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“Worth the Effort of Getting There”

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Battle Harbour Heritage Properties
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Level 6 Contributor
128 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Worth the Effort of Getting There”
Reviewed 15 August 2013

Battle Harbour, an historic fishing premises preserved by a historic trust, is an exceptional destination. This was once the unofficial capital of Labrador and tremendous wealth was shipped through this port. A visit is adventure tourism, ecotourism, cultural and historic tourism, and once you are there, as relaxing and comfortable as your Grandmother's kitchen. You must travel considerable distances to get here. Most will include it in a trip to Newfoundland by taking the ferry to Blanc Sablon across the Straits of Belle Isle. From there you drive on a gravel road to Mary's Harbour and take a private ferry (people only) to the island. Many days there is only one trip a day, so you should plan your drive time carefully. There are several other wonderful sites on this stretch of Labrador's Coast, like UNESCO site Red Bay, which you should include. But staying overnight, and indeed for three or four days, at Battle Harbour will be the highlight. The restored historic homes are immaculate and the staff exceptional. You will get a flavor of the friendliness of the local folks as they proudly show you around on tour. You brought your guitar right? An evening kitchen party is normal if some guests are musically inclined. The food is authentic and wholesome. Yes, just talk to the cook about your dietary needs, she is right there. As every thing comes by boat, if you have unusual requirements let them know when you reserve. Now for the fun. You can hike all around the island, exploring the amazing geology and beautiful rock formations, picking berries, photographing everything, or just sit and watch the sea, the birds and the generally present whales and ice bergs. There are no "keep off" signs. There are trails, but you can bushwhack across the rock outcroppings and hop across the streams as people have done for hundreds of years. The sub-arctic plant life is extraordinary and you will want to bend down, look closely and cherish it. We keep going back because it is such an extraordinary place. Go, do go, but spend several days so you can absorb the history and the natural beauty.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
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2 Thank svYonder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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34 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Saint John
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 August 2013

This was one of the most wonderful experiences in my 51 years of living. The journey, location, accomodations, staff and stories as told by a 5th generation fisherman will bring so much joy you cannot miss this in your lifetime.

The first Grenfell Hospital was built here, the Merchants who controlled the fisherman's family and existence and the bountiful Labrador fishery in its prime are all set here in Battle Harbour. Also is the harsh reality of life you will come to understand here over 100 years ago.

Our advice - don't stay just one night as the place gets into your soul with the ever changing weather, light and season.

You will not find nicer hosts, guides and family anywhere.

Don't miss the Grenfell Heritage in St. Anthony which ties this all together.

The story must be heard as it is an important chapter in Canadian history.

The accomodations are lovely and clean. Several rooms in the Battle Harbour Inn as well as private cottages and sheds which folks love to stay in. We were fed traditional Labrador meals which were outstanding along with very sweet people who staff the island during season. The 1 hour ferry ride was comfortable and we saw pods of porposies along the way.

The day we left a family was arriving to host a wedding the next day. We could think of nothing more perfect to start a new life for a young couple.

I guarantee you will catch Battle Harbour fever if you visit.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
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2 Thank PhillyNB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stockton, New Jersey
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 August 2013

Battle Harbour, managed by a historic trust, offers a unique offshore island experience combining historic buildings of the traditional cod, salmon, and seal fishery; vistas of icebergs and whales; the beautiful sub-arctic ecology and geology of southern Labrador; and the cuisine and culture of the people whose ancestors long ago settled in this remote part of North America. Getting to Mary's Harbour, from which the boat leaves, is a challenge because of a long stretch of gravel road, but the rest of the experience is nothing short of magical, thanks to the people and the place.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Bonnie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Red Deer, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 July 2013

Unquestionably one of the most unique accommodation experiences on offer in Canada, Battle Harbour is a true jewel culturally, historically, ecologically and more!!

The site is a restored coastal fishing village - one of the last of what were once hundreds along the Labrador coast. What is more, however, is that the site continues to be used as a summertime community for families that have called this island home for decades, if not centuries.

Stepping off the passenger-only ferry is to step into another world, and to be welcomed by the warmest hospitality of the island community. Battle Harbour is designed to be a multi-day visit, and on arrival you will be shown to your quarters, which may be a room in the old inn, one of several restored cottages, or perhaps the shed of the old RCMP station (which is so much more than a shed once you step inside!!). Accommodations are comfortable and flavoured with the traditions of the island and the fishery that prompted its settlement. Depending on your selected accommodation, bathroom facilities are ensuite or shared; the aim is to provide a place where anyone will be comfortable.

The culinary experience of the place is true to the roots of the community - hearty home-style traditional Labrador meals served family-style in the dining area above the general store. Here is a great opportunity to meet other visitors, to meet community members who have prepared the fabulous meals, and to glean more about the history and modern-day workings of the community. Meals can range from the Sunday favourite Jigg's Dinner to codfish to desserts made with local berries, and are served with love and care by community members.

The first day of a visit will include an afternoon tour of the community from the perspective of a lifelong resident. In addition to gaining insights into the history of the place, personal anecdotes bring the tour to life. Frequent impromptu stops to chat with residents further enhances the walk-about. By tour's end, visitors are comfortable with their surroundings, and cannot help but feel a part of the community for the time of their stay!

The island includes an incredible diversity of geological and ecological treasures which can be explored at will via hiking trails that circumvent the island. For those staying multiple days, a trip across the tickle to Caribou Island opens doors to a larger island. A half- or full-day hike (take a picnic from the kitchen) would be time well spent exploring more of what this neighbouring island has to offer.

In season, icebergs are frequent visitors to the area (my room at the inn came with a view of an iceberg out of the window!!), as are whales (we had great sightings of humpbacks on the trip back to the mainland). Depending on the season, capelin and cod are still being fished by residents, and visitors are given a glimpse of the importance of the fishery to these coastal communities.

Battle Harbour is accessible via road (88km on excellent packed gravel from Red Bay or again on gravel from the Goose Bay side), air/road, or boat directly to the island. Getting there is a part of the overall experience and this should not be a deterrent to visiting this remarkable place!!

There is no cell phone service on the island, and only very limited internet, so a visit should be treated as a retreat away from the busy-ness of daily life. If you can't bear the thought of a few days without email or texting, then Battle Harbour is probably the place you NEED to be. Here you will discover the value in connecting face-to-face in community, and to authentic, rather than virtual, reality!!

The only caution: DO NOT COME FOR ONE NIGHT!!! Battle Harbour is an experience that grows on the visitor. The longer the stay, the more immersed one becomes in the setting, the community, and the relaxed lifestyle. Stay 2 or 3 nights minimum - stay a week if you can!

Room Tip: If you don't mind sharing a bathroom, ask for the Battle Harbour Inn. The 'shed' behind...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank CanWestTravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Athens, Georgia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2013

This is a remote fishing village on an small island, but only from a landlubber's point of view. For the cod fishers it was downtown Grand Banks! Our lodging was an authentic 19th century cottage with electricity. We loved it! The staff is knowledgeable and competent. The food is excellent and I had the best crabcake I've ever eaten. Oh yah, icebergs. Don't miss this place.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank WildTurkeyAthens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2013

We crossed from NL to Labrador especially to go to Battle Harbour and were not disappointed. It started with a passenger ferry ride past some marvellous icebergs. We were greeted warmly at the dock, then showed to a meticulously restored cottage then went to a traditional hot dinner. Next was a tour by Nelson - who grew up on the island. Nelson took us through extensive exhibits & restored buildings giving us a first hand recount of life on the island. Next we climbed trails past a small plane crash & old cemeteries. That was followed by a delicious supper made by 2 friendly, terrific local ladies. We spent the night in the charming house looking out into the harbour. The next day we departed with hand knit mittens bought at the General Store. Check out was a bit of sticker shock but we agreed it was worth the money. Exceptionally well done & something we'd only get to once. The kicker - they have 3 yrs to turn a profit- or gov't assistance will sry up...If you want to go - don't hesitate to do it soon!

  • Stayed July 2013
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Helpful?
1 Thank TorontoMcCoy2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ontario
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 July 2012

If you've ever wondered what it must have been like to live in a remote outport fishing village in Laborador, then you'll want to make arrangements to stay in Battle Harbour. One word of caution: one must first go by ferry (about 1.5 hours), and then travel by small boat to get there. But once there, it's well worth the effort. Meals are communal and plain (and beware that you may be sharing one bathroom with four others), but there's a family-like atmosphere that's very appealling and the scenery is utterly magnificent. Whales come and go; icebergs dot the water; the days are long in this very northern spot. A truly magical place.

Room Tip: Be sure you pre-arrange accommodation. We found ourselves two of just eight guests, yet six of us w...
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank stanbrook
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Battle Harbour Heritage Properties

Property: Battle Harbour Heritage Properties
Address: PO Box 140, Mary's Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador A0K 3P0, Canada
Region: Canada > Newfoundland and Labrador > Labrador > Mary's Harbour
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Mary's Harbour
Number of rooms: 10

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