Newfoundland Road Trips: Guide to Twillingate
If you only have limited time in Newfoundland but still want to experience as much as you can, then head to Twillingate. The communities spread out over the New World Islands are like Newfoundland condensed. They have breathtaking coastal landscapes, icebergs, whales, fishing, theatre, hiking, good food, and even a new craft brewery. Really, what more could you want?
I spent some time in Twillingate the other year and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I even had some semi-serious real estate thoughts when I found a cute little affordable house in Crow Head with a view of the ocean. The scenery, the people, and the relaxed way of life certainly have an appeal that you can see after just a few days. I think Twillingate should be on your Newfoundland bucket list so I’ve put together a guide to help you plan your next trip.
Keep in mind that many businesses are seasonal and will only be open between May and October so it’s best to check with them directly if you’re visiting outside of those months.
Where is Twillingate?
Twillingate is a town of 2200 people located on a series of islands in Notre Dame Bay on the northern coast in Central Newfoundland. You may recognize the name from the lyrics of the popular folk song, I’se the B’y as part of the Fogo-Twilling-Morton’s Harbour circle of towns.
How to get to Twillingate?
Twillingate is an approximate 5 hour drive from the capital of St. John’s or a 4.5 hour drive from Gros Morne National Park. In order to visit Twillingate you’ll ultimately want your own vehicle. While it’s possible to get there from Gander with the Central Express shuttle (1-709-422-2647) you won’t be able to fully explore the area without private transportation.
Be sure to book your rental early if visiting in the summer as supply is limited and gets booked early.
Where to Stay in Twillingate
There is a grand total of one hotel, one motel, and one hostel in Twillingate. But there are over 20 B&Bs and over 20 cottages available. During the high season it’s not uncommon for things to get booked up so be sure to plan your trip early.
Many of the 22 spacious rooms at this 4-star hotel offer great ocean views and all are tastefully decorated with full hotel amenities. Also, between Georgie’s Restaurant and Blue Barrel Cafe on site you’ll be well fed.
North 99 Motel has 4 brand new rooms to accommodate you. They make the most out of a small space by including a queen size murphy bed, which tucks away during the day when you may want more floor space. They also have a bar and pub on site.
This is one of the few hostels in Newfoundland and is a cute, budget-friendly, relaxing option. Housed in a traditional Saltbox home, Hi Tides has one 4-bed dorm and 3 private rooms. They have a communal kitchen, beachfront fire pit, instruments to borrow, along with free wifi.
If you’re looking for a B&B, there’s an embarrassment of riches in Twillingate and the Sunshine Inn is one of the stars. There are 5 rooms with ensuites, each with Newfoundland made spa products and crowned with a colourful traditional Newfoundland quilt.
Where to Eat in Twillingate
Open for breakfast and evening meals, Georgie’s is a great casual dining option known for their seafood and traditional Newfoundland dishes with a modern twist. It’s the perfect end of day meal location if you’re staying at the Anchor Inn.
If you’re looking for fresh, upscale dining in Twillingate, look no further than Canvas Cove Bistro. Their menu includes local fresh catch seafood dishes, vegetarian options, soups, salads, sandwiches, and daily house-baked desserts you can enjoy on their ocean-view panoramic deck.
If coffee and the most delicious chocolate chip cookies are what you’re craving, head north to Crow Head and the Crow’s Nest Cafe. It’s tiny but cozy with stunning views. If the weather is nice, enjoy your coffee on their deck.
R&J is a popular family restaurant serving everything from soups, salads, and wraps to burgers, fried chicken, and pork chops. You’re guaranteed to find something to please everyone in your group.
Twillingate is a town with views that just won’t quit and Annie’s is another restaurant that takes full advantage of this with large windows. If you’re looking for a lobster dinner, or any other manner of seafood, this is the spot.
Things to Do in Twillingate
Beer Tasting at Split Rock Brewing Co.
Split Rock Brewing has just celebrated their first anniversary of pouring up craft pints in Twillingate. Come for Beers & Bingo on Tuesday nights and get a flight to sample and meet your new favourite brew.
Wine Tasting at Auk Island
Newfoundland is loving beer lately but before all that we enjoyed a tipple of berry wine. Auk Island Winery provides wine tours between May and September where you can sample the many different kinds of wines they produce. I personally recommend Fifty Shades of Bay.
Whale & Iceberg Watching
Twillingate is arguably the iceberg capital of Newfoundland so it behooves you to get yourself on a boat with a company like Iceberg Quest to get a closer look at the ice beauties if they’re in season. If you’ve missed the icebergs, whales hang out in the area right up until the fall. Even if you see nothing, a day on the water is a classic Newfoundland experience you should have.
Dinner and a Show
If you’re in town between the end of May and mid-September, then put the Twillingate-New World Island dinner theatre on your To Do list. What more can you ask for than a delicious meal follow by an entertaining evening of songs and skits? It’s a classic for a reason.
Take a Hike
Twillingate has so many dreamy coastal landscapes so you know it also has great hiking trails to help you take in those views. Whether it’s the Lower Head trail that leaves from the Long Point Lighthouse or one of the two trails through Spiller’s Cove or one of the countless other trails and walking paths in the area your little hiking heart will be happy.
Each fall Twillingate hosts Unscripted, a digital arts festival where you can learn all about photography, podcasting, filmmaking, and more as well as taking part in culinary and cultural activities. It’s the perfect reason to visit in the shoulder season.
If you want a boat tour that’s a bit more active than whale and iceberg watching, a fishing tour might be what you’re looking for. Companies like Captain Dave’s will take you out on the water where you can try your hand at catching the king of all Newfoundland fish, cod.
Count the Root Cellars
Before refrigeration was common in homes, people would keep their food chilled in root cellars and store their root vegetables over the winter. They’re small rooms typically built partially underground. You may think the little doors in the hillside remind you of Hobbit holes. While Elliston claims to be the root cellar capital, Twillingate has more than it’s fair share and it can make for a fun day of exploring trying to find them all.
Learn about the Beothuks
Prior to Europeans landing in Newfoundland, the Beothuks lived and loved here. The story of this now extinct indigenous group isn’t an easy one but you should take some time, visit the Beothuk Interpretation Centre in Boyd’s Cove and learn about their culture and traditions.
Tea and Toutons with the Split Peas
If you want to heard from trad tunes, have a little singalong and a few laughs, check out the Split Peas between mid-June and the end of August. Thee seven women have performed across Newfoundland and beyond over the past 25 years. Be sure to get yourself a cup of tea and a touton with molasses during the set break. The perfect nighttime snack.
While you could theoretically visit Twillingate in a single day, to get the most from your trip I really recommend setting aside at last two or three days to give yourself time to get out and explore and relax.