WHERE TO GO
Newfoundland is about the size of Tennessee, and 95 percent of it is public land—in other words, there's a lot of terrain to cover. Plan to limit your travels to one or two portions of the island.
We concentrated on the Eastern Region, which is easily accessible from the East Coast of the United States and offers both wilderness and the comforts of village life. Many vacationers head west to 446,000-acre Gros Morne National Park. Visitors can hike through rock formations resulting from tectonic upheaval—chunks of the earth's inner core thrust up to the surface—and over cliffs marked with pillow lava, hardened remnants of molten rock from beneath the ocean floor. The Department of Tourism's Web site (www.gov.nf.ca/tourism) and free guidebook (available through the site) can lead you to numerous well-priced package deals.
WHEN TO GO
We scheduled our trip for late August, hoping for warm, dry weather (even in summer Newfoundland is unpredictable—don't forget to pack warm clothes). We had success on that front: there were a couple of overnight storms but not one day of rain. However, if you want to see icebergs, whales, and dolphins, head to the eastern coast in spring or early summer. An ecosystem of small plants and fish develops in the fresh water of melting icebergs; this, in turn, attracts larger sea animals.
HOW TO GET THERE
No direct flights go to Newfoundland from the United States, but you can connect from any major Canadian city. (We arrived in St. John's via Halifax, and returned via Toronto—the latter the more direct route.) From St. John's you can fly to the island's remote areas, such as the town of Deer Lake for visiting Gros Morne National Park. Ferry service, with car transport, is also available from North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Though there are buses and ferries between towns, service can be limited. To cover ground you'll want to rent a car at the airport.
ST. JOHN'S AND VICINITY
Bonne Esperance House Spacious, nondescript accommodations in adjoining Victorian town houses. suites from $100, including breakfast. 20 Gower St.; 709/726-3835
Duck Street Bistro A departure from the standard fish-and-chips: pork tenderloin with wild-berry port sauce, fudge cake with warm chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream. dinner for four $65. 250-252 Duckworth St.; 709/753-0400
Newfoundland Coastal Safari Offers three-, five-, and seven-day excursions from Harbour Mille, June through September. $200 per person, double, for three days; 877/888-3020; www.coastalsafari.com
Campbell House An 1840's building on a hill by the bay with two guest rooms. We stayed in one of two cottages equipped with a television, VCR, and children's videos. Cottages have kitchens, but for an extra fee you can partake in the sumptuous breakfast for guests in the main house. cottages from $150. High St.; 877/464-7700 or 709/464-3377; www.trinityvacations.com
Artisan Inn Recently bought and restored by the owner of the next-door Campbell House, this restaurant was our favorite. You need to reserve for the five-course dinner by candlelight. The night we were there, we ate salmon mousse, potato leek soup, fresh cod, salad, and blueberry tart. dinner for four $78. High St.; 877/464-7700; www.artisaninn.com
Rising Tide Theatre Presents plays, dinner theater, concerts, and outdoor pageants daily from June through September. Warning: The shows often sell out—many visitors come to town just to see them. Trinity Arts Centre; 888/464-3377; www.risingtidetheatre.com