Chance Cove Provincial Park

Dawn. One of my favourite parts of camping is waking up before the sun rises and watching it creep up over the horizon. It’s much easier to do this when you go to bed at a reasonable hour and when you have Kinderclocks, which wake you up at 5am.

Feeling the need to get out-of-town for the long weekend and being possessed of a rare forecast for said weekend that did not contain precipitation, either liquid or solid, John and I teamed up with the Edinger Family for a rollicking good time on the southern shore.

We skedoodled on Saturday morning and headed down the highway for Chance Cove Provincial Park. Once a tiny community of about 50 people in the 19th century, Chance Cove has long been abandoned and is now the location of the only provincially-run, unserviced campground in the province.

This means that while there is no charge at all to camp there, the sole ammenities consist of an outhouse (actually, four) and garbage cans. Ostensibly it also has rules prohibiting alcohol and open fires. In theory. In reality, no one really cares and there was evidence of both booze and blaze in abundance. Happily, it didn’t interfere with our excursion (or sleep) to any serious degree and most of the campers seemed to be there to genuinely enjoy the outdoors.

Great Big Beach
Kieran on a massive and rolling live beach. Many rocks to throw back into the ocean.

If you plan to camp there, you should note that the provincial park webpages are inaccurate. There are no water taps throughout the park. There is a river at the bottom of the hill, but that is the only water source. So bring your water or bring a bucket and either a stove to boil it on or your water filtration purification/tablets.

Surprisingly, even though it’s not monitored constantly, the garbage bins are changed regularly and the outhouses were clean and stocked with toilet paper.

There is a fair amount of driftwood on the beach, but it’s early in the summer now. In a few months, there may be decidedly less, so bring wood if you think you’ll need it. Not that you’d be building an illicit fire in one of the dozen firepits.

The nearest convenience store is in Portugal Cove South and entails a thirty minute drive to find out, upon arrival, that they have highly variable hours that make sense only to locals. On the Sunday that we were there, for instance, they didn’t open until 7pm. The nearest grocery store or reliable convenience store is in Trepassey, but even that wasn’t open when we went through.

There’s also an outdoor bank machine in Trepassey and a place called “First Venture” that serves a very fine club house sandwich and drinkable coffee.

The water from Portugal Cove South is often under a boil order (although the locals drink it without ill effects), so don’t count on refilling there if you don’t have the means to boil or purify water.

The campsites filled up fast. I wasn’t expecting to find many folks there, but the best tent sites vanished quickly. We snagged a nice one with a spectacular view.

Chance Cove
The view from our campsite.

The kids had a whale of a time. They fished and swam….

Jasper and Katherine swam twice and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

and buried each other alive.


Beach Fun
The beach was close enough to the campground to keep them entertained almost perpetually. Getting the sand out of the tents was a challenge.

All-in-all, it was about the perfect campground for a family. Lots for the kids to do, a nice little walking trail with a geocache, plenty for adults to enjoy and because it was officially unsupervised, it was quite relaxed. We saw ducks, a loon, rabbits and a seal in the park itself. One of the other campers said there are truly massive trout in the river, but they’re tricky to catch.

But that was just base camp. On Sunday, we went to Mistaken Point and Cape Race…..


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