Chasing icebergs in Bonavista

Kaye drops into Bonavista, Newfoundland, where she experiences true Canadian hospitality, spots one gigantic iceberg and two orcas cavorting in the sea.

Chasing glaciers in Bonavista

Heading down Highway 230 we approach the sparse outskirts of Bonavista, population 3448. But our attention is not on the brightly coloured local cottages nor the historic harbour. For sitting straight in front of us, floating majestically past the headland is one gigantic iceberg. And the race is on, as it disappears from view, my friend and driver Jennie guns it around the ocean-front road to see where it has gone. As the waterfront is slightly higher ground than the road, we lose it for at least five minutes, before rounding the bend to see both the historic Bonavista Lighthouse and the iceberg in full view. Amazing! And we are not the only ones who are chasing this beauty – dozens of cars have pulled over to watch this natural beauty sail serenely by. But wait, there’s more. As we gaze upon the gigantic ice rock, we see two separate spouts – yes, orca whales are cavorting nearby.

bonavista newfoundland

Our ‘home’ in Bonavista is the Harbourview B&B, hosted by Colleen and Terry, two former Royal Mounted Canadian Police officers. Apparently, Terry bumped into Colleen while investigating a homicide – an interesting start to a romance? The Harbourview is a super cosy, warmly decorated old home with a fabulous view of, you guessed it, the local harbour. As well as providing a generous breakfast, at 9pm every evening, Colleen and Terry offer a ‘kitchen supper’ for all eight guests. This is no simple cuppa and cake affair – instead steamed mussels, scones, berry slice, cheese and crackers and fresh fruit is shared, along with local tales, handy tourism suggestions and much laughter.

bonavista newfoundland

Hospitality is a word that gets bandied around a lot by travel writers who head off to places unknown. Our experience in Canada is that the least expensive accommodation (i.e. the B&Bs) are the most superior and offer the truest form of hospitality – friendship in a foreign land.

bonavista newfoundland

How did we get to Bonavista?
We flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia to St Johns Airport in Newfoundland with WestJet – an easy 90-minute journey. Instead of heading straight to St John’s, the major city in NL, we picked up a black Chevy Trax SUV and headed due north on the Trans-Canada Highway (or TCH as the locals call it). About four hours later we arrived in the delightful port town of Bonavista.

bonavista newfoundland

The Two Whales Coffee Shop, about 10km down Route 235, is one of the nicest coffee shops in the province. The mission statement on the wall says it all – sustainable business, prosperity for all, organic produce – ticking every box. And so the coffee and homemade partridgeberry brownie arrives. Delicious. Many others seemed to agree as the place was packed. If you ever make it to Bonavista, this one is a must.

 Travel deals

Essential Newfoundland

Explore the enchanting village of Trinity with its restored white and pastel coloured clapboard houses and hike the Skerwink Trail which follows the rugged coastline and offers a spectacular view of the surrounding villages.

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Circle Newfoundland & Labrador

The best of “the Far East of the Western World”. Learn of ancient peoples – the Maritime Archaic, Vikings, and Basques – as you travel to coastal fishing communities to meet the friendly locals. See whales, seabirds, and, depending on the time of the year, icebergs!

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Written by Kaye Fallick