Just 90 minutes away from St. John's down the Cape Shore you'll discover the Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve. It is one of the most accessible places in the world to see nesting seabirds.
During the breeding season, it is home to 24,000 Northern gannet, 20,000 black-legged kittiwake, 20,000 common murre, and 2,000 thick-billed murre. In addition, more than 100 pairs of razorbill, more than 60 pairs of black guillemot, plus double-crested and great cormorant, and Northern fulmar nest there.
What makes it so spectacular, however, is that all these birds can be seen from land, as close as 10 metres away.
Most of the Northern gannets, make their nests on "Bird Rock"—a 100-metre-tall stack of sandstone that is separated from the viewing area by a chasm only a few metres wide.
Bird Rock is reached by a 1-km footpath through the open meadows that top steep cliffs, where wild iris grow and sheep sometimes graze. Cape St. Mary's is within the Eastern Hyper-oceanic Barrens ecoregion, one of the world's most southerly expanses of sub-Arctic tundra.
Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve covers 64 km2; 54 km2 of this is the marine portion.
Cape St. Mary's was established as an ecological reserve in 1983.
I was suprised to find skeep and cows in the area. You have to be really careful not to let kids wonder away because the cliffs are steep and there is no protection. It's probably best they stick right to the paths especially with some quick sheep around.
Overall though this is an amazing site and a great view. I would allow at least a half day if you were just going straight here and back from St. John's. My visit was a little rushed, it would be cool just to hang out there for a while and relax.
St. John's could be considered the urban center for the province of Labrador and Newfoundland.
If you want to experience the vast wilderness and outdoor adventure you should take the trek from St. John's to Labrador.
There are regular flights to Labrador from St. John's. It would be about 9 hours to drive, 2 hours by plane.
Follow my link below for a Labrador specific page. This province is very diverse and you can't even really compare this region of the province to anywhere else in the province.
The first lighthouse in Newfoundland is located at Cape Spear, but it has since been replaced with a more modern one.
Cape Spear was important militarily, so in addition to the two lighthouses, there are WWII batteries and gun emplacements to look at.
Whale and bird watching tours leave from the little community of Bay Bulls, about 30 minutes from St. John's.
O'Brien's Whale and Bird Tours provides a two-hour tour in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to see whales and nesting seabirds. The brothers who own the company provide some entertainment on the way out--local stories, information about the whales and birds, etc. We were even treated to several songs.
The tour costs $55 for adults (and well worth it.) The reduced prices for seniors, students, and kids are listed on their website.
A shuttle from downtown St. John's is available for $25. (Or take Rt. 2; exit at Mt. Pearl, and take Rt.3 to Bay Bulls; then left on St. John's Road.
The Motion Trail for clarification is actually out in Torbay just a few minutes away from St. John's. It's a nice spot right on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. I don't want this tip to be too good, there has to be a bit of a challenge.
You have to find "Motion Lane" in Torbay, then drive out to the end of that road.
The trail is not marked, you'll just come to a dead end. Some development has started there so you will see some construction first which is disappointing but just beyond that you hit the trail.
Then you are in for some spectacular views. Not to far along you'll see just one house owned by Geoff Stirling a Newfoundland media person who owns NTV.
You'll need some good shoes but want a great trail. I met some geocachers along the way who got excited when they found a cache on the trail so if your into that it's a great place for a hunt.
Yet another interesting day trip is the Baccalieu Trail. I havn't done the entire trail but have gone to Cavendish, done a tour of a mink farm and explored around a little. The peninsula jutting out into Trinity and Conception Bay's is very scenic. It is also home to one of the Newfoundland's most fondly named communities of "Dildo".
I am going to try to explore around there some more really soon, so stay tuned.
The Cape Shore Drive makes for a long day trip from St. John's but still worth the effort. Like the Irish Loop you may want to overnight out there. I done a day trip to Cape St. Mary's and back and it took a very full day.
You will drive through communities such as Argentia, Placentia and Cape St. Mary's. You'll see the ecological reserve and the Castle Hill National Historic Site amongst a ruggest and scenic shoreline.
I highly recommend this day trip for the Cape St. Mary's Experience alone! Take care and happy travels.
If you are looking to do some driving, the Irish Loop is a great day trip and if you want to get in depth you might want to spend a night or two there. I explored around a little in the summer of 2006.
The Salmonier Nature Park is out that way, the Wild's Golf Course, the Colony of Ferryland has become very popular and the Witless Bay is also very popular.
You'll know the root from the clover signs. There tends to be some caribou in this area so you'll probably see some wildlife. Be careful not to hit any!
This old fort is located on the cliff overlooking the Narrows, which is the entrance to St John's harbour from the Atlantic Ocean. At this place, there are remnants of world war 2 gun batteries and a lighthouse built in 1810. Fort Armherst can also be clearly seen on top of Signal Hill, which is located at the other side of the Narrows.
Fort Waldegrave is named after Lord Waldegrave who was Governor of Newfoundland during the Napoleanic Wars.
Cannons were first were mounted at Fort Waldegrave during King William's War. During Queen Anne's War, the French captured the gun emplacement and fired the cannon across the harbour at South Side Castle.
A fort was built at the site and it served to protect St. John's harbour during the American Revolution. During World War One the fort was occupied by the LEGION of FRONTIERSMEN, which was a volunteer militia. T three brothers, the Edgecombs, recieved permission from the Commander the LEGION of FRONTIERSMEN to build their homes around the fort. Fort Waldegrave fell derelict after World War One.
There are several old World War One German howitzers scattered around St. John's. These relics are souvenirs of the grusome battles on the Western Front : Paschendael, Cambrai, Ballieul etc.
There is a howtzer in front of Royal Canadian Legion # 1 and another is in Victoria Park. A third was in Bannerman Park, but it was removed by the municipality.
Temperance Street is on the east end of Water street, at the foot of Signal Hill. Temperance Street is adjacent to Maggots Cove and was the location of some of Newfoundland's oldest fishing stations and residences, dating back to the 1500's.
In 1618, Governor Mason built a small fort nearby. During King William's War, French musketeers landed at the site and raced up the hill to attack Fort William. During Queen Anne's War, Lieutenant Latham maintained a residence at the site and Royal Engineers constructed a log-and-chain boom on the nearby beachfront.
Maggots Cove has been the location of Fishing Stations, Fishing Rooms, Fish Flakes, Fishing Wharves, warehouses, taverns and fishermen's homes. More recently, Terry Fox dipped his leg into the water at Maggots Cove when he began his cross country journey, raising money to battle cancer.
Today, there are four stone homes on Temperance Street, situated above Maggots Cove; between Water Street and Duckworth Street. Folklore dictates that a wealthy merchant built the homes as wedding presents for his four daughters. They have been condemned by City Council and are vacant. The municipality has plans to knock down the buildings and build a highway through the area as part of the Outer Ring Road .
The nations of Canada and Newfoundland were unified in 1949. Soon after, a new seat of government, called the Confederation Building, was constructed to replace the origional legislature; the Colonial Building.
There is a large Hospital in St. John's with a wing for the criminally Insane. Check it out!! Its got huge high chain-link fences surrounding it and reinforced windows. The place was revamped several years ago after an inmate pucked the putty out of a woindow frame and jumped two or three stories to freedom.
St. John's Harbour was visited by John Cabot (1498), Gaspar Cort-Reale (1501), Jacques Cartier and others.
The original fishermen were Basques from France and Spain, and Normans.
In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed St. John's and all land in two hundred leagues under a Royal patent that was issued to him by Queen Elizabeth.
By 1588 (The year of the Spanish Armada, England controlled the waters around Newfoundland however, the harbour always remainede a refuge to ships from many nations.