The Kittiwake Coast – Road to the Isles (172 km)

This tour takes you into the scenic reaches and islands of Notre Dame Bay. The Visitor Information Centre at Notre Dame Junction, near the intersection of Route 1 and Route 340, is a good place to start. Here you can obtain information on the ferries to Fogo Island and Change Islands, and find out where the icebergs are.

Notre Dame Provincial Park

Before taking Route 340, you can take a break at Notre Dame Provincial Park, just east of Notre Dame Junction on Route 1. It's a good spot for a picnic because there are two children's playgrounds and water sports. And in winter, the park offers cross-country skiing. The park is situated in a grove of birch and aspen and is a pleasant daytime or overnight stop.

Head back to Notre Dame Junction and drive to Lewisporte, 11 kilometres from Route 1

Lewisporte is named for Lewis Miller, an enterprising Scotsman who operated a logging company in central Newfoundland. It's a service town with a very suburban feel despite its location on the shores of Notre Dame Bay. From here you can catch the summer ferry to Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. When travelling by coastal boat or ferry it's always a good idea to plan everything in advance. Schedules can vary.

Lewisporte’s By the Bay Museum artifacts reflect life in earlier times and include Beothuk arrowheads. Among its most interesting displays are naval architecture plans from the 1805 era, including drawings for a yacht built for the Prince of Denmark and King George III's yacht, Royal Sovereign.

Just down the street from the museum is the Lewisporte Train Park & Hiking Trail with the biggest snowplow you'll probably see anywhere. It was attached to the front of the train for trips through exposed areas of the interior that were infamous for their deep snowdrifts.

The town's first settlers are commemorated on Main Street. Robert and Elizabeth Woolfrey moved from Moreton's Harbour in 1876 to establish a church and school here.

The town has a yacht club and a municipal park, with a boardwalk around Woolfrey's Pond and a lookout. During the first weekend in July the park hosts the annual Mussel Bed Soiree.

Visit Laurenceton at the end of Route 341

This farming community is opposite Phillip's Head on the other side of the Bay of Exploits and was another point in the coastal defence chain during World War II. Today, it's a very quiet community with some of the sweetest air you'll ever breathe.

While driving through Laurenceton area you'll notice firewood cut and stacked near the roads. Take a closer look. Many stacks are in unique patterns that are expressions of the personalities of their owners. The patterns are also identifiable marks of ownership.

Drive north along Route 342 and stop in to try some fresh lobster

North of Lewisporte, Route 342 leads through Embree and Mason's Cove to Little Burnt Bay. This is a good area, in season, to buy lobster.

Back on 340 to an ancient Beothuk coastal community

Back on Route 340, head east through Campbellton and along the coast of Indian Arm. There's a lookout at Indian Cove Neck where you can relax on a sandy beach or hunt the waters for mussels. This is a beautiful area in the fall when the leaves turn red, orange and yellow.

Route 343 takes you up a little peninsula to the farming community of Comfort Cove, which also has a small bird sanctuary.

Returning to Route 340, you'll soon arrive at Boyd's Cove. This was the site of a major Beothuk encampment and is now the location of the Boyd's Cove Beothuk Interpretation Centre. Excavation at the site has shed new light on this tribe. Boyd's Cove was a major Beothuk coastal community between 1650 and 1720, a time when few Europeans ventured onto this part of the Newfoundland coast.

The centre has three main elements: the visitor centre, the archaeological site and a connecting trail system. The centre has displays that focus on Beothuk cultural history. Its circular architecture recalls shapes traditionally found in Beothuk construction. The trail takes visitors along the perimeter of the archaeological site. Interpretive signage along the trail illustrates the key resources in this region of the province.

Continue on Route 340 to Twillingate

After leaving Boyd's Cove you continue on Route 340 and take the first of four causeways that connect Chapel Island, New World Island and Twillingate Island to the "mainland" of Notre Dame Bay. Dildo Run Provincial Park is centrally located for campers exploring this area, and its sheltered, shallow waters are ideal for kayaking.

The Twillingate area is where the Slades, Nobles, Earles and Duders, merchants from Poole, England, established trade in the mid 1700s. Once the hub of the lucrative fishery in this part of Notre Dame Bay, Twillingate was so prosperous it had its own newspaper, ‘The Twillingate Sun,' and a championship cricket team.

Twillingate's most famous resident was opera singer Georgina Stirling. In the late 1800s, Miss Stirling, who was known professionally as Marie Toulinguet, won acclaim for her performances at the Paris Opera and La Scala, in Milan. Unfortunately her concert career was tragically cut short by voice failure and she returned to Newfoundland to live out her days in her hometown. She is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery.

The stories of Twillingate are told in the Twillingate Museum in the former Anglican Rectory. Parts of this fine old home have been restored to illustrate an upper class residence at the turn of the century. One of the museum's exhibits is a remarkably preserved 120-year-old child's tea set. There are also a sealing display and a collection of Maritime Archaic Indian artifacts.

Twillingate Island has some excellent hiking trails. Most are easy to moderate walks and take the hiker to hidden coves, to the highest point of the island for a great view of the area, and along the coast. The rock formations have such colourful names as Gorilla Face and Cobra Snake.

Twillingate and New World Island host the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival which highlights some of the best West Country English dance, song, recitation and music. Held every July, the festival also features crafts, baked goods, traditional Newfoundland dishes such as fish and brewis, picnics and an energetic party spirit. A lively dinner theatre with distinct local colour is held in Crow Head every summer.

The nearby Long Point Lighthouse, built in 1876, is one of the best places in Newfoundland to see icebergs. Built on a bluff, it overlooks the outer reaches of Notre Dame Bay. You may also catch a glimpse of the whales that spend their summers feeding along the coast.

The cold Labrador Current funnels icebergs into Notre Dame Bay through what is known as Iceberg Alley, and on a clear day you can see icebergs many kilometres away. Of course, the best way to see an iceberg is up close, and Twillingate has a few tour boat companies that offer this service, and the town bills itself as the Iceberg Capital of the World. There's a better chance of seeing bergs here than most places because of the area's location.

Durrell, near Twillingate

A much-photographed community near Twillingate is Durrell. This fishing village seems frozen in time with narrow lanes winding close to rough spruce wharves. The Durrell Museum & Crafts, a community museum, is located in the former armory.

As you drive, you'll probably see street signs with names like Pride's Drong. Also pronounced “drung” and “drang,” this word has survived in English over a thousand years, although its meaning has changed from meaning crowd (throng) to narrow lane. The Twillingate area is a great place to explore on foot. The town has an interesting collection of older buildings, including the Sons of United Fishermen (SUF) and Orange Association halls.

Detour to Moreton's Harbour

Heading back on Route 304, take a detour to Moreton's Harbour on Route 345. Visit the Moreton's Harbour Women's Institute Community Museum. Once a thriving commercial centre, now Moreton's Harbour is a quiet village. High, forested hills tower over the town. Inside the museum are relics from the town's heyday as a fish-shipping centre. There are stencils with the names of the markets – Trinidad, Jamaica, Puerto Rico – and the products, such as mackerel fillets.

The town's connection to the sea is still alive. The Moreton's Harbour Marina has shower and laundry facilities for those who arrive by yacht.