Welcome to Bonavista

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When Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto (or John Cabot as he is locally known) first set eyes on North America in 1497, his first words were “O buono vista!” When translated into English, this phrase means “Oh happy sight!”, which is certainly fitting for what would become the town of Bonavista, the historic site of Cabot's landing.

In the years since, Bonavista has seen centuries pass by, telling the stories of the past and writing the stories of the future. A simple walk through town is an eclectic mix of old worldliness and modern ingenuity. Working harbours are steps away from inviting coffee shops. New businesses operate out of restored historical buildings. It’s a renaissance of sorts – a new wave of entrepreneurial spirit.

And though there’s plenty of it, history and heritage aren’t the only things on prominent display in Bonavista. Several trails in the Hike Discovery Trail Network provide ample opportunities to enjoy nature, including spotting whales, birds, and icebergs. Enjoy Bonavista by bike, foot, or boat – the choice is yours. O happy sights, indeed.

ExploreAttractions

 

Small huddles of houses, new and old, sit alongside rocky shores, pebble beaches, and picturesque fishing boats. Dense forest becomes amazing shoreline, frequently visited by whales, seabirds, and icebergs.

On the waterfront, the Ryan Premises National Historic Site and the Bonavista Museum bring to life the salt fish trade – the cornerstone of Newfoundland and Labrador's economy for centuries. The nearby Mockbeggar Plantation Provincial Historic Site tells a story of the battle for Confederation. Follow the beautiful boardwalk around the harbour, step inside a full-scale replica of Matthew, Cabot’s ship, and imagine how the explorer felt on his epic voyage to North America.

Catch a glimpse of 10,000-year-old icebergs from the top of the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, and gaze over the horizon where lightkeepers have stood watch since the 1840s. If you look close enough, you might catch a glimpse of a puffin nesting ground just behind the lighthouse or a humpback whale. Now, if that doesn’t brighten up your day, nothing will.

The Discovery UNESCO Global Geopark invites you to discover a little more about your geological past. Unearth fossils and formations, half a billion years in the making. Learn the plots, conflicts, and characters that tell the stories of life on this planet: the geological wonders here have borne witness to them all. At the Dungeon, the cliffs drop away into a mammoth sinkhole with two seaward channels, the result of years of ocean erosion. In fact, throughout the peninsula the ancient past is recorded in the land and seascapes.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, the Bonavista Biennale is a must-see event. This bi-annual, international exhibition of contemporary visual art features Indigenous, provincial, and international artists of the highest calibre, installed on the landscape and in historic buildings throughout the area.

Looking to enjoy a show? Get front-row seats to our thriving arts and culture scene at The Garrick Theatre, a big-city venue in the heart of a small town. From live performances to state-of-the-art digital cinema, you can watch encore after encore.

 

Bonavista & Area Attractions

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Explore Food & Dining

Bonavista may be small, but the same cannot be said for our appetite. Our way around the kitchen is to go far beyond it, from guided hikes, to boil-ups, to foods inspired by history, culture, and proximity to nature. From the forests and fields of Newfoundland, our raw craft kombucha is alive with wild, local ingredients. Distillery tours and tasting rooms take tastebuds on a trip, with adventurous food pairings to suit even the most daring palates.

For indoor dining, take your pick of charming establishments, many of which are housed in buildings dating to the early 1900s. If you’d like a side of fresh air with your meal, rent a bicycle or head on a hike, picnic basket in tow.

Our town is teeming with restaurants, cafés, tea rooms, wine bars, ice cream shops, and plenty more. And just 20 minutes down the road, enjoy a farm-to-table experience, far off the beaten track. Take a seat on the ocean-view deck overlooking grazing sheep and a lush garden, or pull up a chair next to the wood-fired bread oven. Bonavista offers endless food and dining experiences to enjoy. So, pull up a menu.

Bonavista Restaurants

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Explore Shops & Galleries

Whether you tend towards window shopping or spending sprees (or both), there are plenty of beautiful shops to explore in Bonavista. Find local art and handmade creations at Artistry on Church. Or choose from a beautiful selection of locally made knitwear, wood products, or jewelry at Cabot Crafts Inc. If you’re looking to give life a little flavour, pick up some small-batch, handmade salt at the Newfoundland Salt Company. Watch how the salt is made, meet a salt maker, and more.

 
Treat yourself – and the planet – at East Coast Glow. Their sustainable skin tonics – made with natural ingredients like iceberg water, seaweed, botanical distillates, and more – are sure to be a staple in your self-care routine.

 

For one-of-a-kind woven pieces, head to Treeline Fine Craft. Inspired by Bonavista’s rich culture and rugged coastline, these award-winning textile pieces are sure to be a conversation starter. And if you’ve got an eye for the arts, appreciate fine art and curated original paintings, drawings, and sculptures at BarbaraHouston ArtStudio + Gallery + SHEEPSHoP. Art is individual. Find what speaks to you.

Bonavista Shops and Galleries

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Discover Nature Viewing

Put simply, nature lovers belong in Bonavista. With opportunities to spot whales, birds, and icebergs, it’s every nature enthusiast’s dream. Boat and adventure tours mean you never have to go it alone. If you’re ready to get up close and personal, take adventure out to sea on a 24-foot zodiac or on a tour boat with options for indoor and outdoor seating. Even on land, there are plenty of opportunities to spot nature’s wonders. So, what’ll it be: bike, foot, or boat? No matter your decision, Bonavista’s beauty is our guarantee.

Bonavista Local Tour Operators

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Getting to Bonavista

Bonavista is located on the island of Newfoundland on the Discovery Trail, Route 230, just 3 hours from both the Argentia ferry and the town of Gander, and 3½ hours from the capital city of St. John's.

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Videos far, far off the beaten path



How to Experience the Bonavista Biennale

In the art world, a biennale refers to a large, international exhibition held every two years in a certain location. World-renowned artists present their work in various settings, and the results are jaw dropping. Think of it as a treasure hunt for incredible art.

While most biennales take place in major cities like Venice and Montreal, the Bonavista Biennale is unique because all of the art is displayed around rural communities and the coastline of the Bonavista Peninsula. It’s a bi-annual exhibition of contemporary visual art by Indigenous, Newfoundland and Labrador, and other Canadian and international artists. Here’s an opportunity to hike the coastline, visit some towns you’ve maybe overlooked, and discover art in unexpected places.

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Travel Stories

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Bonavista Offers

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See What Other Travellers Have to Say

Visit the Story Exchange
In search of puffins

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