26 February 2018 by David Ward
From vast national parks filled with wildlife to unique cuisines, designer island hotels and buzzing cities, all just a five-hour flight from London. Here are five very good reasons why Newfoundland & Labrador is right up there among our favourite Canadian provinces.
Gros Morne National Park
It takes time to make something truly beautiful. And Gros Morne National Park is no exception. Created over 485 million painstaking years, its plunging fjords, rushing rivers and ancient forests are, together, one of Mother Nature’s true masterpieces. Covering just over 1,800 square kilometres, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of geological wonders made to delight and excite visitors in equal measure. Skirting towering sea stacks, hidden coves and mountain ridges, hiking trails take in the best of the action, while for more relaxing moments, sandy beaches promise ambling strolls and afternoons spent chewing the fat over delicious seafood dinners paired with equally delicious wines.
Ok, so it’s not quite as old as Gros Morne National Park, but with 500 years of history, St John’s can at least claim to be the oldest, and most easterly, city in North America. And, with a wonderfully scenic seaside location and a labyrinth of hidden alleyways framed by colourful, chocolate-box buildings, it’s certainly among the continents prettiest. But there’s more to this charming city than good looks alone. A gentle hike up to the famous Cabot Tower presents sweeping coastal views and the chance to chance to explore the very spot where Marconi received the first ever transatlantic wireless message back in 1901. And there’s the city centre itself, home to a bustling collection of pubs and cafés, perfect pit stops for days spent browsing St John’s boutiques and galleries.
The Battery, St. John's
Terra Nova National Park
Stepping away from the city once more, the 400-square-kilometre Terra Nova National Park is a spectacular region of sheltered bays and rocky coastlines, best explored via a network of 11 pristine hiking trails set against dense, old-growth forests home to moose, lynx and beaver. And, at sea between May and September, the world’s largest population of humpback whales ply this idyllic coastal stretch in search of krill and squid. They’re joined by an accompanying host of dolphins, minke whales, blue whales, pilot whales and orcas, all of which can be seen on guided kayak trips and naturalist-led boat cruises.
Torngat Mountains National Park
Vast in both its scale and beauty, Torngat Mountains National Park stretches north from Saglek Fjord – site of the park’s only permanent accommodation – to the very northern tip of Labrador and west to the border with Québec. The park covers an area of 9,700 square kilometres, where roaming polar bears and caribou herds set the scene for remarkable wildlife encounters all set against a backdrop of endless hiking trails, rushing rivers and ancient Inuit burial sites, hunting grounds and sod-house villages. This is Canada at its remote and rugged best, and a journey here requires careful planning and the services of an expert guided.
With a landscape seemingly unchanged by time and the progress of the world beyond, Fogo Island is like nowhere else on earth. Its coastlines, shaped over millions of years by the unrelenting swells of the North Atlantic, set the scene for a unique blend of ancient and modern, showcased in an arts-led sustainable tourism plan that is on one hand intriguingly progressive and on the other somehow completely in keeping with Fogo’s age-old cultural traditions. It’s a dichotomy that’s perhaps best represented in the island’s standout accommodation, Fogo Island Inn, whose design is one-part Scandinavian-inspired modernism and one part nod to the architectural heritage of Fogo’s earliest settlers. Guests here are invited to experience activities tailored to each of the island’s ‘seven seasons’, with everything from iceberg cruises and ocean swimming to berry picking and bonfire nights making this a true, year-round destination.