The Kittiwake Coast ‘The Road To The Shore’ is a breathtaking, off the beaten path, scenic route situated on Newfoundland’s central north/easterly coast.
Our journey commenced on the coastal Eastport Peninsula and took us to the Town of Gander in the interior, a mere 267 km drive that takes roughly 3.5 hours to complete.
Along the way, we were charmed by a rich colorful heritage and welcomed by a warm, cultured people all the while privy to a stunningly beautiful array of landscapes and seascapes.
1. Auntie M’s B&B
Finding peak season accommodations this late in the game is never an easy task but we were fortunate enough to come across this place. Auntie M’s is the ultimate country pumpkin stay, a lovingly preserved salt box home.
Situated on a large beautiful lot of land with full access to deck, Gazebo, and BBQ, this is a wonderfully comfortable, immaculately clean and peaceful place to lay your head.
Throughout the home, warm pumpkin colored walls are adorned with lovely Newfoundland and Labrador art, a really nice edition.
Each of the three bedrooms are well appointed with comfy beds and full en-suite bathrooms and beautiful ocean and yard views.
Owner Myra who lives next door is the ultimate host, a real sweetheart who cooked us a delicious full breakfast. Within minutes we felt like we knew her a lifetime, we really enjoyed her company and insisted on her joining us for a coffee which she did.
This is also a pet-friendly bed and breakfast (provided they are small, quiet, well-behaved, and low shedding), we took our 2 furry friends with us and lets just say they made ample use of the big backyard.
Auntie M’s is that lovely home away from home. It is super competitively priced for the budget traveler too.
2. Noggin Cove Head
Oh the secrets beneath our feet.
Located a mere five minutes from Auntie M’s at the end of Main Street is the Noggin Cove Formation, a Middle Ordovician deposit.
Here a scattering of glacier rock and black fossilized lava rock juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, it is the largest volcanic unit of its kind in the eastern Exploits Sub-zone.
It is approximately 1 km thick and consists mainly of stratified mafic volcaniclastic rocks with subordinate pillowed basalt and black shale.
You could easily spend the day out here, this is a popular spot for locals during the summer months to picnic, hike and pick wildflowers and berries that grow in abundance here.
Noggin Cove Head is a beautifully serene, natural and wild slice of our coastline. The full geological report can be found here.
Visitors to our fine province have long been attracted to our rugged, rocky coastline but the Eastport Peninsula bucks this trend.
Here you will discover countless sandy beaches that look more from the tropics than on a sub-arctic island situated in the north Atlantic.
Our first stop took us to Eastport, a series of beautiful beaches nearly interlocking. A beautiful boardwalk through the forest takes you to additional beaches, isolated and nestled in tiny coves with a beautiful forest as the backdrop.
Our jaunt was short here, it was 26 degrees and not conducive for our Boston Terrier, a breed highly susceptible to heat stroke. Nonetheless, this is a serene place amidst spectacular topography, perfect for picnics, camping, you name it, your own private Idaho.
4. Sandy Cove
Equally beautiful is nearby Sandy Cove, their beach is nestled below sandy, forested embankments with serene ocean views.
Overlooking the beach is a beautiful mini interpretive park with benches and wonderfully informative panels to read and learn about this region of Newfoundland.
An additional trail can be found here that will take you to higher elevation for lookouts.
5. Washed Ashore Antiques & Coffee Bar
We had a wonderful time here, this place is chock full of antiques, local crafts, and oddities. You can easily lose a day puttering in this store. We bought a cute jellybean row house key rack (see below).
Owner Kirk was also a delight to meet, he is a warm, welcoming, colourful and engaging character. He makes delicious home-made cookies that we devoured outside on the cute patio.
This is a must-see spot for those seeking that truly authentic off the beaten path Newfoundland travel experience, nothing contrived here.
6. Dover Fault Line
To say the Town of Dover has it all is putting it mildly. To begin it is where the ancient continents of North America and Europe both collided and broke apart, the divide is still visible to the eye today.
A series of steps takes you to the lookout with breathtaking views from miles around. Modern history and tragedy are also on display here with a plane wreck and a commemorative plaque in honor of lost fisherman.
There is also an interpretive center nearby at the town hall with information about the fault and the history of the town. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we arrived due to the Discovery Day holiday.
Be sure on your visit to also drive a little further in town to view the beautiful cultural murals on display harbor-side.
7. Aviation Museum
The Town of Gander is steeped in aviation history, playing a pivotal strategic role in both transatlantic flight and the allies WW2 effort.
The museum offers an amazing presentation of flight history from communications, espionage, fashion and regrettably, tragedy including that fateful day of September 11, 2001 when the town opened their homes to thousands of passengers stranded.
Particularly poignant is a billboard of thank-you letters and a portion of the World Trade Centre’s structural beam.
A walk about the grounds of the museum is also a must for viewing of the various planes on display.
8. Silent Witness Memorial
On our trip to Gander, we also visited The Silent Witness Memorial, a tranquil park located 4 km east of town on the Trans Canada Highway.
The memorial and park are dedicated to 256 individuals who lost their lives in the Arrow Air Crash. Arrow Air Flight 1285 was a DC-8 jetliner bringing American troops from Cairo, Egypt, to their home base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, via Gander.
On the morning of Thursday, December 12, 1985, just after takeoff, the plane lost power, crashed, and burned half a mile from the Gander runway, killing all on board. As of 2017, it has the highest death toll of any aviation accident on Canadian soil.
We were emotionally moved by our visit, particularly the memorial of an American soldier holding a boy and girls hand and the staircase lined with mini U.S. Flags leading to a heart-shaped plot comprised of red wood-chips.
This is a beautifully done memorial nestled in the forest, a must-see.
9. Gander Bread Box Bakery & Cafe
This place has been getting rave reviews from locals and visitors since opening its doors, their 4.5/5 stars at TripAdvisor have earned them the Certificate of Excellence.
We decided to make a pit stop here to see for ourselves what the buzz is all about and wow they didn’t disappoint.
Brightly lit with funky colours, Gander Bread Box is a family affair (owned and operated by mum, dad and kids in tow) that gave us the most gracious service and delicious meals. They are passionate about their food and work very hard to maintain their impeccable reputation.
Our orders: toutons and molasses (did I mention they have an all day breakfast) and a chicken wrap. By the time we devoured our yummy meals, we realized no pics were snapped, so you will just have to take our word for it.
Before we left though we picked up a loaf of homemade cinnamon bread and a box of Rocky Road, both were exceptional.
This place is just too good, arguably one of the best bakeries and cafes on the entire island of Newfoundland with great prices, menu variety, and warm welcoming service.
Greenspond is one of Newfoundland’s oldest communities (first settled in the 1690’s). It became a major trading port due to its location on the north coast and its proximity to the major sea lanes and was once known as “Capital of the North”.
Connected to ‘mainland’ Newfoundland by a causeway (only since 1985), this island off the island experience was a definite highlight of our Kittiwake Coast journey.
Greenspond is a breathtaking natural and cultural landscape, a serene expanse that easily rivals other tourist hot-spots located around the province.
A visit here is to experience true out-port wellness, a magical island that exceeded our wildest dreams and swept us away.
10. Greenspond Hiking Trail
The Greenspond trail is an easy hike that took us 2 hours to complete. It follows roughly two-thirds of the island’s coastline. We paced ourselves and made occasional pit-stops at a number of lovely barbecue/picnic shelters.
We began our hike on the island’s southeast quadrant and were immediately in awe of the giant golden rock boulders which line the shoreline.
There is no shortage of diversity in topography here as we continued along the trail over green rolling hills, across barren flat rock terrain and through patches of low-lying forest.
The waters that surround Greenspond are teeming with humpbacks with four sightings before we even completed our hike.
Icebergs were on display too, both near and far and we were completely stoked to see a rainbow hit an iceberg on the ocean horizon.
11. Ida’s Place
Before our island hike, we decided to stop into Ida’s Place, a tea house in a century’s old, lovingly preserved salt box heritage home. This idyllic foodie spot has been getting rave reviews from fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Located ‘out on the point’ as locals call it, it offers one of the best vantage points on the island overlooking the ocean from the front and bordering the harbour in the back that also has a beautiful red fishing shed that dates back 120 years.
We were welcomed with open arms by proprietor Heather and her mom who bake everything fresh from scratch on-site and doted on us hand and foot.
We ordered partridge-berry NY style cheesecake, homemade scones, organic tea from The Newfoundland Tea Company and Flat Earth Coffee made on Fogo Island, all of which was absolutely scrumptious.
We decided to eat on the front patio, given the beautiful weather, but inside is equally enticing with quaint tables, lovely window views of both the harbor-front and ocean and historic art work adorning the walls.
We give Ida’s Place 5/5 stars, this is an authentic, off the beaten path spot for you to experience Newfoundland food and culture and make new friends, a real gem.
12. Waterfront & Harbour
Before we left Greenspond, we decided to take a stroll down at the waterfront. We have seen the tourism photos and clips, so does it live up to all the hype? You bet it does…
A jaunt here is like a return to yesteryear where time has stood still. We were completely in awe of its tranquil natural beauty and charming cultural landscapes of colourful, character rich, heritage homes nestled along narrow rocky strips of land.
13. Beothuk Interpretation Centre
The Beothuk Interpretation Centre is one Newfoundland and Labrador’s newer provincial historic sites (only opening its doors in 1995).This is a world class cultural, historical and natural museum which marks another heart-breaking, dark chapter in European-Indigenous relations.
Among the exhibits to be viewed at the museum are exquisite artworks, recovered artifacts, sculptures by renowned Newfoundland artist Gerald Squires, human-size Beothuk models and scale models of Beothuk traditional villages all of which brought us back to a vanished people and culture.
Outside the centre is a beautiful 1.5 km walking trail through the forest that leads first to a viewing platform and then onward to the village site. Discovered in 1981, it is here the Beothuk lived 300 years earlier until ultimately, Tuberculosis and skirmishes with European settlers led to their demise. Shanawdithit, the last known documented Beothuk, died in St. John’s in 1829.
A highlight along the trail is a Beothuk sculptured statue, another beautiful work by Gerald Squires as well as marine and plant life interpretive panels.
Bring bug spray with you on this trail, we were eaten alive but well worth the 20-minute jaunt.