In late August, I was invited to spend a few days exploring Newfoundland with GMC Canada. We took the all-new 2019 Sierra Denali and AT4 to Heart's Delight and Harbour Grace for a Zodiac boat trip, travelled to Petty Harbour and Bay Bulls to fish for cod and ate breakfast at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. Here are a handful of ocean-based adventures you should seek out on your next trip east.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Harbour Grace & Heart's Delight

Located some 100-km northwest of St John’s, Harbour Grace is a town in Conception Bay on the Avalon Peninsula. Dotted with colourful ocean-side houses, Harbour Grace is as picturesque as it is historic.

Founded in 1517, Harbour Grace is one of the oldest towns in North America. By the late 1500s, it was a booming fishing port. Today, the surrounding area feels sleepy, but content.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

We get out on the water with Ocean Quest in search of whales. Flocks of seabirds circle the waves, fishing for their lunch. Just as we’re about to give up on an orca sighting and turn back for our own lunch, I spot a spout and a smooth, grey back breaching the surface only a couple metres away. I scream and point at the large, silky creature, which is already slipping back under the waves. I'm not fast enough to get a photo.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Back on land, we meet renowned chef Jeremy Charles for a feast of local ingredients: scallops, oysters and edible flowers are on the menu, alongside octopus and prawns. The seafood is as fresh as possible, plucked from the ocean by divers only moments before.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Petty Harbour & Bay Bulls

The next day, we travel south to Petty Harbour in Maddox Cove for a fishing adventure.

Newfoundland has a complex relationship with cod. After hundreds of years of active fishing, a moratorium was imposed in 1992. Today, tourism companies can take visitors on fishing excursions—and they can even guarantee everyone will catch something.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

On the water with Fishing for Success, we get our first bite in mere minutes. Matt pulls an eight-pound cod on board. The fish are definitely biting—we all get our catch before my seasickness sets in and causes us to turn around.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

A few hours and motion sickness prevention pills later, we’re on the water again. This time, we’re taking off with Gatheralls on a whale-watching and puffin-spotting cruise.

We chug through the icy Atlantic towards an island brimming with seabirds. Puffins pop in and out of their underground nests as hungry seagulls squawk overhead. Our guide explains that puffins are known locally as PPF (Piss-Poor Flyers). The black-and-white birds with clown-like beaks struggle to take off from the water, bulging bellies weighing them down.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

We head back to land as the sun begins to set. To cap off our weekend adventure, we dine on steak and our freshly caught cod on the beach in Bay Bulls. I warm up next to a blazing bonfire and watch the waves lap against the cliffs. I feel that in this province, everything is connected: nature, the ocean, food, even us.

photoBrayden Hall

If you go...

Stay:

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

I bounced between the boutique hotel JAG and the Sheraton. Both are nice and centrally located, ideal for exploring St John’s.

Eat:

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Head to Quidi Vidi Village and dine at Mallard Cottage or eat at chef Jeremy Charles' restaurant The Merchant Tavern in downtown St John's.

Drive:

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

It’s difficult to travel Newfoundland by public transit, so you’ll want to rent a vehicle. We were lucky enough to be some of the first media to test-drive the all-new Sierra and AT4. We even got the tires a little muddy on some off-road trails!

 

Disclaimer: this article includes activities provided on a press trip through GMC Canada. All opinions are my own.

Craving more Newfoundland?

Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.