After 78 nominations were submitted and more than 6,000 votes were cast online, the voting public has determined Downhome's 7 Wonders of Newfoundland & Labrador. Since April, when we launched our 7 Wonders campaign looking for your favourite singular natural landmarks, we've learned of our readers' personal connections to some of the province's most beloved attractions, and discovered many spectacular sites that are relatively unknown, even to locals. Below we reveal, in no particular order, the 7 Wonders of Newfoundland & Labrador, accompanied by our readers' most breathtaking photos of each. (Click here for 7 Honourable Mentions.) And while a picture might be worth a thousand words, nothing beats being there in person. So if you haven't yet experienced all 7 wonders first-hand, consider adding them to your summer vacation plans.
The barren, brown Tablelands stand out amid the lush greenery of Gros Morne National Park. The area owes its unique appearance to a material originating in the earth’s mantle, forced to the surface during plate collision millions of years ago. The Tablelands Interpretive Trail, an easy 4-km (return) path, takes hikers straight into the heart of this geological wonder. During the summer months, visitors may opt to join a guided walk while learning about the fascinating landscape. Or, for those who like to step off the beaten path, there is a special off-trail guided hike that takes adventurers to the top of the Tablelands to enjoy an incredible view relatively few venture to see.
Perched on the southwestern tip of the Avalon Peninsula, Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is home to approximately 70,000 seabirds including Northern gannet, black-legged kittiwake, common and thick-billed murre, razorbill, black guillemot and cormorant. Many Northern gannet, in particular, nest on “Bird Rock,” a sea stack mere metres from shore, making for some of the best close-up views of seabirds in the province. A 1-km footpath leads visitors to the cliff edge overlooking the spectacle, and an on-site interpretive centre is open from May through October, with staff offering guided tours.
Located along the coast between the Goulds and Bay Bulls on the Avalon Peninsula, the spout is an incredible wave-powered geyser that shoots water high into the air - a spectacle that can be sighted from a distance. The natural phenomenon is located near the halfway point of The Spout Path, a section of the East Coast Trail that also takes in dramatic sea cliffs, sea stacks and waterfalls. The strenuous trek takes a full day and is recommended for experienced hikers only.
North of Cartwright, Labrador lies the magnificent Wonderstrand (also known as Porcupine Strand), a stretch of sandy coastline so vast it looks like it belongs in some sunny southern clime. Measuring more than 50 km in length, relatively few have walked along this remote, uninhabited sandy beach. Local tour operator Experience Labrador takes tourists by boat to this hidden gem for an unforgettable hiking experience that often includes seabird and wildlife sightings. But The Wonderstrand isn’t just a pretty place - it’s an historic one, too. Archaeologists have long been drawn to the area, occupied by ancient cultures as early as 9,000 years ago - and some believe this coastal oasis is referred to in the Viking sagas.