The insight in this post is based on a virtual trip and additional research, I have not yet visited the location myself due to the pandemic restrictions. The virtual trip was hosted by local tourism experts as part of the Women In Travel Summit (WITS) online, organized by the Wanderful* community.
For this virtual trip we traveled to New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy region (Albert County) where you can witness the world’s highest tides, nature’s carvings in Hopewell Rocks, hike along newly developed trails, gaze up at historic lighthouses, and feast to your heart’s desires in Saint John.
This trip can take a weekend if you move fast, or a couple of weeks if you sit back to enjoy the views and brews. But no matter the duration below are a few key spots you should visit during the trip. A few spots I would like to visit when the borders open and the world heals.
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Cover image: Fundy Parkway by Nick Hawkins for New Brunswick tourism.
Come face-to-face with ancient nature at Hopewell Rocks
This provincial park is considered to be New Brunswick’s top tourist attraction and is factually home to the world’s highest tides which advance at 13 ft per hour straight up! You can see the magnitude of the tides changing in this fun video where park attendants get absorbed by the rising water up to their necks in mere 25 minutes – it really is amazing. During the low tide, you can walk the ocean floor, at high tide you could kayak around the ancient rocks that you were looking up at half an hour ago. These rocks, referred to as “flower pots,” have been carved by the tides over thousands of years. Some of them look like faces, some like animals, some really do look like flower pots, all are very, very old.
The park pass offers 2-day access to the area which means you can experience the tide variance first hand. Exploring the ocean floor is just one of the many activities available to visitors in the park: travelers can also hike through various trails, sit back on the quiet beachside, spot the resident falcons (rumor has it their family is growing), shop for locally made gifts, learn at the interpretive center, and take a break at the on-site restaurant.
When to go: Best time of year to visit is between may and October.
If you go: Check the tide tables before you go and be prepared to get dirty – shoes have been lost in the wet sand. The park is not accessible by public transit but there are organized tours that can take you there.
Be one of the first to hike the Fundy Trail
Fundy Trail Parkway is a 6300-acre park located on the Southern coast of New Brunswick. It is already home to two UNESCO sites and with new developments is set to become the best new scenic drive in Canada – watch out Sea-to-Sky highway! New roads are being built connecting this last remaining coastal wilderness area from Florida to the town of Sussex, between St John and nearby mountains. These new roads are not only opening up new hiking trails but setting the ground for new itineraries making it easier to explore the Bay of Fundy.
Now back to the Fundy Trail: Located roughly 2 hours from Saint John, the park is very remote and operates sustainably, focusing on preserving the unspoiled nature and wildlife of the coast. Depending on the fitness level and available time visitors can spend a day hiking or multiple days camping on the designated hike sites.
If you go: There is an easy visitors guide based on your available time here. And if you are camping the recommended visit duration for avid hikers is 3-5 days.
Naturally, there is also an interpreters center, snack bar, exhibit center, and a gift shop. Not too far from the visitor facilities is a 275-foot suspension bridge crossing the river that the Fundy footpath begins at. The foot trail spans over 60km of wilderness from Fundy Trail Parkway to Fundy National Park. Throughout the park, hikers will also find four unique waterfalls, some of which are a part of the longer hike, and some, like the Fuller Falls, are easier to access. A huge point of interest for summer visitors are the many beaches accessible from the trails and from the road. Some beaches are small and rocky, others are long and sandy. One of the bigger beaches is Long Beach and from here you can witness the famous horizontal tides while basking in the sun.
Wine, dine, and drink cocktails in Saint John
Saint John is Canada’s oldest incorporated city and the only city on Fundy Bay. All around the city there are beautiful sand beaches and access to natural landscapes but the city itself is promising to be an urban oasis. Here you will find a range of historic B&Bs, craft cocktails, and nearly 80 restaurants sprinkled across 16 city blocks. The local specialties are seafood, smoked salmon, cheese, dulse (seaweed spice), blueberries, and of course maple syrup.
For a cocktail break (see recipe below) we virtually met up with Jen Silliphant, from Envision Saint John, and Gillian Nadeau, from Uncorked Tours. The ladies passionately spoke about their favourite restaurants, dishes prepared by award-winning chefs, local farmer’s markets, as well as wine and beer experiences. Saint John is also a culturally beautiful location showcasing works by notable street artists, turn-of-the-century architecture, famous Carleton’s Martello tower, and within a short drive, you can visit St. Martins, the Irving Nature Park, and New River Beach.
Where to stay: Complete list of accommodations, from hotels to outdoor stays can be found here. From a quick search, these spots look very promising: Homeport Historic B & B Inn*, Earle of Leinster “Inn Style” Bed & Breakfast, and Château Saint John Hotel & Suites* in Saint John; Vista Ridge Cottages*, and Broadleaf Ranch* (for glamping and so on).
The vastness of Canada can be hard to wrap your head around sometimes, even one province at a time because there is so much to see. But we can narrow in one region at a time. The Bay of Fundy is one of those uniquely stunning regions that you could spend your entire vacation exploring, whether touring fast or unwinding through slow travel. Here “nature inspires” (county’s slogan), flavours will make you salivate, scenery might make you cry, and the maritime hospitality will make it feel like home.
Gillian Nadeau’s Slocum’s Maple Smash
1.5 oz Vodka or neutral moonshine
1 oz Lemon juice (juice from whole lemon)
0.75 oz Maple syrup
Mix together (no shaking) and pour over a single layer of ice in your glass
Top with soda water if desired