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“WOW - and more WOW!!!”

Battle Harbour National Historic District
Reviewed 22 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!

5  Thank CanWestTravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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74 - 78 of 84 reviews

Reviewed 16 February 2013

For an isolated, exotic, off the beaten path travel experience this is it ! It truly is like stepping back in time. Go !

4  Thank wanderlust012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2012

Spent two nights on the Island enjoying this historic fishing village and surrounding hiking trails. The restoration is an ongoing activity managed by the staff of the Battle Harbour Historic Trust. This is even more impressive when you realize that it is NOT supported with federal or provincial funding. For Star Gazers - on a clear night, you will see more stars than you can possibly imagine.
The staff are knowledgeable and courteous. Nelson Smith was our tour guide - and as someone who spent much time on the island while growing up, is able to provide an insightul and personal perspective of life at Battle Harbour. Prepared meals can be shared in a family style dining room where you get to know other visitors from around the globe. During our late season stay we met folks from Germany, Italy, US, Nfld, Nova Scotial, Ontario, Alberta and BC.
Overnight visitors stay in restored cottages, inns and other buildings equiped with kitchens for those who prefer to do your own cooking. There is lots of communal social space in the cottages to share a glass of wine or a cuppa tea.
Visitors should be prepared to share a bathroom, although they are working on the completion of a new building which would proved private ensuite privilidges.
Only complaint - one of us was a vegetarian - which we did specify when booking - and re-affirmed at our first meal - and the alternative meals provided were prepared without much consideration at all.

2  Thank Joan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2012

Location: Battle Harbour is an island just off the coast of Labrador. You reach it by means of a ferry that makes the return trip between the island and Mary’s Harbour twice daily. Cars are not permitted on the island, but there is a car park at the ferry terminal in Mary’s Harbour. So, if you're looking for quiet relaxation (as I was), this is the place.

Reception: I was given a warm welcome at the start of my two-night stay here. The staff and volunteers were, in fact, great for the whole of my time on the island.

Accommodation: My room was in the cottage, one of several accommodations available. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve shared a bathroom while travelling, but this was not a problem. As it was the first week the facility was open for the 2012 season, there weren’t many people about! My room was very comfortable and had a great view. There's no phone, TV or Internet in the accommodation, but I was happy to do without all that for a couple of days!

Food and drink: There is one choice for each meal and the food is home-cooked. You sit at long tables in what used to be the mess hall for the fishermen who worked here. This makes for a friendly atmosphere, which I appreciated. The food was tasty, and reasonably priced.

You can self-cater if you prefer. You can get your supplies in the general store, which also includes some gift items.

Various amenities are available. There are some rather good museum displays and there is a guided tour of them every afternoon. The guide is excellent. Alternatively, some short hiking trails are marked out on the island; if you prefer more challenging trails, you can go over to Caribou Island, just across the “tickle”, and walk the trails there. I did the latter and didn’t regret it.

Some organized entertainment is also offered.

I was genuinely sad when I had to leave Battle Harbour. Absolutely recommended.

1  Thank Commodore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 4 July 2012

Fabulous experience back in 2002. We watched whales chase little fish into a cove so close to us that we could almost touch them. Little dog got so excited that I thought he might jump in to catch one. Watched a parade of icebergs pass the island. Mike Earle (the manager) gave us a wonderful tour and convinced us to spent the night in Isaac Smith's historic home with a wood stove to keep us warm and kerosene lamps for light. It was all magic and our home in Texas seemed to far and so different. In our world travels, this is one of my favorite places.

1  Thank Winiwin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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