Seafood delicacies, Whales, Puffins and Iceberg watching, fascinating lighthouses and one of the most friendly people in the world. Newfoundland has all of these. We visited the city of Saint John’s and it was a fabulous experience! Yes, I did get “SCREECHED-in” and am officially an honorary Newfoundlander. A visit without partaking in this ceremony isn’t complete.
The ceremony in Saint John’s is performed at Christian’s Bar and Trapper John’s Museum & Pub both located on George St. just beside Water St.. Here you will find a cluster of bars, pubs and eateries also a mini-amphitheater where local bands perform. There is a 24 hour Pub, The Celtic Hearth located on Water St but also accessible from George St. (Bridie Malloy’s). We ate Cod tongues here along with other seafood delicacies. To see more pictures, click here.
The local Rum is Screecher (very smooth) and the beer, Iceberg-advertised on each bottle as “Made with pure 20,000 year old iceberg water”. The beer is definitely good! Cod fish is abundant so Fish and Chips is Cod in a truly delicious batter and you can opt for ‘sweet-potato’ fries.
In town, you must take a walk along Gower St. and Bond St. between Cathedral St. and Cochrane St.. This is where you will find the colorful Jellybean Row Houses. They are such a pretty sight. We spoke with a resident and he informed us that the law is that the outside of the house has to be wood. No Vinyl siding and that the house has to be painted a color different from your neighbors. To see more pictures, click here.
Saint John’s has a lot of Churches with the biggest being The Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is glorious on the inside with an ornate ceiling and beautiful stained glass on every window. It is located at the highest point in the city and overlooks the harbor though you can’t see much from there. Across the road you will find “The Rooms”, a cultural facility that houses the Local Art Gallery and a museum dedicated to natural & cultural history. These two structures dominate the skyline of Saint John’s.
I recommend renting a vehicle and driving around the eastern coastline. There are pretty fishing villages all over with enchanting lighthouses and colorful buildings. North of the city you will find Signal Hill with imposing Cabot Tower standing majestically. From here, you have a commanding view in all directions and a little bit to its west is THE BATTERY. There is a hiking trail along the side of the hill which will take you down right to the hilly village also called ‘the battery’. However, the best view of this village is from across The Narrows (the harbor entrance) on Southside Rd., the road to Fort Amherst. To see more pictures, click here.
North you will also find Quidi Vidi village (3.1 miles/5 kms) with the “ICEBERG” beer brewing company located at the harbor, Mallard cottage (a highly recommended restaurant) and a small but scenic harbor. There is a battery here as well. North of Quidi Vide Lake, you will find a Row of Jellybean houses and they do look colorful and pretty.
Driving north, a must visit is Logy Bay (middle cove beach), Flatrock and Pouch Cove (21,75 miles/35 kms total). Drive the inner coastal roads, the views and scenery are worth every mile. Cape St. Francis Lighthouse is now totally automated and the road was extremely bad and un-driveable. Middle cove beach is where you can find Capelin rolling, click here to find estimated dates, was told it is a must see. Apparently these fish come here to spawn and die out of fatigue. They are also food for whales. To see more pictures, click here.
West of St. John’s is Portugal Cove (11 miles/17.8 kms), a little village where you can take the ferry to Bell Island. Just for an adventure it is a nice little trip but otherwise, not recommended. South on Route 10 is Ferryland (48 miles/77.5 kms) with its pretty lighthouse and a gorgeous view from the hill where if in season, you could spot Humpback and Minke Whales. You can also have a Picnic at the lighthouse.
Along the route, you have Cape Broyle, Tors Cove, Mobile, Witless Bay, Bay Bulls, Petty Harbor-Maddox Cove (you have to go off route 10 for this) and Cape Spear. There are two recommended restaurants along this route-Captains table (south of Witless Bay) and Chafe’s Landing Restaurant (in Petty Harbor). For our sunrise spectacle, we chose Cape Spear (9.8 miles/15.8 kms) and it was glorious and stunning. To see more pictures, click here.
Just off Route 10 in the Town of Bay Bulls, take St. Johns Rd. and you will arrive at the sheltered Bay. Here, O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours will take you on a trip you will never forget, (during Whale, Puffin and Iceberg season). Icebergs, mid-May till early June. Atlantic Puffins and other seabirds from May to early-September and the best time for whale watching is during the month of July. Species of Whales include Humpback, Fin, Orca, and Minke. You might also see Dolphins and Porpoises.
- Drinking water is extremely costly within the city-limits of Saint John’s and city water has a weird taste and yellow color to it. It is deemed safe but we preferred to drink Natural Spring water from Walmart which is only 97 cents for a gallon.
- If you have facilities to cook, purchase from a big grocer. They are a little out of town but much cheaper than the few local grocers.
- If renting a car, make sure to display your parking card or ticket clearly or you will get ticketed. They enforce aggressively.
- If you want to take a tour of the Quidi Vidi Brewery, you have to be wearing “closed toe” shoes>
- There are a lot of ONE way streets in Saint John’s, pay careful attention.
- If departing by air, airport security is quite a line-up and slow. Be sure to factor this in your airport departure time.