When John Cabot first landed in North America at Newfoundland in 1497, his first words in his native Italian were “O Buono vista!” which translates to "Oh happy sight!" Today, his quote lives on as the name of a town called Bonavista, near where he landed. As far as settlements in Newfoundland and Labrador go, Bonavista is the paragon of perfection. Colourful fishing huts and historic houses perch at the edge of pebbly beaches. You can see fishing boats, along with the occasional whale or iceberg, cruising around the water as you stand on the rocky coast nearby. Travel from the bustling city of St. John's to the quieter Bonavista Peninsula and enjoy the natural beauty (and bright personality) of this roadtrippable town!
Kick off your Newfoundland adventure with a stop at the gorgeous city of St. John’s, named in honour of John the Baptist. One of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations, St. John’s is the perfect place to start your Canada adventure. Known for its “mini San Francisco” vibe (thanks in part to the collection of colourful homes, often called "Jellybean Row"), there’s plenty to both do and see during your visit. Whether you want to check out the historic Signal Hill or enjoy a night out on the town with family and friends, the choice is completely yours. Historic St. John’s also played a large role in many wars, including the French and Indian War as well as the American Revolutionary War. Whatever you’re looking for, St. John’s won’t leave you disappointed.
It’s not often you find yourself at the most “easterly point” of North America, but when setting foot at Cape Spear Lighthouse, that’s exactly where you’ll be. Grab the gang and wake up bright and early to see the beautiful sunrise before anyone else. Stare straight ahead and overlook what appears to be all of North America, with nothing but the ocean and Ireland behind you. The oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland Labrador, the Cape Spear Lighthouse, offers incredible views and rich history that leave a lasting impression. Don’t miss it.
Next up on your Newfoundland expedition is the lovely East Coast Trail, home to over 26, yes 26 wilderness paths to explore. Whether you’re looking for a nice and easy trail, or prefer a strenuous hike to get the blood pumping, the East Coast Trail delivers. With a seemingly endless number of sights to see, make your way to the 50-meter suspension bridge at La Manche, or stop and gaze at eye-catching waterfalls. Before your visit, be sure to check out the Events Calendar, as there are some amazingly fun activities and guided hikes scheduled throughout the year.
Clean and comfortable campsites? Check. Breathtaking views you’ll be telling your friends and family about for years? Check. Butter Pot Provincial Park is one of the premier parks in Canada, is visited by tens of thousands of camping enthusiasts each year. Choose from a handful of trails to explore, go for a swim, or simply enjoy time with your family. With 150+ campsites, Butter Pot Provincial Park is the perfect place to set up camp.
Make a quick trip to the fun and exciting Come By Chance Beach, located in the incredibly small town of Come By Chance, just off the Avalon Peninsula. Established in 1969, Come By Chance is home to a population of 247 according to the 2011 census, and gained national attention due to its highly-productive oil refinery. Pull over at the quiet and beautiful beach and enjoy the ocean views. Though not as well known as some other cities nearby, Come By Chance is one of Canada’s busiest ports and a perfect place to get out and stretch after a long day’s drive.
Make your way to the beautiful Terra Nova National Park, Canada’s most easterly national park, and get ready for a great time! With over 400 square kilometres jam-packed with opportunities to hike, explore, and camp, you may need to extend your trip for a few days. Kayak through the sheltered bays of the magnificent coastlines, snap photos of whales or local seabirds, or walk the 11 gorgeous hiking trails. Home to eagles, beavers, moose, and more, Terra Nova National Park is a nature enthusiast’s dream. Visit during the summer and treat yourself to live performances, long walks with your family and friends, or even a nice round of golf.
Your trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping at another incredible lighthouse. The Cape Bonavista Lighthouse operated from 1843 to 1962, and is now home to an informative and enjoyable museum, sharing the beacon’s rich history and giving you a first-hand look at life during the mid-1800s. Browse a lightkeeper’s diary, observe the handful of century-old artifacts, or just take in the waves splashing in from the sea. Cape Bonavista Lighthouse is one of the rare lighthouses that allows you to climb to the top to see the light that was used during its working years.
Extend your journey as long as possible by exploring the incredibly enjoyable town of Bonavista, Newfoundland. Unlike surrounding cities, Bonavista was founded on an open plain, which gives it a unique landscape and fresh feel. Famous for incredible fish markets and a staple in port trade, Bonavista offers hours and hours of exploration fun. Stay another night or two in a classic hotel, or venture out to see the Ye Matthew Legacy ship or Mockbeggar Plantation. End your trip with a bang.
With access to incredible hiking trails, gorgeous views, and decades of Canadian history, Newfoundland and the surrounding area offers a little something for the entire group. Whether it’s snapping the perfect photo on top of the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, exploring the East Coast Trail, or making memories camping at Butter Pot Provincial Park, you’ll be talking about this trip for many years to come.
In the Canadian Dream, it's our experiences that make us richer. That's why we're encouraging all Canadians to get out and experience everything that Canada has to offer. You don't have to go far. Incredible, engaging experiences are all around us, all you have to do is start exploring.