Iceberg Alley has long been a destination for many people visiting the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It's not the frigid temps that bring people so far north, though - it's the chance of witnessing an enormous iceberg floating past the harbor. While it sounds unusual, this is what the stretch between the towns of St. Lewis and Point Amour is known for. The land in between is what's known as Iceberg Alley, and those who watch in fascination each year have Greenland to thank for the massive structures that float by year after year.

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There's plenty to know about how and when to see these enormous chunks of snow-covered ice, including tips on the best ways to observe them. Before planning a trip to any town along Iceberg Alley, this is what visitors should know beforehand.

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The Ancient History Of Iceberg Alley

For starters, it's not like anyone could miss these icebergs as they forge along at sea, passing by small towns on their way through. They're no small thing to witness and they are, indeed, chunks of ice broken off from Greenland when summer temps begin warming up the Arctic. Thanks to the north-south currents, they follow a route that takes them right past the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. As they float through Baffin Bay, their final destination is the Labrador Sea, and it's here that most of the icebergs eventually melt away. While not every iceberg comes from Greenland (some do pop off the icy coast of Canada), a majority of them come from across the pond.

What makes seeing these in person so phenomenal is the fact that the icebergs are estimated to be roughly 10,000 years old. Annually, anywhere from 400 to 800 icebergs float by Canada's coast, making quite the spectacle for onlookers. It's also important to note that while these icebergs look massive, they're even greater in size than what one can actually see from the shore. About 90% of the iceberg still remains underwater, which means it's truly tremendous in size.

Iceberg Terms

  • Tabular Icebergs: Pieces of flat-slab ice that are wider than their overall height.
  • Blocky Icebergs: Bear a resemblance to oddly-shaped pyramids.
  • Wedged Icebergs: An ice block with two sloping and steep sides.
  • Dome Icebergs: Ice with a rounded top.
  • Pinnacle Icebergs: Any shape with multiple peaks at the top.
  • Dry Dock Icebergs: Pieces of ice that are U-shaped.

Fast Facts About Iceberg Alley

  • It was an iceberg from this route that caused the Titanic to capsize.
  • The further south the icebergs are, the more unpredictable they become due to warmer waters and the rapid acceleration of the melting process.
  • Icebergs have been known to get close to the shore but, thankfully, shallow waters usually stop them from going any further.
  • They can be a hazard to smaller boats.
  • The water from these glacial icebergs is used by local artisans in gin, rum, vodka, and beer.

When To See The Icebergs

Knowing when to book a trip to one of these coastal towns can be tricky but, luckily, there are hundreds of icebergs that visitors may have a chance to see. For the most part, the best time to see them is from the spring to early summer, when the temperatures are warm enough for them to break off but not warm enough for them to melt entirely.

The best two months to see Iceberg Alley are April and May; however, there is still a chance they won't complete their route due to additional ice in the sea along Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundlandlabrador.com recommends booking a trip during late May or early June for the best chance at watching these icebergs float by freely.

Tips For Watching The Icebergs

  • There are several ways in which to watch these giant pieces of ice in Iceberg Alley. Taking to the water by kayak or boat tour are two of the best, but they can be seen just as easily from the shoreline.
  • Boat tours can be booked easily in either Newfoundland or Labrador and allow visitors to see the icebergs up-close and personal (within reason, of course).
  • When watching from the shoreline, visitors won't need to panic to rush down to the water's edge - icebergs do not move that quickly and they'll have plenty of time before the iceberg pass through.
  • Boat tours also give visitors a way to see the marine life that lives on the coast of Newfoundland, including various seabirds and even whales, depending on the time of the year.

Iceberg Safety

As with anything that has an unpredictable nature, such as icebergs, visitors should keep their distance. It's advised that those in a kayak or boat maintain a distance that's roughly equal to the height of the iceberg or the length of it - whichever is greater. Since there's no way to tell how large an iceberg truly is underneath the surface of the water, maintaining this distance prevents those on the water from being hit with loose ice or being caught off-guard by a submerged portion of the iceberg.

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