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Kayaking In Iceberg Alley, Twillingate, Newfoundland

Kayaking in Iceberg Alley, Twillingate, Newfoundland

If you think kayaking with icebergs sounds bucketlist worthy, then head to Iceberg Alley, a section of coastline that stretches from Labrador, south along the northeast coast of the island of Newfoundland.

Iceberg Alley is one of the top places in the world for viewing icebergs. And Twillingate is one of the few towns in Newfoundland where iceberg viewing and kayaking come together. The peak viewing time in Twillingate is May but icebergs can linger into July. Kayaking in Iceberg Alley is an exciting way to experience the icebergs.

Every year is different, depending on how many icebergs calved off the west coast of Greenland and how quickly they move. You can check the location of icebergs in advance of your trip by consulting IcebergFinder. Prime time for kayaking with icebergs is June and early July but that varies by year. This year is a banner year for icebergs.

I had the pleasure of a half day trip just a few weeks ago with Grant as my guide from OQ Close Encounters.

Grant - our guide pointing out the route
Grant – our guide pointing out the route

What he tells me before we head out is this:

What is amazing about paddling with icebergs is the context it provides. Here you are – paddling with 15, 000 ice behemoths, sculptures of the land, who themselves are gradually sculpted by the sea. It’s hard not to feel small, insignificant and sometimes that is good and refreshing.

A chart of the Twillingate area
A chart of the Twillingate area

A perfect day for kayaking in Iceberg Alley

Winds were light, seas were calm and the sun was shining. I was joined on this trip by my friend Judy. Both of us have loads of West Coast kayaking experience in all conditions, some of them gnarly (the polite description) and dangerous.

Interestingly, for the second time in 48 hours, as two middle aged women, our skill set was not so much called into question, as it wasn’t initially considered. Oh the joys of getting older.

Grant came around with time. Not only did he show us Twillingate’s Long Point Lighthouse and numerous icebergs up close but we became his second group EVER to circumnavigate Burnt Island. And that was a real treat, and not the least bit difficult in our opinion.

Kayaking towards our first iceberg out of Twillingate
Kayaking towards our first iceberg out of Twillingate
Getting closer to the iceberg than I care to be
Getting closer to the iceberg than I care to be

It’s magical paddling at eye level with icebergs

Icebergs are powerful and unpredictable.  Theyโ€™re incredibly beautiful and each one looks very different. Icebergs can rollover on a dime, taking you with them if you get too close.

They can also calve without warning and send a wave that can flip you. But if you keep a respectable distance away โ€“ either twice the height or the length of the iceberg then you should be safe.

Iceberg Alley is straight ahead
Iceberg Alley is straight ahead
Boating in Iceberg Alley out of Twillingate Newfoundland
Try to time your visit to Twillingate to coincide with the icebergs
Our guide loving the Iceberg Alley experience as much as we are
Our guide kayaking in Iceberg Alley and loving the experience as much as we are
This iceberg is stable we're told - until it's not
This iceberg is stable we’re told – until it’s not
Growlers are the smallest icebergs
Growlers are the smallest icebergs

Kayaking around Burnt Island

Heading around Burnt Island was a real highlight for us. The island is deeply incised by long channels on the north side – with towering multi-coloured cliffs.

We kayaked down one L-shaped channel and entered a calm area surrounded by cliffs, a perfect place to go to contemplate the meaning of life.

Kayaking in Iceberg Alley out of Twillingate Newfoundland
Kayaking in Iceberg Alley in sight of a growler on the back side of Burnt Island

Once we made it to the backside of the island, the waters calmed considerably. There are beautiful beaches that would certainly beckon me to camp on if I lived nearby – for what could be better than a beach with an iceberg view?

The backside of Burnt Island
The backside of Burnt Island
Getting as close as we dare to an iceberg
Getting as close as we dare to an iceberg

From Burnt Island we headed back to Twillingate – a very attractive town from the water.

Heading back towards Twillingate
Heading back towards Twillingate
Twillingate from our B&B - after kayaking & dinner
Twillingate from our B&B – after kayaking & dinner

Eating in Twillingate

We didn’t get off the water till about 7 PM and so we were both famished. Between three plus hours of kayaking and several hours of hiking we had burnt off some calories – a good thing because we ate them all back.

For dinner in Twillingate, head for Canvas Cove Bistro. We came as close to heaven as you can get with a lobster salad that was nothing but lobster ($19) and a partridgeberry crumble. It was one of the top two meals we ate in Newfoundland.

The reward at the end of a hiking & kayaking day - lobster salad
The reward at the end of a hiking & kayaking day – lobster salad
Partridgeberry crumble
Partridgeberry crumble

And if you need a place to stay in Twillingate try Paradise Bed and Breakfast. Not only do you get friendly hosts, including Fred – one of the local hiking guides, but you get some of the best views of Twillingate. And in the morning Mildred serves to die for molasses buns with partridgeberry jam.

Kayaking when there aren’t icebergs

Even if the icebergs have melted the Twillingate area is a fun place to explore by kayak. No matter what the day, you can count on wearing a wetsuit but bring along a fleece jacket, raincoat, sunscreen and sun hat as well. Tours with Grant start at $69 and should be reserved.

If you’re just not that into kayaking, then head for the trails around Long Point Lighthouse. You could easily spend a solid day hiking kilometres worth of trails. Here’s a teaser of a photo as there will be a full post in the future.

Multiple icebergs in Iceberg Alley at the end of June
Multiple icebergs in Iceberg Alley at the end of June

Twillingate was one of the highlights of my trip to Newfoundland. I really wish I had allowed for at least one more full day.

Further reading on things to do in Newfoundland 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Kayaking in Iceberg Alley, Twillingate, Newfoundland

Thank you to Adventure Central Newfoundland for organizing part of this trip – and for helping to make it possible.

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 19 Comments
  1. These photos are a study of blues and the clarity is superb. I particularly like the one with the red boat for a contrast and the yellow canoe with the growler. I like the way the icebergs in the final photo look like sailing boats. What an experience Leigh ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This looks so cool. And it looks like you got very lucky with weather. we had more typical rain and fog in Newfy, which kept us off the water.

  3. Hi Leigh….WOW! I’ve seen an iceberg in St. John’s harbor (before my photography days), but nothing like this. I love the shot of Twillingate in the early evening. Okay, the lobster has me drooling!

  4. The icebergs look so beautiful, the water so inviting, I’d definitely love to do this, Leigh! I’d just try not to get too close. You have the most exciting adventures!!

  5. Hi Leigh, this is simply magical. Wow, to be kayaking and be surrounded by those spectacular icebergs is breathtaking. I’d feel exuberant, too, if i were there. And ahhh….the lobster salad is just a perfect treat at the end of the day.

    1. @Marisol & Keith I saw your double today Keith in Saskatchewan – so thought of you both & realized I hadn’t visited your blog since I’ve been traveling. The kayaking was great!!

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