The Irish Loop & Cape Shore

Taking in the lower half of the Avalon Peninsula, the Irish Loop and Cape Shore routes bring you from St. John's to Trepassey, Cape St. Mary's, and Placentia. A rich history and invigorating coastline make for a journey full of opportunities to see whales and birds, and to experience the Irish culture.

Day 1 - Driving the Irish Loop

The Irish Loop, named for the area's dominant ancestry, starts in St. John's and heads south on Route 10. It travels through quaint outports, beside roaring shorelines, and provides opportunities to sail away in search of whales, seabirds, and icebergs. Try a boat tour to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve where you'll see puffins nesting on small rocky islands, and where humpback and minke whales are regulars.

In Ferryland, an archaeological dig continues to uncover the remains of the Colony of Avalon, founded by Lord Baltimore in 1621. Take a 25-minute hike across The Gaze to Lighthouse Picnics. Recline on a soft blanket beneath a gorgeous lighthouse while enjoying lunch and a refreshing jar of lemonade. Keep an eye out for the whales that like to visit along the shore. Retire to a warm and comfortable accommodation for the night.

Day 2 - Ancient Fossils & Radio Transmissions

Drop by the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South to learn about Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the oldest fossils on earth, dating back 579 million years.

Drive 21 km east on the gravel road to Cape Race, where the Marconi station picked up and retransmitted the distress signal from the RMS Titanic in 1912. See how the station, 350 miles from the tragedy, played an important role in the rescue of survivors and discover the story of 14-year-old Jimmy Myrick, the first person to hear Titanic's distress signal.

Day 3 - Seabirds & French History

North and then south again on Routes 10, 90, 91, and 92 to 100. Take a side road to a real treat: Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, the most accessible seabird colony in North America. A wonderland for birdwatchers and explorers alike, you'll gaze upon thousands of northern gannets nesting atop a 200-foot-high sea stack, while smaller numbers of razorbills, common murres, and black-legged kittiwakes nest on shallow cliff ledges.

Back on Route 100, go north to Placentia, the old French capital, and Castle Hill National Historic Site. The site features the remains of French and English fortifications from the 17th and 18th centuries. The view across the bay to current-day Placentia is magnificent.