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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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Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 38 Comments

  • Muza-chan says:

    Great photos, love the colors :)

  • Freya says:

    It looks so beautiful over there.

  • I would LOVE to do that hike, seems like such a great way to see the island! And so pretty, even when raining!

    • @Jess I was disappointed that the afternoon when we actually had some time, the weather was too nasty too hike – or at least to see anything but I loved the short hike to Brimstone Head.

  • Mike says:

    I was immediately intrigued (very much so) by the Fogo Island Inn, Leigh! I see they have one of the best new restaurants in Canada. Wow, it is definitely 5 star gorgeous inside! It looks like it was quite blustery there that day you were there? I love that pic of the cannon. The hike to Brimstone Head sounds interesting and now you have me looking up the Flat Earth Society! Good post and we hope you guys are doing great! :)

    • @Mike The Inn is receiving a lot of positive press about the food for sure and in many bays I wish we’d made more of an effort to do the tour and have lunch but time was short and I was pretty darned happy just to get to the island.

      I think you can join the Flat Earth Society for only $3.

      We’re doing well – in Saskatchewan for a week doing some long hikes and then another out there paddle via a float plane drop-off on the Churchill River.

  • I have been hearing quite a bit about Fogo Island since the Inn was built – makes me want to visit! Your photos are great – even in the fog!

    • @Lisa It’s worth the visit to Fogo Island for sure but I think I’d just opt for a meal and a tour rather than forking out some serious money for a room at the Inn – at least in high season.

  • Mette says:

    I’ve never been to Fogo Island, but it looks very much like some of the places, we have visited in Norway.

  • Johanna says:

    What an awesome island with such an unusual and quaint name “Fogo” … I’m going to be rolling that over my tongue all day. Loved your pic of the path on the Brimstone walk, like something from Lord of the Rings, and the diminutive houses beneath that huge hotel. But oh my, bet it sports some amazing views ;)

  • Donna Janke says:

    The fishing villages are so pretty. As is the scenery. Great photos. Love the names of Seldom and Little Seldom.

  • Jackie Smith says:

    Somehow that Inn looks way too big and out of place, but I guess if it brings tourism to the area, that is what counts. Another interesting post, Leigh.

    • @Jackie The inn does dwarf the homes of the locals but from what I understand the design of the inn is in keeping with the fishing life. I too think the scale seems way off but it has put Fogo Island on the map and probably improved the lives of a great many people. No doubt there is still a lot of controversy about the inn.

  • Sounds like a treat to stay in the Fogo Island Inn after a day of touring this island, but Peg’s B&B sounds nice, too. Love the colorful houses.

  • I loved reading about Fogo Island. And your photos certainly add to the appeal; they are beautiful!!

  • Shelley says:

    Great photos! Looks wild and beautiful in spite of the weather. Newfoundland is the only province I haven’t had a chance to visit yet but Fogo island looks like a great spot.

  • I would love to take a ferry out of a place named “Farewell.” How romantic! And I love how, despite what could be gloomy weather, you captured the color – in the flora, the houses, even the fishing nets! About the only thing that jarred was the Fogo Island Inn. It just doesn’t seem to fit, looming over everything. Kinda creepy, as in what were they thinking?

    • @Betsy Thanks for your comment. The scale of the inn seems all wrong to me as well but the inn itself gets rave reviews and the owner built it as her way of giving back to the community. I have no idea how the community really feels about the place – but it had provided some much needed jobs. I’d seen loads of pictures of the inn before but never in relation to the smaller homes – and that threw me when I first saw it.

  • We didn’t make it to Fogo Island, but we absolutely fell in love with Newfoundland last summer when we visited. Thanks for the reminder.

    • @The Gypsynesters Newfoundland offers a lot of diversity so it’s hard to see everything you want to in even a couple of weeks. I do recommend a trip to Fogo Is if you ever get the chance.

  • I’ve been wanting to visit Fogo ever since the Inn opened and it’s been getting so much press, although I’m not sure my budget will allow that! Great overview and photos. I especially love the one of ropes in the baskets. Sometime the weather you had can be so beautiful, and allows you to have a different perspective. I think i might be disappointed if I didn’t have at least a little for there.

    • @Alison The Inn is crazy expensive so many people end up going over to Fogo Island just for the day. They book a tour and have lunch and catch a ferry back to “mainland” Newfoundland.

  • Michelle says:

    No I’ve never been to Fogo Island, but almost feel like I have been after your virtual tour. It’s so rustic and quaint (in my opinion). I would love to spend a few days exploring this area. The photo of the inn overlooking the local homes is amazing!

  • Your pictures were terrific and I loved the names of the various places: Fogo Island, Gander, Farewell, Change Islands, etc…

  • Agnès de Wouters says:

    Been there twice, each time for a week. Awesome. I still have many things to see. Will be back again in a few months.Like what you write except for the weather…. Just had a half day of rain, all the time sunny (march 2014 and october 2014)

  • Shirley says:

    Love the pictures. Hoping to go to Newfoundland next spring, so I’m very interested in your trip. Will definitely take your advice and plan for some time on the island. Are there hostels at all?

    • @Shirley I don’t actually know if there are hostels but you could sens a tweet to Newfoundland Tourism who should be able to help you. Some of the B&B’s are very reasonably priced. You’ll be very happy you went. If you have time you could also include the Change Islands.

  • Josee Laframboise says:

    How are the roads and traffic for cycling?

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