The picturesque town of Rocky Harbour is the unofficial hub of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park. It is a great central location from which you can explore many different areas of the park either by foot or by paddle. Located near the mouth of beautiful Bonne Bay it is a great place to try a little kayaking. The sheltered harbour has been a haven for fisherman for centuries and is a popular launch site for many longer trips along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which hugs the western shore of the island. It offers some great ocean views and some beautiful shoreline to explore.
The best place to put in for your paddle is just behind the fish plant at the end of the main road. You can park directly across from the plant and slip your boat into the harbour from the small beach just to the right of the structure itself. This beach is quite sheltered and offers a good launch site for almost any wind direction.
Once on the water, head right and paddle the coast along the edge of the town. The quaint village hugs the shoreline and you will no doubt get your picture taken by a tourist or two as you go along. After about 3km the houses will thin out, giving way to coastal forest at Woody Cove where moose are a common site along the shore. You can land here for a short break and a stretch.
At the far end of Woody Cove you can either head straight back for Rocky Harbour Cove or continue north to Lobster Cove Head. The coast is quite rugged around the head but there are some interesting rock formations that can only really be appreciated with a from-the-ocean view. The lighthouse at Lobster Cove Head was built in 1897 and was manned by a few generations of this author’s family throughout the next 75 years until it was automated in the early 1970’s. There is a visitor’s center located in the keeper’s house where you can learn about the 4000 years of human habitation in this area. If it is windy or you are new to paddling you can choose to cross the 1.5km to Rocky Harbour Cove or to Salmon Point at the very edge of the harbour. The whole paddle will be 7-8km depending on how much exploring you end up doing.
My favourite time to do this paddle is during the summer, just before sunset. The water is often very calm in the evening and the sunsets along the west coast can be absolutely breathtaking. Gros Morne is a great paddling destination and Rocky Harbour is a great location for a short day trip on a calm afternoon.
Drive to the end of Main St. in Rocky Harbour and put in at the small beach directly behind the fish plant.
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