Off the Beaten Path: A Relaxing Escape to Newfoundland
Canada has a lot to offer to tourists, and Newfoundland, the island on the east coast of Canada, is no exception. Newfoundland’s tourist economy is still developing, which means it’s a great place to go for a relaxing getaway, free from crowds.
My partner and I went to Newfoundland right after our wedding in August for a 6-day honeymoon. It was the perfect destination for a low-key vacation. We chose it, because my partner saw an advertisement on an Air Canada flight and thought it looked awesome! He was right.
Here’s what we did:
Hike in Gros Morne National Park
We picked up the car at the airport, drove to the grocery store, picked up food for the next three days, and packed our bags to car camp and backpack in Gros Morne National Park. The park is famous for a giant fjord, called Western Brook. It’s a totally amazing sight—dramatic cliffs and grassy topped cliff tops. The scenery reminded us of a combination of Scotland and Iceland. Plus, there are moose! We almost ran straight into a giant bull moose on top of the cliffs. Thankfully, we walked away unscathed.
You can take a ferry into the back of the fjord, which we thought about doing, but decided not to because it was too expensive for us. It seemed like it would give you amazing views though, if you can afford it! You can check out prices and reserve tickets at bontours.ca.
We reserved a wilderness campsite for one night in Snug Harbor, which was about a 5 mile hike in. We spent a day walking around the top of the fjord, and camped for a couple more nights at a car-side camping site in the park.
Bike Tour on the Coast
After camping, we rented bikes at Cycle Solutions in Corner Brook, parked the rental car, and biked about 30 miles out to York Harbour, where we stayed at Captain Cook Bed and Breakfast. The ride was so amazing—we passed huge waterfalls, mountains, and coastal fishing villages. And no one was around!
One of our favorite places near York Harbour was Blow Me Down Provincial Park. I was convinced that I could see whales blowing in the ocean from a high point in the park. Bring your binoculars to confirm that your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.
Dining out can be a challenge in some areas of Newfoundland’s west coast. Several towns that we visited had no restaurants or one restaurant. If you want a stellar dining experience, make sure you do your research. When we first landed in Deer Lake, we asked our taxi driver where we should eat and she recommended the Irving. It's a gas station, which to be fair, had a large restaurant inside it, but still it was a gas station restaurant. That same Irving is one of two recommended spots in Deer Lake in the Frommer’s Guide as well. The west coast of Newfoundland is not a hot place for fine dining! You can pick up what you need at the grocery store before heading out to more remote towns. In York Harbour, eating out was a challenge. There were no restaurants in town, but there was a small convenience store where we could pick up what we needed to get by.
Newfoundland is pretty similar to the US with regard to food and lodging prices. Here's our budget for two people:
Eating out- $100
Bike rentals- $200
Lodging- $350 (our splurge was the B&B, otherwise we camped, and stayed in a cheap hotel near the airport on the way in and out)
Tips for Planning your Getaway to Newfoundland
Before you go:
1. Watch flights—We booked flights to Deer Lake, Newfoundland on Air Canada for less than $500 per person round trip. Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance which means that you can book your trip with your frequent flyer number from United or a bunch of other airlines. That means you can earn more points! I have yet to travel enough to have those points pay off, but someday they will! We got our flights about 2 months ahead of our travel dates.
2. Plan your transportation—We rented a car for the whole week we were in Newfoundland. On the west coast of Newfoundland, you really need a car to get around. Destinations are really far apart and you’re going to want to get out of Deer Lake. There’s not a lot to do there! We also rented bikes for three days.
3. Do a bit of restaurant research—You’ll want to make sure you can eat. Check travel guides like Lonely Planet and Frommers to see what the restaurant scene is like. When you get to the towns you’re visiting, check in with the tourist office if there is one to plan your meals in town and get advice on your next destination as well.
Newfoundland is gorgeous and a great place for a stunning get away off the beaten path.
Have you ever been to Newfoundland? Interested in going? Let me know in the comments!
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