11 Amazing Things To Do In Bonavista Newfoundland (& The Bonavista Peninsula)

Brightly colored houses sprawled around a green landscape bordered by bright blue waters on all sides in Bonavista Newfoundland

Planning a trip to the island of Newfoundland? You definitely want to add a visit to the Bonavista Peninsula to your itinerary!

We spent 5 weeks RVing around Newfoundland and the Bonvista Peninsula is one of the places we wish we would have spent more time. It’s that beautiful!

Here are the best things to see and do in Bonavista Newfoundland (and a few extras to explore around the greater Bonavista Peninsula):

Best Things To See & Do In Bonavista Newfoundland

Light blue waters with white foam on a ragged rocky gray coastline covered in green grass in Bonavista Newfoundland

The Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland is characterized by its rugged coastline, rich fishing history, iconic iceberg visitors, epic whale watching, and of course the cutest summer residents of all – the Atlantic puffins!

1. Cape Bonavista Lighthouse

The red and white striped Cape Bonavista Lighthouse sitting up on a hill behind a green field filled with purple wildflowers

For a place with such a strong maritime heritage, it is no surprise that some of the most photographed and visited places in Newfoundland are lighthouses!

The Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site is one of those prime spots! The historic lighthouse, striped in red and white, is one of the few places in the world where you can see a seal oil fueled light that was used in the 1800’s.

The Cape Bonavista lighthouse has stunning grounds to wander around and is also the perfect spot to see the Newfoundland trifecta – whales, icebergs, and puffins!

There is even free camping in the parking lots around the lighthouse, offering RVs a scenic place to stay for up to 3 nights while visiting the area.

2. Elliston Point Puffin Viewing

An Atlantic Puffin with bright orange beak perched on a grassy rocky on a cliffside on the Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland

One of the biggest questions we get asked about our time in Newfoundland is, “where did you see all those puffins”?

While North Atlantic puffins spend most of the year out at sea, each summer they return to the cliffs and islands of Newfoundland with their bright orange beaks ready to nest.

The Elliston Point Puffin Viewing Site is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the adorable puffins on land, as compared to viewing them on a boat tour.

In our experience, the best time to visit Elliston Point to see the puffins is first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon when the puffins are most active and crowds will be at their smallest.

We basically had the whole place to ourselves in the first hours of daylight and were surrounded by puffins, with some even flying over and landing right near us from the nearby rock islands they were nesting on.

READ MORE: When & Where To See Puffins in Newfoundland

3. Ryan Premises National Historic Site

White historic Ryan Premises buildings sitting along the Bonvavista waterfront

The Ryan Premises National Historic Site honors the history of the thriving Cod industry of Newfoundland.

Get a glimpse into one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest salt fish mercantile firms built by the Ryan family on the Bonavista waterfront.

We had a great time strolling through the exhibits and learning from locals about the 500-year-old story of the Atlantic Cod fishery. It is also conveniently located just down the road from modern-day Bonavista and all of its great shops and restaurants!

Other historic sites to visit near the Ryan Premises:

  • Mockbegger Plantation (a fishery plantation site from the 1700s)
  • Matthew Legacy ( 92-foot-long wooden full-scale reproduction of the ship that sailed to the New World in 1497)

4. Dungeon Provincial Park

Bright blue waters inside a heart-shaped sea cave with a green grass bluff above

What started as a cavern with two openings to the sea, slowly became victim to the erosive powers of the ocean.

Erosion led the ceiling of the cavern to collapse, leaving behind a stunning formation of sea arches and an open crater (known as a blow hole or gloup) in the midst of the grass-covered bluff where you can gaze down at the blue waters erupting in white foam as it violently crashes on the rocks below.

Just a short walk from the parking area, this stop is easily accessible and only a few minutes from downtown Bonavista and the Cape Bonavista lighthouse. Be sure to keep an eye out for the horses and cows roaming the grassy bluffs along the way!

5. Whale Watching

As we quickly discovered, Newfoundland is one of the best places for whale watching in the world!

From humpback whales to minke whales and orcas, the waters surrounding Bonavista are teeming with life and rainbow spouts during the summer months.

Join a guided tour for the best chance to spot these majestic creatures breaching and feeding offshore.

This tour leaves from Trinity on the Bonavista Peninsula and includes iceberg viewing as well:

Other Local Bonavista Whale Watch Tours

6. Meal with a view at the Little Dairy King

After a day of exploring and hiking around the Bonavista Peninsula, we were looking for a quick bite to eat where we could relax and enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery.

The Little Dairy King is on the roadside between downtown Bonavista and the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and has delicious ice cream treats and fish and chips (and even a gluten-free option!) with some of the best views you will find from dining in the area.

Dine in with views from the outdoor patio, or order at the window and have yourself a picnic on the beautiful oceanfront grounds. We thought this place was a total Bonavista hidden gem!

Downtown Bonavista is also a great spot for delicious local bites. A few top restaurants in town include:

7. Cape Bonavista Puffin Colony

A small rock island with nesting puffins in Newfoundland
Puffin Colony on a small island out behind the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse

Okay so the Elliston Point Puffin Viewing site might be the best option for seeing puffins on lands on the Bonavista Peninsula, but it’s not the only one!

Inconspicuously situated just behind the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, there is a small rock island that houses another small puffin colony (did you know a group of puffins is also called an improbability or a circus!?).

You will want your binoculars or a telephoto lens for this puffin viewing opportunity – but another chance to see puffins is never a bad thing!

8. Iceberg Viewing

A white and bright blue iceberg floating in the harbour off the coast of Newfoundland in July

Each year massive chunks of 10,000-year-old ice break off from Greenland and make the long journey through the North Atlantic Ocean and along the coast of Newfoundland (known as Iceberg Alley).

Spring and the early summer months are the best times to see icebergs in Bonavista and Newfoundland as a whole, with the longest iceberg season happening up in the Great Northern Peninsula on the northernmost section of the island.

With miles of coastline, you should have plenty of chances to see icebergs from land while exploring the Bonavista Peninsula, but you might also want to get out on the water for an up close and personal iceberg viewing tour:

READ MORE: When & Where To See Icebergs In Newfoundland

9. Hike The Skerwink Trail

A hiking couple standing in a field of grass overlooking a large cliff with bright blue waters below on the Skerwink Trail

Awarded one of the best walks in North America and Europe, the Skerwink Trail is a must for your Newfoundland Itinerary.

Starting from a small unassuming parking area near Trinity, you wind your way along the cliffside past dazzling sea stacks and bright turquoise waters that could have you believing you are somewhere tropical.

Keep an eye out for whales, icebergs, and eagles as you traverse this magical trail that will leave you wishing it would never end.

10. Root Cellars

With its cold, snowy, and unforgiving climate, the people of Newfoundland relied on root cellars to store vegetables and other perishable goods throughout the winter months. These innovative cellars also keep things cool in the warm summer months, providing safe food storage year-round.

At the very top of the Bonavista Peninsula, the town of Elliston is the root cellar capital of the world! Built right into the ground and into the side of hills, Elliston has over 130 documented root cellars, with over half still in operation today.

This is a neat stop when in the area looking for puffins! You can also see root cellars in other towns around the island as well.

A white wooden sign for a family root cellar sitting in a field of long green grass with white and yellow wildflowers leading up to a dome-shaped cellar building

11. Hike Along The Coast

Turquoise waters with white foam along the rocky coast of Bonavista Newfoundland

With water on three sides, Newfoundland’s Bonavista Peninsula is the perfect place for a hike or two along the coastline.

While we believe the Skerwink Trail deserves a spot on the list all its own, there are a few great trails closer to the town of Bonavista also worth considering doing your visit!

These coastal trails are fairly easy strolls with endless water views, sea stacks, and the chance to see seabirds and whales.

Top Bonavista Trails:

  • Cape Shore Trail (a scenic oceanside walk parallel the road from downtown Bonavista toward the Cape; you will likely drive this way but can opt to hike here as well)
  • Klondike Trail (check out the sea stacks and Spillar’s Cove)
  • Little Catalina to Maberly Trail

The trails on the Bonavista Peninsula are part of the Hike Discovery trail system, which you can learn more about here!

Map of Bonavista Sights & Things To Do

On the map below, you will see all of the great sights in and near Bonavista Newfoundland. Use the map to help you plan your itinerary while exploring the Bonavista Peninsula.

And if you notice sights say “temporarily closed” don’t panic! Many of the tourist attractions on the island of Newfoundland are seasonal. Most sights that offer tours or that are ticketed will be open between May and October each year.

Other things to do near Bonavista

The Bonavista Peninsula is full of great destinations beyond just the towns of Bonavista and Elliston that we primarily focused on during our visit.

Here are other places to check out on the Bonavista Peninsula:

  • King’s Cove Lighthouse
    • A historic white lighthouse with beautiful scenic trails
  • Trinity
  • Port Rexton
    • If you choose to hike the Skerwink Trail you will be right near Trinity and Port Rexton. We only had time to drive through, but these are beautiful local communities to spend more time in if you have it!
  • Port Union
    • The Port Union National Historic District of Canada is the only “union-built” town, by way of the Fisherman’s Protective Union. They established a commercial and economic footing for fishermen breaking the bonds of merchants

When Is The Best Time To Visit Newfoundland’s Bonavista Peninsula?

A female hiker with a backpack on standing on the edge of a rock cliff in the middle of thick fog rolling in off the ocean in Newfoundland

The most popular times to visit Bonavista are spring and summer (May through August).

Spring will be the best time to visit if you want to see peak iceberg activity.

Summer will be the best time to visit if you want to be there for peak whale-watching activity and puffin activity.

Fall is a great time to visit if you are looking for fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and even some fall foliage!

Newfoundland weather can be unpredictable at any time of year, so always be prepared for wind, rain, and fog. On average, Newfoundland’s best weather will be in July or August.

Where Should You Stay When Visiting Bonavista?

A bright red wooden building sitting in a field of gray rocks and green grass with a perfect reflection in a small pond below it

If you are on an RV road trip across Newfoundland, there are a few great options for camping near Bonavista:

READ MORE: The Perfect Newfoundland RV Road Trip Itinerary

There are also great hotel stays in Bonavista:

Tips For Visiting Bonavista Newfoundland

  • Pack Accordingly: Newfoundland weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to pack layers and waterproof clothing to stay comfortable in all conditions. Don’t forget sturdy hiking shoes and hiking poles if you plan to explore the area’s trails. With large stretches of coastline, Bonavista in particular can fall victim to dense fog rolling in quickly and out of nowhere!
  • Plan Ahead: With multiple tourist attractions and several great restaurants, Bonavista is a popular destination during the peak summer months. Be sure to book accommodations and tours in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the spring iceberg or summer whale-watching and puffin viewing season.
  • Respect the Environment: Bonavista is known for its pristine natural beauty, so be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles during your visit. Respect wildlife and marine habitats, and dispose of waste properly to help preserve the area for future generations.
  • Embrace the Local Culture: Bonavista is known for its rich maritime and fishing heritage. Take the time to explore local museums and National Historic sites and learn more about the town’s history and culture. And don’t forget to sample delicious local cuisine, including fresh seafood and traditional Newfoundland specialties (Jiggs dinner, scrunchins, partridgeberry or bakeapple jam, moose burger, or cod nuggets anyone!?)
  • Talk to the locals! You will never learn more about a place than by striking up a conversation with a local. We were amazed at how much we learned by striking up conversations with locals from the Bonavista area while touring the town’s museums and historic sites.

Plan Your Trip To Newfoundland

  • Be prepared for pricier food in remote towns (especially produce)
  • Newfoundland Time is 90 minutes ahead of EST (its own time zone)
  • July is typically the driest month and the best weather
  • Be mindful of wildlife if driving at dawn or dusk
  • The island is large, give yourself time to explore
  • Don’t forget your passport! (And rabies certificate if traveling with your pets) Check out these border-crossing tips!

More Resources To Plan Your Perfect Trip To Newfoundland:

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