On the western coast of the Avalon Peninsula are two attractions worth seeing. Castle Hill National Historic Site (near Placentia) preserves the ruins of fortifications used by the French and, later, the English in the 1600s and 1700s. A visitors center has an interesting exhibit about local history.
Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, on the southwest tip of the peninsula, has one of the world's largest colonies of northern gannets. Thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes and other pelagic seabirds can be seen as well. A marked trail (a 30-minute walk) winds along the cliffs to the sea stack where the birds nest April-October. You get good views of the birds as they dive for capelin, and you might also see humpback whales feeding in the waters.
If you enjoy swimming or walking along a scenic beach, we recommend stopping at Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park or Angels Cove.
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