Travelers who visit the Port-au-Port Peninsula say that the drive is one of Newfoundland’s most scenic road trips. And after our road trip down to Cape St. George and on around the 161 km drive, it’s easy to see why.
Port au Port is also dubbed the French Ancestor’s Route (Route 463) in honor of the rich French-Acadian history.
If you’re looking at a map, the Port-au-Port Peninsula very much looks like an arrowhead hanging off the side of Newfoundland!
Thanks to its unique shape, the drive gives way to breathtaking craggy coastline views.
It’s also here, at the tip of Cape St. George, where you can marvel at some of Newfoundland’s best seal, bird, and whale watching.
Here are my best tips for driving the Port-au-Port Peninsula, including where to stop along the way to take in the best views, bird colonies, and even waterfalls!
Starting Your Port-au-Port Road Trip
Most likely you’ll start your road trip around the peninsula by first crossing Stephenville. While the town is friendly, there’s not much in the way of activities.
If you’re looking to stay overnight in the area, I highly recommend the Zenzville RV Campground where we stayed.
Continue west to head to the Port-au-Port entrance via highway 460.
From here all the way down to Cape St. George, is mostly coastline views.
There are a few places to stop and take pictures. The drive down this road is especially nice during the golden hour. You’ll pass by clusters of neighborhoods with bright red house numbers, all while peering virtually over the edge of huge cliffs.
Keep driving through Campbell’s Creek and Abrahams Cove until you reach Sheaves Cove.
1st Stop: Hidden Falls at Sheaves Cove
A trip down to Cape St. George isn’t complete without taking a break mid-way to marvel at the Hidden Falls.
Truly hidden, these falls are only witnessed if you pull off the road to a little parking lot by the sea.
Beware: Big rigs not recommended as there is a gravel hill you must climb to get back up.
Park in the lower lot and turn to your left. Hidden Falls is directly in view from the parking, but you can go right up to them by following the pathway.
While unmarked, the trail is easy to spot and follow and is cleared for hikers.
The waterfall might be low, depending on the season. Usually, it is a roaring waterfall. It’s especially a pretty sight in mid-late September when the leaves on the trees begin to change color.
When you’re ready, hop back in the car and head to your next stop: Boutte du Cap!
2nd Stop: Boutte du Cap @ Cape St. George
You will come to a fork in the road, make sure to veer left to head to the tip of Cape St. George.
If you’re traveling by camper van, you can squat overnight in the unofficial municipal campground with carved out sites in the trees on the cliffs. There are even small firepits for each.
You’ll reach the roundabout. Once here, make sure to pay attention to the ancient French oven over on the left. The “Four à Pain” is a traditional-style outdoor French bread oven that is STILL in use.
Maintained by the community, you can eat freshly-baked French bread between the months of July and August from noon – 2 pm. Unfortunately, the bread oven was already closed during our time there (mid-September).
Yet, the unparalleled views easily made up for the lack of baguette. 🙂
A small monument in the center of the roundabout honors the Acadians who once thrived in this region once known as the French Shore. The monument also explains the “Grand Dérangement” or Great Upheaval of the Acadians when the British expulsed them to other territories in fear of uprisal against the empire.
3rd Stop: Bird Colonies + Whale Watching (Boutte du Cap)
Drive to the end of the road to take in gorgeous views of the coastline. It’s here where you can pull out a camp chair and sit to watch the whales feed off the mackerel along the shoreline.
You can also witness the largest North Atlantic bird – the Gannet – as it nose-dives into the sea to fish.
Park and walk up the steep road to your right toward the small and large Kittiwake Trails.
The views from atop the cliffs are simply breathtaking with several species of bird colonies flying about.
It’s no wonder that Newfoundland and Labrador are considered North America’s seabird capital! They have over 35 million seabirds and 350+ bird species alone.
If you visit during the summer months, you have extremely high chances of spotting whales come to play and feed along the shoreline. Cape St. George is the perfect spot for whale-watching as there are unhampered views of the sea for miles and miles.
You can also hike the small Bread Crumb Trail here or “Le Chemin des Miettes” which will take you from one edge of the cliff to the other, through dented pine and berry bushes.
4th Stop: Mainland
A little community called Mainland is another great stop to take in the views of the sea.
We got to see a very large gathering of gannets diving into the sea. So much so that we were hoping whales would join in on the feeding frenzy. But in the end, we only spotted gannets.
You can also see the island jetting out from the sea very well from this viewpoint.
There is no internet service in the area, so make sure to plan out your day or even your questions for Google well in advance.
There are a tea room and an old schoolhouse you can visit a museum and see artifacts recounting the history of the people and the land in the area.
Continue along the French Ancestor’s Route from here around the coast toward Lourdes.
5th Stop: Lourdes + Black Duck Brook
Lourdes is a large community on the peninsula, but we found it very residential. Apart from the views of the gorgeous coastline, you can choose to stay here for an hour or get off the Route 463 and drive north to Black Duck Brook.
Drive-up the slim peninsula and you’ll come across the Winter Houses and the museum of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. There’s also bird-watching opportunities for Arctic Terns should you be a bird-enthusiast!
Wrapping Up Your Port-au-Port Peninsula Road Trip
Finish off your road trip around the Peninsula by following the Route 463 back to Abraham’s Cove. We found the route to be less scenic as its more inland rather than on the coast, compared to Highway 460 down to Cape St. George.
Alternatively, you could turn around at Lourdes and revisit the coastline counter-clockwise. In either case, you won’t be disappointed with a detour down to Boutte du Cap!
This road trip is a must-do adventure if ever you’re on the west coast of Newfoundland.