Nestled on the eastern coast of Newfoundland, Bonavista is a town rich with history, where you can see some incredible sights. If you're doing the drive from St. John's out to Gros Morne National Park, it's a great place to stop for a day to break up your drive at about 3.5 hours away from St. John's.
What can you do while you're at Bonavista? Here are 5 things you can do in this lovely town!
Cape Bonavista Lighthouse
Built in 1843, this lighthouse shone the way for mariners until 1962. Its interior has been restored to what it looked like in the 1870s and is open for you to visit. Even if you aren't interested in entering the lighthouse, it is perched on a beautiful spot and is a great location for spotting icebergs and whales (check out the iceberg map here to find out where the icebergs currently are).
Cape Bonavista Lighthouse located at 505 Cape Shore Rd, Bonavista, NL. Click here for current hours and admission.
Puffin Colony by the Lighthouse
During the months of late May to early September, the rock/little island right across from the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse comes to life with puffins. The best time to see them are at sunset. Mysteriously, they disappear in the daytime. When I first got to Bonavista, I saw them being their adorable selves at sunset. But when I headed back there the next morning there was not a puffin to be seen. If the sunset timing doesn't work for you, don't despair! Go to the nearby Elliston puffin viewing site to see them during the daytime. Post on that to come!
Located at 505 Cape Shore Rd, Bonavista, NL. At the lighthouse, look past the wire fencing to see the puffin colony!
Ryan Premises National Historic Site
The Ryan Premises National Historic Site is made up of 5 historical buildings which were a part of James Ryan Ltd., a successful salt fish mercantile business in the early 20th century. It was so successful in fact that James M. Ryan, the founder, was one of the wealthiest men in all of Newfoundland at the time!
Today, the buildings house informative exhibits, mainly on the fishery industry in Newfoundland. You'll learn about how they 'made fish' which was the process they carried out to salt, dry, and preserve the fish. If you're lucky, a knowledgeable guide can talk you through the process. We came across Rick at one of the exhibits who almost made it feel like we were there, watching them make fish back in the day!
My favourite part of the Ryan Premises National Historic Site was the Bonavista Museum, which was on the top floor of the building where you purchase your ticket to the entire premises. It contained so many historical artifacts that were local to the town and I think those who love antiques will love it there. A close second would be the interactive fishing expedition game that was in the cod exhibit!
Ryan Premises located at 10 Ryans Hill Rd, Bonavista, NL. Free entry in 2017 thanks to Canada 150! Click here for current hours and admission.
Dungeon Provincial Park
Dungeon Provincial Park is home to The Dungeon, which is a natural rock formation where over many, many years waves had carved out two sea caves next to each other. Eventually, the rock got eroded away so much that the 'roof' of the caves collapsed, exposing the beautiful archway that you see today. While there, you might also come across some beautiful farm animals just roaming and grazing. We were lucky enough to stumble across some cows and sheep having their breakfast!
Dungeon Provincial Park located at Lance Cove Road, Bonavista, NL. Entry is free!
Eat at The Boreal Diner
If you're looking for a place to take a break and grab a bite to eat, Boreal Diner at Bonavista is a charming restaurant that has a really warm ambience. The food, though on the pricier side for the portions you get, is fresh and innovative. Their menu changes weekly, so you can check their Instagram to see if they've posted their latest menu, or just show up for a good surprise!
The Boreal Diner located at 61 Church Street, Bonavista, NL. Check their Instagram for current menus and hours!
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