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Fogo Island scene in the rain
Fogo Island scene in the rain

What to Do on Fogo Island, Newfoundland

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Fogo Island is Newfoundland’s largest offshore island, located in the central part of the province, approximately 120 kilometres north of Gander. The island sits at one of the four corners of the earth so if you aren’t careful, especially if you hike the Brimstone Trail, you may fall off. Fortunately no one has been lost yet.

Fogo Island is a  must-do detour if you have a few extra days on route to the Twillingate area. You could also visit the Change Islands as they are on the same ferry route.

Read my post about kayaking with icebergs out of Twillingate.

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Fishing nets on the island
Fishing nets on Fogo Island

Getting to Fogo Island

The island is accessed via a ferry service leaving from Farewell. Many of the ferries stop at the Change Islands on the way to Fogo Island.

Interestingly, some of the vehicles on the Change Islands, including one pulling a U-Haul, had to BACK onto the ferry. I’d only seen this happen once before – on the ferry between Newfoundland and Labrador.

 Scenery at the ferry dock
Scenery at the ferry dock

On the ferry you can pick up an excellent map of the island. It lists all the businesses as well as suggestions of things to do.

Fogo Island is 25 kilometres long by 14 kilometres wide so you can easily drive the whole island in a day. It seemed that many people on the ferry were only heading over for a day.

They’d go to the five star Fogo Island Inn for a tour and lunch and then head back. Do that, but give the island more than a day – especially if you’re into hiking or photography.

If you can afford it, a stay at the Fogo Island Inn sounds positively divine. A friend recently celebrated her 35th anniversary at the inn – and had this to say – “Every morning coffee and a baked good – bread, scones, muffins or granola was in a box outside your door. A pre-breakfast treat. Unbelievable that place is. The staff and I cried when we left.”

You won't have a hard time picking out the Fogo Island Inn
You won’t have a hard time picking out the Fogo Island Inn

The communities on Fogo Island

On Fogo Island, population 2,244 in 2016, there are a few small towns/communities. Little Seldom and Seldom, Fogo, Joe Batt’s Arm, Sandy Cove and Tilting. Many are fishing villages and very pretty but not all offer services.

Colourful fishing villages on the drive to Tilting
Colourful fishing villages on the drive to Tilting
Wildflowers brighten an otherwise dreary day
Wildflowers brighten an otherwise dreary day

What to do on Fogo Island

Drive every road you can. The houses are colourful and full of character and the maritime scenes are pretty even in the rain. And it rains a lot on the island.

What to do on a Trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland
A die hard Maple leaf’s fan by the looks of the flag
What a treat to see icebergs as you're driving around on Fogo Island
What a treat to see icebergs as you’re driving around on the island
A cannon leftover from the days when the island needed protection
A cannon leftover from the days when the island needed protection
Getting socked in by the weather
Getting socked in
Yellow house seen through the raindrops
Yellow house seen through the raindrops
Houses on the island have a lot of character
Houses on the island have a lot of character
The one cemetery I saw on the island
The one cemetery I saw on the island

Book a tour of the Fogo Island Inn beforehand 

The Inn is a remarkable structure. It’s the brainchild of Zita Cobb, a local who went away to study and earn a living, and who came back several decades later a multi-millionaire with a desire to turn the economic fortunes of Fogo Island around.

The emphasis has been on making Fogo Island a cultural destination. To that end, she and a younger brother came up with the idea of the Shorefast Foundation. Artist residency programs and a loan program for under-funded people with creative ideas are just two of the four principles of the foundation.

Looking across the bay to the Fogo Island Inn
Looking across the bay to the Fogo Island Inn
The back view of Fogo Island Inn
The back view of Fogo Island Inn
There's a distinct lack of soil on the island
There’s a distinct lack of soil on the island

Eat lunch or dinner at Nicole’s Café.  And in summer, head to Growlers for ice cream.

The Outpost Café and Roastery, home to the Flat Earth Coffee Company – and the best coffee I had in two weeks in Newfoundland – is also worth a visit. Look for home baked goods as well as soups. You’ll find it on the north side of Highway 334 on the way to Joe Batt’s Arm.

Nicole's Cafe - the place to eat on the island
Nicole’s Cafe – the place to eat on the island

Take a hike on Fogo Island

And if you get lucky, you’ll see some of the 600 caribou that call the island home. The only hike we had time for was the one to Brimstone Head – one of the four corners of the world according to the Flat Earth Society.

But there are numerous trails including the 8.5 km Turpin’s Trail in Tilting that takes you by the first ground radar station in North America, and the 5.7 km Waterman Brook’s Trail that ends at a waterfall.

Most of the trails are rocky, so good footwear is important. And don’t forget your rain gear.

What to do on a Trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland
The Fogo Head trailhead offers island and iceberg views
Brimstone Head Trailhead - takes you to one of the four corners of the world
Brimstone Head Trailhead – takes you to one of the four corners of the earth
Hiking to the edge of the Flat Earth, Fogo Island
Hiking to the edge of the Flat Earth
What to do on a Trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland
It’s a quick and easy climb to Brimstone Head
Looking down the cliffs through the fog on Fogo Island, Newfoundland
Looking down the cliffs through the fog
My friend Judy and I are captivated by the place even in the fog
My friend Judy and I are captivated by the place even in the fog
A sign meant for the Fort McMurray working folks
A sign meant for the Fort McMurray working folks
The summit of Brimstone Head; it's only a 20 minute walk to the top
The summit of Brimstone Head; it’s only a 20 minute walk to the top
What a difference a little sunshine makes to the landscape
What a difference a little sunshine makes to the landscape

In chatting with guests at our B&B, I understand that the Fogo Island Marine Interpretation Center in Seldom is also well worth the visit, though they had some difficulty locating the building. The cod liver oil your mother made you take as a kid might have come from here.

There are galleries to visit too, so pull out the map and plan your time. You’ll soon understand why you need to spend more than a day on the island.

Where to stay on the island

For accommodation choose from B&B’s as well as the Fogo Island Inn. I can highly recommend a stay at Peg’s Bed and Breakfast in Fogo. It’s not fancy but it’s very comfortable and clean, breakfasts are great and include a giant fresh fruit salad. Eileen, the co-owner can give you loads of ideas on what to do as well.

If you’re looking for a holiday home and you want to see what it’s like to live in a salt box then check out The Old Salt Box Co. – Aunt Gladys.

Fogo Island over-delivered on scenery but under-delivered on weather. I shouldn’t complain because the day on Fogo Island was the only full day of rain in two weeks in Newfoundland. The morning we left was glorious and I wish I could have stayed and hiked a few more of the trails.

Further reading on things to do in Newfoundland

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

What to do and where to stay on Fogo Island - Newfoundland's largest offshore island

Thank you to Adventure Central Newfoundland for help with my visit to the island.

 

 

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