On the day you arrive in Trinity:
Get acquainted with the town. Trinity’s unique landscape provides a stunning setting. With Gun Hill a looming backdrop, and the majestic cliffs of Skerwink and the lighthouse at Fort Point opposite, Trinity lies in the midst of a vast and well-sheltered harbour, surrounded by saltwater. A perfect loop and pedestrian-friendly, Trinity provides a welcome opportunity to park the car and explore on foot. Trinity’s rich history as a centre of overseas trade and its resulting prosperity is reflected in the townscape – a vast array of well-preserved, traditional, outport architecture, including prominent structures like the court house, merchant buildings, and historic churches interspersed with the vernacular – old-world shops, fishing stages, and houses.
Peruse the beaches, once lined with wharves and fish flakes, in search of clay pipe stems from the bygone days of transient sailors.
Trinity Historical Society has been instrumental in preserving the traditional architecture that makes Trinity a jewel among outport communities. Purchase a pass to explore their sites, along with the two provincial historic sites in Trinity. Experience living history at the Green Family Forge – a working blacksmith’s shop, or at the cooperage, where traditional barrel-making historically would have taken place – a skill important to the salt cod trade. Be sure to check out the dining table at the Lester-Garland House. Step back in time at the Ryan Shop and the Hiscock House and see what life looked like when Trinity served as a centre of historic trans-Atlantic trade. See how many artifacts you recognize, from bygone days, at the Museum. The Wooden Boat Museum at Winterton has a permanent display in the Old Methodist School, which highlights our local boat-building heritage. The Trinity Historical Society also has a significant archive, should you be looking to trace your roots.
Upper Gun Hill trail offers panoramic views of Trinity Bight – the body of water between Bonaventure Head and Horse Chops. It takes only twenty minutes to get to the top, but the trail offers many plateaus for catching your breath and enjoying a different vista. See how Trinity has changed over time by observing photos of bygone days at the hilltop lookout. Take a foot path to the very top, then travel an old cart path that takes you down into the meadow at Taverner’s Point, and turns the hike into a loop. From there you can pick up the lower Gun Hill trail, which takes you around the hill through a tranquil landscape of forest; or take the short meander out to Taverner’s Point, where you can get down on the beach and enjoy views of the vast harbour.
If you arrive on a Wednesday or Saturday, catch The Trinity Pageant at 2 pm- a series of vignettes about the history of Trinity performed outdoors, weather-permitting, during a walk-about town. Dinner theatre also runs on Pageant days. Best to book ahead for dinner theatre to ensure a choice of meal.
Enjoy an evening meal with a view of the harbour – choose a set menu and dine at a fixed time, or choose a restaurant with a varied menu and dine at a time that suits your plans.
Catch a musical event at one of the local arts venues or catch an evening production at Rising Tide theatre. From early June through Thanksgiving, Rising Tide theatre features daily performances. Commissioned works by local playwrights, dramatic productions that recount the history of Newfoundland, and traditional song are Rising Tide’s best work.
On your first full day:
Enjoy Trinity Historical Walking Tours (daily at 10am, except Sunday). Kevin Toope grew up in Trinity after his family resettled from Ireland’s Eye. A retired teacher and son of a fisherman, Kevin continues to maintain the family home and to spend his summers here. On this two-and-a-half hour tour, Kevin recounts the fascinating history of Trinity and area from shipwrecks to the first smallpox vaccination in the new world, from resettlement to local crimes and punishments. Kevin tours you through the streets and age-old cemeteries and recounts the local lore. He provides a sense of the current struggles to sustain outport livyers, as the traditional ways of life die out. This tour fascinates everyone who takes the time. I can’t recommend it enough. Kevin goes rain or shine, with one or a hundred people. June to September.
Grab a great lunch at Two Whales Coffee Shop in nearby Port Rexton or Peace Cove Inn in Trinity East. Food made with love, care and good ingredients. Both cater to dietary restrictions and offer gluten-free options.
Two Whales features flavourful vegetarian fare including daily soups; side salads including our favourite coleslaw ever; a panini menu that features their homemade chutneys; house-made bagels; great espresso coffees; and a selection of in-house baked goods. Open 11-4 Thursday to Monday until mid-June, then 10-6 daily until Labour Day when they reduce hours once again.
Alternately, recently restored Peace Cove Inn features licensed dining, and a menu that changes daily depending what’s in-season, they offer a handful of great mains, rhubarb lemonade and, as a trained pastry chef, Cherith makes amazing desserts.
Spend the afternoon on the Skerwink Trail – one of two headlands that comprise the narrow entrance to Trinity Harbour, Skerwink’s majestic and steep cliffs offer a great coastal hike past sea stacks, through lichen-covered forest, and stands of tuckamore – a great Newfoundland word for stunted evergreen trees or matted ground cover that may be centuries old, but which grow low to the ground to guard against strong winds. The trail starts in nearby Trinity East, a fifteen minute drive from Trinity. Allow two-hours to hike the loop, unless you want to spend more time exploring the inland section of the trail, enjoying the vistas, taking photos, watching whales feeding in the water or capelin rolling on the beach below. The trail has resident foxes and nesting bald eagles.
Alternately, for those who prefer the road less travelled, have an aversion to heights or are travelling with small children, Fox Island Hike attracts fewer hikers, offers similar coastal vistas, and features a narrow peninsula with a beaches on either side to explore. The Fox Island Trail ends in Champney’s West. Come learn about the creatures that inhabit our coastal waters at the Champney’s West Aquarium. With touch tanks, educational exhibits, and related craft activities this is a great place for young explorers and those who wish to learn more about the world under the sea just off our shores.
On your second full day:
Get out on the water and engage with local characters. Although other parts of Newfoundland offer boat tours, we believe that the intimate experience of being on a small boat with educated and passionate operators makes Trinity a prime location for building a boat tour into your trip without having to include another stop on your holiday. Winds and weather can affect plans so book this early in your stay to allow for cancellations.
Choose Rugged Beauty Boat Tours – a truly unique Newfoundland experience to explore resettled communities along our shores. Between 1954 and 1975, the provincial government moved families out of smaller communities to reduce the need for infrastructure including health care, schools, postal service, utilities, and roads. Churches fell down where they stood, cemeteries were abandoned, houses floated away to a new location or dismantled and rebuilt in a neighbouring community.
Bruce Miller takes you out to Ireland’s Eye – an island that was once home to four communities, before bringing you ashore at resettled British Harbour. He examines the lasting mark of the policy of resettlement on the Newfoundland psyche. Bruce’s tour departs from New Bonaventure – a twenty to thirty minute drive from Trinity. A warm, passionate, and opinionated character, Bruce will leave a footprint on your heart.
You might consider a one-way hike back from British Harbour to New Bonaventure. Although not yet part of our local trail network, this trail follows the historic cart path and offers a fairly strenuous, beautiful two hour hike one-way. You’ll pass through resettled Kerley’s Harbour, and by the Random Passage Site.
Enjoy a light lunch of local fare at Random Passage Tea Room, located in the old school house at New Bonaventure, where you can also buy a pass to explore the movie sets in New Bonaventure.
Random Passage – a mini-series based on books by Bernice Morgan about life in 1800’s outport Newfoundland, was filmed near New Bonaventure. You can explore “Cape Random” – the fishing village, circa 1800, created for the film. Whether or not you’ve seen the film or read the books, the setting provides a glimpse into life for early settlers, when each community was completely isolated during the winter months, when schooners could no longer bring supplies into ice-locked harbours.
Be sure to visit “Joe’s Bar” from The Grand Seduction – a charming film about an outport community’s efforts to attract a doctor. Enjoy watching these films at our place before you go.
Alternately, choose whales & wildlife as your focus – a completely different experience. The whales have a season, but as the minkes, humpbacks, fin whales, orcas and sperm whales leave our shores, schools of bluefin tuna and super-pods of dolphins move in. They’re just as fascinating to see up close and a day on the water always offer a different view of life in Newfoundland. A fishing culture historically, most men spent their lives on the water, fishing cod for salting, drying and export.
Whales spend the summer feeding off the coast of Newfoundland. Capelin – a small silvery fish (much like a freshwater smelt) are an integral part of the diet of many saltwater species. The capelin, with the whales in pursuit, usually arrive sometime around mid-June and stay through mid-August but it varies from year to year. From the water, you can get closer to icebergs, seabirds such as puffins and gannets, bald eagles and other fascinating sea creatures.
Watching capelin “roll” or spawn on a local beach for the first time remains one of the most amazing glimpses into the natural world I’ve ever witnessed. Traditionally, Newfoundlanders caught capelin with a hand-knit cast net, salted and dried capelin for eating, and used them as fertilizer on their potato gardens – tilling them into the soil when trenching their potatoes to add soil cover to the growing plants. We are happy to put you onto some of our favourite places to watch capelin roll and whales feeding just offshore, but the close-up experience of being on the water inches from passing whales can’t be beat.
Both of the wildlife tours departing from Trinity use rigid hull, inflatable boats that sit close to the water. Agile and comfortable, zodiacs get you low to the water for optimal wildlife viewing. With a maximum of 12 guests in the boat, you’ll experience an intimate tour that allows for educational opportunity. These folks know plenty about the creatures that inhabit our shores. For those of you prone to sea-sickness, zodiacs are the best boats for gliding across the water. These operators provide survival suits for your safety, and to keep you plenty warm. Consider bringing footwear that will tolerate water and a warm layer for under your suit – it’s always cooler on the water.
Kris Prince, of Sea of Whales Adventures, and wife Shawna, have spent decades following whales in Trinity and Bonavista Bays. They participate in whale research, scout for whales ahead of their tours, and have eyes on the water in both Bonavista and Trinity bays, so know where to find whales. To minimize the effect of weather on their operation, they move the boat from Trinity to Bonavista Bay (a short drive to the other side of the peninsula) depending on the forecast. They provide a snack mid-tour of coffee or tea and baked goods. Born and raised in nearby Princeton, Kris’ knowledge is extensive and his enthusiasm contagious. He’s one of the locals who will leave an indelible impression.
Skipper Bob Bartlett, of Trinity Eco-Tours, has multiple boats, hires local operators and offers transportation to the boat when not operating from Trinity, aboard his passenger bus. Footage of their tours is available on the web, including orcas hunting porpoises and other rare events.
Depending which way the wind blows, icebergs may coast down the Newfoundland shore, usually arriving in May or early June. Some years they come quite late, some years not at all. All that ice brings a chill air, so pack a warm sweater or fleece, or purchase a locally-made hand-knit sweater and mitts. Some boat operators change the focus of their trip to iceberg chasing, some stay true to finding whales, so ask ahead.
Check Newfoundland Iceberg Reports Facebook page (a grassroots, real-time, iceberg tracking group) or the province’s icebergfinder.com to track the bergs.
On your third full day:
Explore the Bonavista peninsula. We provide a detailed itinerary for guests to take, with driving directions. With both indoor and outdoor activities, this makes a great way to spend a day of mixed weather. Exploring the peninsula will fill a day or two.
Better to divvy the plans into two days, and add another hike or the Puffin Hike to learn more about our provincial bird with passionate marine biologist John Joy.