We’ve had 8 fun days around the 170-mile-long Bay of Fundy, staying in 4 different locations (see map below), so we could experience the variety of this place. While most people have heard of the Bay of Fundy because of its extreme tides, we really didn’t have a good visual picture of what it would be like to visit this bay that divides the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
We crossed from Maine into New Brunswick, Canada, at the busiest border crossing in the east–Calais to St. Stephen. It took us exactly 4 minutes to answer the Canadian official’s questions and cross into Canada—no waiting at all!
Our first destination was St. Martins, New Brunswick, a very small town right on the northwest part of the bay. From our campsite, we could watch the tides go up and down; not the most extreme part of the bay’s tides, but significant nonetheless.
We had two major adventures in St. Martins. First, we explored the Fundy Coastal Trail, a relatively new scenic road along this very rugged part of the bay. We tried it first on bikes, but after walking our bikes up a couple of hills with grades of 30 percent or more, we abandoned that plan, and drove the rest of the “trail,” which was much more successful. Gorgeous views of the coast and of Nova Scotia on the other side awaited us around every turn.
We had some great wildlife sightings too—a porcupine on the hill and a woodchuck near one of our stops. How much wood could this woodchuck chuck (if a woodchuck could chuck wood)?
Near the Upper Salmon River stop, we explored a suspension bridge and a very steep climb to an overlook—have to get in our 10,000 steps daily!
Our second major adventure in St. Martins was exploring the sea caves, which have been carved out by these extreme tides twice daily. Here you can see how different they look at high and low tides (a difference of about 30 vertical feet in 6 hours).
All that exploring made us hungry, so we had a great lobster roll and fish n chips at The Cave, next to the sea caves.
Next, we moved campsites to Fundy National Park, a little further up the bay, still on the New Brunswick side. We again got to see the extreme difference in low and high tides, though it wasn’t as dramatic as it can be in this location (more than 40 vertical feet).
Fundy National Park was great for hiking (Paul Wolfe Trail and Caribou Plain trail), and we were thrilled to finally see beavers! Yes, the picture is lousy because they were far away, but this was our first-ever beaver sighting after searching for over 30 years.
A red squirrel on our hike and a woodchuck by the side of the road also made our day! Too cute.
Our scenic drive out of the park the next day took us to Cape Enrage and the Shepody National Wildlife Area.
We ended our day at the not-to-be-missed Hopewell Rocks. These sandstone figures have been eroded by water and wind, and change completely from high tide to low tide. At low tide you can walk around them, which we did.
At high tide 6 hours later, you can kayak around them (which we didn’t do, but you can see what that would look like in these pictures). Very cool.
We said goodbye to New Brunswick (for now) and headed over to Nova Scotia for more Fundy fun. Who could resist the chance to go brown-water rafting on a tidal bore? What is a tidal bore, you ask? Well, we asked the same thing.
Basically the tide in certain parts of the Bay of Fundy comes in so strong that it pushes against the rivers that are flowing down into the bay, reversing the flow of the water. I guess the tide bores its way through the river current and works its way quite a ways upstream.
So, you can put on an astronaut suit (that keeps you fairly warm, but not dry) and go out on a little Zodiac raft, where they purposely take you through the tidal bore.
You can actually watch the tide move in waves across the mouth of the river.
And you can watch a huge sand bar disappear in a few minutes.
A bonus was viewing all the bald eagles and their nests along the way. We were chilly and wet, but this was a very unique experience that we were glad we did. Thanks, Shubenacadie River Runners! (Scroll to the end of the post if you want to view Hank’s 2-minute video on our tidal bore rafting experience.)
For a more sedate nature opportunity, we found a small wetlands area near our campground (Brookfield Wetland & Nature Trail) and had a lovely evening walk, where we spotted another beaver (or was it a muskrat?). Though we can’t be sure of its identity, we were very thrilled to see more wildlife.
Our final campsite was located near the southeast corner of the Bay of Fundy on the Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia. This was about 3 1/2 miles across the bay from where we started in New Brunswick.
Our plan was to go whale watching in the Bay of Fundy because about 12 species of whales hang out there in the summer. Alas, we were a bit too early for whales, so we opted instead to travel the Digby Neck and visit Balancing Rock. This basalt column that appears to be teetering on another piece of rock reminded us of Devil’s Postpile in California and all the balanced rocks we’ve seen in the Utah national parks.
The fog eliminated one of our other Fundy destinations, so what to do? We went and had lunch in Digby, consuming the best scallops we had ever eaten. That makes sense, since Digby hosts the largest scallop fishing fleet in the world.
The fog and rain cleared just enough for us to enjoy one last look at the Bay of Fundy from the site of the Point Prim Lighthouse. Thus ended our 8 Fundy fun days–we’re moving inland tomorrow!