The Bay of Fundy in Atlantic Canada has the largest tides in the world. Twice a day, 160 billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the bay. Sure, 160 billion tons sounds like a lot of water, but it’s hard to picture how much water that is, right? A park ranger shared a few examples with me that will give you an appreciation of just how much water that is:
Picture Niagara Falls. If you collected all of the water that flows over the falls, it would take 1 year and 9 months to collect 160 billion tons. And that much water flows into and out of the Bay of Fundy, twice a day!
Another way to think about that volume of water is by picturing the Grand Canyon. 160 billion tons would fill the Grand Canyon twice!
That’s really impressive, right? UNESCO thinks so too. They have designated this area as the Fundy Biosphere Reserve.
I had wanted to go see the Bay of Fundy for myself for many years. Fortunately, there are several places where you can gain a firsthand perspective of the tides at work. The Bay of Fundy is located between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
When my husband told me he had to go to New Brunswick for a business trip, I asked if I could tag along. After his business concluded, we spent a few extra days exploring. On this trip, we got to experience the Bay of Fundy from the New Brunswick side. Someday, I’d like to go see it from the Nova Scotia side too.
Here are what I consider to be the 6 must-see spots on the New Brunswick side.
Saint John Reversing Rapids
The city of Saint John is located on the southern end of the Bay of Fundy. It is known for its history, art, and well-preserved 19th-century architecture. It is the only city located on the bay and is a popular cruise port.
The St. John River empties into the bay in Saint John. So what happens when the water flowing down the river meets the tidal water moving up the bay? There’s a section of the river that is the perfect spot to witness it. At low tide, the river moves swiftly through a section of rapids. My husband and I first saw it about two hours after low tide. Then we went out for dinner and then to a brewery before returning to the same spot. By then, the water was flowing in the other direction!!! It really is quite remarkable.
St. Martins Sea Caves
About 45 minutes up the coast from Saint John is the charming fishing village of St. Martins. The main attraction in St. Martins is the red sandstone cliff into which the tidal waters have carved sea caves. At low tide, you can walk out to the caves. At high tide, during the warmer months, you can get a closer look at the caves on a kayak or a Zodiac boat. We were there in the fall, after the boats were already done for the year. While we didn’t get to ride any boats, we did get to view the spectacular autumn colors.
Fundy Trail Parkway
Have you ever wondered what the coast looked like when it was just wilderness? The Fundy Trail Parkway gets pretty close to that, but with roads and picnic tables. A 19-mile road threads through the park along the coast. There are also trails for hikers and cyclists. You’ll find more than 20 lookouts where you can stop along the way to enjoy the expansive vistas. You can enjoy a picnic with a breathtaking view of the Bay of Fundy. You can hike to a waterfall, or along the beaches, where you can view the changing tides.
Fundy National Park
Further north along the bay is Fundy National Park. It is an excellent place to hike in the Acadian Forest. Trails are designated as Easy, Moderate, or Difficult. The park also has camping and recreational facilities. There are seasonal rentals of bikes and boats along with a swimming pool and golf course. And, of course, there are stunning views of the bay. The park has marked several especially scenic views with red Adirondack chairs.
Probably the most iconic view of the Bay of Fundy and of New Brunswick is the Hopewell Rocks. Admission to the park is good for two consecutive days to ensure that visitors get a chance to view the rocks at both low and high tides. We first visited the Rocks at high tide. During the high season in the summer, you can rent a kayak to paddle around the Hopewell Rocks. We were there in October, which is the low season, but still a good time to visit.
We came back later in the day to see the Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
Wowzers! Where did all that water go?!?! Amazing!!! Of course, we jumped on the opportunity to walk around on the ocean floor.
My only regret is that I didn’t pack my waterproof hiking boots because it was muddy. That didn’t stop us though. We appreciated the shoe-washing stations located onsite.
Moncton Tidal Bore
The city of Moncton is located about 23 miles upriver from Hopewell Rocks on the Petitcodiac River. You might think that is far enough that the tides don’t affect the river there. No. In fact, the effect of the tides is most remarkable. The tide causes a phenomenon known as a Tidal Bore. The incoming tide forms a wave of water that travels upstream. The Tidal Bore in Moncton reaches heights from 0.5 to 1 meter. When the bore rolls in, you can hear it coming!! I’ve never seen or heard anything like it. After the initial wave passes, the water continues to flow upstream.
New Brunswick is a lovely province to explore on land or by sea. You could combine it with other Atlantic Canada provinces–Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador for an incredible adventure.
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