Photograph by Alex Fradkin
Fogo Island is not so much a place as a state of mind. With a long maritime history, the largest offshore island of Newfoundland and Labrador is a gentle world of bright-colored clapboard houses, sea-cliff footpaths, lush forest, and warm hospitality set against a striking coastline. Recently an inspired arts scene has brought new life to Fogo's struggling fishing communities.
When to Go: You can reach Fogo year-round, but nonwinter months are more pleasant. The island's 11 settlements are located along the rocky coast, best explored in Atlantic sunshine. Art exhibitions, performances by the World's End Theatre Company, and the boisterous Great Fogo Punt rowing race take place in July and August. Resident artists enjoy the color and quiet of fall and spring.
How to Get Around: Gander is the closest commercial airport. Most visitors rent a car there or in St. John's and drive to Farewell for the 50-minute ferry sailing to Fogo. The ferry runs seven days a week May to October, with fewer trips during winter. Check ahead as the ferry is occasionally cancelled for maintenance. "Drive around the island and stay in the different communities," suggests Sandy Crawford, who works in Tourism and Recreation for the Town of Fogo Island. "You start at Stag Harbour, drive to Seldom, and from the center of the island you can visit Tilting, Joe Batts, or Fogo."
Where to Stay: Facing the ocean in the village of Joe Batt's Arm, the newly launched Fogo Island Inn is a big splash in Fogo's little pond—a modern, luxurious 29-room boutique hotel with rooftop spa, art studios, solar panels, and individually designed rooms. The brainchild of an islander, all those niceties come with a hefty price tag. Full-board prices range from C$850 to C$2,950 per night in high season. Peg's B&B, in the center of Fogo, is a more affordable, homey, six-bedroom house with a great view of the harbor.
What to Eat or Drink: There are fewer than a dozen restaurants, cafés, and pubs on Fogo, but your taste buds won't suffer. Fogo Island Inn's chef Murray McDonald focuses on "wild things from the North Atlantic." The kitchen uses regionally sourced ingredients like foraged plants and berries, and, of course, seafood direct from the harbor. Also in Joe Batt's Arm, Nicole's Café serves inspired dishes with ingredients fished, foraged, and farmed around the island.
What to Buy: For those seeking art, Fogo Island Gallery (in the Fogo Island Inn) presents exhibitions from local and visiting artists participating in its residential program. Other galleries around the island sell paintings, sculptures, hooked rugs, and carvings typical of maritime life.
Helpful Link: The Town of Fogo Island
Fun Fact: Canada's Flat Earth Society believes that Brimstone Head, a massive rock jutting out of the island's northwestern coast, is one of the four corners of the Earth.
Vancouver-based Robin Esrock is author of The Great Canadian Bucket List and host of the Nat Geo Adventure TV series Word Travels.
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