How To See Puffins In Elliston, Newfoundland In Canada

How To See Puffins In Elliston, Newfoundland In Canada

Wondering where to see puffins in Canada? Seeing puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Find out when to visit, where to stay and more!

My Day with Puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland

Puffins In Elliston, Newfoundland (Canada)

The moment my alarm went off at 5:30am, I immediately regretted my decision. Luckily, my friend and I had previously made a pact to meet each other in the lobby at a quarter to six and I couldn’t leave her hanging. Besides, we were going to see PUFFINS!

The previous afternoon, we had visited the tiny town of Elliston — hoping to see these birds up close. I’ve spent time with puffins before — in the Treshnish Isles of Scotland — yet I felt just as excited to spend time with them here, in Elliston, Canada.

My Day with Puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland

During our first visit to the puffin lookout in Elliston, we had arrived on an unusually hot afternoon in early August. We were surprised to find the puffins on an island about 100 feet away from us, with no access for humans. I peered through my telephoto lens to snap some photos from afar, but couldn’t help feeling disappointed.

Puffin Viewing Site in Elliston Newfoundland
My day with Puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland
My Day with Puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland

I had a magical experience the first time I saw puffins in the wild and literally sat within a few feet of these well-fed birds while they built their nests and made lawn mower-like noises.

Where Can You See Puffins In Newfoundland?

Elliston is one of the most popular places to see puffins in Newfoundland, which is where I saw them.

In addition to Elliston, Witless Bay offers an extraordinary puffin-watching experience with its four picturesque islands, each serving as a sanctuary to thousands of puffins.

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve also offers a cliffside vista, providing a captivating backdrop for observing puffins and various other seabird species.

For those seeking more opportunities to see puffins in Newfoundland, Bonavista and the Bay Bulls area are highly recommended as exceptional spots for puffin watching.

How To See Puffins In Newfoundland, Canada

That evening, we met the owner of the Artisan Inn and Twine Loft Dining in Trinity and she gave us the inside scoop on how to see the Elliston puffins up close.

We arrived to Elliston the next day, just as the sun started peeking its way above the horizon. I practically ran down the trail, hoping we were the first people to arrive. My heart sank as we reached the top of the hill and saw three early birds (of the human variety) at the lookout point, with cameras ready. No puffins were to be found.

Puffin Viewing in Elliston, Newfoundland
Where to see Puffins in Canada

Susan and I sat at the edge of the cliff — taking in the view and watching the puffins from a distance. They were busy building nests and flying to and from the water, picking up their breakfast. Every time one took flight, I secretly wished they were coming over to our side.

Over an hour passed before our fellow bird watchers finally gave up and headed to their car. I was determined to see some puffins up close, but I have to admit my enthusiasm was diminishing.

Just as I was about to throw in the towel, I looked over my right shoulder and noticed one puffin had quietly landed about 50 feet away from us.

“Susan.” I whispered, “There’s a puffin behind us — at the edge of the cliff.”

As if we had done this a million times before, we both immediately rolled over onto our stomachs, getting as low to the ground as possible. Our cameras were locked and loaded.

The curious puffin slowly hopped along the cliff, inching his way towards us. Once he got within about ten feet, I tried to keep my giggling to a minimum so I wouldn’t spook the adorable puffin. Apparently he felt no fear because he literally waddled up to within a few inches from our faces, stopped along the edge of the cliff, and posed for a photo shoot.

The photographer in me whispered, “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

Where to See Puffins in Canada

Unidentified bugs began biting my bare legs, but I didn’t care. I felt as if we had been chosen. Our little friend then called one of his buddies over to our side of the cliff. Now there were two puffins within arms reach.

Where to See Puffins in Canada

The puffins were so close that I had to switch from my telephoto lens to my iPhone. I was so excited to be within such close proximity to these wild birds that it took me over ten minutes to realize I should have been taking video of this encounter.

Just after I recorded the video above, I heard Susan’s voice.

“Christy! There’s another puffin to your left.”

This newcomer landed on a rock near the edge of the cliff and spent a few minutes checking us out before he joined the other two birds for what seemed like a puffin meeting. I began giggling uncontrollably and continued to take as many photos as possible.

Puffin in Newfoundland, Canada

At some point — I’m not even clear how long we spent with these three puffins — they all decided to fly away, in search of more fish to fill their bulging bellies.

Best Time To See Puffins In Newfoundland

Puffins spend the majority of the year at sea, but they come to land to breed. The best time to see the Puffins in Newfoundland is between late May and late August. Planning a trip in June or July would give you the best odds of seeing these birds on land.

Where To Stay Near The Puffin Viewing Site

I stayed at Artisan Inn and Twine Loft Dining and loved everything about my stay, including how close this hotel is to the puffin viewing site. Choose from a variety of rooms spread out among three buildings in the historic town of Trinity.

Other accommodation options in Trinity include:

Trinity Guest House

Kelly’s Landing

Eriksen Premises

Where to See Puffins in Canada

How To Get To The Puffin Viewing Site In Elliston

The address is Maberly Rd, Elliston, Newfoundland. Here is a link to the coordinates on Google Maps.

Once you arrive, you’ll see signs and it’s an easy 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the viewing site.

FAQs: Puffins In Newfoundland

What month is best to see puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland?

The best time to see the Puffins in Newfoundland is between late May and late August. Planning a trip in June or July would give you the best odds of seeing these birds on land.

How much does it cost to see the puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland?

Admission is free, however, donations are appreciated.

How can you see Puffins in Newfoundland?

Many people choose to take a boat tour from Bay Bulls or Witless Bay. You can also visit an ecological reserve along the coast, such as Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve. If you don’t have your own car, I recommend hiring a local guide to take you to the puffin viewing sites in Newfoundland.

What is the best time of day to see puffins in Newfoundland?

Early morning is best to avoid the crowds, which will give you a better chance of the puffins coming close to you.

Plan Your Trip

After traveling consistently for over 15 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

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Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 10 years.

Let us book your trip! Looking for a Travel Advisor to help you plan your trip? Contact us here for more information!

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 Puffins in Elliston - Newfoundland, Canada


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  1. Hi. Adorable. Is Maverly Road the “ inside scoop” of where to see puffins?

  2. Greg Patterson says:

    I just returned from a trip to Scotland and now have the bug to find more locations to find Puffins. Living in N. Georgia, NewFoundland and Nova Scotia would be a easy trip than Scotland, but I’m wondering if US east coast options offer very limited photography access compared to Scotland? We only had a short trip to Bass Rock out of North Berwick due to time constraints of our trip, but definitely plan to return and visit Lunga, May, or Handa Islands where you can see large numbers of Puffins within feet of their burrows.
    However, as I said, a trip up the US east coast would be much easier and less costly but wondering if we’ll be disappointed? Thanks for any thoughts. Great site and information.

    1. Christy Woodrow says:

      I haven’t experienced the Puffins on the East Coast, but Scotland was amazing!

  3. So cute!!! What time of year did you go? Would love to bring my son.

    1. Christy Woodrow says:

      They are so cute! I visited in August. The puffins are generally there from late May to late August. I hope you get a chance to see them!

  4. Christy — Thank-you so much for writing this article. I was in St John’s, NL last month, I read your article and I did exactly as you said. I have seen the puffins in Iceland from a boat, & we had just gone on a whale & puffin boat trip out of St John’s, but your article made me drive the distance to Elliston. Brought a blanket, warm clothes — stuff I was willing to lie down on my stomach for and wait, and sure enough a pair of puffins came within several feet of us. I swear if we had stayed out longer (and so many people hadn’t stood near where we were lying down), I feel the puffins would have come closer. It was a beautiful experience and I am so grateful that you took the time to explain everything. We stayed for almost 2 hours, my husband didn’t complain once as he started to lose feeling in his extremities — I would have gladly stayed longer. We ended up buying a pair of the Adirondack puffin chairs from the souvenir shop nearby. What a sight that was — 2 puffins in the back of a pick-up truck, going to their forever home in Ontario!

    1. Christy Woodrow says:

      Oh my gosh! This makes me so happy!! I’m so glad you had the patience to wait for the experience as well. Those are always the best ones! Thank you for sharing your experience so I could relive it again.

  5. Great read. I’m curious as to what camera/lens combo you were using. We are going there this summer and I’m wondering if my lens is long enough to get decent photos.

  6. Passport Couture says:

    This is definitely a trip I must take! I would love to see puffins and your photos of them are incredible. 🙂

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      They’re adorable … and thank you!

  7. Luis A (mediodiablo) says:

    Beautifully cute birds, we all thank you for the great photos and thank the first super curious puffin for getting so close! A very photogenic ambassador 🙂

  8. DeJav Speller says:

    Great pics the puffins look so cuddly almost like a penguin.

  9. Marta Kulesza says:

    I always thought that bird watching wasn’t for me, because of the patience that one has to have to get to see some of the species. I went bird watching for the first time in the Amazon forest in Ecuador and loved it. Puffins seem like such cute birds, especially the way they walk. I might be moving to Scotland next year so I wouldn’t mind going to see them myself!

  10. One Modern Couple says:

    Gerat post, Ive seen the puffins in newfoundland. What a great experience!

  11. Greg Steffen says:

    I have been following your blog for awhile since I am native to San Diego county. But this is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Thanks so much for posting this.

  12. Wonderful photos. Those puffins look adorable…like they should be in a cartoon or something.

  13. Jennifer Dombrowski says:

    So, so cute! I just missed the puffins when I was in Iceland last month, but I did get to hold one that hatched late and was adopted by a family. They have got to be the cutest birds ever.

  14. Jenna Francisco says:

    So cute, and the photos just got better as the post went on. 🙂