We’ve been on the island of Newfoundland, Canada for almost a month now, and I believe this island is relatively unfamiliar to many people. When people think of “Canada,” the first things that come to mind are usually the regions of Quebec, Niagara Falls, or Vancouver. So, after spending a month on this beautiful island, I’m finally writing my first article about the best time to visit Newfoundland.
I anticipate that there will be five or six full articles about our stay, but I thought it would be interesting to begin with a “practical advice” article. As a reminder, I had previously visited Canada during my trip to the USA, crossing the border to spend a week in Banff and Jasper National Park, which was a sight for sore eyes, although not so tropical!
Anyhow, today I am going to tell you everything I know about choosing the best time to visit Newfoundland. Although we weren’t able to choose when to go with both kids in school and daycare, I have already done a lot of research.
If you want to know more, I invite you to read our article, which explains everything you need to know about traveling to Newfoundland.
For many people, climate and weather are the most important aspects, and indeed, one only has to look at the location of Newfoundland on a map to think, “It can get cold there, can’t it?” Joking aside, while I knew the location, being a good geographer, it’s still further north than Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, a French island, which, according to my friends who have lived there, sometimes experiences severe climate conditions!
However, Newfoundland is vast, and I looked it up, and it’s about a fifth of the size of France. While I’m not going to lecture you on the climatology of Newfoundland, it’s essential to know this fact. It is worth noting that the climate in Newfoundland can vary significantly from one part of the island to another. However, during our month-long stay, we did not observe significant differences between different areas.
The island experiences a cold temperate oceanic climate, with a substantial amount of precipitation throughout the year, which may occur in the form of rain or snow, ranging from 1000 to 1500 mm per month. On average, it rains between 15 and 20 days per month. The mildest period is from June to September, during which it rains about once every two days. During our visit, which was between the end of June and the end of July, we experienced frequent rain, lasting for several days at a time or just a few scattered showers. It is important to be aware that rain is common in Newfoundland, even during the summer months.
Temperatures in Newfoundland are at their warmest between June and September, which is also the warmest period of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. During this time, temperatures average between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. As soon as these months end, temperatures drop significantly, averaging less than 10° C. Additionally, outside of this period, snow is almost guaranteed
Therefore, if you are looking for a relatively dry and not too wet time to visit Newfoundland, the best time to go would be during the summer months, avoiding the heavy rainy months of June and July as well as the snow and low temperatures. However, it is important to note that weather is not the only factor to consider when traveling to Newfoundland.
If you are planning to visit during the mildest season in terms of climate, be aware that it is also the time when you will encounter the most tourists. It was not overly crowded on our side, but it is also not the Seychelles, so don’t expect an empty paradise. The main concern, aside from the tourists themselves, is the availability of accommodation, whether it be campsites, Airbnb rentals, or hotels.
In fact, in some places, especially in the national parks such as Gros Morne and Terra Nova, it can be quite difficult to find available accommodations. Therefore, if you plan on traveling during the summer, it’s important to carefully consider your lodging options and book well in advance. I highly recommend reserving some of the highlights of your trip ahead of time. For instance, we had Gros Morne booked in advance, even though we made a last-minute change to our plans. While it is still possible to find accommodations, it’s important to be flexible with your budget, as Canada is not Thailand, and prices can be quite steep.
Still, if you want to avoid the world, then I’d advise shifting a little before or after the summer months, at the risk (admittedly) of being a hair colder.
As I said above, weather and tourists are elements to consider for your trip to Newfoundland. However, you also came here to see and do specific things and depending on the season, it’s just not possible…
While it was not our top priority since we had already gone on several whale watching trips when we lived in Mayotte or Polynesia, if it is important to you during your stay, you will need to visit Newfoundland between June and August. The specific time frame may vary depending on the location, but generally, you should be able to go on a boat trip to see these magnificent creatures during these months.
If you’re interested in this kind of excursion, there’s a corner of Quebec that’s perfect for it. Find out all about whale watching at Tadoussac!
We can talk about the experience of watching icebergs, but locals have told us that it can vary from year to year. However, everyone agrees that during the year we visited, there were very few icebergs due to the unusual heat. The icebergs had partially melted before reaching the coast. An excellent website provides live updates on iceberg positions along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland is located in the path of “Iceberg Alley,” a corridor where icebergs drift after breaking off from the west coast of Greenland, along the east coast of Labrador. It is worth noting the famous Titanic tragedy (April 1912), where the ship hit a massive iceberg south of the island of Newfoundland.
Anyway, I digress, but visiting St. Anthony to see icebergs was a must on our Newfoundland holiday, and we were fortunate to observe one up close. From the information we gathered and our personal experience this year, the prime time to witness icebergs along the Newfoundland coast is from April to June. Visiting in July is already too late, and thankfully, we hurried up north; otherwise, we would have missed it.
This was equally important for us. When I visited Iceland in 2006, I missed the opportunity to see these gorgeous little migratory birds. Therefore, we made sure to take pictures of these cute birds this time.
We were able to spot them in various places and at a close distance, which was a success for us. Overall, the best time to see puffins, whales, and icebergs is between May and September. However, August and September are usually too late to catch a glimpse of the icebergs.
Yes, this will make you smile because you won’t come to Newfoundland specifically to pick berries! But know that between June and September is an excellent time to pick wild berries, and you’ll find them everywhere on your hikes. Well, between us, I’ve always been afraid of eating any berry ever since I saw the movie “Into the Wild”!
But for now, it’s also the right season to enjoy good blueberry or Plaquebière (bog bramble) cakes. I admit, I didn’t know it, but it’s really delicious! In short, we enjoyed ourselves, and our hips enjoyed the curves too! We also tried some great ice creams when we were on the island of Fogo!
If you, like us, are also coming to Newfoundland to hike, there are two ways to approach it. You can plan to come during the best season in terms of climate, the summer period. Or you can slightly shift your travel dates to April/May or September/October to avoid crowds on the hiking trails. In my opinion, this is the main advantage of traveling during the less visited months. Yes, the temperatures will be lower, and you’ll probably experience a bit more rain, but there will be fewer visitors. It’s worth considering, but be careful not to travel too late (or too early) to avoid the risk of encountering snow and closed hiking trails. This brings me to the last point of this article.
Although I don’t think many of you will come to Newfoundland specifically for skiing (it’s not really an ideal destination for that), if you do, you should favor the months of December to February. There are two ski resorts (White Hills and Marble Mountain) on the island.
I conclude this first article on the best time to visit Newfoundland by giving my personal opinion on the subject. Even though we were not bothered by tourists during our stay, it can be crowded, especially on nice days (on other days with a shitty weather, tourists, like us, stay warm). Therefore, in view of the above, I would definitely recommend shifting your travel dates to April or May. That way, you are sure to see icebergs, whales, and puffins, although it might be a bit early for the whales. Late May to late June would be the ideal compromise if you want to see the trio.
I’ll see you soon with a new article on the island of Newfoundland. In the meantime, I invite you to read our comprehensive article on Banff National Park, which is well worth a visit.