Top Outdoor Experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the best places in the world to see icebergs, floating off-shore from late spring through to early summer when they eventually melt away into the Atlantic after a life time of around 10,000 years. These glacial giants are floating works of art, coming in every shape and size, with colours from snow-white to deep aquamarine.
Icebergs are edges of glaciers that have broken off and slipped into the ocean. Around 90% of icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland, while the rest come from glaciers in Canada's Arctic. You will be amazed by their sheer size and that's without seeing the 90% that’s below the surface of the water.
Icebergs are so plentiful around Newfoundland and Labrador, they actually put them to good use. You can drink it straight, as in Berg water, or in spirits like Iceberg Vodka, Gin, and Rum, and of course the popular Iceberg Beer.
Up to 10,000 migrating humpback whales come to feed off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador every year. The world’s largest population of humpback whales return each year to feed on capelin, krill, and squid along the coast. Another 21 species of whales and dolphins visit along with them including the minke, sperm, pothead, blue, and orca. Between May and September, you can see them feed, frolic and even breach near the shore. Catching a single glimpse of these majestic mammals is an exciting and awesome experience, whether it's from the deck of a tour boat, the side of your sea kayak, or a seaside hiking trail.
With 18,000 miles of coastline, including an abundance of breathtaking fjords, bays and inlets – not to mention the inland rivers, lakes, and ponds – Newfoundland and Labrador is a great spot for adventuring on the water. Head out to sea in a kayak with a tour guide, and watch breaching whales. If the time of year is right you will see towering icebergs on their journey down Iceberg Alley. Sea kayaking is a great way to explore waterfalls, abandoned fishing villages, and bird colonies.
Hit the Hiking Trails
All around the 18,000 miles of pristine coastline, dotted with beaches, sea stacks, there are close to 300 hiking and walking trails, including the renowned East Coast Trail network.
Here are a couple of noteworthy trails to whet your appetite
The Skerwink Trail - Bonavista Peninsula
This three mile loop takes you along the coast of Skerwink Head which is a rocky peninsula separating Trinity’s harbour from Port Rexton’s. You will be treated to stunning coastal views with sea stacks and caves, tranquil beach scenes and a bird’s eye perspective on the colourful surrounding communities.
La Manche Village Path – Avalon Peninsula
This is a spectacular section of the East Coast Trail, leading you past the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve where you can keep an eye out for seabirds, otters, and other wildlife. Enjoy the pebbled beaches and even a lovely waterfall (refreshing for a dip!) as you make your way to the historic abandoned settlement of La Manche.
Chamber Cove Heritage Walk – Burin Peninsula
This is a short walk rich in history. Near St Lawrence, Chamber Cove is the site of the Truxton and Pollux disaster – one of the worst naval disasters in U.S. history. While many lives were lost, the disaster also shone light on the caring spirit of the local people, who came together to rescue and care for almost 200 survivors. This 20-minute walk ends with a view over the rocks where the two ships ran aground. Standing high above the ocean, you’ll marvel at the strength of those survivors who managed to climb to safety.
With over 350 species of birds, there's no question Newfoundland and Labrador is a major destination for birdwatching – especially seabirds, like the Atlantic puffin. Whether it's by land or sea, you can get up close to millions of seabirds, rare birds, and birds of prey.
Experience the tumultuous gatherings of thousands of gannets and storm-petrels. Black-legged kittiwakes, common murres, and their thick-billed cousins are also easily spotted. Witness more than 500,000 Atlantic puffins at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. Or, stand just 20 metres from Bird Rock at the Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, one of the most accessible seabird nesting sites in the world.
Birds of prey such as hawks, falcons, ospreys, and owls also patrol these parts. They share their nesting grounds with over 800 bald eagles – one of the largest populations on the continent.
Newfoundland and Labrador is home to three distinct Indigenous groups - the Inuit, Innu, and the Mi'Kmaq. The Inuit of Labrador are descendants of the Thule, and have made Labrador their home for centuries. Descended from Algonkian-speaking hunter-gatherers, Innu are found in Labrador while Mi’kmaq have lived and travelled throughout Newfoundland for generations. You can learn about Indigenous culture and history with a hands-on experience like a boat tour, dog sledding, or a fishing trip.
Explore Gros Morne UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gros Morne National Park is the perfect backdrop for all kinds of outdoor activities, particularly hiking. Walk the marked trails winding throughout the landscape and explore the park's dense forests for rare plant, animal, and bird species.
Hiking the Tablelands is an experience that cannot be forgotten. Here, where the theory of plate tectonics was confirmed, you can walk over ancient sea floor and preserved ocean avalanches. It’s a distinctive red landscape of exposed earth’s mantle, thrust up by the collision of tectonic plates millions of years ago.
You can also take a stroll along the trail to Western Brook Pond, over marshland draped in butterworts, great sundew, orchids, dragon's mouth, and pitcher plants. At the end of your walk, you can hop aboard a boat tour with BonTours taking you through the fjord (Canadian Sky will pre-book this for you). You'll also get to sail close enough to feel the spray on your face from some of the highest waterfalls in eastern North America.
Independent Tour - Experience Newfoundland