Sometimes you just need to escape from the real world – away from technology and the hustle and bustle of the big city, surrounded by nothing but nature. Few places on Earth offer as many opportunities to do just that as St. John’s, the gateway to an area twice the size of the UK and 29,000km of coastline, which adds up to one almighty outdoor playground. From chasing icebergs along the coast to hiking the trails, here are just a few of our favourite things to do in the greatest of great outdoors…
Hit the trails
St. John’s is an urban centre on the doorstep of unspoiled wild tuckamore forests and endless coastline. It’s hard to imagine that you don’t have to drive miles to get away from it all, but it’s just minutes from your accommodation.
The East Coast Trail starts in St. John’s and offers more than 300km of groomed hiking paths that track the scenic shores to the north and south of the city. Along the towering cliffs, you’ll find sea stacks, ancient abandoned settlements, deep fjords and a dramatic wave-driven geyser known as ‘The Spout’ by locals.
Icebergs, Whales & Birds
Imagine coming face to face with huge, slow-moving creatures of the deep; that have prehistoric origins and are capable of sinking ships. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Newfoundland, and in many cases, right from the cliffs surrounding St. John’s.
Better yet, if you visit at the right time of year it’s easy to combine an iceberg-viewing boat trip out on the region’s waters with some whale spotting. Between spring and autumn, 22 different species of whale pass through the rich and fertile waters that surround Newfoundland – not to mention the largest population of feeding humpbacks in the world.
Luxury four-night experiential break from £939pp
Experience the very best of St. John’s with luxury travel expert Destinology. Five-day breaks start at £939pp and include return flights with WestJet, airport transfers, four nights at luxury boutique hotel The JAG in downtown St. John’s, city tours and a whale-watching boat trip. For more information call 01204 867124 or visit destinationstjohns.com/canada
If you’re lucky, you might get to catch one of these vast creatures bursting out of the ocean and crashing back into the waves with an almighty splash. Head out in search of these vast, sublime creatures on a boat tour from St. John’s harbour or just south of the city in Bay Bulls and Witless Bay, where you can add the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to your boat tour and see the largest colony of puffins in North America, as well as nesting gannets, murres, kittiwakes and much, much more. It’s absolutely stunning.
A taste for adventure
It’s safe to say that a day on the water is a quintessential experience when travelling to Newfoundland, and heading out on a sea kayak comes highly recommended by the locals for its mixture of ease and fun. Hugging the coastline in a colourful boat for one, looking up at the towering cliffs, hauling up your own sea urchins, paddling through waterfalls and sea caves is exhilarating.
If you fancy a slightly elevated heart rate you may consider the sublime, snorkeling with the whales. Join your guides in the picturesque community of Petty Harbour to the south of St. John’s. Hop aboard their Zodiac boat for the thrill of a lifetime. The pristine, clean waters of Newfoundland and Labrador make for perfect wetsuit diving conditions to explore the Second World War shipwrecks and the Bell Island underwater caves.
Your return trip
We already mentioned the vast land mass of the island portion of the province. Well, the Labrador area, or ‘big land’ as it’s known, is bigger again. The province is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites and multiple National Parks, which means one trip just won’t do.
Once you fall in love with this place you may want to put the Fogo Island Inn on your bucket list. If there’s a more extraordinary place to stay, we want to hear about it. Here, ground-breaking architecture meets a stark, craggy shore, and the results will make your jaw drop. The 29-room luxury inn sits on stilts over the rocks, while inside you’ll find a contemporary art gallery, a cinema, rooftop wood-fired hot tubs, and a cavernous dining room where you can eat local food while icebergs and whales drift past the window. Yep, it really is that kind of place.
For more information visit destinationstjohns.com/canada