I’m not even sure how I ended up here. Fogo Island, Newfoundland & Labrador.
Oh, wait I remember. My brother wanted to stay in the Fogo inn. Yes, that Fogo Island Inn! Breath-taking. Elusive, Remote. Exclusive. Its the sound of the North Atlantic Ocean gently strumming at the shore a few feet from a large window that looks out to a sun setting on the horizon.
It’s where Humpback whales pass you by waving and smiling like that good neighbour across the street about to head off to work. It’s the type of place where Icebergs, lazily drift by, rudderless (like me) with all the time in the world. It’s the type of place where you take a long, deep and thoughtful breath of the salty, ocean breeze – let it fill up your lungs and free your soul.
It’s the type of place you go to get lost… Or get found.
The History of Fogo Island, Newfoundland
Fogo Island & Change Islands are home to 12 communities, each requiring a ferry the get to and yet each is very distinct with homes and stores (fishing sheds) that have been unchanged for decades.
Change Islands, NL
Change Islands is where you’ll find the noble Newfoundland Pony, a large part of their cultural heritage with a long history of fishing. Small communities of historic buildings, colourful houses with humpback whales and icebergs drifting along Iceberg Alley in your backyard.
My brother and I pass Change Islands onboard the Change Islands Ferry and head out across the water of Notre Dame Bay towards Fogo Island.
Fogo Island, NL
Fogo Island is a haven for artists who come from around the world to be inspired by the islands natural, raw beauty and believe me it’s not that hard to do.
- An old Bertius map from 1606 labels Fogo Island as one of a dozen important features around the coast of Newfoundland.
- On French maps from the 16th to 18th centuries, the island is called Ile des Fougues.
- The island was named by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century and Fogo means Fire in Portuguese.
- The indigenous Beothuk where on Fogo Island for hundreds of years before Irish and English came. They hunted seal and salmon and travelled out to the Funk Islands to collect feathers and eggs from the birds
- From about 1850 cod was king but now crab and lobster have replaced the cod fishery
Where Is Fogo Island, NL & Getting There
Fogo Island is one of the largest islands here in Newfoundland and Labrador and getting there is pretty straight forward. From St. John’s International Airport you will take this very, very very small airplane to Gander International Airport.
From Gander you will need to drive to Port Albert – so I suggest you reserve your car ahead of time and have it waiting for you at Gander Airport.
Interesting Side Note: Gander Airport took in over 6500 displaced airline passengers after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. The hit musical, Come From Away tells this story!
From Gander, take Highway 320 to 331 then 311 to 355 to the Fogo Ferry in Port Albert.
Once in Port Albert, you take the Fogo Island – Change Islands – Farewell
Ferry (check the Fogo island ferry schedule HERE). After your ferry ride, you will end up at Stag Harbour on Fogo Island.
If you’re staying at the Fogo Island Hotel you can opt to leave your car at Port Albert as Fogo Island Hotel will send a car to pick you up. If not bring your car with you on the ferry.
If you have a few $$$$$ you can spare, the absolute fastest way to get to Fogo Island is to take a charter flight from St. John’s. More on that HERE
Fogo Island Accommodations
Fogo Island Inn
The Fogo Island Inn is a really cool, Nordic-style hotel, mixing traditional and modern and sits on stilts at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean. A luxury hotel with some incredible services and one of the best restaurants in Canada – this according to EnRoute magazine. if you’ve ever travelled the highways here in Canada then you’d be very familiar with EnRoute’s pit stops. The restaurant brings a gourmet cuisine infused with what the island has to offer as well as goodies from the Inn’s own gardens. With 29 one-of-a-kind guest rooms and suites, each with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Atlantic Ocean – Absolutely NOTHING beats falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean.
It was one of the most memorable things for me!
The inn is a product of Zita Cobb, who realized the island needed a self-sustaining economic solution instead of relying on the island unpredictable fishing industry. The inn has since become a community asset, and 100% of operating surpluses are reinvested back into Fogo Island securing a sustainable future.
Joe Batts Arm
Located along a rugged coastline is this picturesque cod fishing community with strong cultural and traditional values. The first European settler, a man named Joseph Batt, and possibly a deserter of Captain James Cook in the 1750s settled here. The community, which is shaped as an inlet was called an ‘Arm’ in those days and since the community loved Joe so much they gave it the name Joe Batt’s Arm.
Fogo Arts Residency
Along with that cultural richness, Fogo Island has to offers it also has a taste for arts. If you are a fan of the arts and humanities, you can visit the Fogo Arts Residency which is an art-venue that features multiple artists who perform through different mediums like painting, dancing etc.
Around 640km off the coast of Newfoundland and iceberg sunk the Titanic back in 1912 and I feel that perhaps they have earned a bad rep.
But they are so damn beautiful to look at especially since about 10% of the berg as 90% is hidden beneath the water’s surface.
These 10,000-year-old icebergs are the edges of glaciers that have broken off into the ocean. About 90% of the icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland, while the rest come from glaciers in Canada’s Arctic. Iceberg Alley stretches from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of Newfoundland from spring to early summer and the further north you the season extends a bit to include May and early June.
Some of the popular places along Iceberg Alley include St. Lewis, Battle Harbour, Red Bay, Point Amour, St. Anthony, La Scie, Twillingate, Fogo Island, Change Islands, Bonavista, St. John’s / Cape Spear, and Bay Bulls / Witless Bay.
Of course, you can see them from the shore but the absolute best way to watch icebergs are by boat tour or kayak. If you really happen to be passionate about icebergs visit the IcebergFinder.com which actually track their live location.
A really good friend of mine and Toronto native, Kevin Wagar and his family the Wandering Wagars were up in St. Anthony & Twillingate chasing icebergs like tornado hunters chase twisters. They manage to catch some incredible footage in there posts: Spotting Icebergs in St. Anthony, Newfoundland & Up Close and Personal with Icebergs in Twillingate.
Breakfast & Waking Up By The Ocean
The Flat Earth Society believes that Brimstone Head is one of the four corners of the Earth – that and it’s a personal favourite of many hikers. It is not only a good trek but you’re rewarded with some fantastic views of the surrounding area and the Atlantic Ocean.
The town of Tilting was first settled by the Irish in the 18th century which makes it unique for its Irish culture as well as its Irish dialect. Tilting is also one of the oldest communities in Canada and The Irish Cemetery in Tilting may be the oldest in North America making Tilting a National Historic Site of Canada.
The only other place that I’ve been that somewhat reminds me of the landscape here on Fogo Island, Newfoundland was the island of Gozo in Malta. Rocky yet smooth from years of the mighty ocean crashing against it. I’ve never seen Icebergs before so that in itself was an amazing experience but the Fogo Island Inn was absolutely incredible!
Nothing beats have the sound of the ocean gently rocking you to sleep!
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