Each community offers plenty of opportunity to engage with Indigenous culture and shop for handmade crafts and products.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay is the jumping-off point for the ferry service - passengers and limited amount of vehicles - to Northern Labrador. Each community along the way offers plenty of opportunity to engage with Indigenous culture, whether it’s embarking on a guided experience, learning about arts and culture, or shopping for handmade products at local craft stores. The boat journey itself offers awe-inspiring views. As the boat heads east on Lake Melville for several hours, the Mealy Mountains, where a protected caribou herd roams, rise along the lake’s wooded south shore. This may have been the place the Vikings called Markland.
The first port is Rigolet, which has Indigenous ties dating back thousands of years. The town also has a long history of fur trapping that continues today. It is also well known for the production of traditional crafts made from a special grass that grows in the area. If you’re staying awhile, walk the Seashore Boardwalk, North America’s longest boardwalk stretching over 8 kilometres. You’ll pass the archaeological excavation of three Inuit winter sod houses before eventually finding yourself at the top of Burnt Wood Point Hill with a perfect vantage point over all of Rigolet. After a short stop here, the boat heads east through Hamilton Inlet and turns north for the remote communities along the coast. Most communities along the north coast are now part of Nunatsiavut, the Labrador Inuit territory. The ancestors of Northern Labrador’s Indigenous residents hunted and fished here for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, moving with the seasons from camp to camp, following the caribou herds and living off the land and sea.
Walk the Seashore Boardwalk, North America’s longest boardwalk stretching over 8 kilometres.
Makkovik was first settled by Indigenous Peoples before European Settlers arrived. Eventually, the area attracted a Moravian mission. Now you can visit the White Elephant Museum, showcasing community scenes throughout the decades. Behind the White Elephant is the Poet’s Path winding through the Moravian Woods, with poetry-imprinted panels guiding the way.
Postville was established as a trading post known as Kaipokok in 1843, but its Indigenous history reaches back thousands of years. It’s home to one of the largest known Groswater Pre-Inuit sites in Labrador, including the remains of several dwelling structures. European Settlers arrived in Hopedale in the late 1700s.
Natuashish, the province’s newest community, is home to the Innu, who moved there from a nearby island in 2002. The Inuit community of Nain is the most northerly inhabited community on the Labrador coast, near a rich nickel deposit at Voisey’s Bay that is now being mined.
Nain is the headquarters for Torngat Mountains National Park. Here, the treeless tundra attracts naturalists and explorers alike. See the Attractions listings in the Labrador section of this guide for more information on getting to the park.
Visit the Illusuak Cultural Centre while in Nain, which brings the Labrador Inuit history to life.
While in Nain, visit the Illusuak Cultural Centre. Illusuak brings the Labrador Inuit history to life – you’ll have the opportunity to engage with culture through Inuktitut stories and songs, artwork, and natural landscape. Interactive displays allow you to understand the People's connection to the land and sea, taking you on a journey through an Inuk lens.
Be sure to book any excursions or guides well in advance. When travelling by Labrador Marine ferry, it's important to plan in advance. Schedules can vary. 1-866-535-2567 (within Newfoundland and Labrador) 1-709-535-0810 (outside the province) www.labradormarine.com.
Road Trip Tips:
Please check exact directions and road conditions before you start each road trip. Visit www.511nl.ca for current road conditions and ferry updates.
This road trip includes a community(s) accessible by ferry. Please visit www.tw.gov.nl.ca/ferryservices/schedules for routes and rates. Some ferries do permit vehicles, with a set limit for vehicle capacity; other ferries are passengers only (no vehicles accepted) so plan accordingly.
Distances are estimates and for guidance only. Routes can be taken as is, or in reverse order.