Newfoundland is blessed with numerous boat tours which take local residents and tourists alike up close to icebergs, whales and fine coastal scenery.
We try to take boat tours in many of the places we travel in Newfoundland and Labrador since you get a different perspective from the water and we find it adds greatly to our appreciation of an area.
Over the last 12 months we have sampled five boat tours in Western Newfoundland and enjoyed them all for different reasons. So if your travels take you the Bay of Islands, Gros Morne Park or St Anthony this summer here are some boat tours you might want to check out.
Our first boat tour in the summer of 2009 was the Northland Discovery Boat Tour in St Anthony. In this case we were attending the new 10-day Iceberg Festival in mid-June and although we could see some icebergs from shore we knew that the best sittings would be from a boat.
We have done this tour many times over the years and have always seen something interesting. One time it was pod of killer whales that suddenly were all around the boat.
I quickly had to change from my telephoto lens to a regular lens since the whales were so close. Paul Alcock is the owner operator and has a biology degree so knows his stuff when it comes to marine mammals and seabirds.
This area also has the longest iceberg season on the Island so you can come here to view bergs when they are long gone from other areas.
But our favourite trip was the one we did for the 2009 Iceberg Festival since we saw many humpback whales and icebergs. It is not too often you can see these two beauties of the ocean together but if you take this trip in the early summer you have a good chance.
Contact www.discovernorthland.com for more information.
Our next trip in the summer of 2009 was with True North Charters and Tours based in Cox's Cove near Corner Brook in the Bay of Islands.
We took the Explorer Tour which took us past 300-metre rock cliffs, resettled communities and soaring eagles. The route follows Middle Arm and at Penguin Head we turned right into Goose Arm. Penguin Head likely gets its name from the Great Auk which once lived in Newfoundland.
At the Goose Arm Narrows we saw four eagles soaring along a huge rock cliff and one eagle co-operated while the boat slowed, allowing us to get good close up photos before it flew off. True North also offers boil-ups at sea and tours to other parts of the Bay of Islands.
We were also treated to some Newfoundland music by Joan and Tony Oxford as we steamed along. They can be reached at www.truenorthtours.ca.
Our next trip was with Crystal Water Boat Tours which operates out of the Bay of Islands Yacht Club in Corner Brook. The 44 passenger tour boat usually does tours of the inner Bay of Islands, but we did a great combination boat tour and hike of Wood's Island.
There are not many tour boats in Newfoundland that offer a hiking-boating experience but it is a great idea. The Wood's Island hike is about 5.5 km long so is within the ability of most people. In fact on our hiking tour we had almost as many kids as adults and our guide was a person who had grown up on Wood's Island before it was resettled.
We also saw a minke whale and had fine views of Blow Me Down Mountain and the scenic islands of the Outer Bay of Islands. Check out www.crystalwatersboattours.com/ for more information.
Out last boat tour of the 2009 season was certainly the most active and hands-on. Darren Park runs the Crazy About Guiding Boat Tour that is a must do for anyone interested in ocean fishing and site seeing.
It is based out of Cox's Cove in the Bay of Islands and he offers an authentic tour using a traditional dory. That means you get personal attention and Darren knows all the hot spots of fishing. On our trip in the fall 2009 food fishery we caught cod, mackerel, redfish, and flounder. We saw eagles and even had a mussel boil-up at his seaside cabin. The largest fish caught on this tours was a huge 35-pound cod and he tells me that in the summer of 2009 he has always caught something on every tour.
Darren filleted the fish onshore and that evening we could eat the cod we had just caught. If you like ocean fishing or want to try your hand at cod fishing this is the tour for you. We also saw an eagle up close and saw fine coastal scenery.
For more information contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This brings us to our first boat tour of 2010. In late June we took the Bonne Bay Boat Tour based in Norris Point in Gros Morne National Park.
We had never taken this trip before and were suitably impressed.
We saw lots of wildlife from a minke whale that swam right beside to boat to a pod of white sided dolphins.
I lost count of the number of eagles we saw and the interpreters on board did a fine job of explaining the geology, wildlife and human heritage of the coastline we were travelling along. The staff even got together to sing a few traditional songs as we steamed back to the dock.
Check them out online at www.bontours.ca/.
You can get your tickets at the dock or at the conveniently located Oceanview Hotel where the staff of the Bonne Bay Boat Tour frequently play music through the summer.
Travel writers Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid Newfoundland explorers. Keith has a popular web page which features other boat tours of Newfoundland at: www2.swgc.mun.ca/~knicol/boat.htm
email@example.com http://www.bontours.ca/ Places to stay:
Rocky Harbour - Oceanview Hotel- http://www.theoceanview.ca/
St Anthony - Grenfell Heritage Hotel and Suites -www.grenfellheritagehotel.ca