Red Bay, Canada

Introduction to Red Bay, Canada

The peaceful fishing village of Red Bay is rich in culture and history. A former site of several Basque whaling stations, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Absorb the beauty of the rugged coastal surroundings and learn about Red Bay’s history in the Visitor Orientation Centre.

Formerly a major part of the whaling industry and now a fishing town, Red Bay is a true representation of rural Canadian life. Set amongst a backdrop of stunning moss covered mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is simply beautiful, a tranquil getaway from modern Canada.

From 1550 to the early 17th century, Red Bay was one of the largest Basque whaling towns in all of Canada. Though whaling stopped many centuries ago, evidence of the Bay’s past is still prominent within the town. Among the rustic hillside homes are three whaling galleons and four chalupas that are easy to find on foot. There are also easily accessible collections of whale bones displayed to give visitors an idea of the sheer size of the whales that used to be hunted in this historic town. 

Close-by, Saddle Island - located at the mouth of the bay - is where you'll find remains of old whale oil ovens and other unique monuments, while close to the shore lie the remains of Bernier, the oldest shipwreck in Canada.

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Labrador, Canada


  • Travel along the Labrador Coastal Drive – a spectacular driving route along the south coast
  • Discover many tributes to Labrador’s local heritage and culture
  • Visit the Red Bay National Historic Site
  • Enjoy a traditional Labrador lunch
DurationApproximately 6 hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Snack includedSnack included
Shopping time includedShopping time included

Labrador Coastal Drive is the southern driving route through a rugged and pristine region of Labrador. On this tour you can discover a pure land on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean. Follow in the footsteps of ancient mariners, and the Native Americans who long preceded them.

Your first visit will be to the Gateway to Labrador Visitors Centre in L’Anse au Clair. This building was the community’s first church which was built by volunteers in 1909 and was totally restored in 1992. Interior and exterior exhibits display the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the Labrador Coastal Drive.

Located in the heart of the Labrador Straits, between the communities of Forteau and L'Anse au Loup, stands a tribute to local heritage and culture - the Labrador Straits Museum. Created and managed by the Southern Labrador Women's Institute, this museum was built in 1978 with the goal of highlighting the local way of life over the past 150 years. Through its exhibits and artefacts, a story is told of how local communities have developed and lifestyles have changed over time. With a focus on the domestic life and the role of women in communities, the museum also portrays local history through the eyes of those who have helped shape this heritage. The museum offers a rare chance to experience life in the Labrador Straits throughout its many changes, and view pieces of history that have come alive through its interpretation.

Lunch will be a real Labrador experience at a local restaurant where you can sample delicious local cuisine, including the traditional local berry desert.

Before heading back to your awaiting ship, you will visit the Red Bay National Historic Site which explores the legacy of the Basque whalers who spent their summers harvesting bowhead and right whales many centuries ago.

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking, some of which will be over gravel pathways and uneven terrain. All guests must be able to board the tour transport unaided. There are approximately three steps to negotiate at the lunch venue. It is possible the itinerary will operate in reverse order.

Labrador, Canada


  • Discover the shaping of the Red Bay Community through the years
  • Visit a designated  UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Learn about the Basque whaling industry
DurationApproximately 2 hours
LimitationLimited Capacity
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking

Situated in Labrador, in north-eastern Canada, on the shores of the Strait of Belle Isle, Red Bay was an Arctic maritime base for Basque mariners in the 16th century. It is the earliest, most comprehensive and best-preserved archaeological testimony of a pre-industrial whaling station. Red Bay was used for coastal whale hunting in the summer, the butchery of the whales, and the rendering of the oil and its storage. The whale oil was sold in Europe primarily for lighting purposes.

This two hour walking tour will take you through the small village of Red Bay, visiting both local buildings and Parks Canada Historic Sites.

Learn about the history of the current community, and its recent culture. Explore the vast history of how land and sea have been exploited for centuries in Labrador for their abundance of resources. The area has also survived over a century in the cod industry, and this is only the beginning of the tale.

You will also visit the Red Bay National Historic site, which is the first location of imperialism in North America, where Basque whalers spent the summer harvesting bowhead and right whales. The site includes the remains of rendering ovens, cooperages, a wharf, living quarters and a cemetery, together with the underwater wrecks of vessels and whale bone deposits.

Take in a visit to the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, where you will see an outstanding example of the tradition of whale hunting established by the Basques in the 16th century for the production of oil, which was transported for sale in Europe. In terms of the diversity of its archaeological remains, this is the most extensive, best-preserved and most comprehensive whaling station of its type.

Following your visit, walk back to the pier and your awaiting ship.


Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour is predominately a walking tour, most of which will be over uneven and sloping ground, and there may be some steps to negotiate. Unfortunately it is not considered suitable for guests with limited mobility.  We would like to point out that it is possible to visit some of the sites independently, however this tour is for those who wish to be accompanied by a qualified and knowledgeable local guide.

Point Amour Lighthouse, Red Bay, Canada


  • Discover the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada and the second highest in the country, towering at 33 metres (108 feet)
  • Admire an extensive series of exhibits that portray the rich maritime history of the Labrador Straits
DurationApproximately 4 1/4 hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Refreshments includedRefreshments included
Free time includedFree time included

Experience a taste for life at an isolated Labrador light station. Explore the landscape along short interpretative trails and enjoy the majestic views, especially from the top of this Imperial tower.

Your tour begins in Red Bay, home to the village’s National Historic Site, and takes you along the coastal highway through many Labrador villages. As you pass by the Pinware River, enjoy the opportunity to take in the spectacular views before you reach your first destination - the burial mound at L’Anse Amour.

L’Anse Amour National Historic Site of Canada overlooks the waters of the Strait of Belle Isle near the small modern community of L’Anse Amour in southern Labrador. The burial mound forms part of an ancient, multi-component archaeological site occupied by the Maritime Archaic people between 9,000 and 2,000 years ago. Formed by a low mound of large stones, the circular burial mound is eight to ten metres in diameter and situated behind what was the main habitation area. Within the mound is a small stone burial chamber, underneath which was found the well-preserved skeleton of a child, along with a number of artefacts.

Back on your coach, it is only a short drive to the famous Point Amour Lighthouse. At 109 feet from the ground to the light itself, Point Amour lighthouse is the tallest in Atlantic Canada and the second tallest lighthouse ever built in Canada. It is still a working lighthouse, however it is now automated. The lighthouse tower and surrounding buildings have been designated a Provincial Historic Site. The residential part of the lighthouse, which is now renovated and partially restored to the 1850s period, houses an extensive series of exhibits portraying the evolution of lighthouse technology and the maritime history of the Labrador Straits. If you’re feeling energetic, a panoramic view of the surrounding land and sea, and a glimpse of its historical attributes can be witnessed following a 128 step adventure to the top.

Before heading back to your ship, you can sample some local partridgeberry (lingonberry) loaf and tasty bakeapple (cloudberry) tarts.


Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU?: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking, some of which is over uneven, gravel pathways. We do not recommend this tour for guests in wheelchairs. The steps up to the top of the lighthouse are quite steep with no handrails in places, however it is not compulsory to climb to the top. The driving times to and from the lighthouse are approximately one and a quarter hours in duration each way. Please not that school buses will be used for this tour.

Friends hiking on Boney Shore, Canada


With this tour you have the option of two beautiful walking trails – the Tracey Hill Trail or the Boney Shore Trail. You will be transferred to the starting point of the two trails from where you can decide which route you would like to explore.

DurationApproximately 2 hours
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking



  • Embark on a walking expedition to the top of Tracey Hill
  • Take in the rugged coastline of Labrador from above

Enjoy an interpretive hike along the Tracey Hill Walking Trail.

This stunning boardwalk trail begins with approximately 671 steps, and as you gain altitude, the walk levels off and the scenery is breath taking. Along the way, you will get amazing views of historic Red Bay, first visited in the 1500’s by the Basque whalers, and the harbour where you can see the impressive metal shipwreck of a large ship built in the early 1900s that sank here and Saddle Island, where the Basque whalers actually landed, all explained by the interpretive signs which follow the trail as well as telescopes (small charge) to really enhance the fantastic views from above.

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? The trail is classed as moderate difficulty and covers 1 ½  kilometres; a return trip of three kilometres. The trail along the boardwalk and stairs takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes, but you can take breaks at a number of picnic tables and resting areas.  The transfer from Red Bay to the start of the trail takes approximately 20 minutes by minivan. Please note that this hike/trail is not guided. We recommend taking insect repellent and a bottle of water.



  • Enjoy a gentle walk along the shoreline of Red Bay
  • Learn a little more about the 16th century Basque whalers
  • Admire the amazing views of the harbour of Red Bay and Saddle Island

A great way to explore the area of Red Bay, and get closer to where whale carcasses discarded by 16th century Basque whalers were washed ashore, is by walking along the Boney Shore Trail.

The Basques came to Southern Labrador in the mid-1500’s to hunt Bowhead whales whose oil was used to “light the streets of Europe” and Red Bay was the main centre of this oil boom.

This flat, gravel trail makes it suitable for walkers of all ages and skills and provides an excellent view of the Red Bay harbour and Saddle Island. As you walk along the trail you will be surrounded by some lush vegetation such as Labrador tea, bakeapples, partridge berries, lichen and mosses in season. 


Is this tour right for you?

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