5 Unique Experiences Not To Miss In Newfoundland

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I recently had the privilege of exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Newfoundland with my husband and two of our dearest friends. From the dramatic cliffs to the sprawling tundra, we immersed ourselves in the magic of this unspoiled wilderness. We came back with unforgettable memories, vibrant photos, and a newfound appreciation for this often overlooked corner of Canada. Today, I want to share with you our top five unique experiences in Newfoundland that promise to touch every adventurous soul.

1. Trekking the Tablelands

Tablelands was not on our top to-do list in Newfoundland when we reached – and that was definitely an oversight on our side. It’s without doubt one of the highest reward-to-effort ratio hikes in Newfoundland but that’s nothing when you consider the fact that this is one of the few places on the whole planet where you can see the Earth’s mantle. Yes, that’s right – Earth’s mantle! Here, the earth’s mantle was pushed up from the depths to the surface during a continental drift millions of years ago. This also creates a unique landscape that will make you feel like you are walking on Mars (in fact, some scientists believe Tablelands can give us clues about what life could theoretically look like on Mars), as the soil is high in heavy metals toxic to most plants. The surrounding green mountainous landscapes only serve to heighten the contrast creating a surreal feeling.

The trek itself is a relatively flat out-and-back 4km hike. There are optional off track hikes at the end and also to a waterfall about halfway in. All along the hike there is unique vegetation, (including the Provincial plant of Newfoundland – the carnivorous Pitcher plant) and fascinating patterns on rocks. To top it off, a beautiful stream accompanies you for more than half the hike. Overall, a short hike that you can’t afford to miss.

2. The Western Brook Pond Tour

When we hear fjords, we usually think of Norway. But Canada has a few destinations where fjords feature prominently, and Newfoundland is one of them. 

The boat tour in the Western Brook Pond is also unique. You have to do a 3 km hike (flat and easy, usually taking about 30min) to reach the point where the boat starts. Only one operator (Bontour) operates their boat tours which makes sense when you learn that they had flown in their latest boat, piece by piece by helicopter. 

The guided boat tour is a 2 hour affair taking us through a landlocked fjord flanked by towering cliffs. The freshwater pond, once a part of the ocean, has been isolated for thousands of years and is now home to some of the purest water on Earth. The picturesque journey showcased awe-inspiring views of waterfalls cascading down 2,000-foot cliffs, ancient rock formations, and enchanting wilderness. The crux of the trip is a majestic waterfall called the Pissing Mare waterfall – one of the highest falls in North America. 

3. Iceberg Watching

To be honest, the main attraction of our trip to Newfoundland was to see icebergs. Carved from ancient glaciers and set adrift on the North Atlantic, these floating giants make their way along Newfoundland’s “Iceberg Alley,” providing a breathtaking spectacle. The iceberg season lasts through Spring and Summer although the best times to see them are late May and early June. Since we visited Newfoundland in late June, we were a bit concerned, but it turned out to be a very good year for icebergs. Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism has an excellent website for tracking icebergs daily – Iceberg Finder. Be sure to check before and during your visit and keep some flexibility when you plan to be able to chase the icebergs along the Northern shore.

4. Puffin Watching

There’s not a whole lot of places in the world where you can watch these adorable birds, and Newfoundland is probably the top in North America. Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is the largest North American Atlantic puffin colony which you can visit by taking a boat tour from St.John’s. However, we did not have the time to drive to St. John’s after exploring the Gros Morne National Park and chasing icebergs. So we went to Elliston Point in Bonavista – and it turned out to be an excellent decision. While in Witless Bay Ecological Reserve you can only view the puffins from a boat (Landing on the islands requires a special permit), Elliston Point is a land viewing site. It’s just a 10-15 minute walk from the parking lot and, as we discovered later, offers the closest view of puffins, from the land, in all of North America. (According to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism website)

5. Witnessing the Salmon Run

Although Newfoundland is not the top places to see salmon run in Canada, it is most definitely worth seeing, especially for us who have not seen something like it before. We went to the Big Falls, a short detour from the Trans-Canada highway running East to West. You can seen the Salmon leaping up the small portions of the waterfall, on their way to their birthplace to spawn, to complete one of nature’s amazing cycles of life.

Newfoundland, with its rich biodiversity, rugged landscapes, and warm-hearted people, proved to be a true gem for nature lovers like us. Each of these unique experiences offered a different perspective of this beautiful province and left us with cherished memories and profound respect for nature’s wonders. If you ever get the chance, I wholeheartedly recommend you seize the opportunity to explore Newfoundland’s wilderness. It’s a journey that will stay with you forever!

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