Red Bay is one of the oldest occupied ports along the Labrador Straits. The earliest European occupants were Breton fishermen and Basque whalers during the 16th century. Men from the Basque Provinces of France and Spain sailed to the Labrador Straits each year to hunt the large right and bowhead whales. Red Bay is the easternmost community accessible by paved highway from the Quebec/Labrador border. It was named «Baie Rouge» by the French in the 17th century. It's an ideal natural harbor, sheltered from the ocean by Saddle Island. Red Bay is the site of an extensively studied archaeological dig, begun in 1978, of a large 16th century seasonal Basque whaling station. The Basque galleon, believed to be the San Juan, discovered in the harbor is the best preserved 16th century ship north of the Caribbean. A gravel road leaving Red Bay gives access to communities on Labrador's Southeast coast - from Lodge Bay in the South to Cartwright in the North.