Newfoundland Road Trips: Guide to the Kittiwake Coast
The Kittiwake Coast is a part of coastal Newfoundland that runs roughly from Terra Nova National Park to Lewisporte, divided up into three scenic driving routes: The Road to the Isles, The Road to the Beaches, and the Road to the Shore. It’s the latter that I explored this summer, travelling Rte 320 and part of Rte 330 from Gambo to Carmanville.
I admit, I mainly went to check out the beaches that I’d heard about. I’ve already been to the beaches in Eastport, Sandbanks Provincial Park in Burgeo, and Salmon Cove Sands on the Baccalieu Trail. How would the Kittiwake Coast stack up? It’s definitely something you need to experience for yourself.
The Kittiwake Coast – Road to the Shore is a horseshoe shaped drive with endpoints roughly 3 hours and 3.5 hours from St. John’s. You can either start in Gander on the western edge and drive clockwise ending at Gambo, or you can reverse it. Each is just as good as the next.
While it’s possible to get from St. John’s to Lumsden twice weekly with Bonavista North Transportation (1-709-536-5584 – $65) you won’t be able to fully explore the Kittiwake Coast without your own vehicle.
Where to Stay
This is where I stayed on the Kittiwake Coast and I highly recommend it. Owners, John and Ruth, will make you feel right at home. Rooms are reasonably priced and include a delicious breakfast. While it doesn’t have an ocean view, the location is convenient for dining options and other attractions.
If you want to stay a bit closer to Terra Nova National Park, the Freshwater Inn in Gambo is a good choice. The three room inn features vaulted ceilings, clawfoot tubs, and a three course breakfast in the morning and all for $135/night.
If you’re travelling with friends or otherwise just like to have a whole place to yourselves, check out The Old Saltbox Co., which has vacation rentals in both Greenspond and Musgrave Harbour (as well as other locations on the island). My favourite thing about them, other than the affordable price ($165/night) is how the interiors have been given modern touches, while the exterior remains traditional, though large picture windows have been installed to show off the gorgeous views.
Where to Eat + Drink
Norton’s Cove Cafe is one of the newest editions to Newfoundland foodie scene. They have some of the best scenery around, a gorgeous interior and serve up hearty, tasty dishes. And can we talk about how they call the cup of tea my nan used to make, a “Bay Mug”? Tetley tea bag, boiling water, milk, and sugar.
Formerly the Kittiwake Kitchen, the Scott & Swig has a cabin chic interior and serves up big portions of delicious food. I recommend the burgers but save room for one of their Instagrammable milkshakes or a “scuffle”, a waffle topped high with treats.
Oceanview Bakery & Take Out – Musgrave Harbour
The further up the coast you go, the more sparse the restaurants are. Oceanview Bakery and Take Out is a good spot to fill your belly after a day on the beach. You can get an ice cream or homemade baked treats, or sit down in the dining room for a full meal. Try the fish & brewis.
A curious mix of general store, art gallery, and restaurant, Cashin’s Chestnut Tree Cafe was an unexpected find on the Kittiwake Coast. It’s the perfect spot for breakfast before starting your trip up the coast. Hearty and healthy and home-y.
After walking the Greenspond Walking Trail, stop at Ida’s Place for a cup of tea and a scone. They only serve desserts here but that’s all you really need, right? I highly recommend the Newfoundland blueberry tea.
What to Do
Have a Beach Day
Newfoundland isn’t known for its beaches but we do have a few sandy gems and a couple of the best are on the Kittiwake Coast. You’ll have to keep in mind that these are North Atlantic ocean beaches so swimming may still be only for the brave and hearty. But you can still sink your toes into the sand at either Musgrave Harbour, Deadman’s Bay, or Lumsden beaches.
Take a guided tour of the restored heritage buildings owned by the Barbours, a prominent Newtown merchant family. See the unique mirrored house, the beautiful Alphaeus Barbour house, and learn about life aboard a sealing schooner.
Go for a Walk
Exploring walking and hiking trails is one of my favourite things to in Newfoundland and the Kittiwake Coast has some great option. If you want to take it easy, Greenspond has a walking trail that covers most of the island. There are no big hills and lots of boardwalk. Another option for easy, but wooded trails (bring your bug repellant) is the network of trails by the Carmanville Wetland Interpretation Centre. Finally, for a bit more of an excursion, head to Cape Freels and explore the 5km of the Cape Island Walking Trail.
Shop for Art at Norton’s Cove Studio
No trip is complete without a souvenir and some of my favourite souvenirs are local art. At Norton’s Cove Studio you’ll find a plethora of prints by Janet Davis as well as other local artists. I bet you can’t leave with just one!
Joey Smallwood Centre & Joey’s Lookout
Named for the province’s Father of Confederation, former Premier Joseph R. Smallwood, who was born at Gambo, Joey’s Lookout in Gambo provides a picturesque view of the town and the surrounding area. Perfect selfie spot. While you’re in Gambo, stop by the Joey Smallwood Centre to learn more about our first premier.
Straddle America and Europe
In the small town of Dover, you can see the spot where the rocks that form North America and the rocks that form Europe once collided. On top of being educational, it’s also a great lookout.
It may be small but Washed Ashore in Trinity is packed with treasures. They also sell coffee and cookies and it’s worth a stop for the chocolate chip cookies alone.
Run by the Building Bridges Youth Theatre Group, Karma Kafe and Find Junque is a mix of coffee shop and second hand shop where you never know what you’re going to find.
Step back in time in this historic building built in 1910 by Sir William Coaker. The museum displays an array of artifacts relating to the shing industry, and a distinctive outside mural unfolds the past to present fishing traditions.