irish loop newfoundland

An Irish Loop Tour is a great family adventure while staying in the community of Holyrood Newfoundland. You can enjoy a one-day excursion around the Irish Loop. There are Whales, Caribou, Icebergs, Birds, plus many Nature Reserves and Historical places.

Tour the Irish Loop
Explore the Irish Loop

Bay Bulls is an old settlement where you can go on a boat tour of Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. The town gets its name from the french version of the bull bird "Baie Boules" which winters in Newfoundland. The town was fortified in 1638 when Sir David Kirke governed Newfoundland from Ferryland. The community was burned by the French several times up to 1796. In the waters of Bay Bulls there is the ship wreck of the HMS Sapphire which was sunk in action against the french in 1696.

The Irish Loop takes you to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve where you can see humpback whales, millions of sea birds and 10,000 year old icebergs, at the same time, in late spring and early summer. The reserve consists of three islands and the waters around them. There is a phenomenal number of Seabirds here that nest and raise their young. On Gull Island there are 530,000 Leach's Storm Petrels, with another 250,000 on Great Island. Green Island has 74,000 Murres. There are also tens of thousands of Atlantic Puffins, the provincial bird. As the tour boat cruises near the island you'll see puffins running and skipping along the top of the water. They spend most of the year on the open ocean and only come ashore to breed. The chicks are in burrows on the steep sides of the islands. Here you'll find Razorbills, Great Black backed Gulls, Northern Fulmars, Black Guillemots and Black Legged Kittiwakes. They all eat capelin.

Nature, Wildlife, History Tour
Irish Loop 4 day Nature, Wildlife, and History Tour

Whales, birds, and humans all depend on the Capelin. This tiny silvery fish spends most of its life in deeper waters far from the shores of the Irish Loop, but in summer it swarms inshore in the billions to spawn. The fish roll right onto the beaches in their frenzy to reproduce. But before they reach shore the whales and seabirds gobble up whatever they can catch. The birds such as the colourful Atlantic Puffin, Black Legged Kittiwake and Commmon Murre, time their egg laying to the arrival of the caplin to ensure food for the hatchlings. Many of these birds spend the winter at sea and come to the shores of the Irish Loop only to breed and raise their young.

The Whales visit here awhile on their annual migration from warm southern waters to their summer homes in the high arctic. Off Newfoundland's south and east coasts are the grand banks, one of the world's richest fishing grounds. Warm water from the Gulf Stream mixes with the cold flow of the Labrador Current on the shallow Banks to create an ideal nursery for all types of ocean life. When the caplin move inshore, cod and other fish follow them. Whales come near shore in late spring and early summer on their way to the Arctic. Over a dozen species of whales visit Newfoundland waters but the humpback and the minke are the most commonly seen is this reserve. Humpbacks can weigh 30 tonnes yet are very graceful. They'll go below the waves for a while, then may surface with a whoosh from the blowhole. Sometimes they will come close to the boat and look up at all onboard. Sometimes one may jump out of the water and land with a big splash. When the Caplin are running the whales will perform some amazing manoeuvres.

The Icebergs are a bonus. They move and twirl with the currents, break apart and tip over. Some Icebergs are hundreds of thousands of tonnes and can be thousands of years old. Newfoundland is there last stop on their long journey from Arctic waters while on route to the warm gulf stream.

Tors cove 47 km from St.Johns is a good place to see whales from shore. Further along the shore you will come to LaManche Provincial Park. The park is in a beautiful river valley and has lots of wildlife that attracts many nature enthusiasts and artists. La Manche River offers good canoeing and wonderful sightseeing along a hiking trail that leads to a spectacular waterfall. Another trail brings you to the ghost town of La Manche. While little remains of the houses the river cascades into a beautiful harbour with grassy fields surrounding it.

While touring the Avalon Peninsula you may want to visit the Avalon Wilderness Reserve. You can get a permit to visit the 1070 square kilometre reserve at the La Manche Park office. The Avalon Wilderness Reserve is home to a 5000 strong heard of woodland Caribou, the worlds southernmost. For those interested in Canoeing, Fishing, or hiking this is a excellent trip.

Continue along route 10 to Cape Broyle and visit the Devil's Stairway, an interesting Rock formation where Satan is supposed to have left his footprints in the face of the cliff.

South along the Irish loop is Ferryland where one of the first English settlements in North America was founded in the 1620s. Over the past decade archaeologists have been excavating the Colony of Avalon. You can watch the dig and take a guided tour. Artifacts are on display near the dig site. Ferryland also has an intriguing community museum, and every summer hosts a folk festival to celebrate a strong Irish heritage.

A short drive down the coast will bring you to Aquaforte where the harbour resembles a Norwegian fjord. Long ago a squadron of the French fleet ran aground to avoid bombardment by the English. Some say they buried a treasure here and made their way across the peninsula by foot to Placentia.

South again is Renews/Cappahayden. This community is so old the Mayflower stopped here for fresh water on its way to Plymouth Rock. Renews and nearby Fermeuse were unsuccessffully settled by Welsh colonists in the early 1600s. A point of interest in this area is the grotto where mass was celebrated secretly at night in the late 1500s when Roman Catholicism was supressed by the Protestant English.

Next along the Irish Loop is Cape Race. This place has a direct connection to the Titanic disaster- it was here that the stricken liner's distress call was picked up and relayed to other ships in the area and to other stations that passed the word down the eastern seaboard.

Next is Trepassy, a name that means the dead souls or a corruption of an old Basque word. Basques fishermen were along this coast in the 16th century. Trepassy was the seat of the Welsh colony that collapsed in the 1620s. More recently it was the starting point for several transatlantic flights including the 1928 flight when Amelia Earhart with William Stultz, and Lou Gordon was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. This region is popular for hunting game birds such as willow ptarmigan and for salmon and trout fishing. There are three excellent rivers North East Brook, North West Brook, and Biscay Bay River. They offer good fishing during July and August. Barren ground and isolated heath characterizes this area. The area around St. Shotts is a good area to see Caribou as they wander along the sides of the road.

Look out at the whales from a wonderful land based look out station in the St. Vincent's beach/Holyrood Pond area. Here there is a terrific view of an area of St. Mary's Bay where the whales feed and congregate. This look out area has stationary telescopes for visitors to enjoy. Visit the Fishermen's Museum in St.Vincents Another geographical feature of this area is Holyrood Pond. It is 14 miles long, and 1 mile wide with depts of up to 400 feet. It is unique because it is barely separated from the ocean, only by a sliver of beach. As a result of this close proximity to the ocean many species of salt water fish can be found in the pond. In the 1890s the Newfoundland government pioneered fish hatching here.

Point La Haye Provincial park is only a few kilometres away. It is a scenic beach once frequented by Basque fishermen of St. Mary's Bay. It is an excellent place for a picnic or a leisurely stroll along the beach. Point La Haye Lighthouse was established in 1883. The original tower has been replaced, however there is still an open frame aluminum structure there. In the community of St. Mary's and throughout the region you will hear a dialect of Newfoundland Irish and see a lifestyle similar to Irelands.

There are also some great walking trails on Hare Hill. Also there is a veterns museum located in the Legion Hall in Riverhead.

On the Salmonier Arm near St. Joesephs is one of the best spots for salmon in eastern Newfoundland. The Salmonier River has several good fishing spots along the 15 kilometre stretch between the mouth of the river and Murphy's falls. The best spots are Back River, Pinsent's Falls, Butler's and Murphy Falls.

Another popular Irish Loop destination is the Salmonier Nature Park because here there are 30 species of birds and animals native to Newfoundland. It is a 1214 hectare wilderness reserve. The enclosures are very large and not at all zoo-like. Many of the parks trails are boardwalked, and the animals that you can see include Moose , beaver, caribou, Owls, otters, lynx. and foxes.

You will find that each town has something to offer visitors, not the least of which is a strong Irish heritage. Click on the name of the town to find more information.


Mount Carmel HOLYROOD St. Joseph's
Riverhead St. Mary's Point La Haye
St. Vincent's Peter's River St. Shott's
Trepassey Aquaforte Ferryland
Calvert Cape Broyle Tor's Cove
Mobile Witless Bay Bay Bulls


Spacious 3.5 Star Quality Accommodations located in Holyrood Conception Bay Newfoundland.

Located in Riverhead St.Mary's Bay Newfoundland






Irish Loop Drive Links
Adventure awaits visitors to the Irish Loop

















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