On Remote Fogo Island, Residents Claim Seven Seasons

Whether there's pack ice in the harbor or trap berths in the water, each season on this Newfoundland isle showcases a unique intermingling of nature and culture.

Living on the water can foster a sort of sixth sense for predicting the weather. Living on a small island like Fogo, off the coast of a larger island and at the edge of a continent no less, is a daily lesson in meteorology. On this Newfoundland “outport” isle, every man, woman, and seafarer is a veritable nostradamus—which is why each of them will tell you emphatically that there are in fact seven seasons here, and not the four you might expect from Atlantic Canada.

Fogo Islanders can sense the earliest stir of a brewing storm, and they know that the berries come and go with a distinct weather pattern—not quite in the summer, not quite in the fall, but in a season named for their very existence. They know when it’s safe for the kids to play on the harbor pack ice, and when the sculpted behemoths are about to come gliding down from Greenland through “Iceberg Alley.”

They may try to convince you that the coldest months are their favorites, as one resident claimed during my visit on an already-chilly summer’s weekend. The turn of the calendar year is when this quiet isle gets quieter—when only the heartiest of tourists remain—and a retired cod fisherman can finally get a little peace out on his ice-fishing pond.

Incidentally, he’d invite you to come visit during this sacred time anyway. Because that’s just how Fogo Islanders are: enduring of the land’s temperament and welcoming no matter the weather.

At Fogo Island Inn, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, excursions are designed so guests can embrace the spirit of the season in which they visit. Travelers on our voyage to the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland have the option of booking an extension to Fogo Island during berry season.