least one if not two stops. It looks like St. Johns is the more major airport, and we'll likely be flying in and out of there.

We definitely want to see Gros Morne and will probably spend a few days in that area. Since we will probably be flying in and out of St. Johns we'll probably spend a couple days in that area and see the Avalon Peninsula.

Then the question becomes what to see in between and how to best structure the route since it doesn't look like a loop would work. I'm learning that the distances in Newfoundland are pretty substantial and/or the driving speeds are low. We are okay with some driving each day and perhaps one long haul. We don't want to spend all our time just driving around.

I'm curious about L'anse aux Meadows, but it's a four hour drive from the Gros Morne region. We've been to Sweden so we've had some exposure to viking history, and that might be something to skip.

Ideas, feed back, suggestion on where to spend more time, sites and recommendations between St. John/Avalon and Gros Morne would be most welcome.

Thanks.

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    Eight days is about the minimum to see both coasts, but there is a lot of driving involved. I would try to fly into St. John's and out of Deer Lake if you can arrange it. Not all car rental companies in Newfoundland allow one way trips so if you do this, you should arrange the rental as soon as possible.

    I have been up the Northern Peninsula a couple of times and really enjoyed it. The archaeological site and museum at L'Anse aux Meadows is interesting enough, but the Viking village recreated by Parks Canada right beside it is very well done indeed, with re-enactors who are very knowledgable and get right into the part. I also liked St. Anthony and had an excellent boat tour from there with lots of icebergs and whales to be seen at close hand. Best of all was the place we stayed on both trips, a small B&B called the Tickle Inn at Cape Onion. However, if you are going to do the Northern Peninsula, you really need three days--two days to get there and back (with stops en route), and a day to see the sights. Unless you plan only to visit the West Coast then you should probably drop it in favour of more time in Gros Morne NP.

    Between St. John's and the West Coast, I would certainly stop on the Bonavista Peninsula to visit Trinity and the surrounding villages, and perhaps Bonavista as well. Twillingate is worth a visit, especially for icebergs. You likely won't have time for Fogo Island, given the ferry times, but it is one of my favourite parts of Newfoundland.

    So, given that you have eight days besides your two travel days, I would spend three days In St. John's and the Avalon, two days (including travel time) for the Bonavista or Twillingate, and three days (with travel time) in Gros Morne. If you decide just to do one coast you could easily fill eight days with St. John's, the Avalon and the Bonavista peninsulas, or Gros Morne, the Northern Peninsula and perhaps Twillingate. If you are departing from Deer Lake, I would suggest you stay your last night in Gros Morne and drive to the airport the day of your flight--I have never found that Deer Lake has much to recommend it.

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    I agree that if you are able to, you should fly in one way and out the other. We flew in and out of St. Johns and drove back and forth to Gros Morne, but our trip was 18 days total. So for yours, I'd try and do it one way, OR I'd consider dropping the Gros Morne end of things. Gros Morne was beautiful, yes, but if you're from California and love hiking, my guess is that you've been to Yosemite, and perhaps to some other awesome National Parks. While I'm glad that we went there, given that we had over two weeks, when I go back to Newfoundland, I won't need to go to Gros Morne again. And that's not true for how I feel about the beauty of Yosemite, say, or Yellowstone, etc. It's beautiful, but not knock your socks off stunning.

    What IS stunning is the coastline of Newfoundland, and that's due to the numerous quaint fishing villages and the whales. We saw so many whales one night (late July/early August) off the lighthouse in Bonavista that we got in the car when one was still right there close to shore. Then when we got back to our cabin in Elliston, our son, who had stayed behind, told us he'd seen one breach from our front porch! It was just glorious! I know you can see them in California, but not like that! And the other thing that is stunning is the people. They are SO friendly, and so quick to tell stories and to talk with their wonderful thick accents. And the other thing that is stunning is the cod. We just loved Newfoundland! Oh, AND we saw two icebergs, even in late July/early August, so we were lucky, and maybe you will be, too.

    I have two suggestions for places for you to stay. One is in Southport, which is a tiny village, and it's called Harbour Couture. Do a search and you'll find it. There's a swimming hole, and a hike to a really cool two-sided beach, and folks who will take you fishing, and I think they have a kayak. The other is up in Elliston, Island View Cabin, where the owner took my husband fishing. One night my son came in and said, "I think I hear whales breathing." Sure enough.

    One more thing, then I'll shut up. Keep in mind that the fog can be a problem flying into St. John's, and your trip can be delayed. Ours was, and it sure won't stop us from going back, but just be prepared, especially since you're traveling from such a long way. I have to tell you that we have traveled a lot, and Newfoundland is our new favorite!

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    With only 8 days, I suggest you stick to only one coast. If your top priority is Gros Morne, fly into Deer Lake. If your top priority is the simplest or cheapest flights fly into St. John's. Both coasts have beautiful small fishing villages,hiking, and kayaking. If you choose east coast, look at the East Coast Trail/St. John's, Trinity/Bonavista area, and maybe Twillingate or Fogo. That would be very full 8 days. If you want a city, St. John's is the one - but keep in mind it truly is a small city by North American standards. If you choose west coast, splitting your time between Gros Morne and up to St. Anthony/L'ance aux Meadow over the 8 days. If you want to hike, bike, kayak, you need to build in time to do that regardless of which coast. There will be more time spent driving on an east coast visit. Someone above had suggested the Tickle Inn up near St. Anthony. Unfortunately last season was its last - it is now closed, but there are many other accommodation options up there. Regarding the comments comparing Gros Morne to Yosemite. I am a hiker. I have been to both and I guess it is a matter of preference. I love the way Gros Morne has both the mountains and the sea - and the fact that there are some fishing enclaves surrounded by the park. You can hike all day experiencing many eco-systems without a heavy backpack and depending on where you choose to hike without seeing a lot of people. After hiking you can then sip a glass of wine relaxing on the water front and watch the whales.... and later you can go enjoy some good music or a play. I have met many visitors over the years who saved Gros Morne as there last stop on their cross island tour and regretted that they did not allocate enough time since it "was" what they were hoping to see on their visit. So as I said it is a matter of preference. I am originally from the States but fell in love with Nfld and visited so many time, I finally decided to move here. I'll close with saying there is a reason that Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and most of the national parks in the US and Canada are not. And there is a reason so many travel magazines list it as one of the top 10 places to visit.

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    Thanks for your feedback and ideas. Gros Morne sounds inspiring. We've had a change of plans and will go to Newfoundland another time. But we will make Gros Morne a priority!

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