How To ‘Drive’ to Newfoundland

Entering the harbor at Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
Our first glimpse of Newfoundland! Entering the harbor at Port aux Basques.

We’ve been wanting to see Newfoundland for years, but we wanted to do it in our motorhome.

Wait a minute, Newfoundland is an island, and our little RV may do a lot of things, but driving across the North Atlantic is not one of them.

Yet there is a way to get a motorhome — or any other vehicle — onto the island… Marine Atlantic operates two ferry routes from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Driving an RV onto the ferry to Newfoundland

We began our journey with the shorter of the two passages, a daytime six-hour cruise of about one hundred miles, leaving from the northeast edge of Nova Scotia and arriving at Port aux Basques on the southwest tip of Newfoundland.

Our ship, MV Blue Puttees, was more than big enough to carry any motorhome. In fact, at over six hundred feet long and a whopping 28,000 tons, it can carry hundreds of motorcycles, cars, big rigs and RVs with ease — and did.

Marine Atlantic's ferry to Newfoundland

Above the vehicle decks we found big, comfortable reclining seats and were ferried across the Cabot Strait smoothly and in style.

After lunch we found a spot in the panoramic lounge where we discovered a Newfoundland original, Iceberg beer. Beer made with water from melted icebergs — we felt pretty darn special drinking that.

The the panoramic lounge aboard Marine Atlantic's MV Puttee

Back to our seats for a comfy nap, and next thing we knew we were driving off the ship on to Newfoundland.

Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland
Click here to see where this is!

On our twelve day odyssey across the island we covered over fifteen hundred miles, from the northern tip, where the Vikings landed at L’Anse aux Meadows; to the southern shore, where thousands of birds have taken up residence on the rocky cliffs of Cape St. Mary’s.

Sure glad we had our little home on wheels with us, it made it so we could stay just about anywhere.

RVing in Newfoundland

We weren’t sure what to expect as far as availability of services, but it turns out that Newfoundland is extremely RV friendly.

There are tons of Provincial and National Parks, and private campgrounds, as well as lots of free services like dump stations and places to boondock.

The locals call it gravel pit camping, named for the roadside gravel areas left over after highway construction, but it applies to overnight parking almost anywhere that it isn’t expressly forbidden… often in amazing, picturesque oceanside spots.

The view leaving Argentia, Newfoundland aboard Marine Atlantic's MV Atlantic Vision

We ended our trek in the southeast corner of the island, so we could catch the other route that Marine Atlantic serves, from Argentia back to North Sydney in Nova Scotia.

This is a good-bit-longer crossing, almost three hundred miles, so we booked a stateroom where we could sleep away the bulk of the overnight trip aboard the MV Atlantic Vision.

The restaurant Floweres on Marine Atlanic's Atlantic Vision

The lounge has entertainment on Marine Atlantic's Atlantic Vision in Newfoundland

The largest ship in the fleet, Atlantic Vision is designed with passenger comfort for longer voyages in mind, including roomy cabins featuring full baths and satellite TV.

This is no typical ferry, she is more like a cruise ship, with several dining options, from a snack bar, to The Atlantic Vision Buffet, to the elegant Flowers A La Carte Restaurant. There was even entertainment in the lounge.

WATCH: David shows you around our cabin aboard the Atlantic Vision!

Our cabin on Marine Atlantic's Atlantic Vision

So after stuffing our faces at the buffet, we slept like babies rocking on the waves. In the morning, we drove back on to the good old North American continent rested and refreshed.

And with mountains of amazing memories that will last a lifetime from our visit to Newfoundland.

Traveling by motor vehicle is great and allows you to experience certain freedoms that you couldn’t with the demands of air travel. However, getting in a wreck can leave you with serious damages. If someone else causes a crash, it’s best to speak to a trusted car accident law firm as soon as possible.

David & Veronica,

Visit Marine Atlantic’s Website

See all of our Newfoundland adventures!

We are so grateful to Marine Atlantic and Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism for making this adventure possible. As always, all opinions are our own.

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33 thoughts on “How To ‘Drive’ to Newfoundland”

  1. Hello. This post was really fascinating, particularly since I was looking for this subject the last couple of days.

  2. How far in advance did you have to make reservations for the ferry crossing? Do you think reservations should be made in advance for the RV parks? Heading there in June of this year.

  3. We are looking at renting an RV from St John’s for 2 weeks to see Newfoundland. Am I right in saying that freedom parking is allowed, so long as no restrictions marked? We will hire with a generator and hope to stay in peaceful spots / we don’t like the RV parks too much. Have done New Zealand, South Island – Alaska – Scotland – Iceland and Tasmania. Considering May-June .

  4. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and
    sources back to your website? My website is in the exact same niche as yours and
    my visitors would truly benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Thanks!

          1. Thanks for your help, i checked with marine atlantic, they have kennels you can reserve or pets can stay in vehicle, what a great company, we look forward to the crossing

  5. Thinking about trying this in our VW camper this summer from DC. Any option to just pop the top and stay in the van?

    1. Yes. They are very open to boondocking in Newfoundland. They call it gravel pit camping. Ask around, they folks are incredibly friendly and will tell you where you can overnight. Have a great time!

  6. I am thinking about making a trip to Newfoundland this summer in July. I am wondering if you can give me an idea of what
    the ferry’s approximate cost would be going and returning. Thanks for the info.

      1. That does not seem to be the entire cost ..according to the fare schedule. Passengers are charge a rate, the length of the tow vehicle and trailer is another rate and the room is another rate. Am I reading this correctly?

  7. I could never get into the whole RV/camper thing. As a kid my parents used to haul us around every summer and a couple of times per year.

    As an adult, I see it with a little different light. Cris was actually just asking me last week if I wanted to buy one to cruise around here in Mexico, and I found myself nodding my head and going “Yeah, if I can find a place to stop for WiFi once a week or so, that could totally work”.

    Great post 🙂

  8. + Veronica and Dave,
    Sounds like you all had another wonderful adventure. I’ve traveled all of the Canadian Providences, but Nova Scotia. Thanks for the info. on getting a vehicle overseas.I know they used to do this back in the day, when Cuba allowed people to travel to States , or if you buy a brand new Mercedes, the’ll ship if from Germany.
    What was the most favorite part of this trip for you all? Happy Traveling!!!

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