I'm gradually writing up all the wonderful things we saw and did in Newfoundland and today I wanted to share with you three of the best places that we stayed. About half the time we chose to stay in cabins to save on costs as we could make our own meals, but the rest of the time we stayed in bed and breakfasts and hotels and three in particular are worth mentioning. So here they are (with links to the hotel websites if you click on the names).
1. Quirpon Lighthouse Inn
Quirpon Lighthouse Inn is located on a 6-kilometre island off the northern peninsula of Newfoundland. The island is rugged and treeless and covered in arctic and alpine plants. We happened to arrive in the perfect storm of mechanical problems as the brand-new boat and zodiac both had engine problems and the ATV was mired up to its axles in mud. So we were taken in a small boat from the dock on the mainland across the bay to the south side of the island and then we walked the 51/2 kilometres to the inn and lighthouse on the north side of the island. Fortunately, we are all good hikers and enjoy working up an appetite so it worked out fine. And we got to see a good part of the island in the course of hiking.
The historic lighthouse, lighthouse keeper's house, and guest house are beautifully situated on a rocky point of land called Cape Bauld. There is nothing so magical as spending your evening listening to waves crashing on the rocks and your day listening to whales spouting and icebergs cracking.
The lighthouse was built in 1884 and is still in operation today. We were fortunate to see it both in clear sunny weather and in thick fog that rolled in over a 15-minute time period (yes I timed it).
The exteriors of all the buildings were painted in a classic red and white colour scheme which provided the perfect contrast to the blues, grays, and greens of the island and ocean. The lighthouse keeper's house was built in the 1920s and still had that vintage look to its rooms. While the.dining room, kitchen, and living room had a quaint cozy feel to them, the bedrooms felt a bit dated, but were clean and functional nevertheless.
You are literally forced to relax on Quirpon Island as there is no cell phone, internet connection, or TV. The day consists of meandering, pondering, and puttering. We hiked all over the northern part of the island, sat for about an hour and watched a whale feeding, saw an iceberg collapse, and watched the resident foxes cavort in the remnant snow drift. Meals were served communally which alowed for long chats with the other guests (from Australia and California) and the staff who work at the lighthouse inn. The owner of the lighthouse inn, Ed English, and his brother-in-law Angus, were full of energy, interesting tales, and knowledge of the area and were great additions to our stay. We all agreed that visiting Quirpon Island was one of the highlights of our trip to Newfoundland.
2. Entente Cordiale
We drove to Entente Cordiale directly from the airport in Deer Lake. We knew we wanted to stay by the ocean on our first night in Newfoundland and fortunately this hotel was only 21/2 hours away making it possible. The hotel is located in the tiny community of Portland Creek at the end of a quiet road on several acres of ocean frontage. Entente Cordiale got us into the Newfoundland pace of life - a pace that is a little slower, more relaxed, and encourages you to spend time appreciating things like a pretty sky and the sun highlighting the grass on the sand dunes.
Entente Cordiale is located about five minutes north of the Arches Provincial Park and about a half-hour drive from the hikes and activities at the north end of Gros Morne National Park.
We stayed at Inn at the Cape for the two nights before coming home. Our last time watching the ocean waves, exploring beaches, walking along clifftops, admiring sunsets .... (sniff, sniff). None of us wanted to leave Newfoundland, but this inn gave us a good dose of ocean to end our stay. Not only was our room pretty with loads of space for a table and chairs and our luggage, but the setting was beautiful as well. We had a sun porch attached to our room which the husband couldn't get enough of and has now decided our next house must have one. He thought it divine to spend his evenings in the sun porch reading while drinking a glass of beer, looking out to the trees and hills. And my mother's room led to a porch that had amazing ocean views.
The food was fantastic. Everyone ate at the same time together in the dining room and the food was served buffet style, and man oh man was there ever a lot to choose from. At dinner there were four salads and about six main dishes along with veggies and fresh rolls and then several desserts to chose from. It was all well prepared and delicious.
The Inn at the Cape has lots of things to do in the area if doing things like collecting pretty rocks, going for walks along the rocky beach, and looking at amazing 300 feet high cliffs are what you like. Fortunately they are exactly what I like to do so we loved it there. The Inn at the Cape is on the Port aux Port peninsula which I learned was settled primarily by Acadians and to a lesser extent by french-speaking Basque fishermen and is one of the few areas in Newfoundland where many of the people speak French. The schools had French names and the signs had French before English and we spoke to one woman who had a French Newfoundland accent. I've been to Acadian communities in Nova Scotia (you can read about one of my visits to an historic Acadian site here), but had no idea that some of the Acadians had settled in Newfoundland as early as the 1770s.