The Bay of Fundy is a truly unique place. Home to the highest tides in the world, 160 billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the bay every day. Twice. The tides have shaped the coastline into a ragged, staggering beauty best experienced in person. From the sandy beaches to the towering cliffs, from the vast expanses of exposed sea bottom to majestic rock formations, the Bay of Fundy is ever changing. We start our trip in a busy harbour town and end in a tiny village, with so much to see along the way.
Start in Saint John, Canada’s oldest incorporated city, and the only city on the Bay of Fundy. Take advantage of its urban allure with some shopping and lunch in the Market Square, which is bustling with intriguing shops and restaurants. Enjoy the sea views and watch the ships come in while you eat. Sample the wares at the Saint John City Market, the oldest operating farmers’ market in Canada. Make sure you look up, the ceiling was designed to look like the hull of a ship. If you time it right, you can witness the Reversing Rapids, a phenomenon that occurs when the rising tides of the bay crash into the incoming water of the Saint John River. The power of the tide will eventually force the river the change direction.
Learn the about the ship-building history of Saint Johns, as well as an interpretation of the distinct geography of the area at the New Brunswick Museum. If you are looking for a more active afternoon, wander the trails in the Irving Nature Park or go swimming in Rockwood Park. Looking for something kid-friendly? Make a quick outing to the Cherry Brook Zoo.
Next up is the New River Beach Provincial Park. If you plan to get into the water, this is the place to do it. Sandy beaches, clean clear water, and well-maintained, the park is great for swimming, hiking, and kayaking. Explore the tidal pools and search for crabs and starfish, not to mention an abundance of birdlife.
Hike the cliffs on Barnaby Head and see how the dramatic tides have shaped the shoreline. Take the boardwalk through the bog to find carnivorous plants that only grow here. If you visit in July, join in the annual Sand Sculpture Competition. It’s family-friendly, with lots of places to picnic, a playground, a snack bar and showers.
The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world, 17 metres at Burntcoat Head. According to the Mi'kmaq legend, the tides were caused by a whale splashing around in the bay, which, while adorable, is sadly not the case. The main feature at the bay is the Hopewell Rocks. The ebb and flow of the tides have eroded the stone pillars here into so-called "flowerpots". When the tide is out, you can walk among them; when it's in, the kayaking is incredible.
Saint Andrews By-the-Sea has transformed from sleepy fishing village to a seaside resort. It’s known for its first-class whale-watching. Humpbacks, minkes, and finbacks are just a few of the whales that call the Bay home. If you plan to eat here, the lobster rolls are a must. There’s no end of places to find them, but the lobster roll from Rossmount is practically iconic. Or kill two birds with one stone and get your lobster from the restaurant at Kingsbrae Garden: epic dining and an enchanting horticultural masterpiece in one shot. After the requisite lobster, stroll through town to find wonderful shops, galleries and museums. Enjoy local fare at the Farmers’ Market, then spend the afternoon in the sun in a warm saltwater cove.
Saint Stephen is also known as Canada’s Chocolate Town, so consider this the dessert portion of your coastal tour. Ganong Bros Ltd, Canada’s oldest candy company, makes its home here. The Ganong Chocolatier candy shop is right downtown. It smells so good, the free samples won’t be enough. You’re going to want to take some treats home with you. From there, head over to the Chocolate Museum, located in the former Ganong candy factory. You’ll explore the history of candy-making over the last 100 years, as well as how the Ganong family company came to be. You can watch them hand-dip chocolates there, just as they were doing a century ago.
You can work off all that chocolate in Ganong Nature Park. Take the Riverfront Walking Trail along the spectacular coastline of the St. Croix River. Keep an eye out for eagles “fishing” in the river. If you happen to be visiting on a Thursday in summer, end your day with live music in the David Alison Ganong Chocolate Park.
Banner Photo Credit: Photo by V J Matthew