When to visit Newfoundland

Feb 19th, 2008, 06:52 PM
  #1  
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When to visit Newfoundland

We're getting a late start on our summer trip planning this year, but want to visit Newfoundland. At the moment, we can go for two weeks any time from late June through late August. Any suggestions on when might be the "best" time to go? eg: does there tend to be more fog early or late in summer or doesn't it matter? Any other considerations on time?

Will two weeks be enough time to fly into St John's and still visit the west coast and north penninsula? We like to spend 3 or 4 days in one spot when possible and do hiking trips during the day.

Is it getting too late to make reservations for this summer?

Clousie is offline  
Feb 19th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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We went at the end of June. We really wanted to see the puffins and this was the best time. We were also able to see iceburgs.
If these are important to you, it's the best time. We also saw some whales.

The first time we went, we had two weeks and did mostly what you are asking. It was rushed, but then we went back for another trip.
We spent a couple of days in St.John's, then toured the Avalon Peninsula and headed west.
We went up to Trinity,also to Twillingate, and finally over to Gros Morne, where we spent 3 days or so. We did not go north from there, but had to head back to St.John's for our flight home.

No, I don't think it's too late at all. There are many wonderful B&B's there.

It sounds like you might want to zero in on a couple of areas.
You could perhaps do some hiking on the East Coast Trail south of St. John's and then head west to Gros MOrne for more hiking.

kodi is offline  
Feb 19th, 2008, 07:56 PM
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Kodi's advice is sound: if you want to see icebergs, June is usually the end of the "season". Of course, some years there just aren't any.
The downsides of June are more black flies (mosquitoes aren't really the major menace here) and lower temperatures. And when I say lower -- well, remember that Newfoundlanders think swimming in the ocean off Maine in July is GREAT!
You could include the Northern Peninsula easily if you eliminated one of the stops in central/ eastern, but even though I'm from the island's west coast, I would only suggest doing so if the Viking site at L'Anse aux Meadows is on your to-do list. The Northern Peninsula is sparsely populated, and definitely the chilliest area of the island. However, you MUSTN'T miss Gros Morne if you enjoy hiking.
The government's tourism web site
newfoundlandlabrador.com
is quite comprehensive.
Enjoy! Oh, and if you're driving here, don't forget to check the schedule and make reservations for the ferry from Nova Scotia. If you're flying, the one thing that MUST be reserved early is a rental car -- they are scarce, and mileage rates can sometimes be scarey, so shop around.
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 06:40 AM
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If your schedule is flexible, I'd check accommodation availability at your 'must do/must see' locations and let those results dictate your trip dates. "The Rock" is much larger than it appears on a map, so inorder to eliminate at least a day's drive time, I'd recommend going open jaw. Fly in to St. John's where you may be able to get a rental in town and avoid the heavy airport taxes and out at Deer Lake on the western side of the island.

Hiking options on the Avalon Penninsula in addition to the East Coast Trail can be found at Cape Spear (eastern most point of the NA continent) and on Signal Hill in downtown St. John's. Heading west, there are some easy hiking options in Terra Nova NP and a couple of more in and around Trinity. The Twillingate area is geographically interesting and certainly worthy of a stop. From there you might want to consider ferrying out to Fogo Island for the day where you will find a couple of other hiking opportunities. Gros Morne NP is a treasure, so be sure leave several days in your itinerary to enjoy it. Due to driving distances within the park, I'd recommend spending at least one night in Trout River before heading up to Rocky Harbour for the remainder of your time in the park.

The entire northern arm is very isolated, but offers a different look at the island. You may want to save this region for another trip to Newfoundland for it's impossible to experience the entire island in just two weeks. A ferry crossing from North Sydney NS to Port aux Basques (or reverse) would put you in position to explore the area south of Deer Lake and would set you up for a ferry adventure along the southern coast. Another treasure awaits those who drive down to Grand Bank and ferry over to the French Islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon. The southern part of the Avalon Peninsula is also very primative, but Cape St. Mary's is a must do for bird watchers.

Remember that the icebergs disappear about the time that the whales return to Newfoundland waters, but late June would offer the best chance to experience both...


Retired_teacher is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 07:58 AM
  #5  
LJ
 
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I think you have got excellent advice, so I will just echo the cautionary note that you probably won't be able to do it all in two weeks. Personally, I would be inclined to pick one coast or the other and explore thoroughly and leisurely and then come back and do the other, but I know that is not alwsys possible. When you get closer to your specific planning come back on and maybe we can help fine tune.
LJ is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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We visited Newfoundland in late June several years ago. We saw many whales, but we were too early for icebergs in Trinity. (We were told that the icebergs were unusually late.) When we visited Cape Spear, fog rolled in like I have never seen. One minute you could see, and the next everything was white! However, this was our only fog problem. Don't miss the hike out to the gannet colony at Cape St. Mary's--it's amazing, and you may spot humpback on the way out. Also, our favorite lodging on our trip was at Fisher's Loft near Trinity, a beautiful area. The cast of the Shipping News stayed here while they were filming.
Digbydog is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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Also forgot to mention there is a hike from Fisher's Loft that was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. I have since seen it rated as one of N. America's most scenic hikes. We didn't have a problem with mosquitos or black flies at the end of June.
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Feb 20th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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Other than hiking, what are your interests?
gannetmusic is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 11:56 AM
  #9  
LJ
 
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OOPS, I forgot: you did mention you will be starting in St. John's...if you want THE best accomodation in that wonderful old city, call the good folks at Maunder Manor (709-726-5304). They book up fast, are right in the downtown area on a quiet and picturesque residential street and only have two rooms so don't delay. Don and Yvonne are THE quintessential Newfoundland hosts.
LJ is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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Thanks for your replies. Yes, we know "The Rock" is big and want to find the special places without rushing. We especially like to stay in self-catering cottages or B&B's, so would welcome more suggestions for those.

After reading your comments and really looking at the map, I think we will eliminate the northern peninsula this trip, although St Anthony's sounds quaint.

We can get a direct flight from Newark to St John's so will probably be flying in and out of that location.

I know I have LOTS of research to do, and I always do LOTS before a trip, but as a start, what do any of you think of this plan. I'm just thinking of general areas now, so there're lots of possibilities.

Unfortunately, the flight gets in around 11pm, so will probably just grab something close to the airport the first night.

3 nights St John's area--would probably prefer something out of the city in a scenic area, but convince me if you want to that we should stay in the city.

3 nights Twillingate area--maybe a day trip to Fogo Island

4 nights Rocky Harbour area--hiking in Gros Morne, relaxing and taking in the scenery. Are there beaches to walk or is it all headlands?

3 nights Trinity/Bonavista Peninsula area

2 nights closer to St John's--options open. After 2nd night, our flight home isn't until 6 pm, so still have most of the last day.

It could be possible to add several more nights if we want to.

gannet music, you asked about other interests. We love being in scenic areas, seeing wildlife, meeting people and feeling as though we really know an area rather than just rushing through to "see" everything.

Photography is an interest, as is food. Although I consider myself to be a "foodie," I'm just as happy buying local food at a market and either cooking in a cottage or "eating at a table with a view" as we hike than dining at a gourmet restaurant. Enjoy finding those special local restaurants that serve foods from the area.

Hope that helps a little.
Clousie is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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Clousie,
Your preliminary plan looks good.
The very first thing you should do is to order the guide from
http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/
The guide is truly excellent and will give you SO much information ,including driving itineraries.

I would add a 2 or 3 nights to tour down the Avalon Peninsula south of St.John's, to include a couple of good hikes and also a boat tour to see the puffins from Witless Bay.

Those of us who love Newfoundland can give you lots of great hiking ideas later.

Rocky Harbour is at waters edge from what I remember, but I don't remember if it's an actual beach.
kodi is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 08:00 PM
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I think your itinerary sounds fine.

Here's my effort at persuasion. I'd stay in St. John's, rather than outside, for several reasons:
-the rest of your trip will be scenic, but only St. John's will give you memorable urban nightlife/museums/ cityscapes etc.
- St. John's is our capital & largest city, but the whole metropolitan area is less than 150,000, so it's far from congested
- there's a small, walkable (assuming you don't mind hills) downtown that most visitors enjoy
-there are some very scenic accommodations in St. John's -- the Battery or Signal Hill area comes to mind.

In Gros Morne, Rocky Harbour is more "harbour" than "beach", but there's an attractive beach at Shallow Bay, on the northern edge of the park.

If you want to see a bit of the Avalon Peninsula near St. John's, look into the "Irish Loop" -- Bay Bulls, Ferryland, and nearby communities. They're very attractive, historic, and there's a fascinating archaeological dig you can view in Ferryland, of a 17th century settlement.
Another nice area, but further from St. John's, is Placentia, with the remains of the fort when it was the French capital.

And on your first night, don't think you have to necessarily settle for an airport hotel -- the airport is basically in the city -- you could probably be downtown in 15 minutes at that hour.
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Hi,

I have some suggestions and will elaborate in a couple of days when I have a few moments. Generally you have a good plan.

You will love Newfoundland!

cheers

Jerry [In Toronto with not a puffin in sight....]
gannetmusic is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 07:48 AM
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Clousie, you're in for a real treat. Many consider Nfld. to be one of Canada's best kept secret.

Jerry- I love your screen name! We saw plenty of gannets and puffins when we visited Nfld. years ago. We did a little boat tour of Bay Bulls (?)

We drove over to the Rock in August, and it was colder than I'd anticipated. I failed to pack enough warm clothing. So you might want to keep that in mind if you're planning a late summer visit.

Other things I wanted to share...

We enjoyed a picnic with friends at Flatrock, a seaside community not far from St. John's, and saw a whale from up on a cliff. The rocks that jut into the ocean are all flat, making it a perfect (but precarious) place to wander/picnic.

On our walk back to the car, we came across two fisherman on the cliffs catching quite a few cod. Our friend (an avid fisherman who lives there) asked them what they were using for a lure- to our surprise they were using the bottom half of a butter knife, with the blade part removed- imagine that!

The drive from the Avalon peninsula to the west coast can be long and tedious if you don't break it up with stops and diversions. We saw a moose, and a horse (on its own, walking along the road with no farms in sight!), but one thing you won't see a lot of roadkill- Nfld. has no skunks, groundhogs or porcupines- and no snakes!

Bloom
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Feb 22nd, 2008, 05:55 PM
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Bloom, I'm so sorry you let out my favourite Newfoundland "secret" -- the absence of skunks & porcupines!
Every time I have a "mainland" visitor they ask about the lack of roadkill, and I say, "Newfoundland wildlife is too smart to get caught like that."
After about 5 km, one friend said, "I'm positive that's not the true answer, but I'm *[email protected]* if I can figure out what the true answer is!"
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 06:38 PM
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YOu know how everyone says to be so careful at night. The moose come out! Yea right. We went out at dusk deliberately looking for them, and never saw one. We have to be the only tourists to never see one.
We drove up and down the roads looking. NO luck.

Ahh, but the puffins made up for it.
kodi is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:37 PM
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Don't know if you've booked your accommodations yet, but incase you're still working on them I'd like to recommend Harbour Lights Inn in Twillingate...nice rooms with a view, great host & hostess, and we loved their banana pancakes! We also enjoyed our stay at Eriksens B&B in Trinity. Although our rooms were quite large and comfy, all of our contacts were with random staff members, making our stay feel more like an overnight in a small hotel rather than a B&B.

If you're a reader, may I suggest COD: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. It's a light read with plenty of humor and some great recipes, but it will also give you some history of the 'Rock' and an understanding of how the Cod Moratorium has impacted the people as well as the economy of Newfoundland.



Retired_teacher is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 08:56 AM
  #18  
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Hi again everyone,

Thanks for your comments. We've made our flight reservations, and soon I'll start a new thread with more detailed questions.

However, for now, is anyone familiar with "Nicole's Cottage" in Rocky Harbour? It's on the Gros Morne website, and says it's on Rocky Harbour Pond. We would be there 4 nights.
Clousie is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 09:57 AM
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I've never stayed there (I've never stayed in any tourist facilities there, because I have too many relatives nearby!), but if you're searching online, I'm thinking it's Nicolle's (a common surname here) Cottage. Rocky Harbour Pond is just (as in probably 1 km) out of town.
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 11:12 AM
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Hi Clousie,

I looked at the website for Nicolle's Cottage in Rocky Harbour. It looks fairly nice but, if it means anything, it is not listed in the NL Tourism Guide. The last two summers my wife and I stayed at Mountain Range Cottages. They were large, spotlessly clean, and in a very quiet, secluded location only minutes from Main Street. Their website is www.mountainrangecottages.com if you care to take a look.

Also, we stayed last August at the Harbour Lights Inn in Twillingate, mentioned above. By now,it may be under new ownership. It was for sale when we were there. The Inn was ok, but not high on our list of favorite places to stay.

Please feel free to post any questions. You can always count on lots of answers and advice from the folks on this forum. My wife and I have made 7 trips there, each trip was 6-7 weeks. Like most people, once you visit there you'll be eager to return.

George is offline  

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