The vistas are stunning at any time of the year, but as springtime approaches and massive Arctic icebergs start lazily drifting by, Newfoundland’s wild coastline takes on particularly special dimensions. Lookout points that afford sweeping views of cliffs, secluded bays, crashing waves and an endless expanse of sky contribute to making the stretch of The Great Trail in Newfoundland extraordinary.
“It’s one of the most stunning coastal trails I ever walked, and I’ve walked a few,” says Jennifer Deacon, president and founder of Quench Trip Design, a Canadian boutique travel company specializing in custom crafted vacations.
“There is an abundance of natural beauty along the Trail hugging the Atlantic coast,” says Deacon.
Cape Spear is among the prime spots to see icebergs and watch migrating whales swimming off the coast. Freshwater Bay, a stony beach with a stunning sea view, is another inviting spot for a rest or a “beach boil up” – a picnic-style meal prepared with fresh seasonal seafood.
In addition to breathtaking surroundings, outdoor enthusiasts can explore sights of historical and cultural significance. Signal Hill, an official National Historic site just minutes from downtown St. John’s, is where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal. Nearby, the Cape Spear Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador. The history of Petty Harbour, a picturesque fishing village located on the eastern shore of the Avalon Peninsula, traces back to before 1598, making it one of the oldest European settlements in North America.
Deacon, whose company designed a unique four-day itinerary for the area, says visitors also enjoy connecting with locals, who are famously welcoming and friendly. “You cannot come to Newfoundland without hearing great music and indulging in the local cuisine. Everyone here seems to be musically talented – there must be something in the water,” she says. “Returning each day to the comforts of the Inn by Mallard Cottage in St. John’s is a welcome reward after a day out. It’s a unique hotel that has perfectly blended contemporary style with the warmest hospitality.”
The renowned restaurant across the street, Mallard Cottage, is not only a favourite for drinks and live music, it is also an Irish-Newfoundland vernacular style cottage from the 1900s and one of North America’s oldest wooden buildings. “It’s a perfect spot to sit by the fire and listen to locals telling stories of their childhood.”
One such local is Canadian musician, actor, author and Trans Canada Trail Champion Alan Doyle, who loves to share his home town with visitors. He adds, “When you talk about Canadian history, here’s where everything started, so this is a fitting starting point for The Great Trail.”