The rugged coastline surrounding the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, has so many features that it’s hard to narrow them into a short list. The area is a UNESCO Global Geopark and a Biosphere Reserve, making it one of the greatest natural wonders in the world.
The Bay of Fundy formed billions of years ago when the continents were connected and broke apart. Volcanic eruptions shaped the landmass, and the ice age created massive glaciers. When they melted, the receding ice carved the bathtub-shaped Bay of Fundy, creating the highest tides in the world.
The rise and fall of the tides, plus the towering cliffs, rock formations, and sea caves, make this a fantastic destination to explore. The tides retreat twice daily, powered by the gravitational pull of the moon, sun, and earth’s rotation. At low tide, the beaches and mud flats are revealed. The water level can rise from 33 to 56 feet depending on the area of the Bay of Fundy.
The Bay of Fundy is accessible by flying to Toronto Pearson Airport and connecting to a coastal city in the Province, such as Saint John. Rent a car and drive the coast to visit fishing villages like St. Martins, where you can hop on the scenic Fundy Parkway. Here are nine suggestions (in any order) to enjoy this Canadian Province.
I was a guest of Tourism New Brunswick for this experience, but all opinions are my own.
1. Explore The Sea Caves In St. Martins
St. Martins is a quaint village with a rich shipbuilding history. The town is known for its sea cliffs, caves, and historic homes. At low tide, you can walk out on the sea floor and into the red sandstone caves designated as a UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve. It’s also “the last vestige of pure coastal wilderness on the Eastern Seaboard of North America.”
Kayak in and around the coast for another fantastic way to see the caves. The quintessential lobster meal (and other types of fresh seafood) is a dining must in this seaside town. Plus, it’s the only place in the world where you can take a photo that includes two covered bridges and a lighthouse.
Pro Tip: The Beach Street Inn is a beautiful stay in St. Martins. The hospitality, the warm décor, and the delicious restaurant are just a few reasons it’s the perfect place to unwind after exploring the Bay of Fundy.
2. Drive Along The Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway’s western entrance is a 12-minute drive from the village of St. Martins. This world-class scenic drive stretches for 19 miles. It offers 20 scenic lookouts of the Bay of Fundy, and many are wheelchair accessible. The Fundy Trail Parkway has five beaches and four waterfalls and provides 22 miles of hiking and cycling trails.
The parkway also has a suspension bridge over the Big Salmon River. Stop by the Interpretive Center, which explains the area’s logging history, and then cross the bridge over the river. It’s the home of the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick, Walton Glen Gorge.
I drove the parkway stopping at various lookouts for spectacular views. I hiked on trails to waterfalls and walked down to the beach at low tide. It took 25 years and 100 million dollars to build the parkway, which was completed in 2020. This parkway shouldn’t be missed.
Pro Tip: The hike to Walton Glen Gorge is an easy 1.5-mile hike to a viewing platform. The gorge, created by a series of volcanic eruptions, is 550 million years old. It spans 1,000 feet across and is 525 feet deep.
3. Search For Fossils At Cape Enrage
Cape Enrage is one of the marine wonders of the world, with tides rising as high as 53 vertical feet twice a day. The cape got its name due to the rough waters that pass over the reef. The original lighthouse, built in 1838 and replaced in 1870, protected mariners from the most hazardous area in the upper Bay of Fundy. It remains one of the oldest lights on New Brunswick’s Fundy coastline.
Rappel 142 feet down the cliff at the cape or jump on the 600-foot-long zip line that offers breathtaking views over the bay. Fossil tours are led by amateur paleontologists on the beach (by appointment) and offer two challenge levels. Once on the beach, you’ll discover plant fossils and learn about the different sedimentary rock layers at Cape Enrage.
4. Enjoy A Meal In Alma, New Brunswick
Alma, New Brunswick, is a picturesque fishing village and the gateway to Fundy National Park. It is a great stop to enjoy local restaurants offering fresh seafood caught in the waters around the Bay. The Holy Whale Brewery is found in a converted church where the brewmaster serves delicious craft brews and tasty pub food. The Tipsy Tails Restaurant has front-row patio seats to admire the changing tides while munching on delightful fare.
In Alma, you can visit the Molly Kool Heritage Center (check the website for programming). Molly Kool was the first female sea captain in North America. Take a drive into the national park. Stroll some easy boardwalk hikes (moderate and challenging trails, too) with jaw-dropping views of plunging waterfalls and a historic covered bridge. You can also camp and swim at designated spots in the national park.
5. Kayak Around The Famous Flowerpot Rocks
The Hopewell Rocks, also known as “the Flowerpot Rocks,” are a collection of over 20 sea stacks carved by New Brunswick’s famous tides. The rocks, formed of conglomerate layers, are over 600 million years old. Trees and plant life growing on top of the rocky cliffs remained after the cliffs eroded and separated from the land, resembling flower pots. The large towers also take on shapes that look like people and animals — dotting a little over a mile of coastline.
The Hopewell Rocks are iconic and photographed so often that they are often the main reason visitors come to the province. To tour the ocean floor at low tide, go to any of the three access points. There’s the main deck to descend 99 stairs to the ocean floor. The North Beach Ramp is easier and wheelchair accessible (traveling on the rocky beach may be difficult), and the trail Demoiselle slopes toward sea level. Once there, uniformed guides love to explain more about the formations. The staff has pet names for a few, including the bear, mother-in-law, and ET.
At high tide, you can explore the rocks by choosing a sea kayak adventure with Kayak The Rocks to experience “The Highest Tidal Paddling Experiences On Earth.” You can paddle around, under, and through the Flowerpot Rocks.
The park also has a network of well-groomed and wheelchair-friendly trails that include stunning lookouts just a short walk from the Interpretive Center. The center has restrooms, a restaurant, and exhibits that explain all about the tides and the formation of Hopewell Rocks.
6. Whale Watch In St. Andrews
Saint Andrews exudes charm and plenty of boutique shopping and dining. A must here in St. Andrews is an eco-sensitive whale-watching tour by Island Quest Marine that sets out from the dock on Water Street. This family-owned and operated company offers 3-hour tours of the Bay of Fundy. You can experience spectacular seascapes, scenic lighthouses, and wildlife such as Finback, Minke, and Humpback whales.
Pro Tip: Book a room at the historic Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by the Sea for an exquisite stay on St. Andrews. The year-round resort offers indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, a golf course, and fresh seafood at Braxton’s Restaurant.
7. Drive On The Sea Floor To Ministers Island
The sandbar connecting Ministers Island to St. Andrews is a sandy road that gets washed away under 14 feet of water at high tide. 6 hours later, it recedes, so the “road” is crossable. You can hike nature trails on the island and enjoy a living history experience at Covenhoven, the Van Horne Estate.
This Provincial and Federal Historic Site was the summer home of Cornelius Van Horne, an American businessman credited with helping to build the Canadian Railroad. Tours of the barn, home, and bathhouse right on the edge of the Bay of Fundy run daily. Enjoy the serene experience but be sure to return before the road is underwater.
8. Visit Grand Manan Island For A Puffin Tour
Grand Manan Island was voted as one of the world’s best small islands by Reader’s Digest. Board a tour boat for the 10-mile offshore trip to observe Puffins. This rare pelagic seabird inhabits Machias Seal Island in the lower Bay of Fundy. Contact Sea Watch Tours to enjoy the experience (the only tour company with tours) while exploring Grand Manan.
9. Observe The Reversing Rapids In Saint John
St. John is Canada’s oldest incorporated city and the only city on the Bay of Fundy. Rockwood Park and Irving Nature Park offer incomparable outdoor activities. The Reversing Rapids, where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy, is a fascinating natural feature.
The art scene, gorgeous architecture, the oldest market in Canada, and over 80 bars and restaurants downtown offer plenty to do. A Waterfront Container Village with 60 shipping container boutiques, a large concert stage, and food trucks offers a great stop on the harbor.