Zika Free Honeymoon Islands…In the North Atlantic
In our quest to experience zika-free destinations to recommend to our honeymoon and babymoon clients we started our trip in Montreal, Canada. It was my first time in Canada and I immediately fell in love with the modern and historic architecture, amazing food (the French influence with delicious pastries and rosés were heavenly), friendly locals, thriving music and art scene and the feel of being in Europe without the long flight and price tag. After three incredible days of exploring the city we began our trek to Fogo Island, one of the most remote places in the world.
Fogo Island is known as one of the four corners of the earth, an island off an island and sits off of the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland. Hundreds of publications have featured the Island’s main attraction, Fogo Island Inn, and with all of the press and buzz within the travel industry about this special place, we had to check it out for ourselves.
Getting to Fogo Island is a bit challenging but once you arrive, you are thankful you made the journey. The closest international airport is Gander, Newfoundland (YQX). The best routes into Gander are through the international airports located in Halifax, NS (YHZ) and St. John’s, NL (YYT) via Air Canada or United Airlines. We had an easy flight from Montreal to St. John’s and arrived in Gander, Newfoundland (YQX). You might recognize the name as this small town played a major role in history and generously assisted thousands of airline passengers stranded there when American airspace was closed after the September 11 terrorist attacks. We heard many stories from the locals of how the community of less than 10,000 came together to support and provide supplies, shelter and food for the 38 jetliners that carried 6,000+ travelers. A fine example of the same Canadian hospitality, friendliness and exemplary kindness that still exists today.
From Gander airport, we took a 50minute drive to the passenger and vehicle ferry that led us through the Hamilton Sound and over to Fogo Island. Our accommodations for the next couple of days at the Fogo Island Inn was just a short 30minute drive from the ferry dock. The Inn is a modern, luxurious boutique hotel that features a dining room, bar, lounge, art studio, library, cinema, and a rooftop deck with wood-fired saunas and outdoor hot tubs. Every one of the individually designed 29 rooms have spectacular oceanfront views of the rugged North Atlantic coastline. Fogo Island Inn proudly sources everything as local as possible from hand crafted furniture and bedding to the bounty of seafood, vegetables and berries foraged on the island. As a 100% social business, the community of Fogo Island benefits from the success of the Inn and all operating surpluses are reinvested in the community through the Shorefast Foundations projects, grants and programs.
The Inn does not have concierges but instead offers a Community Host Program that matches a person from the local community with guests of the Inn to help orient them to the Island. The onsite community hosts create your daily itineraries with activities that focus on a variety of interests ranging from art and design to outdoor adventures and culinary experiences. Each morning began with our “tackle box” – a delivery to our room with tea, coffee and fresh pastries followed by a hearty breakfast that had us ready to hit the road and explore the Island and its picturesque settings.
We took several hikes to the four distinctly designed contemporary art studios that offer residency to artists thru the Fogo Island Arts program. The studios were also designed by the architect Todd Saunders who was also responsible for designing the Fogo Island Inn. We had a private tour of the small communities and fishing villages with our community host Roy (a retired teacher, author, story teller, fisherman and local hockey legend). We also visited various shops and galleries, took in a movie about the history of the Island and the construction of the Inn, attended a presentation by social entrepreneur Zita Cobb (the Innkeeper and Founder of the Shorefast Foundation), relaxed in the rooftop hot tubs and savored the Inn’s food which can only be described as cultural experience in itself (the innovative chef’s combine the time-honored outport cooking traditions with a twist of contemporary cuisine). Our time in Fogo was the perfect mix of activity, relaxation and immersion into the Island’s history and culture that made us feel completely at home.