Currently there are Icebergs near the Avalon Peninsula, and a small number further up the coast towards Twillingate. There are also a large number along the South Labrador Coast. If you want to check the Iceberg Chart from the Canadian Ice Service for yourself, remember that the numbers in each box are the number of bergs per square degree (about 8433 square km at the latitude of St. John’s), so the 5 currently “near” St. John’s means you will find an average of 1 berg per 1700 square kilometres. Anyway, there are more bergs further south than the last year, which was a very disappointing year for bergs.
If you want to go find some, I’d advise checking with Icebergfinder.com, which combines satellite data with reports from local observers. Also, before committing to checking out a certain area, it would be a really good idea to check with a tourism office in the area. You should do this because tides and weather will often change iceberg positions a lot from one day to the next, and the tourism offices often have good and current information on sightings. Finally, you might want to check the winds for the period to see whether the icebergs might be blown towards shore or out to sea, and of course it’s more fun to watch during good weather.
The single best area for observing for many people in Newfoundland is near Twillingate. It is about a 4 hour drive from St. John’s, there are relatively cheap accommodations between Gander and Twillingate, and there are at least three tour boats that can take you out. Going out near a berg is a lot better than seeing them from the shore, and the price isn’t that bad. The local tourism office also has daily information on sitings, and the New World Island area is well known for trapping icebergs. Also good are Cape Bonavista, Grates Cove and Old Perlican, and Cape St. Francis. The further north you go the better. If you are really obsessed try St. Anthony or Southern Labrador; you’ll be almost guaranteed many large to huge bergs.
Now for a warning. Last year the odds looked good for a large number of icebergs near Newfoundland. Hardly any made it past Twillingate, and so people on the Avalon Peninsula were left hanging. There were two reasons for this. First, the ocean was warmer than normal, making the bergs melt faster. Second and more important were the winds and currents. Most icebergs observed from shore near the Northeast Coast and the East Coast of Newfoundland are primarily driven by the winds, because there are no strong ocean currents near the shore. Since the winds last year during the spring were either light or or tended to blow out of the East or Northeast, the bergs were trapped along the Northeast Coast. In order for the bergs to get down to the Avalon there usually has to be an extended period of Northwesterlies, or a combination of Westerlies and Northerlies, to drive them down the coast without being captured near Twillingate.
Personally, if I wanted a guarantee of some good sitings, I’d head at least as far as Twillingate and New World Island, I’d hang around for a couple of days, and I’d only go if the local tourist bureau indicated a fair number of bergs. I’d also check out all the little coves near Twillingate, because there are usually some nice ones hidden away, and the coves themselves are pretty nice.
For those on the Avalon, I hope this year is better than previous years, and if anyone gets some nice pictures, let me know.
“Good Hunting all that keep the Iceberg Law” -Brrr-Lou the Polar Bear