The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the most spectacular places in the world for whale watching, and the marine life here provides a rich nesting ground for millions of seabirds.
The confluence of the cool Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream generates an abundance of marine life that attracts whales by the thousand. Twenty two species of whales, including minke, sperm, pothead, blue, orca, and the world’s largest population of humpbacks, feed on capelin, krill and squid along the coast. Between May and September, you can see these whales breaching and playing off the shore. Glimpsing these huge and majestic marine mammals is an awesome experience, whether it’s from a boat or while hiking a coastal trail. Minke, fin, and killer whales in particular swim along the coastline in search of food, and these friendly and curious creatures are known to surface just a few metres from whale watching boats.
Whale-watching boat trips will take you through an ecological reserve, where you’ll see the phenomenal spectacle of millions of puffins, kittiwakes and gannets nesting in the many cliffs, crags, inlets, headlands and islands around the coast, and on the ocean itself.
Along the way, you’ll see caves, waterfalls, and the majesty of the coastline including icebergs, seabirds and other wildlife. If you want to see whales and seabirds, bear in mind that they migrate north in late spring and early summer – but are often plentiful right through until early autumn. The movement of icebergs in the opposite direction, southward from Greenland, creates a brief window when all three can be seen together. Seeing a 10,000-year-old iceberg, hearing the roar as it founders under the warm summer sun, or feeling the chill on your skin as it approaches are simply unforgettable experiences.
The island of Newfoundland covers 111,390 square kilometres, and Labrador is almost twice as large, at 405,212 square kilometres, with more than 29,000 kilometres of unspoiled coastline. In the vast and varied landscape, you’ll find Arctic tundra, ancient mountain ranges, lush boreal forest, and rugged coastline offering limitless opportunities for outdoor adventure in a pristine environment. On Newfoundland’s west coast, Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the Long Range Mountains and North America’s northernmost part of the Appalachian Trail. Here you can take a freshwater boat tour to explore scenic waterfalls, verdant wilderness and majestic fjords.
In northern Labrador, Torngat Mountains National Park encompasses a vast, untouched wilderness area with some of the oldest mountains in the world. And in the Central Region, you’ll find dense boreal forests, marshes and green meadows that reach all the way to Labrador. The unique geological landscape attracts scientists from around the globe, as it tells the story of the earth’s evolution.
The Johnson Geo Centre, carved out of the prehistoric rock of Signal Hill in St. John’s, is a great place to begin your geological journey. For a fascinating lesson on plate tectonics, and a chance to walk on rocks from the earth’s mantle, visit the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park. Torngat Mountains National Park in Northern Labrador is home to 3.9 billion-year-old rocks – some of the oldest in the world! The spectacularly preserved fossils and petrified remains found at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve on the Avalon Peninsula date back 565 million years – the oldest, most diverse assemblage of multicellular life ever found on earth.
Located on North America’s eastern edge, Newfoundland is just five and a half hours flying time from London.
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