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Looking for the best things to do in Bonavista, Newfoundland? Let me help you! I’m from Newfoundland and have been visiting the Bonavista Peninsula since I was a kid. My family has a cabin there, and I love spending time each summer exploring the area.
The Bonavista Peninsula is one of my favorite places to visit in Newfoundland. There are so many beautiful things to see in Bonavista, including epic whale watching, puffin spotting, and gorgeous coastal hikes. If you have a couple extra days in your Newfoundland itinerary, spend it here.
Trinity and Bonavista are the two most popular towns to visit in the area, although there are many others to explore. This comprehensive guide has all the information you need about what to do in the Bonavista area.
Things to do in Trinity NL
Trinity is a great place to start your journey on the Bonavista Peninsula. It takes about three hours to get here from St. John’s.
When you come into the town, you’ll be immediately enchanted. With historic buildings and brightly-covered houses, it looks like it came straight out of a postcard!
Trinity was first discovered in 1501 and used as a main hub for the salt fish trade in the 17 and 18th centuries. Today, it’s a charming small town with many well-preserved historic buildings.
Walk around town to see the historic buildings
One of the best things to do in Trinity Newfoundland is simply take a walk. It’s a heritage town, and most of the buildings here are registered historic buildings. There are also guided walking tours if you want to learn more about the history!
While walking around town, Be sure to stop at Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate and pick up some sweets along the way. They sell all kinds of delicious homemade chocolate; I especially love the raspberry ones.
Hike Gun Hill Trail
If you’re wondering what to do in Trinity Newfoundland, take a hike up Gun Hill trail for the best views of town. It’s part of the Discovery Trail network, a network of trails along the Bonavista peninsula.
Gun Hill is one of the shorter trails, just 1-2 km, depending on if you take the lower or upper trail path. This is a great hike from Trinity as you can easily access the trailhead from town by the rising tide theatre.
The views on this trail of Trinity are gorgeous; you can see the entire town along with the impressive Trinity harbor, one of the discovery global geopark sites.
Catch a show at Rising Tide Theatre
One of the best things to do in Trinity is to check out a live show at the Rising Tide Theatre. The theatre was founded in 1978, producing political plays addressing controversial issues in Newfoundland.
Every summer, the festival has a new season of plays, dinner theatre, and concerts focusing on the inspiring stories that make Newfoundland unique.
Look for icebergs
If you’re visiting Newfoundland during iceberg season (typically in May), do not miss the chance to see icebergs up close! Trinity is one of the best places to do this, as they often get stuck in the bay.
I joined a tour with Trinity Eco-tours during the spring of 2020 to see the giant iceberg that had made its way to the Trinity harbor, which was an incredible experience.
While spring is the best time to see icebergs in Newfoundland, it isn’t a great time to see marine life.
That said, we were lucky enough to see a minke whale and bald eagle. Seeing whales, birds, and icebergs is the trifecta on a Newfoundland boat tour, so I can’t complain!
We also got to explore a sea cave, waterfalls and go by the random passage movie site. The end of the tour finished off with a close-up look of the magnificent iceberg. They are so amazing to see in person!
Trinity eco-tours also offers harbor kayaking tours where you can paddle by the icebergs. I really wanted to do this tour, but unfortunately, it was too windy that day. This would be such an amazing experience!
Go whale watching
During the summer months, Newfoundland is one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales.
I took a boat tour with sea of whales adventures during the fall, which was a wonderful experience. Because of the fog around Trinity that day, we decided to leave from Princeton, a quaint community about twenty minutes away.
The water was so calm that day, and as the fog slowly lifted over the ocean, it created this stunning view.
The fall colors were also in full bloom, adding to the breathtaking scenery.
The fall isn’t a great time to see marine life, as many of the humpback whales have started to migrate, but we did see a minke whale and a pod of porpoises.
We saw many birds, including puffins, turrs, common eider ducks, northern gannets, and bald eagles!
We also explored sea caves and visited some neat geological formations, including the tickle cove sea arch. It’s a great experience to see it from the boat because you can go through the arch. If you aren’t doing a boat tour, you can see it on a quick 10-minute hike from tickle cove.
I haven’t taken an official boat tour during the summer, but I have been on the boats with family and friends in July when the capelin are rolling, and it’s a fantastic experience.
You’re pretty much guaranteed to see whales, and they are usually so full and happy that they will just be flopping around in the sea!
Things to do in Port Rexton
Port Rexton is about a fifteen-minute drive away from Trinity and is worth spending a few hours exploring on your way from Trinity to Bonavista.
It takes you along the coastline, where you can see whales, sea birds, sea stacks, icebergs, and some of the best coastal views in the area.
Port Rexton is also home to one of my favorite coffee shops in Newfoundland – Two Whales. They serve a variety of veggie-friendly made-to-order sandwiches and delicious sweet treats!
Another place you’ll want to check out here is the Port Rexton Brewery. It’s home to some of the best local craft beer on the island and a food truck called oh my cheeses. That should sell itself.
Things to do in Port Union
Continuing along Highway 230 towards Bonavista, you’ll go by Port Union, a small community with a fascinating history; it is the only union-built town in North America!
While there, you can visit the restored factory building or just walk around and learn about the town’s story through the interpretive signs.
There are also Discovery trail hikes around Port Union to go on.
Murphys Cove to Lodge’s Pond is a 7.7km loop trail with gorgeous coastal views and a fossil site with 560-year-old million rocks that contain abundant Ediacaran fossils. They are similar to the fossils found at Mistaken Point on the Irish Loop!
Things to do in Elliston NL
This is an amazing ethical wildlife encounter that should absolutely be on your Bonavista Peninsula itinerary.
As you drive into the town, you’ll see giant puffin-themed chairs and an entrance sign where the site is. There’s also a small booth where you can make a donation.
The puffins nest on a small island, which you can get a clear view of from here. There’s a grassy area where you can watch the puffins fly around and dive into the ocean for fish.
While we were watching the puffins, one came over right by me! I couldn’t believe my luck until another one came. And then two more. It was a puffin party! I got the best photos that day; it was so exciting.
Check out the root cellars
Elliston is also the root cellar capital of the world. These cute little things were used for vegetables and other food storage during the long, harsh winters. Some are as old as 130 years!
There are over 100 root cellars that you can see throughout the town of Elliston. Some are by the puffin nesting site, and more if you continue driving along Maberly Road. There’s also a house on this road with an adorable miniature pony, so look out for him hanging out in the yard.
Hike the Klondike Trial to see sea stacks
There’s a Discovery trail hiking path from Elliston to Bonavista called the Klondike Trail. The trail’s highlight is Spillar’s Cove, where you can see impressive sea stacks.
If you don’t have time to hike the whole trail, you can get to that section quickly from Bonavista.
Things to do in Bonavista Newfoundland
There are a lot of amazing things to do in Bonavita.
Visit Dungeon Provincial Park
Dungeon provincial park is one of the top Bonavista attractions. It’s a collapsed sea cave with a natural archway carved by the sea, one of the coolest geological formations I’ve seen in Newfoundland. The views are gorgeous from here too!
Another great place to visit is the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, close to the Dungeon provincial park. From there, you can take the 3.5 km cape shore trail, which follows the outline of the coast. It’s a great place to go whale-watching!
There are also some cliffs near the lighthouse where puffins nest, although Elliston is my favorite place to see them.
Bonavista Historical Sites
There are many historical sites to visit in Bonavista.
One of the best is Ryan Premises National Historic Site, a preserved example of a large-scale merchant operation in a Newfoundland outport.
This restored complex offers a glimpse into the town’s fishing and mercantile past. Take a guided tour to learn about the life of a fisherman, browse the exhibits, and discover the significance of the fishing industry to the region.
There’s also the Mockbeggar Plantation, a museum site that tells the story of life in Newfoundland in the 1930s and 1940s. Take a guided tour to learn about the inhabitants’ lives, explore the heritage buildings, and gain insights into the challenges early settlers faced. T
Another site worth checking out is the Ye Matthew Legacy interpretation site, where you can see a replica of the historic ship that John Cabot sailed across the Atlantic in 1497, leading to the discovery of North America.
Go whale watching
If you didn’t get to go whale watching in Trinity, there’s still time in Bonavista!
Bonavista is known for its abundance of marine life, including humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, and seals. Join a guided boat tour and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Places to eat in Bonavista
There are a lot of great places to eat around Bonavista. If you’re visiting during the summer, stop in Sweet Rock ice cream on Church Street. It’s my favorite ice cream in the province.
Church Street is the main commercial drag in Bonavista, and there are also some great shops to visit there. Check out East Coast Glow for local cosmetics using natural ingredients. They make great gifts!
Boreal Diner is a great place to dine, and they also have a bookstore upstairs. My favorite place to eat here is the Bonavista Social Club, which serves delicious wood-fired pizzas made with fresh, local ingredients.
For an entertaining evening, there’s also the Garrick Theatre. They always have an interesting live performance; check their website for the latest shows.
Places to stay in Bonavista
Bonavista has even more places to stay than Trinity.
If you’re backpacking, there’s a hostel – the HI-Bonavista hostel. The hostel owner is super friendly; he let me stay here while I looked at a camper van to buy, even though the hostel was closed!
There are also a ton of cute cottages and vacation homes for something private. Seakissed Cottages is a great option, with full kitchens, ocean views, and is within walking distance of restaurants and shops.
Bonavista Peninsula Itineraries
There’s a lot to see and do on the Bonavista Peninsula, so I’d recommend spending at least three full days. More if you have it! Here’s an example itinerary of what your time could look like.
Day 1: Arrive in Trinity and stroll around the town to check out the historic sites. Join a boat or kayak tour in the afternoon to look for icebergs or whales. At night, relax in your cottage or check out a show at the rising tide theatre.
Day 2: Head out to Port Rexton to hike the Skerwink Trail in the morning. Afterward, enjoy a beer at the Port Rexton Brewery or grab lunch and a coffee at two whales. In the afternoon, head out to Elliston to look for puffins. Spend the night in either Trinity or Bonavista.
Day 3: Explore Bonavista. Check out Dungeon Provincial Park, meet the friendly horses, then stroll on the Cape Shore Trail by the lighthouse. In the afternoon, visit one of the historical sites or do some local shopping in town. At night, enjoy dinner at the Bonavista Social Club.
FAQ: Things to do in Bonavista
What are the top attractions to visit in Bonavista?
The top Bonavista attractions include the Ryan Premises National Historic Site, Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, and the Dungeon Provincial Park.
What are the best outdoor activities in Bonavista?
The best outdoor activities in Bonavista include whale-watching tours, puffin spotting, hiking the Skerwink Trail, and exploring the rugged coastal landscapes.
Is Bonavista worth a visit?
Yes, Bonavista is definitely worth a visit for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and charming local culture.
What is Bonavista known for?
Bonavista is known for its rich maritime history, including its fishing heritage and the landing of John Cabot in 1497.
Is it better to stay in Bonavista or Trinity?
The choice between staying in Bonavista or Trinity depends on personal preferences. Both are great places to stay; spend a night in each if you have time!
What to see between St John’s and Bonavista?
You can visit places like Bay Bulls, Clarenville, and Trinity between St. John’s and Bonavista.
What is the connection between John Cabot and Bonavista?
Bonavista is closely connected to John Cabot as it is believed to be the place where Cabot landed in North America for the first time in 1497, which led to the discovery of the continent.
What communities are in Bonavista Peninsula?
The communities in the Bonavista Peninsula include Bonavista, Elliston, Port Rexton, Port Union, Trinity, and more.
Can you see icebergs in Bonavista?
Yes, you can see icebergs in Bonavista. During the spring and early summer months, icebergs can be spotted off the coast of Bonavista, offering a spectacular sight for visitors.
Between the stunning landscapes, wildlife, hiking, and history, the Bonavista Peninsula is easily one of my favorite places in Newfoundland. It is an excellent addition to your itinerary or staycation if you live here.
From immersing yourself in the town’s maritime heritage to exploring its breathtaking landscapes and indulging in local cuisine, there are many things to do in Bonavista that promise an unforgettable experience.
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