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The East Coast Trail Guide is a digital trail guide and photo book filled with information about Newfoundland’s amazing East Coast Trail. Although the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is not a part of this beautiful long-distance hiking trail, it is a major attraction along the way and has its very own chapter in the guide.

A free sample of Newfoundland’s #1 hiking guide is available on iBooks.


Every summer, the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is alive with the sounds of seabirds and whales. Out on a tour boat you’ll see birds like the Atlantic puffin, common murre, black-legged kittiwake and razorbill murre, to name but a few. All of these birds come to this safe haven to hatch and raise their chicks, feeding them capelin from the cold and bountiful waters to give them the best possible start in life.

Whales can often be seen feeding in the reserve too, they spend their winters elsewhere but gather here by the thousands when summer comes around, frequently putting on a show that delights both tour boat passengers and hikers out on the cliffs of the nearby East Coast Trail.

Four unique islands

Witless Bay Ecological Reserve Map Duotone

The reserve spans roughly 12 km from its northern edge above Gull Island to its southern edge below Great Island. Sailing between them, you’ll find that each of the islands has its own distinct ecological makeup, geological features, and character.

Tour boats

This map shows the tour boat operators along the reserve, if you want to see the birds and whales up close just give them a call to make a reservation for their next sailing.

Boat tours and hiking trails near the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Boat tours and hiking trails near the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Every trip into the reserve is unique, and the same can be said about the tour boats. Some are large, offer onboard entertainment, indoor seating, and are ideal for big groups, while others are smaller and perfectly suitable for a more personal encounter with nature. Prices and tour lengths vary quite a bit among operators too, but you can be sure that each crew will do its very best to show you everything there is to see.

From north to south, the tour boat operators are:

  • O’Brien’s – ☏ (709) 753 4850 – Bay Bulls
  • Gatherall’s – ☏ (709) 334 2997 – Bay Bulls
  • Captain Wayne’s – ☏ (709) 763 8687 – Bay Bulls
  • Mullowney’s – ☏ (709) 334 3666 – Bay Bulls
  • Witless Bay EcoTours – ☏ (709) 334 2722 – Witless Bay
  • Molly Bawn – ☏ (709) 334 2621 – Mobile
  • Colbert’s – ☏ (709) 334 3773 – Bauline East

East Coast Trail

If you want to combine your trip on the water with a hike on the East Coast Trail, have a look at the East Coast Trail Guide, a digital trail guide for iBooks that has all the information you need to find the right trail for a great day outdoors.

Hikes that are easily combined with a boat trip include: