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Little Bay Islands

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Ferry Dock, Pilley's Island, NL
Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

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To reach Little Bay Islands you will need to take the ferry from Pilley's Island. To get to the ferry on Pilley's Island you will take Hwy 380 north from the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) at South Brook. After about 35 to 40 km, watch carefully for the ferry signs for Long Island and Little Bay Islands, Hwy 382, on your left. The ferry ramp is about a 7 km drive from HWY 380. If you were to continue on Hyw 380 it would take you into Triton.

This is not a big ferry. The ferry had been damaged on its' maiden voyage, so you could not drive on and drive off. When we were there, you had to back onto the ferry so that you could drive off at the other end. On the return trip the same thing, back on, drive off. It is a beautiful ferry ride, taking about 5 minutes to reach Long Island and then continuing on to Little Bay Islands a further 30 minutes or so.

When you drive onto shore at Little Bay Islands there is only one way to go. You are going to cross the island to reach the community. On the way you will notice a number of signs for hiking trails that you will want to do during your visit. The village wraps around Southern Harbour extending over to Mack Island, which is situated in the middle of the harbour mouth. The Google Map is a little mis-leading. It shows roads running all over the island. Most of these are actually walking trails. There is a good paved road from Sulian's Cove (the ferry dock) across the island to the town. Most of the town's streets are paved and you'll find as many ATV's running around as cars.

Little Bay Islands has less than 100 permanent residents. The population grows in the summer, several Americans, Canadians and Newfoundlanders have summer homes. The town has a large abandoned fish plant, that recentlty was the centre of the town's economy. Little Bay Islands is off the grid, the community has its' own diesel powered hydro plant. The town has a post office, town office, public school and a government dock. There are no stores or restaurants.

Other than renting a cottage, there is only one place to stay on the island. Aunt Edna's Boarding House B&B is on your right as you enter the community. Don't feel like the lack of choice is a problem, this is one of our favorite B&B's in Newfoundland. It's a heritage home that used to belong to one of those ladies that scared all the neighbourhood kids. The owner Sharlene knows a lot about the community, its' history and the people, past and present. Sharlene introduced us to Doris, the unofficial historian for the island. Sharlene and Doris kept us busy, we were on the island 3 nights and still did not see everything.

We met up with Maurice and Gloria Levor who own the Back Cove Cottage. Maurice gave us a tour, it would be a great place to spend a few days. It's a nice quiet spot perched up on a hill with a deck overlooking the harbour. You can click here to see their listing on Trip Advisor.

Aunt Edna's B&B, Little Bay Islands, NL
Sharlene, Linda, Doris at Aunt Edna's B&B

(click photos to enlarge, click caption for mapped location)

Little Bay Islands has two museums. Sharlene walked us down to Selby Parsons, because he wasn't home at the time. He's got a great collection of artifacts and photos of the island's history. The museum is called The Poacher's Lounge, it's in a shed in Selby's back yard.

Doris Tucker took us through the Lady Helena Squires Museum in a restored salt box house. Doris has gathered a lot of interesting items and the building is quite interesting. The salt box homes are extremely well built. That allowed people to move them around if they decided to relocate. They are sturdy, but not insulated. They would use lots of firewood to keep them warm through the winter.

The Poacher's Lounge Museum, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland
Lady Helena Squires Museum, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

(click photos to enlarge, click caption for mapped location)

We decide we'll stay in an isolated community for a few days and always wonder what we'll do. So far Newfoundland has not disappointed, something always comes up. On our first day on the island, we met up with our friend Roger Burt from King's Point. Roger and Maurice Levor from LBI (Little Bay Islands) had recently purchased an old fishing boat. It had been sitting up on shore for several years in a rusty steel cradle. There were rails and ties laid out that had seen better days.

The launching of the 'Proper Ting' had turned into a project, with several community members involved. Two motor boats roped to the Proper Ting screamed away out in the harbour, while the town loader pushed from the other side. It was a bit scary to watch, after several attempts, the boat reached the water at low tide. Six hours later the tide came in, they were able to float the boat and motored over to the fish plant dock, where it was tied up the next day.

Launching the Proper Ting, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland
The Proper Ting, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

(click photos to enlarge, click caption for mapped location)

If you go down to the government dock you'll find a self-serve store. There is a bowl in the fridge where you leave your money. You can do your laundry, buy a snack, even microwave a hot dog. The ice in the chest freezer was gathered from an iceberg. Sharlene bought a few bags for her freezer and we enjoyed iceberg cubes in our gin during our stay.

Self-serve Store, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland
Self-serve Store, Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

(click photos to enlarge, click caption for mapped location)

Little Bay Islands has a modern public school. At the time of our visit, there was only one student. The school hosts other community events. They were preparing for a wedding during our visit.

Firewood, ATV, Little Bay Islands, NL
Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

(click photos to enlarge, click caption for mapped location)

The island has several nice trails and lookouts. If you go over to Mack Island there's a trail out to the shoreline to a navigation light. On the other side of the island, take the road out past the fish plant and you'll come to a trail leading to a picnic area and a rocky beach. Two boardwalk trails take you to lookouts. They both run off the road from the ferry dock. The Bay View Lookout takes you to the highest point on the island, providing nice views of the island and the ocean. The Pole Hill Lookout is where you get the nice view of the town and the harbour. It's called Pole Hill, because there is a flag pole visible from almost anywhere in town.

Bay View Lookout Trail, Little Bay Islands, NL
Fish Plant from Pole Hill Lookout, Little Bay Islands, NL

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There are also some longer trails on the south side of the island that we did not have time to explore.

Little Bay Islands is caught up in the politics of resettlement. The provincial government will pay people to leave, so they can shut down services. This only happens if a large majority of permanent residents are in agreement. We were afraid that our visit in 2013 would be the last year for the community. As of 2015, you can still visit Little Bay Islands. We'd suggest you go sooner rather than later. Little Bay Islands is one of the gems that make a visit to Newfoundland extremely memorable.

Mack Island and Bridge from Pole Hill Lookout
Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland

Near Little Bay Islands:

Triton, Newfoundland
Alexander Murray Trail
King's Point, Newfoundland

Newfoundland Travel Books and Field Guides

Before you head to Newfoundland, you may want to consider one or more of the great field guides that are available. We have done short reviews of the following:

Edible Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador
Trees & Shrubs of Newfoundland and Labrador
Wildflowers of Newfoundland and Labrador
Whales and Dolphins of Newfoundland and Labrador
Birds of Newfoundland
Geology of Newfoundland