Fogo Island is difficult to get to. For most visitors, it takes at least three airplane connections, a long drive to a ferry landing and a one-hour sailing across icy North Atlantic waters. This extraordinary destination is situated on the eastern edge of North America in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador northeast of Nova Scotia. Rugged and barren, it even has its own irregular time zone, 1.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
The island is an outcropping of solid granite approximately eight miles wide by 15 miles long. Some 2,500 residents of Irish and Scottish descent occupy 12 distinct villages. They scratch out a living as artists, fishermen, boat builders, quilt sewers and service providers. Weather-beaten saltbox-style homes dot the landscape, along with hundreds of dilapidated outbuildings on old wooden stilts called stages teetering over the ocean to service fishing boats and process cod.
It’s a veritable time capsule. By the 1990s, the North Atlantic waters were overfished and the cod industry collapsed, leaving villagers with myriad hardships and few choices. Islanders began moving away for more prosperous job opportunities.
This is where Fogo Island native Zita Cobb comes in. After a successful career in the tech industry, she returned to her birthplace to start the Shorefast Foundation (named after the line and mooring used to secure traditional cod traps) to pump resources back into the economy. This effort resulted in the creation of Fogo Island Inn as well as six modern artist studios, an artist residency program and countless other projects. Profits are reinvested into the community.
Shorefast hired world-class Newfoundland-born architect Todd Saunders, named one of the world’s five greatest architects under 50 by HuffPost, to create a 21st century design-driven inn. Opening in 2013, it quickly became a hot destination for affluent travelers and foodies — and a shot in the arm for the local economy. It takes its inspiration from fishing stages and has ship-like dimensions, at just 30 feet wide by 300 feet long. With 29 rooms and suites, it feels like a luxurious, intimate guesthouse.
Each guest room is unique and boasts distinct Fogo Island–style furniture. Most have wood-burning stoves. All have floor-to-ceiling windows with remarkable North Atlantic views. The interior design strikes a fine balance between traditional and modern, with local artwork on the walls and bright quilts on the beds.
The full board rate includes breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper. As a prelude to breakfast, a daybreak tray dubbed a tackle box stocked with coffee, tea and pastries is left at your desired time each morning. The dining room is a minimalist space, with ocean views from every table. Seasonal gourmet offerings include just-caught seafood, foraged plants and local, organic produce. A room-service menu with quick bites is available around the clock. The hotel bar and lounge feature Newfoundland-themed cocktails and live entertainment. Upon request, your favorite drink can be served with ancient ice harvested from North Atlantic icebergs.
Other amenities include a library, an art gallery, a 32-seat cinema, a gym, private saunas and roof deck hot tubs. Fogo Island Inn’s most memorable trait, though, is its authentic hospitality. It’s a place where guests feel embraced in a culture removed from the modern world.
IF YOU GO
When to Go
Fogo Island has seven distinct seasons. Winter and early spring are some of the best times to visit to observe giant glaciers floating south from Greenland.
What to Pack
Bring anything coastal-inspired, from resortwear to flannel and denim.
What to Experience
Guests receive full use of the inn’s facilities as well as a half day with a community host for island orientation. Additional optional programming includes fishery tours, intensive hikes, educational geological walks, movie screenings, and artist-led drawing, painting and creative sessions.