Do you remember the lazy carefree summers of your youth? Beach days, forest walks, ice cream, pony rides, and secret swimming holes likely punctuated your Canadian summer holidays. While these simpler, slower ways have gone extinct elsewhere, they’re still alive and well on Central Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula. To find them, follow Newfoundland’s Route 310, the Road to the Beaches.

In the communities of Eastport, Happy Adventure, and Salvage, you’ll find a hearty helping of this nostalgia and so much more. Kayaking tours, whale watching, and a world-class hiking trail network make Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure destination. Here’s how to make the most of your time in this beautiful corner of Newfoundland.

Eastport Peninsula kayaking and whale watching in Salvage

The town of Salvage—which the locals pronounce ‘sal-VAYJE’—you can reach a portion of Newfoundland’s Bonavista Bay that’s otherwise nearly inaccessible. This opens up a world of rare possibilities.

Happy Adventure Inn and Tours is the premier tour operator in the part of the province. One of their kayaking tours departs from Salvage Harbour. From here, you’ll explore sea life along the rugged coastlines and spot bald eagles high upon the ridges. During the late spring and early summer, you may find yourself paddling with icebergs off in the distance.

If you have an opportunity, the whale watching excursion from Happy Adventure Tours is an essential experience on the Eastport Peninsula. You’ll depart from Salvage Harbour into Bonavista Bay, the only part of Newfoundland frequented by sperm whales. As the largest of the toothed whales, their habits are different from others. Sperm whales need to dive deep into the sea to find food.

Between these long dives, they surface for a few minutes at a time to catch their breath. Once they’re ready to dive, they’ll flash their tails and then be gone, typically for a couple of hours. Although they don’t surface for long, there were more than a dozen sperm whales in Bonavista Bay in the summer of 2023, which means sightings are likely!

This same tour took us past a puffin colony, an Arctic tern colony, and an enormous bloom of moon jellyfish. The Happy Adventure Tours whale watching excursion from Salvage is one of the most impressive we’ve experienced on the east coast!

Tour schedules and departure points change throughout the season. Contact Happy Adventure Inn and Tours to find out what’s on offer during your visit.

Happy Adventure is a family affair in Central Newfoundland >

World-class hiking on the Eastport Peninsula’s Damnable Trails

The name of the Damnable Trails system comes from “damn the bell,” a phrase that’s been in use on the Eastport Peninsula since the early 1800s. It’s said to be a response to things like a pirate accidentally knocking a bell and giving away his hiding spot, or a sailor navigating through treacherous waters.

Today, the phrase is far more welcome as it refers to a network of glorious trails on the Eastport Peninsula. From an easy boardwalk trail to clifftop vistas and a challenging full-day coastal hike, there’s a trail here for every skill level.

While you’re hiking along the Damnable Trails, keep an eye out for the 19 yellow bells that have been placed throughout the system. See if you can find them all!

Hiking in Newfoundland is spectacular. Since stiflingly hot days are unusual here, it’s generally more pleasant to exert yourself. And while mosquitoes and blackflies will find you when you’re inland, they’re typically kept at bay by coastal breezes. Plus, black-legged ticks—the kind that spread Lyme disease—are very uncommon in Newfoundland. While it’s still wise to take precautions such as using bug spray, you can hike through forests and tall grasses to your heart’s content.

Make waves at Splash ‘n Putt

Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway north of Terra Nova National Park, Splash ‘n Putt Resort is as classic as summer Canadiana comes. Here, you can enjoy water slides, go-karting, an excellent mini golf course, a swimming pool, bumper boats, and a simulated reality theatre. This is Newfoundland’s only amusement park of its kind, and it will enjoy its 40th season when it reopens in July 2024.

Does Newfoundland have beaches?

Newfoundland has some beautiful beaches, several of which can be found along the Road to the Beaches. Eastport Beach, located in the community of Eastport, is wheelchair accessible and is the starting point for the High Tide Trail, part of the Damnable Trails system. This 3-kilometre hike is partially on boardwalk and is rated easy. It ends at Northside Beach, another sandy stretch on the Eastport Peninsula. On the peninsula’s south end, Sandy Cove Beach is beautiful and secluded, separated from its surroundings by a large and scenic sand dune.

Visit Sandy Cove Pony Rides and Petting Farm in the Eastport Peninsula

Just down the road from Sandy Cove Beach, Sandy Cove Pony Rides and Petting Farm provides an ideal outing for kids. The staff and the animals are friendly and welcoming. There are chickens, rabbits and goats to meet, and the docile ponies are perfect for your horse-crazy kid’s first ride. Plus, the gift shop is stocked with genuine local artisan creations.

Go for a swim around Sandy Cove Pond at Crooked Tree Park

Every summer cottage community needs a secret freshwater swimming hole. On the Eastport Peninsula, that spot is Sandy Cove Pond at Crooked Tree Park. Jump in for a swim or take a walk around the pond on the municipal hiking trail.

Check in with Saltwater Scoops NL on Facebook

Ice cream is another integral element of the Canadian summer experience! Saltwater Scoops is a mobile ice cream and snack shop based on Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula. Shannon slings scoops from a different spot every day, so be sure to check her Facebook page to see where you can find her!

Stay on the Eastport Peninsula in simplicity or luxury

A variety of accommodations can be found on Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula. For a classic summer cabin stay, check out Sta’n’Play Cottages in Eastport. The cabins here are lined up community-style, which makes them great for groups.

If sinking into a soaker tub and a bed made with fine linens after a long day of hiking sounds more like your speed, the Happy Adventure Inn is the hotel you’re looking for. This small family operation offers gorgeous rooms with spectacular views and personal touches. And its dining room, Chucky’s Seafood and Wild Game Restaurant, is the most coveted reservation on the Eastport Peninsula!

How to get to Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula

To reach Newfoundland’s Eastport Peninsula, follow Newfoundland Route 310. This road is designated as the Road to the Beaches. It heads east from the Trans-Canada Highway roughly 60 kilometres south of the town of Gander and 90 kilometres north of Clarenville. The northern spur of Route 310 takes a longer path through Glovertown and Traytown. The southern entrance skirts along the northern edge of Terra Nova National Park.

Here are six sensational reasons to continue south into Terra Nova National Park >

Many businesses on the Eastport Peninsula only accept cash. ATMs are infrequent in this area, so it’s wise to visit a bank before arriving.

Explore more of Newfoundland by clicking here >

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