Chasing Captain Cook through the Bay of Islands

Captain James Cook was a great British explorer, navigator, and cartographer – original christener, not so much. He seemed to love the name the “Bay of Islands.”

In 1769, he visited New Zealand, and charted the North and South Island, giving that Bay of Islands its present name… but before New Zealand, he’d been in Canada. In 1767, he was finishing up a 5 year stint in Newfoundland by charting the island’s west coast, where he’d named that area’s Bay of Islands.  Much like the islands he visited, Cook became more famous as he journeyed from NF to NZ. But that doesn’t mean the beautiful Bay of Islands in Newfoundland isn’t a treasure that is waiting for your discovery.

I have an earlier blog about the Captain James Cook National Historic Site in Crow Hill, Curling, Corner Brook. But after you visit the memorial, it’s only fitting that you chase Captain Cook’s trail through the Bay of Islands in Newfoundland.  

A drive along the windy Route 450 from Corner Brook, Newfoundland brings you through the town of Humber Arm South (serving the communities of Halfway Point, Benoits Cove, John’s Beach, and Frenchman’s Cove.)  You can see spectacular views of this Bay of Islands, and  photograph Guernsey, Tweed, Pearl , Woods, Seal, and Governor’s islands.

There’s a local swimming hole called Cook’s Brook in Mount Moriah Municipal Park where the Captain is said to have wintered. 

Benoit’s Cove is named after the first family of French settlers, and is nestled on the foothills of the Blow-Me-Down Mountains. It is home to a locally owned fish processing plant, and also home to the Woods Island Resettlement House and Historic Center –  a museum to the people that were uprooted and resettled by the government (including my father’s family, the Gallants and the Hacketts).


Driving through the communities of John’s Beach (named after a first settler), and Halfway Point (named because it is halfway between Woods Island Harbour and Corner Brook), you come to Frenchman’s Cove (named for Frenchman, Prosper Companion) at the base of the Blow-Me-Down Mountains. You will see great views of Guernsey Island, or “Weebald” as it is known locally.


From Frenchman’s Cove, you can view Woods Island – my father’s home. Woods Island was a thriving spot in the 1800’s when French and American Schooner fleets fished for herring stocks. After its resettlement by the Newfoundland government in 1960, the island is all but deserted today.




The Blow-me-down Mountains offer geologists and hikers some wonderful fodder. The mountains were formed “several hundred million years ago when the North American and North African continental plates collided resulting in the ocean floor of the Atlantic being thrust upwards.  One can view the boundary between the ancient ocean crust and ocean mantle.” (See links below.)  The Blow-me-down Provincial Park offerss some terrific hiking trails.

York Harbour and Lark Harbour were named for two of Captain Cook’s ships, the HMS York and HMS Lark. York Harbour was the site of a copper mine from the 1880s to 1913. Lark Harbour is a beautiful little community surrounded by mountains and water.

Bottle Cove and Little Port are two terrific spots not to be missed.

Chase Captain Cook through the Bay of Islands, Newfoundland – you’ll be amazed by the beauty that you find.

See and