The welcome sign made me do a double-take. I was road-tripping on the island of Newfoundland and had just arrived at the Eastport Peninsula where I was apparently entering some sort of fictional town called “Happy Adventure.” Except it was real, and that was the actual name. Later that day, when I was sitting on a deck overlooking Powell’s Cove with a crisp pint of Iceberg beer and arguably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, tired but content from a full day of exploring, it would all make sense.
The town of Happy Adventure is small — tiny really — and has probably inspired many-a-postcard. A quaint coastal community with a picturesque backdrop and fishing at its core, the hamlet sits on the edge of the Atlantic, with a trio of idyllic coves. In the summertime, there’s a solid chance you’ll see whales or icebergs go by.
If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering how a town gets a unique and lovely name such as this without being the setting for a children’s book.
Here’s everything you need to know about Happy Adventure
It doesn’t come without a little bit of drama, of course. The origin of the name is at the centre of an ancient dispute that started in the 17th century. According to local folklore, the name pays homage to Captain Peter Easton, who used the harbour to escape the French Navy. Other popular theories believe the first settlers found it such a beautiful and welcoming place they were inspired to deem it a “happy adventure” or that the British hydrographer, who sheltered in one of the coves during a wild Atlantic storm, was responsible for the name. No matter what, one thing is for sure: everyone gathered that the vibes here were delightful, and I’m happy to say that I can confirm.
The one place to stay that’s actually in Happy Adventure is a one-stop shop for sleeping, eating, drinking, and adventuring — and a stellar one at that. The aptly named five-room Happy Adventure Inn overlooks scenic Powell’s Cove and has an on-site restaurant and bar, Chucky’s Seafood & Wild Game Restaurant. With limited dining options on the peninsula, this place is the perfect home base and a welcome respite from the cans of Pringles and stale gas station sandwiches that road trips generally bring.
Dishes like calamari, seafood chowder, scallops, moose steak, and cod-au-gratin dazzle, but the menu’s star is the fish & chips, hands down. Order it “Newfie-style” like the locals do, and you’ll get dressing and gravy on the side. (Trust me, it’s really good.)
Saddle up to the cosy bar or outdoor deck with your tipple of choice to recount your day’s endeavours pre- or post-dinner. And make sure to take a gander at the oil paintings that adorn the inn’s walls, done by one of the inn owners, who is also a local artist.
With a name like Happy Adventure, you bet it delivers on the adventure front. Explore the Damnable Trails, a network of hiking paths that weave through the rugged coastal headlands and boreal forest with historical points of interest (old graveyards, heritage homes, etc.), beaches, and sweeping views. Although they were recently revamped, these trails date back to the 1800s when the old footpaths linked the communities in this region of the peninsula. They range in difficulty, but if you’re short on time, the Round Head Lookout trail is a quick jaunt that will land you at a beautiful vista, including views of the town of Salvage and the surrounding ocean. Or, make it a longer loop and look for whales at Net Point or Old Harry Cove.
You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you skip out on hopping aboard some sort of boat to take it all in from the water. Happy Adventure Tours offers an array of boating expeditions, from fishing tours that include a stop at Little Denier to see the resident puffin colony and sea caves. There’s also whale watching, iceberg hunting, and sunset rides.
They also offer guided kayaking tours and rentals, launching from the storybook-like Salvage Harbor or within Terra Nova National Park, the easternmost national park in Canada. I paddled in the park, my eyes peeled for a whale or two. While I didn’t spot any whales from my kayak, I did see other marine life: jellyfish, sea urchins, and fish, all while occasional eagles soared above.
A little relaxation is in order too. Enter the peninsula’s photogenic beaches, all just a hop and a skip from town. Sandy Cove Beach is a long expanse of sand, tucked into the hillside that, if you visit in July, is dotted with vibrant lupin flowers in shades of purple and pink. Eastport and Northside Beaches are also nearby, and on a warm summer day, frequented by locals and tourists alike.
A few days of land and sea endeavours fueled by fish and chips that set the new standard for comparison left me feeling fulfilled and, well, happy. A true sign that Happy Adventure lives up to its name — and then some.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Lauren Breedlove/Travel + Leisure