7 Wonders of Newfoundland & Labrador REVEALED

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Jun 16, 2016 11:39 AM

After 78 nominations were submitted and more than 6,000 votes were cast online, the voting public has determined Downhome's 7 Wonders of Newfoundland & Labrador. Since April, when we launched our 7 Wonders campaign looking for your favourite singular natural landmarks, we've learned of our readers' personal connections to some of the province's most beloved attractions, and discovered many spectacular sites that are relatively unknown, even to locals. Below we reveal, in no particular order, the 7 Wonders of Newfoundland & Labrador, accompanied by our readers' most breathtaking photos of each. (Click here for 7 Honourable Mentions.) And while a picture might be worth a thousand words, nothing beats being there in person. So if you haven't yet experienced all 7 wonders first-hand, consider adding them to your summer vacation plans. 

The Tablelands

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Chad Peddle photo

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Aiden Mahoney photo

The barren, brown Tablelands stand out amid the lush greenery of Gros Morne National Park. The area owes its unique appearance to a material originating in the earth’s mantle, forced to the surface during plate collision millions of years ago. The Tablelands Interpretive Trail, an easy 4-km (return) path, takes hikers straight into the heart of this geological wonder. During the summer months, visitors may opt to join a guided walk while learning about the fascinating landscape. Or, for those who like to step off the beaten path, there is a special off-trail guided hike that takes adventurers to the top of the Tablelands to enjoy an incredible view relatively few venture to see.

The Dungeon

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Erik Mclean photo

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Linda Dowswell photo

Many years ago, the land above two side-by-side sea caves collapsed near the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula, forming the attraction ominously named “The Dungeon.” Seawater rushing through the two channels is a sight to behold, making this a cherished landmark for residents of and visitors to Bonavista for many years.

“My mother, Margaret Russell, now 83 years old and residing in Bonavista, recalls her childhood living in nearby Lance Cove. They would frequently sail in and out of the two caves on Sunday excursions with her father and siblings. She remembers it distinctly, sculling in and out each one, shouting out inside the caves and listening to their voices echo loudly,” wrote Fred Russell in his nomination statement. Today a gravel road leads to this natural wonder, part of a provincial day use park located at Cape Bonavista - also an excellent place for viewing whales, puffins and icebergs in season. 

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

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Glenda Quinn photo

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Hilda Bradbury photo

Perched on the southwestern tip of the Avalon Peninsula, Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is home to approximately 70,000 seabirds including Northern gannet, black-legged kittiwake, common and thick-billed murre, razorbill, black guillemot and cormorant. Many Northern gannet, in particular, nest on “Bird Rock,” a sea stack mere metres from shore, making for some of the best close-up views of seabirds in the province. A 1-km footpath leads visitors to the cliff edge overlooking the spectacle, and an on-site interpretive centre is open from May through October, with staff offering guided tours. 

Western Brook Pond

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Heather Smith photo

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Gene Greene photo

In the heart of Gros Morne National Park is Western Brook Pond, a land-locked freshwater fiord carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. A 45-minute hike leads to a dock where local tour company BonTours offers interpretive boat tours of the 16-km body of water, where stunning waterfalls can be seen cascading over 600-metre cliffs. Seasoned hikers have the opportunity to see Western Brook Pond from above by taking a day-long hike to the top of the gorge and back with Clem’s Trekking Adventures (in partnership with BonTours).

The Spout

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Larry Mills photo

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Erica Summers photo

Located along the coast between the Goulds and Bay Bulls on the Avalon Peninsula, the spout is an incredible wave-powered geyser that shoots water high into the air - a spectacle that can be sighted from a distance. The natural phenomenon is located near the halfway point of The Spout Path, a section of the East Coast Trail that also takes in dramatic sea cliffs, sea stacks and waterfalls. The strenuous trek takes a full day and is recommended for experienced hikers only.

The Wonderstrand

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Anonymous submission

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Dennis Flynn photo

North of Cartwright, Labrador lies the magnificent Wonderstrand (also known as Porcupine Strand), a stretch of sandy coastline so vast it looks like it belongs in some sunny southern clime. Measuring more than 50 km in length, relatively few have walked along this remote, uninhabited sandy beach. Local tour operator Experience Labrador takes tourists by boat to this hidden gem for an unforgettable hiking experience that often includes seabird and wildlife sightings. But The Wonderstrand isn’t just a pretty place - it’s an historic one, too. Archaeologists have long been drawn to the area, occupied by ancient cultures as early as 9,000 years ago - and some believe this coastal oasis is referred to in the Viking sagas.

The Arches

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Tanya Northcott photo

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Robert Carter photo

Located on Newfoundland’s west coast just north of Gros Morne National Park, The Arches are made up of three massive, natural rock archways carved over the ages by tidal action and pounding surf. The attraction is the focal point of a provincial day use park that includes a picnic area. In her nomination statement, Doris Hugh recalled a surprising experience she had at The Arches several years ago.

“We were to head north on the west coast after spending a couple nights in a very comfortable B&B, sort of harbouring from the tail end of a hurricane. On the highway we saw The Arches…there was a beautiful rocky beach with the stunning arches for decoration, and best of all the splashy water pictured in each arch,” wrote Doris. “We got out of the car and headed to the tumbled rocky beach in the chilly wind and found the beach held more than rocks - dead fish littered the beach, we presumed tossed out of the water by the stiff wind of the day before.”