Looking for attractions and travel ideas near the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve?
With the best Newfoundland provincial parks, lighthouses, and World UNESCO sites all within a one-hour radius, it’s easy to see that sunrise, experience the oldest fossils on the planet, or take in your favourite activity, be it kayaking, surfing, hiking the east coast trail, checking out the beaches and sandbanks, or enjoying some bubbling bliss in one of the outdoor whale house hot tubs. Whatever you choose, we just want you to be happy.
Hungry for a lighthouse? Or maybe you’re so hungry you could eat a meal the size of a lighthouse. Either way, Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland offers one of the most unique outdoor dining experiences in Newfoundland. Enjoy a professional picnic served on a grass-covered hill with a lighthouse overlooking the ocean.
Book your picnic, show up, grab a blanket, find a spot to relax, and then before you know it your picnic basket will show up. This lighthouse picnic offers fantastic food that’s healthy, tasty, traditional, and guaranteed to please even the most discerning of foodies.
Chose items from the Lighthouse Picnic menu and customize your picnic basket the way you want. Find out what others are saying about Lighthouse Picnics and discover an experience you can’t find anywhere else.
Cape Race Lighthouse
If you want to visit one of the most important working lighthouses in Newfoundland, Cape Race Lighthouse is about 100 km south of Whale House and is located near the Mistaken Point World UNESCO site near the town of Portugal Cove South.
This working Newfoundland lighthouse not only offers a stunning backdrop but the drive to the lighthouse itself boasts amazing views of the open Atlantic, often with large breaking waves. This lighthouse is always on, flashing a single white light every 7.5 seconds.
LIGHTHOUSE PRO TIP: Beware if you show up at the lighthouse on a foggy day because the fog horn at this lighthouse is very loud. Since the Cape Race Lighthouse is next to one of the busiest marine shipping lanes in Canada, the foghorn at the lighthouse may sound up to twice per minute when visibility is poor.
Bay Bulls Lighthouse
The Bay Bulls lighthouse is only accessible by an East Coast Trail path. The trail to the lighthouse is an ideal way to incorporate an adventure on the East Coast Trail with a visit to one of Newfoundland’s most iconic Lighthouses. The path to the Bay Bulls Lighthouse is approximately 3.5 km each way, so be sure to set aside a morning or an afternoon for your adventure. Although the Bay Bulls lighthouse is located on the Spout Trail section of the East Coast Trail path, which is rated as difficult, this actual section between Bay Bulls and the lighthouse offers relatively easy hiking in favorable weather conditions.
La Manche Provincial Park
The closest Provincial Park to the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve, La Manche Provincial Park is also the most developed, offering everything from fully serviced RV lots and dumping stations to tent camping sites. Here you will find a sheltered lake suitable for swimming, shower facilities, a staffed gated entrance, and everything else you would expect to find at a larger Canadian Provincial Park.
This Provincial Park in Newfoundland is popular with families and those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of St. John’s during the summer months.
LA MANCHE PROVINCIAL PARK BONUS TIP: If you haven't visited the suspension bridge near La Manche Provincial Park, you should. The suspension bridge is located just outside the Provincial Park right on the East Coast Trail. Find out more about the suspension bridge and why it's on our list of Top 10 East Coast Trail Hikes
Chance Cove Provincial Park
If you’re looking to venture more off the beaten path, Chance Cove Provincial Park might be perfect for you.
This park is more remote, located just over an hour south of the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve. There are no amenities and the park is not staffed but as soon as you arrive at the beach you’ll know you’re in a special spot.
Exposed to big southern swell and home to migratory birds and marine mammals, Chance Cove Provincial Park has a raw feeling you just can’t explain in words. On a less than perfect day and during the shoulder season, you may not see anyone else during your visit. With stunning views and coastal trails, this Newfoundland provincial park is perfect for those seeking to get off the beaten path.
FUN FACT: Did you know Chance Cove Provincial Park was once a small settlement in the 1850s and is littered with shipwrecks?
Mistaken Point World Unesco Site
The Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is home to some of the oldest fossils on the planet. If you’re a geologist or are into fossils (and even if you’re not) you most likely already know about the Mistaken Point World UNESCO site (and if you don’t you should).
This place has fossils that are 565 million years old. Check out some of the oldest fossils of multicellular life found anywhere on our planet. The Edge of the Avalon Interpretive Center offers fully guides tours of the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and is the best way to experience this special UNESCO site.
If you like coffee this is the best place for miles to get one. It’s also the only place for miles to get a coffee and is located next to the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve. Not only is the Fossil Cafe a great place to grab a good old fashioned cup of joe, you’ll also be able to fuel up with a sandwich or muffin and find basic provisions at the attached corner store.
PRO TIP: Be sure to fuel up your car before driving down to check out the Fossils at Mistaken Point. It's best to leave Witless Bay with a full tank, however, there are smaller gas stations in Cape Broyle and Trepassey but their service hours are limited. It's easy to miscalculate and run out of gas, especially late in the day.
Explore the Coastline on A Kayak or Paddleboard
Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard Heaven
If you’re a recreational kayaker or stand up paddleboarder, the protected coastlines of Tors Cove and Ferryland offer some great ocean paddling in and around islands. If you’re not an experienced ocean paddler, kayaking and paddleboarding on Tors Cove Pond is a more relaxed warmer water kayaking and paddleboarding experience during the summer months.
Tors Cove pond also has several islands to explore, so don’t feel you need to go on the ocean if your goal is to kayak or paddleboard to an island.
Are you unfamiliar with Tors Cove Pond? Find out about secret beaches and where the best freshwater paddling is hidden in our Tors Cove Pond article.
Are you looking for Whitewater Kayaking in Newfoundland? Check out our article on Newfoundland Whitewater Kayaking
Sandbanks, Sand Dunes, and Sandy Beaches
Need a sandy beach? Witless Bay is great in a pinch during low tide for a sandy beach feeling, but if you’re looking for big sandbanks, sand dunes, and more sandy beach than you can reasonably explore in a day, incorporate your next trip to Cape St. Mary’s with a beach afternoon at Point Lance.
This community on the southern tip of Newfoundland is little known and has one of the best sandy beaches around. It’s not unheard of to have the entire beach to yourself, and the scenery along the way is outstanding.