Journey along the coast of the long finger of the Avalon Peninsula between Trinity Bay and Conception Bay.
The Baccalieu Coastal Drive traces the long finger of the Avalon Peninsula between Trinity Bay and Conception Bay. Western access is from Route 80 near Whitbourne on Route 1. Eastern access through Route 60 from Holyrood or Avondale on Route 75 (Veterans Memorial Highway) or Route 70 (Roaches Line).
You’ll begin your journey in the Whitbourne and Markland area, which plays host to hidden gems. What was once the Markland Cottage Hospital is now Frozen in Time Ltd., offering premium berry wines and spirits. If you’re looking to continue with some light–hearted fun, enjoy a trip down the lazy river with a guided adventure tour. For the history buffs? Housed in the old Whitbourne Railway Station is the Whitbourne Heritage Museum. Other local attractions include the Sir Robert Bond Park, featuring a rare lichen forest, as well as the Constable Robert Amy monument located next to the local war memorial.
Whitbourne Junction, conveniently located on the side of the highway (Route 1 between exits to Route 100 and 81), is the perfect location to fill up your gas tank, grab some refreshments, and tie up any loose ends before you get on the road again. If you have any last minute questions or concerns, be sure to stop by the Visitor Information Centre to grab a brochure and chat with one of the employees who are more than happy to assist you.
Get your photo with the famous town mascot, Captain Dildo
In the late 19th century, Dildo was the site of an early fish hatchery and later, a whaling port. Now it’s a go–to destination for visitors intrigued by its namesake — especially those who want a photo with the famous town mascot, Captain Dildo. It’s hard to say who is more famous, the good captain or Jimmy Kimmel — American late–night talk show host and also Dildo’s honourary mayor. He declared Dildo to be the sister city of Hollywood, and now there’s a Hollywood–style sign embedded in the hills over town. One of the best vantage points? Right from the waterfront patio of the local craft brewery.
Don’t forget to stop in Cavendish for a photo op of the rainbow of fishing sheds right on the beach.
While here, hop onboard one of Dildo’s boat tour operators and look for whales and icebergs. You might even try your hand at cod jigging or scallop fishing. The entire coastline on this drive is dotted with historic fishing villages and dramatic rock formations, like the jagged peaks of Shag Rock jutting out of the ocean in Whiteway — and don’t forget to stop in Cavendish for a photo op of the rainbow of fishing sheds right on the beach.
Visit the Heart’s Content Cable Station Provincial Historic Site where the first successful transatlantic cable landed.
Where both Trinity and Conception Bay meet, you’re bound to stumble upon more than a few lovely places: Cupids, Heart’s Content, Heart’s Desire, and Heart’s Delight will no doubt have your own heart skipping a beat. The Cable Station in Heart’s Content, once a major relay point for transatlantic telegraph messages, is now a Provincial Historic Site, complete with much of the original equipment. The first successful transatlantic cable landed here in 1866. You may feel inspired to stretch your legs on the Mizzen Trail, an easy two–kilometre trail around Mizzen Pond. Slightly further down the coast, you will come across the iconic red and white spirals of the Heart’s Content Lighthouse. The lighthouse, along with the Cable Station, was a significant stepping stone in the community’s fishing history. We may be biased, but it is picture perfect.
Explore the collection of colourful fishing stages on the water in the community of New Perlican.
Nearby, New Perlican has a collection of colourful fishing stages on the water. The community is home to artistic studios, offering unique pieces that draw inspiration from scenes of home, evoking nostalgia and telling a story of outport Newfoundland. Try participating in a workshop during your visit. Then it’s on to Winterton, where the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador will give you a chance to roll up your sleeves and learn how to build a traditional dory or punt, and learn about these vital components of our marine history.
Stop in Winterton, where the Boat Building Museum will give you a chance to roll up your sleeves and learn how to build a traditional dory or punt.
At Old Perlican, Route 80 merges into Route 70. The most north–westerly point of the peninsula is where you’ll find Grates Cove, which has a rather unusual National Historic Site — hundreds of rock walls built by farmers to keep roaming animals off their fields, dating back to 1790. Learn all about it on a guided walk.
Grates Cove is a hidden gem on this peninsula. A two–room converted schoolhouse is both a place to try some unique Cajun/Newfoundland and Labrador fusion foods and peruse the studio’s collection of woodworking, pottery, and printmaking art. Take to the ocean on a boat, or take it easy is a seaweed bath.
Visit Red Head Cove and take a stroll on the Baccalieu View Walking Trail.
On the Baccalieu View Walking Trail in Red Head Cove, the forest path gives way to views over Baccalieu Island. This imposing rocky island is home to an impressive number of seabirds, including 3–million pairs of Leech’s storm petrels — the largest nesting ground anywhere in the world for this species. Enjoy the cacophony of seabirds paired with an ever–changing landscape of ponds, meadows, and wildflowers. There’s also an interpretative display about the reserve in nearby Bay de Verde.
While in Bay de Verde, visit the Heritage Premises to learn about how fisher people once lived and worked in the area. The premises includes over 700 artifacts, a fish store and flake, a loft, and even a root cellar. Every summer, the Festival on the Wharf invites locals and spectators for music, food, and fun. Bay de Verde also hosts the renowned Festival of Quilts, celebrating the creativity and handiwork of local quilters. Peruse the quilt exhibitions — and stick around to see the competition for best “Small Wall Quilt.”
Pick up an Ugly Stick and join a traditional shed party with food tastings, local entertainment, and a storytelling session. Photo Credit: Vicki Meltzer.
In Blackhead, pick up an Ugly Stick and join a traditional shed party with food tastings, local entertainment, and a storytelling session (or two). Nearby, the heart–shaped beach of Salmon Cove Sands offers a stretch of fine sand framed by tall cliffs and a 2–kilometre hiking trail.
Walking through the Heritage Village in Victoria is taking a step back in time. Here, you will find staples such as a general store, school, railway station, salt–box house, and more. Before leaving though, be sure to check in on the barn housing the Newfoundland Ponies.
The quaint town of Carbonear is lined with historic buildings, like the Rorke Stores Museum and the Old Carbonear Post Office (now home to the Carbonear Heritage Society) with a central clock tower designed in the Second Empire style. A walking tour will help you get your bearings. Otherwise, take a stroll around this scenic town — you might even hear a live music session flowing from the Stone Jug.
This is pirate country, but it’s a romantic piracy. An Irish princess captured by pirate Peter Easton settled near here with one of Easton’s crew, Gilbert Pike, and lived happily ever after. Easton went on to infamy and fortune, while Princess Sheila NaGeira has inspired books, songs, and a stage production. The site of Easton’s old pirate fort is now a museum in Harbour Grace. You can also hike Pirate’s Path Trail for some of the best views over Harbour Grace Island and Carbonear Island — and keep your eyes trained on the horizon for the ghost of pirate ships past.
It was from Harbour Grace that Amelia Earhart set out on her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932.
Harbour Grace also played a role in pioneering aviation: it was from here that Amelia Earhart set out on her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. Though devastated by fire several times, the town still retains a wonderful inventory of historic buildings.
In Bay Roberts, drop by The Cable Building, a National Historic Site which houses the Road to Yesterday Museum and the Christopher Pratt Art Gallery. Then take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline through the original settlement’s meadows to Mad Rock on the Shoreline Heritage Walking Trail and watch the sea crash against the craggy coast. Fuel up at Baccalieu Trail Brewing — or head to The Newfoundland Distillery Company in nearby Clarke’s Beach if spirits are your preference.
Roughly 500 years ago the first European settlers found their way to the shores of the Port de Grave Peninsula, and it has remained a major working harbour to this day. After exploring the coast, consider observing the rich history in the Fisherman’s Museum or taking in the ocean views at the Green Point Lighthouse. If you happen to be in the area from early December to January, this quaint little town is also home to the famous boat lighting that runs annually.
The first official English colony in Canada was founded at Cupids by John Guy in 1610, and the site is now being excavated. Every summer, more is uncovered about the plantation at this Provincial Historic Site and the people who lived there. Join an interpreter for a guided tour of the artifacts and exhibits at the Legacy Centre, walk around the active archaeological dig site, or see what’s growing in the 17th century vegetable garden. You’re ought to be romanced by more than just the name of this place.
Take an easy stroll around Brigus to admire many charming old buildings.
Brigus was the birthplace of Captain Bob Bartlett, the ice pilot who guided Robert Peary to within striking distance of the North Pole in 1909. His home, Hawthorne Cottage, is now a National Historic Site, and the town retains much of its 19th–century character. Take an easy stroll around town to admire these charming old buildings, and make note of the unique stone walls lining the rivers. When you come to the Brigus Tunnel, walk through it. You’ll know what we mean.
Driving south of Brigus you will be able to explore the communities of Georgetown, Marysvale, Colliers, and Conception Harbour. In Conception Harbour, you will find the Perchance Theatre, an open–air venue inspired by early 17th–century London playhouses. There you will find some of the province’s best stage actors performing both traditional and tongue–in–cheek interpretations of Shakespeare.
You may think you are at the end of the Coastal Drive, or is it just the beginning again? We prefer to think it’s just another of the charming aspects of this road trip, so relax and take it all in.
Road Trip Tips:
Please check exact directions and road conditions before you start each road trip. Visit www.511nl.ca for current road conditions.
Distances are estimates and for guidance only. Routes can be taken as is or in reverse order.