What to do on a Trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland

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Fogo Island is Newfoundland’s largest offshore island, located in the central part of the province, approximately 120 kilometers north of Gander. It’s a great detour if you have a few extra days en route to the Twillingate area.

(You can read my post about kayaking with icebergs out of Twillingate.)

The island is accessed via a ferry service leaving from Farewell. Many of the ferries stop at the Change Islands en route to Fogo Island. Interestingly, some of the vehicles on the Change Islands, including one pulling a U-Haul, had to BACK onto the ferry. I’d only seen this happen once before – on the ferry between Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Scenery at the ferry dock for Fogo Island"

Scenery at the ferry dock for Fogo Island

On the ferry you can pick up an excellent map of the island. It lists all the businesses as well as suggestions of things to do.

Fogo Island is 25 kilometers long by 14 kilometers wide so you can easily drive the whole island in a day. It seemed that many people on the ferry were only heading over for a day. They’d go to the five star Fogo Island Inn for a tour and lunch and then head back. Do that, but give the island more than a day – especially if you’re into hiking or photography.

On Fogo Island, population 2,395 in 2011, there are a few small towns/communities. Little Seldom and Seldom, Fogo, Joe Batt’s Arm, Sandy Cove and Tilting. Many are fishing villages and very pretty but not all offer services.

"Quaint & colourful fisherman's villages"

Quaint & colourful fisherman’s villages on the drive towards Tilting

"Wildflowers line the coast"

Wildflowers line the coast

Here are some suggestions of what to do on Fogo Island.

Drive every road you can. The houses are colourful and full of character and the maritime scenes are pretty even in the rain.

"A die-hard Maple Leafs fan on Fogo Island"

A die-hard Maple Leafs fan on Fogo Island

"Canon on Fogo Island"

A cannon leftover from the days when the island needed protection

"Getting socked in"

Getting socked in

"Yellow house seen through a rainy lense"

Yellow house seen through the raindrops

"colourful fishing ropes"

"Red and white house on Fogo Island"

"The one cemetery I saw on Fogo Island"

The one cemetery I saw on Fogo Island

Book a tour of the Fogo Island Inn, ahead of your visit if at all possible. 

The Inn is a remarkable structure. It’s the brainchild of Zita Cobb, a local who went away to study and earn a living, and who came back several decades later a multi-millionaire with a desire to turn the economic fortunes of Fogo Island around. The emphasis has been on making Fogo Island a cultural destination. To that end, she and a younger brother came up with the idea of the Shorefast Foundation. Artist residency programs and a loan program for under-funded people with creative ideas are just two of the four principles of the foundation.

"Looking across the bay - with the Fogo Island Inn on the horizon"

Looking across the bay – with the Fogo Island Inn on the horizon

"The Fogo Island Inn towers over the local homes"

The 5 star Fogo Island Inn towers over the local homes

"The back view of the Fogo Island Inn"

The back view of the Fogo Island Inn

"There's not much soil on the island"

There’s not much soil on the island

Eat lunch or dinner at Nicole’s Café.  And in summer, head to growlers for ice cream.

The Outpost Café and Roastery, home to the Flat Earth Coffee Company – and the best coffee I had in two weeks in Newfoundland – is also worth a visit. Look for home baked goods as well as soups. You’ll find it on the north side of Highway 334 on the way to Joe Batt’s Arm.

"Nicole's Cafe - the place to eat on the island"

Nicole’s Cafe – the place to eat on the island

There are some outstanding trails to hike on the island. And if you get lucky, you’ll see some of the 600 caribou that call the island home.

The only hike we had time for was the one to Brimstone Head – one of the four corners of the world according to the Flat Earth Society. But there are numerous trails including the 8.5 kilometer Turpin’s Trail in Tilting that takes you by the first ground radar station in North America, and the 5.7 kilometer Waterman Brook’s Trail that ends at a waterfall. Most of the trails are rocky, so good footwear is important. And don’t forget your rain gear.

"The Fogo Head trailhead"

The Fogo Head trailhead offers ocean and iceberg views

"Brimstone Head Trailhead - one of the 4 corners of the world"

Brimstone Head Trailhead – takes you to one of the four corners of the world

"Warning sign - not to be taken too seriously"

Warning sign – not to be taken too seriously

"A quick & easy climb to Brimstone Head"

A quick & easy climb to Brimstone Head

"Looking down through the fog from Brimstone Head"

Looking down through the fog

"We're captivated by the beauty of the place"

We’re captivated by the beauty of the place – even in the fog

"A sign meant for the Fort McMurray working folks"

A sign meant for the Fort McMurray working folks

"The summit of Brimstone Head; it's only a 20 minute walk to the top"

The summit of Brimstone Head; it’s only a 20 minute walk to the top

"What a difference a little sunshine makes to the landscape"

What a difference a little sunshine makes to the landscape

In chatting with guests at our B&B, I understand that the Fogo Island Marine Interpretation Center in Seldom is also well worth the visit, though they had some difficulty locating the building. The cod liver oil your mother made you take as a kid might have come from here.

There are galleries to visit too, so pull out the map and plan your time. You’ll soon understand why you need to spend more than a day on the island.

For accommodation choose from B&B’s as well as the Fogo Island Inn. I can highly recommend a stay at Peg’s Bed and Breakfast in Fogo. It’s not fancy but it’s very comfortable and clean, breakfasts are great and include a giant fresh fruit salad. Eileen, the co-owner can give you loads of ideas on what to do as well.

Fogo Island over-delivered on scenery but under-delivered on weather. I shouldn’t complain because the day on Fogo Island was the only full day of rain in two weeks in Newfoundland. The morning we left was glorious and I wish I could have stayed and hiked a few more of the trails.

Have you ever been to Fogo Island?

Thank you to Adventure Central Newfoundland for help with my visit to the island.

Leigh McAdam

HikeBikeTravel
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