This past June, Nicole and I took a little minibreak to explore Twillingate, a little town nestled in Notre Dame Bay, along the north coast of the province. Spoiler alert…good times were had.
Once an important centre of industry for the commercial fishery, Twillingate retains it’s outport charm, though tourism now plays an important part in the local economy. Honestly though, we love being tourists in our own province because it gives us a chance to slow down and enjoy the things we so often take for granted. Nicole took so many photos of root cellars, you guys. It was a chore to narrow them down for this post. They look like little hobbit houses though, so I can’t blame her!!
If you are planning on enjoying some of what the north shore has to offer, read on for our two cents on the best of Twillingate!
Canvas Cove Bistro $$$ – Food was great. Stand out was whiskey sour with 10000 year old chunk of iceberg. Beef brisket and halibut were quite tasty, and scallop ceviche starter was refreshing. Overall really well done.
The Cozy Tea Room $ – Traditional style foods. Decent for the price. Had the pea soup, which was not as good as Mom’s (stiff competition) but we still finished it off.
Crow’s Nest Cafe – $ Charming location and decor, but with small and limited seating inside. When the weather is good there’s a balcony with additional seating. We noticed there were options for people with food restrictions as well. The cod chowder and lentil soup were quite good and there’s lots of baked goodies to enjoy with a solid cup of coffee.
Anchor Inn pub/Georgies Restaurant – $$ We had the calamari at the pub and were pleasantly surprised. A nice selection of Quidi vidi beer on tap and nightly entertainment. We also dined at Georgies, the upstairs restaurant. Starters were excellent and complimentary bread with molasses vinaigrette was a nice touch. We both had the burger, which was quite tasty but unfortunately a touch undercooked. Luckily they comped part of the bill when we let them know. Home fries would have elevated the burger.
Annie’s $ – We had breakfast here, and it was a solid spot for a standard eggs and bacon, but the menu is fairly basic. Poached eggs were not an option, unfortunately. However the fishcakes and toutons (though really small) were quite good, and the decor was cute!
Boat tour – There are several companies to choose from. We went with iceberg quest tours and weren’t disappointed. This has been a slow season for icebergs, but the boat ride was enjoyable and we were fortunate enough to spot a humpback whale. The experienced captain also took us into a little cove to see a bald eagle and its nest, which was a nice surprise. We also met a lovely family from Ontario, so it’s a great way to meet other tourists.
Experience Twillingate – We were very much looking forward to this award-winning experience with Crystal Anstey, the owner/operator, and were not disappointed. She led us on a pleasant walk to the beach, pointing out local edible plants along the way. When we reached our end destination, we found ourselves in a beautiful and secluded little cove where she had set up a lovely rustic dining experience for us. We felt at ease as Crystal prepared our meal, a decadent spread for a boil-up over the fire. Pan seared scallops, a goats cheese salad, fresh lobster (which she let us pick!) served with garlic butter and toasted rolls, and finished with adorable and delicious partidgeberry tarts (Or small pies as they are known in Twillingate – who knew? Newfoundland language is endlessly regional!) . She is open year round, with prices and foods varying based on seasonal availability and the particular experience.
Hiking – Twillingate has an extensive trail network. Trail maps can be found for free in local stores and museums and online. We only had time for two hikes, one long and one short. We were recommended by locals to check out Spillers’ Cove, where an osprey has made its nest atop a seastack of rock. The trail is 7km but we were pressed for time and so we took a shortcut up Slade’s Lane to the path (30-40 minutes return). We were even lucky enough to see a humpback whale leaving the cove just as we arrived. Our other hike was along the Longpoint lighthouse to Lower Head trail. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we brought a picnic lunch with us (carry everything out with you!!). We particularly enjoyed the sections of the path along Nanny’s Hole and the old abandoned copper mine.
Museums – What better way to experience a place than to learn about its history? It’s a perfect way to spend a rainy, windy day, of which there are plenty in this province. our sole rainy day was spent visiting several museums,which all offered something different! Entry to the Twillingate Museum is by donation, so you really can’t lose budget-wise. There were several exhibits featuring different historical occupations and an interesting exhibit on the Maritime Archaic peoples, who occupied the land as far back as 7000BC! The Durrell museum is also only a few bucks, and has an eclectic mix of displays featuring the traditional English settler’s way of life. Both museums had gift shops as well. Our favourite though was the Wooden Boat Builder’s museum. Here there’s not only history, but also a live demonstration of a traditional wooden boat being built. It was encouraging to see the efforts being made to keep this skill alive in our province, and fascinating to find out a bit more about it. Ask lots of questions – the guides know their stuff!
Music/Entertainment – For a small spot, there’s no shortage of nightlife in Twillingate! We checked out the Split Peas, a local group of women that perform on thursdays in the old Orange Lodge. This was a bit more for tourists than locals, but the girls can spin a yarn and carry a tune, and a good time was had. We also checked out Mike Sixonate at the Captain’s Pub on recommendation of a local, and he was a true storyteller and musician – very talented. If you’re a fan of craft beer, definitely check out Split Rock Brewery, a new local spot with great selection on tap. Always ask around, there’s plenty of weekend concerts on the go throughout the summer.
Shopping – We didn’t spend much time shopping, but there are a few cute spots along the main drag to check out. Artisan Market has lots of local artist’s products and a cute atmosphere and coffee/drinks for sale. There are also a couple of galleries along main street featuring different artists, so be sure to drop in. And we won’t fib, a few bottles of wine may have been purchased at the local Auk Island Winery as well…
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Twillingate. Feel free to hit us up with any questions or comments on our trip, we’d love to hear from you!!