The peninsula is approximately 85 km long and averages about 20 km in width, spanning from Clarenville in the south to historic Bonavista town in the north. The total population is roughly 20,000, spread between 10 incorporated towns (of which Clarenville and Bonavista are the largest by a substantial margin), and 17 registered communities, most of which contain several additional hamlets.
The peninsula is home to some of the oldest settlements on the island of Newfoundland, particularly the towns of Bonavista and Trinity. Italian explorer John Cabot is reported to have landed at Cape Bonavista in 1497 claiming this part of the New World for the King of England.
The communities and towns on the Bonavista Peninsula are in a slow decline as the importance of the fishing industry decreases. Geographically isolated from major population centres, the provincial government has been attempting to diversify the local economy; most notably in tourism where the region is blessed with spectacular landscapes adjacent to the ocean.
DLR bus runs once a day from the Memorial University Student Union Centre in St. John's to Port Blandford, at the base of the peninsula (3 hr 15 min, $44 as of June 2019).
Until the beginning of the 20th century, most of the towns on the peninsula were outports, accessible only by boat. A short-lived railway provided limited passenger service for a time, and was later usurped by the existing highway system. As such, transportation in the area is heavily dependent on cars. A few taxi and passenger van services provide limited and expensive service through the area. If you plan to travel by bus or by thumb, check with your hotel or host for advice.
address: Cape Shore RoadThe drive up to the lighthouse is along a beautiful road with ocean on one side, meadows with sheep, cows, and horses on the other. A statue of explorer Giovanni Caboto (who landed near here) stands just before the parking area. The cliff is home to seabirds (guillemot, auk, turre (murre), dovekie) nesting, flying, swimming, and feeding. You can continue up the path to the light (which has a gift shop selling homemade jams), and down to another cliff, and a view of a rock that is home to thousands of puffins (depending on the seaons, time of day and tides). There are chances to see whales and icebergs in season. There is a provincial museum, containing an exhibition about life in a lighthouse during the 1870s.
The Devil's FootprintsThese limestone depressions aren't necessarily a "must see", but they give you a good excuse to drive to the end of the road and wander around the beautiful scenery of out-of-the-way Keels, population 50.
The Archwayaddress: Tickle Cove
Port Union Historic DistrictThe first (and possibly only) North America town built by a union, Port Union was the antidote to the predatory credit systems of regional commercial merchants. Sights include the town museum ($2, closed Mondays), factory ($7 guided tour), and founder William Coaker's beautiful bungalow ($5, tours every 30 minutes).
phone: +1 709 464-2173This charming small aquarium catches a wide variety of local ocean critters in the spring, keeps them in tanks for visitors to see and touch, with a continuous supply of freshly pumped ocean water, and releases them in the fall.
phone: +1 709 464-2233Perched on a rocky outcrop, this historical recreation of an early settler village was created as the set for a TV miniseries, and now hosts interpreters, activities, and exhibits.
- English Harbour Arts Centre, English Harbour
- Historic Trinity
phone: +1 709 464-3553Roughly 5 km of well cut gravel walking trails through pristine inland mossy woodlands. A relatively flat 3.4 km return trip goes out to and around Northwest Pond, while a 1.7 km loop climbs to a modest lookout. Bring bug spray. Hand-drawn maps at park.GPS trace online
Kings Cove Lighthouse Trail
Murphy's Cove Trail
Fox Island Trail
Gun Hill Trail
address: 100 Discovery Trail (Hwy 230), Port UnionHandicrafts made by the members of the local Women's Institute, a non-profit service and advocacy organization.
address: 7 Dock Lane, TrinitySmall-batch high-quality hand-made Belgian and other style chocolates.
phone: +1 709 445-5556address: Upper Amherst CoveA destination unto itself, this restaurant and bakery sources food from local gardens and hosts a brick pizza oven. The setting is spectacular and food is excellent. Expect to wait for a table if visiting on a weekend.
phone: +1 709 445-2032address: 1 Main St, Birchy CoveExpensive dishes made with fresh crab, cheap everything else.
- Angie's Old Style Country Diner, Little Catalina
phone: +1 709 464-7807address: 6 Ship Cove Rd, Port RextonA craft brewery serving good beer made on-site.
phone: +1 709 436-3033address: Rocky Hill Road, Trinity East
Mid-rangeThere are B&Bs and vacation homes available throughout the peninsula.
phone: +1 709-464-355357 campsites each with fire pits and near to pit toilets. A service block at the far end offers showers and laundry. WiFi is available during limited hours near the centre of the campground. Onsite caretaker, advance online bookings available.
- Bonavista, the town at the northern tip of the peninsula
- Clarenville, the town at the southern tip of the peninsula
- Terra Nova National Park, the nearest National Park
- Gander, home to the nearest airport offering commercial flights
- St. John's, the Provincial capital and largest city on the island
- Eastern Newfoundland, the wider region of which this is just a small part
- Twillingate, a popular town about 4 hours to the north, famed for its icebergs
- Gros Morne National Park, among Newfoundland's most popular destinations