The Seven Seasons of Fogo Island
As Canadians around the country are gearing up for fall, the residents of one small island in the North Atlantic have just started Berry Season — one of the seven unique seasons recognized by the community.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Newfoundland’s Fogo Islanders would balk at the traditional four seasons and redefine their landscape in their own terms. They live, after all, in a remote setting that is highly influenced by the elements. Fogo Island, which takes up approximately 250 square km, sits 15 km off the coast of Newfoundland facing the open waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. It has been made famous by the stunning Fogo Island Inn, which is recognized as one of the world’s top places to spend the night.
So what are these seven seasons that make Fogo Island so unique? Read on to find out more.
Related: Read about the Fogo Island Inn experience in our post A Land at the Edge of Earth.
From the first day of September until Halloween, Fogo Island is in the grips of Berry Season. Patches of blueberries, raspberries, partridgeberries and marshberries can be found ripening all around the island. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as foraging for sweet and tart berries in the late summer sun, with whiffs of that cool early autumn breeze. If you stop in at the Fogo Island Inn for lunch, you’ll likely find that some of these berries have found their way onto the delicious menu that always features local products in inventive ways.
This is also the season of stunning sunsets and sunrises, caribou watching, and the harvesting of corn and root vegetables. On the water, you’ll see fishing boats out in full force.
The month of November is known as Late Fall on Fogo, a time of big winds and winter preparations. While locals continue to make preserves out of the berries picked in Berry Season and smoke the fish caught in the local waters, the land is changing around them. Frost can start to appear and sometimes even the occasional snow — and the wind whips wildly, coming seemingly from every direction.
This is a good time to visit if you love seeing big waves crashing dramatically against the island’s ancient rocks. There is also a good chance to view some of the island’s caribou during this season.
For three months, Fogo Island is turned into a lively snow-globe as snow swirls and cold temperatures descend. From December 1 until the end of February, the season is known simply as Winter. Outdoor activities include icefishing and hockey, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
The island, while seemingly quiet under the snow, is quite a lively place to visit in the winter if you enjoy fireside chats and aren’t afraid to throw on a pair of snowpants and head toward the nearest toboggan hill.
March bring with it the promise of warmer weather but the ground is still very much covered in snow. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the interior continue during March but the season is known as Pack Ice for a reason — the Labrador Current ushers in multi-year pack ice from the north and the water shimmers and shivers as a result. The ice attracts lounging seals and swirling seabirds.
Photographers will appreciate the drama reflected by the pack ice during this season.
April and May bring the quintessential Spring season to Fogo Island. As in many places in Canada, spring on the island varies — from warmer days and melting ice to the occasional colder wind gusts. As the ocean ice recedes, fishing boats make their way out again as fishers look for crab and shrimp.
The big drama of the season comes in the form of icebergs, which travel past the island throughout the season. Huge and imposing, icebergs are quite the sight.
June 1 is recognized as Trap Berth Day and the entire month is known as Trap Berth season — a celebration of the island’s rich cod fishing history. Historically, markers for cod trap berths were dropped on the first of June at 12 pm and were a time of hope for a good fishing season ahead.
The days of June are long and warm on land with wildflowers beginning to fill the island with colour. Out on the water, you’ll still catch glimpses or icebergs and arriving whales. Not quite summer, Trap Berth season is a time of preparation for gardeners and farmers alike.
July and August are the idyllic months of Summer on Fogo Island. Music festivals abound and people head outdoors to enjoy the beauty of the calm seas and the land studded with growing flowers and plants. All of the usual summertime activities can be found on the island, from beachcombing and biking to hiking and swimming.
Visiting Fogo Island during the summer season means seeing the island as its fullest and liveliest.
Are you dreaming of visiting Fogo Island but don’t know which season to pick for your visit? Reach out to us and we can help you plan.