Planning a Trip to Fogo Island Newfoundland
Adventures and Attractions on Fogo Island in Atlantic Canada
History and Travel Guide for Newfoundland and Labrador
Planning a trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada is very easy to navigate. We based our trip around the availability of a local accommodation. From there, we started to learn about all the unique experiences and locations this Island has to offer. When exploring Fogo Island, Newfoundland I highly recommend taking at least three or four days, but preferably a week to visit. It is worthwhile to stay longer so you can see more of this magical island. A trip to Fogo Island is well worth the drive and the time. It is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.
Planning a Trip to Fogo Island Newfoundland Canada
To visit the Island is to step into another world. It is steeped in culture, filled with hiking trails, and covered in haunting landscapes that tell the story of how this amazing island was shaped by volcanos.
The Name Fogo Island
The name Fogo appropriately means "fire" in Portuguese. The tales vary about how this name came to be. After visiting there, I would ponder that it comes from the tenacity of the people who settled and claimed this land as Home. As you travel around Fogo Island you start to realize that it is a community where the weather, and the land, have become central it's history and traditions.
History of Fogo Island
Fogo Island is one of the oldest settlements around Newfoundland and is shown in maps going back to the early 16th century. To visit this untamed place is to step into communities that have supported one another. These are communities that have continued with a traditional way of life despite harsh conditions and a struggling fishery. The island is home to approximately 2100 people.
However, it is important to know that the history of Fogo Island pre-dates the French, British, Irish and Portuguese that settled here. For many hundreds of years this Island was inhabited by the Beothuk who came to fish and hunt local birds. The Beothuk were the original recorded indigenous people of Newfoundland. However, after much violence between Europeans and the Beothuk, they were declared extinct in 1829.
Fogo Island: The Edge of the Earth
The Town of Fogo Island
Getting to Fogo Island
If you are starting from St. John's it will be about a four and a half hour drive to get to the Ferry. If instead you fly into Gander, in central Newfoundland, it is about an hour drive.
When you are planning a trip to Fogo Island it is important to check the timing on the schedule and recognize that weather can impact the crossing times. There are also sections with no cell phone reception so be prepared with your map in advance. I also recommend notifying anyone who you may want to be in contact with beforehand.
There are also sometimes large pot holes along the road. As I tell any guests who come to visit Newfoundland, with one road in (route 335) and the same road out, the isolation makes it difficult to maintain all the roads to these remote communities.
Food and Accommodations on Fogo Island
Prepare for a feast of your taste buds when you visit Fogo Island. Our favourite restaurant on Fogo Island was the Bang Belly Café. We had several meals there as they accommodate gluten free eating, with lots of vegetarian options. It is a busy location though so reservations are recommended if you want to ensure you get a table.
If you are staying for several days, or simply prefer cooking for yourself, there are general convenience stores in a few locations that cover basics that you would need. There are also several other restaurants including Chinese, Pizza, and Fish and Chips that you can enjoy as well.
There are a range of options available for accommodations while on Fogo Island. There are numerous rentals like the Fogo Island Inn, and Camping or RV options all around the Island.
Wherever you decide to dine or stay, a trip to Fogo Island in the summer would not be complete without visiting Growler's Ice Cream Shop. They make handcrafted ice cream with local ingredients. I had one with partridgeberry jam, and another that was strawberry rhubarb. I truly just wish I could buy it at home!
Fogo Island Inn
In recent years the fame of this island has grown with the opening of the iconic Fogo Island Inn. The Inn has attracted celebrities' and locals alike to the shores of Fogo Island.
The Inn was built to create a sustainable future for the communities that are spread across this Island and was designed by local Architect Todd Saunders to mirror an old fishing stage on stilts.
It has continued to be a vital part of economic revitalization by taking 100% of their operating surplus and reinvesting it into the surrounding communities through Shorefast.
Artist Studio Residences on Fogo Island
In addition to the Fogo Island Inn, architect Todd Saunders designed four artist-in-residence studios at various locations throughout Fogo Island. The studios are completely off-grid and provide stark contrast to the landscapes in which they are located. Each provoke a sense of interest and awe as you visit.
Fogo Island Arts is one of many initiatives of Shorefast that supports concept that art has the ability to make connections and create social change and new ideas on local issues.
The residency program was founded in 2008 and brings artists from across the globe to spend time staying in a local artist-in-residence studio and joining the local community. The responsibility of the artist is to share their art at the end of their stay through a presentation, a workshop or performance.
Each of the four studios on Fogo Island are inspiring works of architecture that are in strong juxtaposition to their surroundings. It adds to the appeal of getting near them and exploring them. They sit as though they have been planted in the vast expanse of the landscape around them. It feels as though they have been dropped in, like the large rocks that were moved into place around the island of Newfoundland, by glaciers.
Visiting each of the studio's was one of the main pieces of our itinerary. Each of the studios is located along the various hiking trails around Fogo Island. The Bridge Studio is in Deep Bay, the Squish Studio is in Tilting, the Long Studio is in Joe Batt's Arm and the Tower Studio is in Shoal Bay.
The artists in these studio don't stay in isolation. They immerse themselves into these communities and explore the landscapes. One evening while we were having a fire one of the local artist's in residence came to check on fabrics by the beach. Fabrics were placed at various locations around the Island. They were watching them change..
Trail Maps and Hiking on Fogo Island
To plan your visit and decide what hiking trails to explore there is a great Fogo Island Trail Map that is free to download from the Fogo Island Inn.
There are eight main hiking trails around the Island that range from easy to difficult: Lion's Den, Brimstone Head, Joe Batt's Trail (Long Studio), Fogo Head Trail, Turpin's Trail (Squish Studio), Waterman's Brook Trail, Deep Bay Lookout (Bridge Studio) and Oliver's Cove Trail.
Each of the trails connects into a local community while four also provide the trail to the local artist studio's. Therefore, the landscape here ranges from lichens around Deep Bay to unique rock formations like Brimstone Head, formed from a volcano over 400-million years ago.
Be Social and Engage in the Communities of Fogo Island
If there is one piece of advice I can offer on any trip to Newfoundland it is, be sociable and talk with the local people who live in the community. They know what is good to eat, the secret beaches to visit and the best place to go on the island for sunrise or sunset.
When we went to Tilting it was to find the Squish Studio and the Irish Cemetery, which is said to the oldest exclusively Irish cemetery in North America. As we wandered through the town I went down to the wharf and found the local fisherman coming in with their morning catch. They went about gutting the cod fish and indulged my questions and curiosity. As I started to walk away, they put four fresh fillets in a bag, and told me to go have a great lunch. I was so thankful and surprised. I walked away with so much joy and gratitude for classic Newfoundland hospitality. We stuck it on ice and brought it back to our accommodation It was perfect the next morning for breakfast!
Fogo Island: Top 10 Location to Visit in Newfoundland
In conclusion, Fogo Island is a place where the creative process is encouraged. Slow walks on the beach with a cup of coffee are a part of the rhythm of your day. Nature exists within your every day in a place like Fogo Island. It determines the schedule, the activities and the places you linger in a day. It's truly my kind of place. It felt like the definition of community.
If you are not sure where to visit in Newfoundland, I would highly recommend considering a visit to Fogo Island. It sinks into your bones, which some might say is just the wind-chill most of the year. For me, it is on our bucket list to return to again.
Planning a Trip to Fogo Island
An Adventure to the Edge of the Earth: Fogo Island, Newfoundland
Newfoundland & Labrador
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I love how artists come and stay for a period of time interacting with the community. Sounds very interesting! I really enjoyed your blog about Fogo Island. I'd love to go there some day, but I would also like to spend more time on the mainland.
Thank you, Diana. There is so much to see here, like I am learning about the other provinces from you all. It's an incredible country we get to call home. It is worth learning more about the artists and related stories if you do decide it is on your itinerary when you visit.
I loved my quick trip to Fogo Island Amy, however 1 night was not enough for me! I am looking forward to going back and Also visiting the Change Islands as well!
Yes! We were supposed to do Change Islands, but had so many things to do on the Island we ended up without time to stop. I definitely would stop on the way next time - and visit the Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary.
Great article Amy! I really enjoy your writing style, photos and the video with narration. After Cora Lee's stories about Fogo Island I put it on my must see list. Now I know to plan for at least a week, and to pack my hiking boots. It was a very informative story. Thank you
Thank you, Janet. A week would definitely be ideal if you want to enjoy the pace of the Island. Like you saw in the photo climbing to Brimstone Head, much of it is connected in the middle of communities and slow enough to bring your morning coffee along and sit a while (if you can take the wind up there).