Welcome to Red Bay National Historic Site

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In the 1500s, the waters of Red Bay were thick with right and bowhead whales. Whalers from the Basques regions of Spain and France established a major whale port here. On the shores of Red Bay, the Basques rendered whale oil that lit the lamps of Europe. Today, you can wander around the former whaling town and UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse yourself in the traditional life of a Basques whaler.

Explore our Attractions

Take a hike along the beach and step into the interpretation centre to see an eight-metre chalupa, which whalers used on the ocean to harpoon their giant catch. To get a full appreciation for the size of these whales, compare the chalupa to the assembled collections of whalebones displayed. These showcase a time of prosperity and dangerous adventure, illustrating a long-ago way of life.

You can visualize the day the San Juan sank in 1565, only 50 metres away, and stand at the whaler's burial ground where 140 colleagues and friends were carefully laid to rest.

If you take a boat or kayak trip to nearby Saddle Island, you will find the remains of a time miraculously preserved. Where once stood the home of the first large-scale whale oil production in the world, now piles of red clay roof tiles can be found on the island, 500 years since its closure.

Red Bay National Historic Site Attractions & Activities

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Getting to Red Bay Historic Site

Red Bay National Historic Site is part of the Labrador Coastal Drive. It can be reached via ferry from St. Barbe, Newfoundland, to Blanc Sablon, Québec, and just an 82-kilometre, or 1-hour, drive.

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Friendly Reminder: Make sure you book your car rental and accommodations in advance.