Secrets of Newfoundland - Atlas Obscura

Newfoundland

Secrets of Newfoundland

Come explore Newfoundland's natural wonders, rich history, rural charms, and locally sourced cuisines, from the bustling fishing village of Bonavista to the undiscovered woods and shores of Plate Cove. 

Join us for a week full of adventure, storytelling, and windswept landscapes. We'll visit an array of Newfoundland's most unique locations and provide insight into the island's history and traditional ways of life. We'll get to know Newfoundlanders' passion for food, and for the land itself, as we venture into smaller towns along the Avalon Peninsula, where we'll learn of pirates in Harbour Grace, hear traditional music in Carbonear, observe boatbuilding in Winterton, and forage for local plants on a beach just outside of the capital, St. John’s. Afterward, you'll head home with a sense of the tenacious, charming, and improbable nature of Newfoundland itself.

This trip is limited to a small group of 12 explorers.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Farm-, Ocean-, and Forest-to-Table: Get up close and personal with the island's foodways, through meeting fishermen, farmers, and foragers. We'll harvest our own dinner, forage a cup of herbal tea on the beach, pick wild blueberries, learn to make cheese, and connect with locals still living close to the land and sea.
  • Traditional Music and Local Connections: Bus driver Jerome Warren travels with his accordion ("squeezebox," as he calls it), making our trip a musical adventure. Other musicians will join us along the way with fiddles and songs, and we'll meet a variety of locals both old and young sharing their stories and skills.
  • Contemporary Art in Rural Settings: Through the Bonavista Biennale festival we'll explore this sparsely populated yet historically significant area through the unique lens of modern art. Curator Catherine Beaudette will give us an insider's view of the exhibits dotting the Bonavista Peninsula, and introduce us to art venues, such as an old post office, the Sealers' Memorial, and the rugged coastline itself.
  • Indigenous Perspective: As one of the first colonies in the "New World," European settlers wiped out the Indigenous Beothuk people. The current Indigenous populations, including the Inuit, Innu, and Mi'kmaq, are still vastly underrepresented in popular media and culture. We'll visit the St. John’s Native Friendship Center and learn about the island's Indigenous population while eating a lunch prepared by a young Inuk chef.

YOUR ORGANIZER & GUIDE

Felicity Roberts is a rural Newfoundlander, certified herbalist, farmer, writer, wild food advocate, and self-described relic. Most comfortable on the barrens cutting heather to dye wool or hanging off the edge of a cliff harvesting rare berries, she specializes in both culinary and medicinal applications of local flora and the folklore surrounding them. While living and working in the city, Felicity has made it her goal to explore every rural museum, abandoned site, and cool rock formation she can find around her home peninsula, the Avalon, and she occasionally writes about travel. 

TRIP COST

A $500 deposit is required to secure your spot. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. We have limited capacity and expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $3,540—the $500 deposit plus $3,040 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including accommodations, meals, and activities listed below.

QUESTIONS?

Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.

Itinerary
Tao Tao Holmes
Day 1
Arrival & Welcome in St. John's
  • Arrive this afternoon into Newfoundland's capital, St. John's, and settle into our downtown JAG Boutique Hotel. 
  • We'll meet in the hotel lounge for a welcome drink, introductions, and a brief look at the trip ahead.
  • From there, we'll take a short walk through the historic downtown to our dining spot. We'll kick off the trip with an intimate, hyper-local experience—just the beginning of our love affair with seafood, wild-sourced plants, mushrooms, and game meats, plus a trademark house-cured charcuterie. We'll raise a glass to the adventures ahead!
Tao Tao Holmes
Day 2
Off to the Bonavista Peninsula
  • We'll start with an early breakfast before boarding our group's private vehicle and setting off with our accordion-playing bus driver, Jerome. We'll be headed three hours north, toward the natural wonders and gourmet fare of Newfoundland's Bonavista Peninsula.
  • We'll arrive around noon in Plate Cove and check into our one-of-a-kind accommodations at Round Da Bay Inn, where a special lunch of local produce and seafood awaits. After lunch, take some time to rest and stretch your legs, perhaps with a stroll around the antique shop or a cocktail.
  • In the afternoon, we'll hop back on the bus and cruise through peaceful, rustic seaside villages to visit nearby geological attractions—including a sea arch in Tickle Cove—and explore local history through old churches, wharves, and homes.
  • For supper, we'll retire to the Inn and be treated to traditional music by Jerome. Then turn in early or join us for movie night; we'll be watching The Grand Seduction, a comedy about a small fishing village, filmed in nearby New Bonaventure. The Inn's unique rooms contain not only various antiques and repurposed wood, but also doors salvaged from the set of The Grand Seduction.
M. Zonderling
Day 3
Historic Trinity & Maritime Adventure
  • After breakfast at the Inn, we'll set off for the town of Trinity, which was an important mercantile center in the fishery's past and still boasts many beautifully kept heritage homes. We'll explore several of the town's historic sites and enjoy a relaxed lunch.
  • Then it's time to get out on the water! Sea of Whales adventure boat tours will take us out on the beautiful Atlantic in search of puffins, whales, and other marine creatures. We'll be in the company of a knowledgeable crew, and will even be treated to maritime tea and cookies. (Note: If the weather isn't cooperating, we'll reschedule the boat trip for another day.)
  • With the sea breeze still tousling our hair, we'll have dinner at Bonavista Social Club in picturesque Upper Amherst Cove. Owner Katie Hayes will give us a tour of the gardens that supply the produce and show us the resident bees.
  • Then we head back to the Inn for a hearty night's sleep.
Felicity Roberts
Day 4
Contemporary Art Along the Peninsula
  • After breakfast, we'll head to the small town of Duntara (population 30 as of 2016) to meet Catherine Beaudette at Two Rooms Contemporary Art Projects. Curator for the Bonavista Biennale, a contemporary visual arts festival, Catherine will lead us through installations placed in historic sites, community halls, the Sealers’ Memorial, unused industrial space, a church, the old post office, and along the rocky coastline itself.
  • We’ll see the famous root cellars of nearby Elliston, and have lunch at Nanny's Root Cellar Kitchen. We'll also visit Port Union, which feels like stepping back into an earlier time. Finishing in Port Rexton, we'll stop for beers at the local brewery or an optional hike of the Skerwink Trail, which provides a stunning view over the bay.
  • Tonight we'll dine at a favorite local spot for the iconic dish of fish and chips ("fi' and chi'," as it is known locally). This battered and deep-fried, yet still deliciously fresh, cod is an absolute must-eat while on the rock. (The local dressing and gravy is optional but heartily recommended.)
  • Bellies full, we'll return for another cozy night at the Inn.
Tao Tao Holmes
Day 5
Artisans & Fishermen
  • Today will be relaxing. We'll enjoy the many artisans of Bonavista and have lunch at the Boreal Diner, a trendy spot showcasing local foods, complete with an on-site bookstore.
  • Later, we'll meet local fisherman Gerry Hussey, who will tell us more about life on the Peninsula and aboard a fishing boat, and answer questions.
  • We'll give you the flexibility to choose how you'd like to spend the rest of your last day on the Peninsula, whether it's visiting the reportedly haunted Mockbeggar Plantation, taking a hike around the lighthouse, or simply throwing back a few pints in the local pub.
  • We'll gather back at the Inn for a late supper. We can reminisce as we take in one last sunset from our secluded location.
Tao Tao Holmes
Day 6
Jiggs Lunch & Local Fiddlers
  • This morning we'll set out early for a hands-on farm experience in Lethbridge. Guided by the owners, we'll harvest our own vegetables for a jiggs lunch, a traditional meal of root vegetables and salt meat.
  • Afterward, we'll take the bus about two hours to Harbour Grace, a once-great Conception Bay town founded in 1517 by Francis I of France. Amelia Earhart took off from here on the flight that made her the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. The small town is home to crumbling manors, a working dockyard, stone churches, and even a hidden pirate's grave.
  • Dinner in nearby Carbonear is a special treat: a barbecue at our guide Felicity's mother's house, along with a pair of traditional musicians. After some beer and cheer, we'll settle into a local heritage B&B for the night.
Wooden Boat Museum
Day 7
Boatbuilding in Action
  • Sleep in and enjoy a free morning in Carbonear. We'll then gather for lunch at the Stone Jug, a restored stone manor.
  • We'll then head to Winterton's Wooden Boat Museum. We'll be introduced to traditional inshore fishing punts and other vessels, and learn about the lives of boatbuilders. We might even experience real boatbuilding in action, with wood shavings in the air as we talk with the builder.
  • After weaving through colorful fishing stages (the fishery's traditional, rough-hewn buildings), idyllic hamlets, and dramatic barrens, we'll reach Grates Cove Studios. Here, we'll enjoy a gourmet dinner fusing traditional Newfoundland cuisine with Cajun and Syrian styles, made with local seafoods, produce, and foraged plants.
  • We'll then return to our B&B for the night.
Tao Tao Holmes
Day 8
Ferryland, Renews & Cheesemaking
  • After a relaxed breakfast, we'll set off down the Irish Loop to Ferryland for lunch at a traditional tea house and a tour of the Colony of Avalon, one of the first European settlements in North America. The area includes an archaeological dig and an interpretation center and museum featuring a recreated 17th-century kitchen and gardens.
  • Homesteaders and historians Steve and Lisa McBride will then lead a cheesemaking workshop and tell us about their experience leaving office jobs in suburban Vancouver for a life in rural Newfoundland.
  • Then it's off to meet the esteemed Loyola Hearn, former Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and former Ambassador to Ireland, who will show us around his tiny hometown of Renews, and perhaps even serenade us with a tune or two.
  • Back in St. John’s, we'll stop to enjoy the culinary delights of Fork Restaurant in Witless Bay, a restaurant acclaimed for its home cooking, regional flair, and high-quality ingredients.
  • Arriving back at JAG Boutique Hotel, we'll be free to take a well-earned rest or check out the local entertainment. 
Lori McCarthy
Day 9
Indigenous Cuisine & Beachside "Boil Up"
  • Friday the 13th will be our lucky day. Starting with breakfast at Rocket Bakery, we'll have time for shopping and sightseeing in downtown St. John’s, or a visit to one of the city's several museums.
  • For lunch, Inuk chef Vick Allen will teach us about Newfoundland's Indigenous peoples and cultures over a delicious meal full of local game meats and seafood inside St. John's Native Friendship Center.
  • For a very special final afternoon, we'll be off to Middle Cove Beach with Lori McCarthy, creator and owner of Cod Sounds Cookery School and forager extraordinaire. Lori will lead us on a nature walk that culminates with a fire on the beach for a traditional "boil up"—because few things taste as good as a cup of tea on the beach.
  • Back in St. John’s, we'll visit The Crows Nest, a private club, museum, and bar. The World War II museum boasts a periscope from a German U-Boat and is a National Historic Site.
  • We'll then rejoin Lori in her deluxe shed to enjoy the warmth of a woodstove and one of the best meals you'll ever eat. No trip to Newfoundland is complete without being entertained in a shed, and Lori loves making people feel at home while feeding them food that will make them want to return again and again. We'll look back on the sights we've seen and unique people we've met, and toast to a wonderful time together.
  • We'll then head back to the hotel, or you can check out the downtown music scene, which is known to run into the wee hours.
Day 10
Farewell & Departure
  • This morning, depart for your flight home, or extend your stay to explore on your own. This is the official end of our time together, but we are happy to arrange extra hotel nights and provide suggestions for additional things to do and see.
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print

YOUR ATLAS OBSCURA NEWFOUNDLAND EXPEDITION INCLUDES

  • All lodging in double-accommodation rooms in comfortable, modern inns and hotels throughout the trip. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $760. Otherwise we'll work to place singles of the same sex together.)
  • All meals throughout the trip, with the exception of one breakfast.
  • A talented local guide, as well as special guests.
  • Private bus transport throughout the trip (and an accordion-playing bus driver).
  • Admission to all proposed activities, including boat trip, workshops, and tours.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that Newfoundland has to offer!

NOTE ON FLIGHTS

For flights in and out of St. John's International Airport (YYT), you should plan to arrive by 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 5, and depart anytime on Saturday, September 14. If you'd like to extend your stay before or after the tour, we're happy to reserve extra nights at our hotel in St. John's or provide additional recommendations. For those interested in a road-trip adventure, there is a vehicle and passenger ferry that makes stops in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. 

NOTE ON ITINERARY

Itineraries are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific activities and events in mind. Schedules and availabilities may change in coming months or be affected by weather during the trip. If any activity or attraction that is advertised is missed or not available, then we will always replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value. We do expect to have the chance to see everything on this itinerary, if perhaps not in the same order. However, as always, flexibility and an adventurous spirit are key. 

NOTE ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

This tour is fairly active. Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking three to six miles over the course of each day and remaining outside and on their feet for long periods of time. We will be walking on roads, beaches, and dirt paths. The itinerary also involves time on a boat, so we recommend you be comfortable around and on water. 

PAYMENT

You will be charged a $500 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. The final payment of $3,040 will be due by June 11, 2019. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip's Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $760 will be included in the final payment.

TRAVELERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR

  • Flights and other transport to and from St. John's, Newfoundland.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Baggage charges.
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including one breakfast and most alcoholic beverages.
  • Applying for a Canadian visa, if applicable (not required for U.S. citizens).

QUESTIONS?

Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment. 

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