The Bay D'Espoir (which locals pronounce "Bay Despair"!) winds inland past small towns such as Saint Albans, Morrisville, Milltown, and Connie River.
Cities and towns
- 1 Bay L'Argent — accessible by ferry from Rencontre East
- 2 Burgeo — the southernmost point on Route 480 and gateway to Sandbanks Provincial Park
- 3 Burin — a regional centre with some heritage buildings, hiking, walking trails, and fishing
- 4 Fortune — the passenger ferry terminal for Saint Pierre and Miquelon islands
- 5 Francois — an isolated outport accessible by boat and helicopter only
- 6 Grand Bank — deaws visitors interested in the Queen Anne architecture in the older homes, and the traditions of a seafaring people
- 7 Grand Bruit — abandoned in 2002, you cannot get a proper cup of tea here
- 8 Grey River — an isolated outport accessible by boat and helicopter only
- 9 Hermitage-Sandyville — a small fishing town (mussels, rainbow trout, salmon), with hikingbtrails in the surrounding hills
- 10 La Poile — a lobster-fishing village accessible only by ferry from Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou
- 11 Marystown — a largely Catholic town that is home to the Shrine of Marymount, one of the largest Marian statues erected in Newfoundland
- 12 Ramea — a village sitting on an island 3 km x 1 km
- 13 Rencontre East — accessible by ferry only, aquaculture (salmon farming) has replaced the traditional fishery
- 14 Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou — sits on the rugged granite coastline, near the white and rocky cliffs of Diamond Cove
- 15 Saint Albans — a regional centre that supports itself by aquaculture
- 16 St. Bernard's-Jacques Fontaine — two villages with a population of 700
- 17 Saint Lawrence — the 'Soccer Capital of Canada' is accessible by road
Southern Newfoundland (once you leave Port-aux-Basques in the west or the Avalon Peninsula in the east) is for the most part a sparsely-populated, rugged coastline of rocky fjords. Roads and infrastructure are at many points basically non-existent. The rare few roads which do reach points on Newfoundland's rugged south coast for the most part run north to the Trans-Canada Highway, leaving no direct path from one southern community to another. Some communities (such as Grand Bruit, which has no road) are now abandoned as ghost towns where the ferry no longer stops.
- Winters are mostly mild. Ice is usually light or non-existent off the south coast, allowing temperatures to be moderated by the open water. It is not uncommon to experience interludes of mild, above freezing conditions with temperatures climbing to 5 to 10 °C with strong winds and rain. Surface wind speeds are at average 20 to 30 km/h around the coasts with 50 to 80 km/h sustained during low pressure systems. Very strong gusts (120 to 140 km/h) are a feature along the south and west coasts of the island whenever strong offshore winds come from the hills inland, especially at narrow valleys exit towards the sea as is the case in Grey River.
- Average air temperature reaches 0 °C by April. From April to June, stormy weather relaxes and one experiences dry, fair, and mild daytime conditions.
- By early July, summer weather has begun. The pattern of summer temperatures is determined by prevailing wind direction and distance from open salt water. The average air temperature for July is 10 to 15 °C. Southern coastal areas cool overall as dominant onshore winds are chilled by sea surface temperatures of 10 to 13 °C, making sea fog regular. However, these onshore winds also moderate night-time temperatures, extending the frost-free season to almost five months. The annual number of frost-free days is between 130 and 150. Toward the end of August into September, there is a great possibilities for a tropical storm to hit the south of the island, resulting in strong winds and heavy rainfall.
- The first occurrence of air temperature below 0 °C is normally in mid-October, resulting in a weakened form of "Indian Summer". It is characterized by a period of sunny, warm weather, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost, but before the first snowfall, The first snowfall of a small amount is in mid to late November. Heavy rainfalls are frequent this time of year as well.
In some places in Southern Newfoundland the locals speak with a fairly strong accent. The names of some towns on the south coast are often pronounced differently than their French names might suggest. For instance:
- Francois is often pronounced Franceway
- La Poile: La Pile
- Bay L'Argent: Bay Larjent
- Grand Bruit: Grand Brit
- Rencontre: Rencounter
Residents will almost always recognize either pronunciation.
- See also: Next to impossible destinations
Getting in to the Southern Newfoundland outports is done one of three ways, depending on destination:
- For Harbour Breton and Galtois, take Highway 360 (Bay d'Espoir Hwy) south from Bishop's Falls. (Bishop's Falls is east of Grand Falls-Windsor on the Trans-Canada Highway).
- For Burgeo, take Highway 480 southeast from Barachols Pond Provincial Park and Stephenville. There is also a ferry between Galtois and Burgeo which stops in various tiny, otherwise-inaccessible outports.
- For Rose Blanche, take Highway 470 east from Port-aux-Basques. It is possible to continue east by ferry only as far as Lapoile; this is a dead end. The ferry no longer continues onward to Grand Bruit, leaving effectively nothing between Lapoile and Burgeo - no road, no ferry, no populated places.
It is also possible to reach the Burin Peninsula by road; exit to Highway 210 from the Trans-Canada south of Clarenville and drive through Marystown to the loop through Fortune, Grand Bank and Saint Lawrence. From Fortune, there is a passenger ferry (no vehicles) to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, France.
Nearby Saint-Pierre has air service from St. John's (Newfoundland and Labrador), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Montréal and Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Quebec) and non-stop flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (in July and August only).
Among the appeals of travelling to Southern Newfoundland are the ferries, which go to a series of small towns many of which have no roads (or only small ones) and no cars, and so you get around by walking or driving on ATVs.
Planning your trip must be done in advance, as the ferry schedule is somewhat irregular, and it is easy to get stuck in a town for a few days longer than you would like if you haven't considered when the next ferry will come. If stuck in Hermitage while trying to get to Francois (or vice versa), you may be able to catch a lift on the Pinnacle Tours boat with captain Charlie Courtney (based in Francois) if you ask at the General Store near the fish plant in Hermitage.
The ferry rides in Southern Newfoundland are very reasonably priced, ranging from a couple dollars for students and seniors up to $5-6 for adults on the longer rides. The crew are friendly, and many of the ferries are equipped with a vending machine and TV/VCR with a few old videos. The ferries occasionally go quite a ways out to sea when travelling between towns, and offer great views of the coastline.
The majority of the ferries are large enough that there isn't too much rocking, but if you are prone to getting sea-sick, then the only one that won't give you trouble is the ferry between Burgeo and Ramea, as it is the largest of the bunch. It can accommodate vehicles, and usually makes the trip several times a day.
Sometimes, getting from one Southern Newfoundland community to another by road easily is all but impossible. The trip from Harbour Breton to Fortune, directly across Fortune Bay, is a 650-km road trip via Gander that takes eight or nine hours. It's almost quicker for the true Newfoundlander to build a boat and sail directly across.
Hitchhiking in Southern Newfoundland is not too difficult. Though it can sometimes be a long wait for a ride, as not many cars drive on the key roads (e.g. the 210 or the TransCanada if you're trying to get from Rose Blanche to Port-aux-Basques), once you do get picked up there is a good chance that you will get a long ride. People are friendly, and will occasionally go out of their way to drop you off in a convenient location.
You're really here for the coastal scenery, but you will find small museum about life in the region and local history in Burgeo, Ramea, and St. Lawrence.
- Fishing for Atlantic salmon in nearby rivers, brook trout and landlocked salmon in ponds and lakes, cod in the Atlantic.
- Visit an outport, and find the true meaning of "getting away from it all".
- Checking the ferry schedule for the seventh time to make sure you don't get stuck in the village for another three days.
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon — a tiny French outpost of 6,000 people accessible by ferry from Fortune.