Feature

This week’s travel dream: At home in the harbors of Newfoundland

Canada&rsquo;s easternmost province has &ldquo;some of the finest scenery in North America," said Mel White in <em>National Geographic Traveler. </em>

Newfoundland is what you’d call a quiet seaside destination, said Mel White in National Geographic Traveler. While other places may pander to tourists, Canada’s easternmost island is “unselfconscious about its eccentric picturesqueness.” Modest and delightfully serene, the neighborly province is a place of simple pleasures and “some of the finest scenery in North America.” Its capital, St. John’s, is a “green and pleasant city set on a perfect natural harbor.” Multicolored cottages, looking like pieces of “an artful movie set,” speckle the steep slopes cradling the water. Traditional Newfoundland music calls to you from pubs along George Street, “St. John’s own version of Bourbon Street.”

This “rugged and sparsely populated land of coastal towns” grew up around its Atlantic fisheries. When cod ­fishing was banned, in 1992, some 40,000 islanders were put out of work. Yet Newfoundlanders haven’t lost the cozy, inviting spirit that their “hardscrabble heritage” helped nourish. “I felt welcome every place I went on this rocky, foggy island.” Bonavista, a coastal town (or what the locals call an “outport”), is full of quaint charms, from the colorful smattering of homes along the ragged coastline to the fishing-boat docks enveloped by fog. Together they create the “stereotypical picture of Newfoundland.”

Only the weather and its many mood swings require a little getting used to. The morning greets you with “gloomy fog and drizzle.” But two hours later the sun peeks out, “spotlights a gorgeous rock headland, and leaves you wondering about the price of a piece of land where you could build a cottage and learn to cook moose.” For the most dramatic views, it’s worth a drive to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, where tens of thousands of seabirds breed amid towering cliffs and monstrous rock stacks. “I can’t imagine anyone, nature lover or not, failing to be moved by the scene.” Gannets loom above Bird Rock’s 300-foot-high crags, like “giant snowflakes caught in a swirling wind,” as the Atlantic crashes below. Contact: Newfoundlandlabrador.com

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