Regardless of the place you’re coming from, odds are Newfoundland and Labrador will be one of the friendliest places you’ve ever visited. Locals want to get to know you, and often times will want to know everything about you. Newfoundlanders are well known for their hospitality, kindness, and open attitude. It’s common to just walk into your neighbor’s house without knocking, and speaking your mind is the norm. Feel at home, say how you feel, and enjoy hanging out with the locals. After all, it’s the people that make the place isn’t it?
2: Cozy Sweater
The Climate in Newfoundland is mild and comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. Winter is temperate, and summer is comfortable, perfect for exploring the coastline, marine ecological reserve, capital city, and national park – all big attractions for anyone visiting this historical Province. If you’re coming in mid summer, and especially if you’re escaping a a heat wave in your home town, it’s easy to overlook packing a few extra items to keep you warm and comfortable. Nothing like having your favorite sweater or comfortable hoodie to slip on at a bonfire or something to keep you warm during a whale watching adventure.
3: Rain Jacket
In Newfoundland there’s an old saying: “If you don’t like the weather when you go out the front door, come back inside and go out the back door”. In other words, that’s how fast the weather can change around here. Because the Jet Stream is always over Newfoundland (or slightly to the North or South depending on the day and time of year) weather conditions can change at a moment’s notice. What that means is you can literally experience all four seasons in one day. The same thing happened to us last summer during our East Coast Trail hike from Lamanche Provincial Park to Tinker’s Point. We started in the morning with no wind and sunny sky changing to wind and rain by lunchtime. As evening approached it started to hail, then it became foggy for an hour followed by clear sky and an incredible wind free evening beside a community outdoor fire complete with fish on the BBQ and a meteor shower in the background. Long story short, be sure to pack a jacket. You’re guaranteed to use it at least once during your trip.
Do your like seafood and fresh veggies grown in local coastal gardens? Interested in trying some local cuisine like sea duck, wild mushroom soup, and mustard greens? Are you curious to try the world’s best fish and chip’s? If so, be sure to loosen your belt. Local food and drink is a highlight of any Newfoundland vacation, and there’s no shortage of new things to try during your stay, with options from vegan to ketogenic available everywhere. Grab a moose burger, sample local kombutcha (See the The St. John’s Fermentary) at the farmer’s market, wake up to locally roasted coffee, and make room for Jigg’s Dinner on Sunday. Are you hungry yet?
During your trip to Newfoundland you’re going to see things you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Take icebergs for example. Where else can you see them? Unless you’re from Greenland or Antarctica, icebergs are rare, but in Newfoundland it’s commonplace to see 20,000 year-old skyscraper sized chunks of ice float by your window during iceberg season. Same thing goes for other things like the thousands of whales that visit our coastal waters every year to feed and have babies, or the 35 million seabirds that make the marine ecological reserves into their summer home every year.
Advice you’ve heard from every mother on the planet holds particularly true for Newfoundland and Labrador. Bringing a comfortable pair of shoes is quintessential. Even if you’re not a big hiker or don’t plan on doing much walking, you’ll be much happier if you bring a pair of sturdy hikers instead of a pair of flip-flops or old sneakers. Even if you’re limiting your walking to museums like The Rooms in St. John’s or quick adventures to Wold UNESCO Sites like Mistaken Point or Tableland Mountains lookout, the ground can be uneven and weather can change at a moment’s notice. Keep yourself safe and comfortable with a sturdy pair of shoes.
If a headlamp isn’t a standard piece of gear you take with you already, be sure to bring one with you on this trip. Need a little extra light walking back to your room after watching the sunset? Want to sit up and read for a bit without disturbing your travel partner? Need to find something deep in your backpack but cant see what you’re looking for? Inexpensive, small, and lightweight, a headlamp will make any adventure better.
Regardless of if you’re a light packer or travel with everything including the kitchen sink (we’re not judging) it’s a good idea to pack a small daypack with you, a small backpack that can fit your camera, water bottle, sweater, headlamp, and book. This will let your take a few thing’s with you during your day trips without feeling weighed down.
9: Dry Bag
Nothing worse than dunking electronics into water, especially salt water, which will almost always ruin any electronic. Having a small waterproof bag or box (something a little more reliable than a zipper lock baggie) can save your phone, camera, and gadget’s from sea spay while spotting Humpback Whales on your whale watching adventure or prevent your phone from being damaged from rain or dropping it in a puddle while on an East Coast Trail adventure.
If you don’t know where you are and don’t know where you’re going, all roads lead to your destination. For all other time, a map is a great way to plan out your day trips. Newfoundland Tourism produces a great free map you can use to navigate your way around the Province and the East Coast Trail Association offers an up-to-date trail map that’s waterproof and a must have for anyone planning an excursion to the East Coast Trail. These maps offer everything from hiking times to points of interest and emergency numbers. Even if you’re a live-in-the-moment type of person, a little bit of planning will go a long way.
Whale House Guest House offers luxury boutique private suites with outdoor hot tubs overlooking humpback whale feeding grounds. Located next to the east coast trail in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, just 30 min from downtown St. John’s.