To reach Fogo Island, in Central Newfoundland, take the Road to the Isles driving route. It runs 172 km, along the Kittiwake Coast, through rural communities and pretty coastal areas, where you’ll likely spot 10,000-year-old bergs, in spring and early summer, when they break off from the glaciers of western Greenland and Arctic Canada to float down Iceberg Alley.
Your ferry will leave from a port sweetly named Farewell. It’s a 50-minute trip to Fogo Island—a place that has radically transformed over the last few years from a low-key fishing hub to a bucket-list destination for adventurous international travellers. The French began fishing here in the 1500s, when cod was abundant. In the 1700s, Irish and English settlers put down roots. But after cod stocks collapsed in the 1990s, because of international trawling, many islanders had to leave to make a living. The population fell from 5,000 in the 1950s to just under 2,500 today.
Culture fiends will love the Irish community of Tilting, with its green-trimmed white clapboard houses, its grass-roofed root cellars and its salt-blistered fishing stages. And all over the island, you’ll find original artworks and crafts, as well as homemade jam, lassie tarts and pickles, at craft stores, studio galleries and museums. Outdoors types are spoiled for choice with sand and pebble beaches and hiking trails, including a coastal path leading to the bronze Great Auk statue—the last of these now-extinct birds was spotted here in 1852. Among the hills to climb is Brimstone Head, considered one of the four corners of the Flat Earth. Wherever you venture, make like a local and gather blueberries, bakeapples and partridgeberries for a wild feast.
Zita Cobb, who grew up on the island and went on to make her fortune in high-tech communications, has recently been helping locals create a geo-tourism industry through her foundation, Shorefast. Fogo Island now has an internationally acclaimed artist residency program, a brand new inn and several thriving micro-businesses. Local entrepreneurs are doing everything from cultivating organic crops on the edge of the Atlantic to selling patchwork quilts to taking visitors out cod jigging.