The Southwest Coast is Newfoundland and Labrador’s best kept secret. The air feels different here – cleaner, fresher, easier to breath. There’s no clutter, no pressure, no reason to hurry. This is a land of contrasts – isolated communities remain unmarked by the passage of time; the main centre services the majority of rubber-tire traffic to the island. Governed by the sea and the land, this region is home to fishers and farmers, shipwrecks and sandy beaches, lighthouses and a world-renowned weather phenomenon known as Wreckhouse.
Channel-Port aux Basques is a hub of tourism activity for Newfoundland and Labrador. Because of this high visibility, the South West Coast region has a variety to offer to any traveler and it is also the beginning of the Application Trail. There are plenty of places to see and things to do on the South West Coast! Visit the Visitor Information Centre which is located just minutes from the Ferry. Sightseeing in the area include visiting the Railway Heritage Centre or the local Museum to see one of the world’s rarest navigational aids of the 1500′s at the museum which was found by a local diver just off the coast of Port Aux Basques. Maybe catch some rays on a Grand Bay West Beach – this 6 Kilometers trail begins with an elevated boardwalk with gravel walking path to follow and ending with a picturesque stroll along a sandy beach. In the evening, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the harbour boardwalk to Scott’s Cove Park. This area is marked by colour flags shaped like ships and sails. At the park visit “The Village”; which consists of a ship amphitheatre surrounded by quaint little shops modeled on typical outport fishing stages. Scott’s Cove is a lively area of town with gift shops that have some of the best Newfoundland souvenirs and snack bars, as well as live nightly entertainment during the summer.
Depart Port aux Basques and head south to visit the community of Rose Blanche, which has a rich Basque whaling history and later became inhabited by French fishermen. Explore some of the fascinating Lighthouses nearby including the recently restored Rose Blanche Point Lighthouse, unique because of its architecture – a granite stone dwelling with a slate roof. Continue on to visit The Harvey Trail at Isle aux Morts – this sight honors the daring rescues by the George Harvey family. Along with their Newfoundland dog “Hairyman”, the family saved all 160 lives aboard the ill-fated brig “Despatch” in 1828 and again 10 years later, they rescued the 25 member crew of the ship “Rankin”. Continue back to Port Aux Basques to visit the Channel Head Lighthouse and Cape Ray Lighthouse – which played an important role in the history of Marconi and communications in Newfoundland. While in he Cape Ray area why not hike along the beginning of the Long Range Mountains, know as Table Mountain – this 8 km hike will take you to an elevation of 1250 ft.
Depart the South West Coast and drive to the Codroy Valley Area and visit the Wetlands – home to a diverse resident waterfowl population. This area has become a major resting area for some 200 species of migratory birds during the year. Be sure to visit the interpretation centre which features information panels and bird displays. Walk along the trail through the Wetlands with look outs and resting benches. Depart Codroy Valley and continue on to Stephenville – the gateway for the Port au Port Peninsula. Stephenville was well known during World War II for the U.S. Harmon Air Force Base. Today the airfield plays a major part in domestic air travel within Newfoundland and the town of Stephenville attracts many visitors to its long running Stephenville Theatre Festival. On arrival explore the French Ancestor’s loop – the Port au Port Peninsula is a Mecca for nature lovers, photographers, artists and geologists. The Peninsula is the central focus of the French Community in Newfoundland and has been for over 200 years.