Twillingate's economy revolves primarily around careers in construction, logging and the tertiary sector, which involves providing services to the community. Because of the cod moratorium in 1992, fishing is not practised as much in the area, though some fishermen still catch crab, lobster and other aquatic species. The seal hunt is practised in Twillingate.
Tourism throughout the summer months is also a big part of the economy in the Twillingate area. The town is known as the "Iceberg Capital of the World" because of the scenery and icebergs that are seen in the spring months.
The earliest known people to inhabit the area were the Maritime Archaic, who occupied the area 3,500 years ago in 1500 BC. The Maritime Archaic people were later supplanted by the Beothuk, and possibly the Dorset Inuit, who occupied the area until the arrival of European settlers.
The French had been fishing in the area, possibly as early as 1500, but the first European settlers did not arrive until the 17th century. The European settlers were mostly fishermen and their families from the West Country in England. The native Beothuk managed to survive until the early 19th century in small numbers near Twillingate and the mouth of the Exploits River.
As the population grew, Twillingate became an important fishing community. It was a busy trade and service centre for Labrador and the northern shore fisheries for more than two centuries.
Since the Fisheries and Oceans Canada moratorium on fishing northern cod was announced in 1992, followed shortly after by the collapse of the fishing industry, Twillingate has turned to the tourist industry for income and is becoming a popular spot for visitors in the summer.
From the western coast of Newfoundland, take Route 340 (Road to the Isles) from the Trans-Canada Highway through Lewisporte. Driving north on Route 340 from Lewisporte or Gander to Twillingate, you will pass through many other small fishing communities, including Boyd's Cove, Summerford, Virgin Arm and Newville.
From the east coast of Newfoundland, take Route 330 (Cooper Blvd. in Gander) from the Trans-Canada Highway through Gander Bay, then turn right onto Route 340 to Twillingate.
Twillingate is approximately 1.5 hours from Gander and about a hour from Lewisporte.
Twillingate is relatively easy to navigate. Arriving on the island via Route 340, continue straight to reach the main area of town or turn left for Black Duck Cove, a small community on the island. The next small community is Purcell's Harbour, followed by Little Harbour, another small drive-through village. Drive another three kilometres and you will be in Twillingate.
The first street you will see (and will already be on) is Toulinguet Street, with several gas stations and stores. On your left, the first street is Rink Road (Bayview Street) that leads to Bayview (another subdivison of Twillingate) and the George Hawkins Memorial Stadium, home of the Fish Fun and Folk Festival.
After that, Toulinguet Street ends with a final intersection. Turning left will take you to Main Street North and the famous Long Point Lighthouse [dead link], while a right turn will lead you onto Main Street South to Durrell.
Twillingate is a popular location for iceberg viewing and whale watching.
- 1 Long Point Lighthouse, Main Street North, in Crow Head. A few minutes from town, has a beautiful area for looking out over the ocean to view whales and icebergs. Country Outport shop sells fudge, souvenirs.
Other points of historic interest include:
- 2 Orange Lodge, 118 Main St.
- 3 Masonic Lodge, 115 Main St.
- St. Peter's Anglican Church.
- Southside United Church Museum.
- The Women's Institute.
The town's museums are a great way to learn about historic and contemporary culture.
- 4 Twillingate Museum & Craft Shop, 1 St Peters Church Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The Twillingate Museum has a collection of Maritime Archaic artifacts that were collected from Back Harbour in 1967.
- 5 Durrell Museum, 17 Museum Rd, ☏ . Jun-Sep 9AM-5PM daily.
- 6 Prime Berth (About 5km outside Twillingate near the causeway.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Twillingate Fishing Museum and souvenir shop. Various exhibits, visit the walk-in codfish trap or see live rabbits.
The Fish, Fun and Folk Festival draws many tourists from around the world to the town each year at the end of July. The festival features local talent, dances, and entertainment from Newfoundland on Thursday and Friday nights. A parade, performances, and a fireworks display are held towards the end of the festival.
Iceberg tours are available from Twilingate Island Boat Tours aka Iceberg Man Tours, and four other boat touring companies have been established.
Do a wine tour and tasting at Auk Island Winery in Durrell - taste wines made from local berries and iceberg water. Hike the numerous well-groomed hiking trails or enjoy local entertainment during the summer such as the Split Peas, All Around the Circle dinner theatre, Ada Jenkins' Backroom Sessions, Irene Bridger's gospel performance or a Kitchen Party with Karren Churchill.
Twillingate has a growing artist community. Visit Twillingate Gallery with the work of Nina Keogh and John Satterberg, Driftwood Gallery with Ted Stuckless' work, Paintings by Pearl in Crow Head featuring the art of Pearl Geiger.
- 1 R&J Restaurant, Main Street North, ☏ . 9AM-9PM daily. Beautiful view of Twillingate Harbour. Wedgefries, fish n' chips, soup, Greco pizza.
- 2 Cozy Tea Room and Bakery, 123 Main St, ☏ . Locally owned, homemade baked goods, soup, toutons and beans with molasses.
- Island Pizza, Toulinguet Street. Pizza, ice cream.
- Seaside Variety (Mr. Scoops), Main Street South. A well-kept local secret. This understated little store has a selection of home-made berry ice creams.
- JJ's Fishmarket (In the centre of town.). Fish and chips served outside on the deck.
- Grubbies Restaurant, Main Street South. Overlooks the harbour, food ranging from french fries to soup, bar and Internet café.
In summer, two shops offer a selection of speciality coffees:
- Crow's Nest Café, 127 Main St (In Crow Head shortly before reaching Long Point Lighthouse.), ☏ . A cafe with a breathtaking view and souvenir shop.
- Newfie Fog Café, Main St (In the centre of town.).
- 1 Anchor Inn, 3 Path End, Northside (Main Street North to Scott's Lane and turn right.), ☏ . Hotel with licensed 75-seat restaurant (seasonal, May-Dec) at main hotel entrance and a pub on the lower level, on the ocean-view side of the building. Pub offers a selection of Quidi Vidi Beer from St. John's, including its famous Iceberg Beer, as well as local Auk Island berry wines. Restaurant menu includes fresh, local seafood favourites, lobster in season, chowder, pasta. The restaurant is open from May to December for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals can also be enjoyed in the oceanfront lounge; bookings in peak season are recommended. The lounge often features live music. Across from St. Peter's Anglican Church.
- Auk Island Winery, 29 Durrell St, Durrell, toll-free: . Gift shop: daily 10AM-6:30PM, restaurant: daily 10AM-8PM. Do a wine tour and taste wines made from local berries and iceberg water. The winery houses a sub and ice cream shop which makes homemade Wine ice-cream in many flavors. And there is a traditional Newfoundland souvenir shop called the Downhome Gift Shoppe.
Twillingate's bed and breakfasts, vacation homes and cabins stretch from Main Street North to Durrell to Little Harbour. There is one hotel. In peak season, especially during the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival in late July, it is best to book early. Prices range from $60-70 per night to over $200.
- 1 [dead link] Amber Retreat, 14 Slades Lane, Durrell, Twillingate (from Route 340, turn right onto Main Street South for 4.3 km. The road winds along the coast. Watch for Slades Lane on your right. Look out for the distinctive modern yellow saltbox home), ☏ . Check-in: 3:30PM, check-out: 11AM. Vacation home, rated 4-star by Canada Select. Two large bedrooms with en-suite bath accommodate up to four people. Living/dining room, library/TV room, wireless high speed Internet, full kitchen (with dishwasher), laundry. Modern interior, traditional salt-box exterior with generous wrap-around decks. $150-200.
- 2 [dead link] Above the Tickle, 84 Main Street, Twillingate (from Route 340, turn left onto Main Street and around the first turn you'll see the distinct blue house with red door on your right), ☏ . Check-in: 3:30PM, check-out: 11AM. Merchant home (Canada Select: 4½ star) with ocean view, close to the harbour, Tickle Bridge and "downtown". Three bedrooms (Q, Q, D) and 1½ bathroom, renovated interior, accommodates four to six people. Cable, high speed wireless Internet, living and dining rooms, full kitchen (including dishwasher), laundry, large garden. $150-200.
- 3 Anchor Inn, 3 Path End, Northside, Twillingate (Main Street North to Scott's Lane and turn right.), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Hotel with licensed 75-seat restaurant (seasonal, May-Dec) and a pub. There are eight one- or two-bedroom efficiency suites directly behind the 14-room main hotel. Rooms $140-170, suites $170-200, +$15 per additional person.
- 7 Beothuk Interpretation Centre, Boyd's Cove, off Highway 340, ☏ . 9:30AM-5PM daily, mid-May to Thanksgiving. A Beothuk (Aboriginal) village 300 years ago, now an archaelogical site at the end of a 1½-km walking trail which begins at the interpretation centre. An outline of housepits is the only evidence of the former Beothuk people, a Newfoundland native first nation extinct since the 1820s. (One of two sites dedicated to Beothuk history; there's also a Mary March Provincial Museum in Grand Falls-Windsor.) $6/adult.