By CANDICE WALSH
Newfoundland and Labrador is unquestionably one of the best places on earth to see icebergs. This year’s ice patrol has officially begun off the province’s shores and with any luck 10,000-year-old icebergs will soon be making their way down Iceberg Alley from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Islands.
The mysterious giants draw thousands of visitors every year. Last year was one of the best iceberg-viewing seasons in history; a highlight was a 50-square-foot ice island off the Newfoundland coast—practically its own ecosystem, with waterfalls, seabirds and colonies of seals. Combine that with the huge numbers of humpbacks and other whales migrating around the shores of Newfoundland at the same time, and you’ve got the show of a century.
Want to get up close and personal with some ’bergs? Here’s how to do it.
Peak Iceberg Season
The iceberg season can be pretty unpredictable, but peak time is generally late May to June along the coast of Newfoundland (though you can sometimes see them as early as April), and between March and July along the coast of Labrador. Last year’s robust iceberg season lasted longer than usual—straight into the fall, in fact.
Where to Go
There are several key places to see icebergs around the province.
The first is Twillingate in Central Newfoundland, which touts itself as the iceberg capital of the world and is in the direct path of Iceberg Alley. It’s a gorgeous fishing village to boot.
Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula (including the St. Anthony area) often gets its own fair share of icebergs, and was the docking destination for last year’s ice island.
Around the east coast of Labrador (including Battle Harbour and Cartwright), you’ll also get epic opportunity to spot the icebergs in their largest mass before they’re carried south.
Bonavista, La Scie and Witless Bay are other hot spots.
Finally, yes, you can see icebergs from the capital city of St. John’s, but it’s somewhat hit-or-miss. Two years ago massive, beautiful icebergs could be spotted floating past the Narrows, with impressive close-ups visible from the Signal Hill trail. Last year, however, there was not an iceberg to be seen from the city.
Best Ways to See the ’Bergs
Hands down, the best way to view icebergs is by boat. Luckily, there’s no shortage of tours.
From St. John’s and Twillingate, jump on an Iceberg Quest tour. The friendly staff with their upbeat attitudes make the trips tons of fun. From St. Anthony, try Northland Discovery Boat Tours. From Labrador, splurge on a Coastal Ferry Cruise (c/o Campbell’s Place B&B, 709-960-0269), which includes home-cooked meals and accommodations.
If you’re not afraid of a little cold water, rent a kayak and paddle your way around these icy giants. You’ll find views that few others have the luxury of experiencing.
- Almost 90% of an iceberg is underwater, so what we see from a safe distance is literally just the tip.
- Icebergs come in all shapes and sizes: tabular, pinnacle, dome and wedged, to mention a few. With blue streaks and striations, each one is as unique as a snowflake.
- On average, about 400 to 800 icebergs make their way to southern Newfoundland annually
- They’re not just nice to look at; Newfoundlanders use icebergs to make bottled water, beer and small-batch vodka and gin.