Enjoying the outdoors in New Brunswick, Canada

Stuart Forster discusses things to do by the Bay of Fundy while following the Fundy Coastal Drive scenic route and enjoying the outdoors in New Brunswick, Canada.

The Fundy Coastal Drive runs for 486km (286 miles) between Sackville and St Stephen. Highlights along its route include the Hopewell Rocks, Cape Enrage and Fundy National Park. The route can be driven in under seven hours but I’d recommend at least five days to make the most out of a trip along New Brunswick’s southern shoreline.

Disclosure: This post has been paid for by Destination Canada.

Having a car gave me freedom to take detours to points of interest such as lighthouses and pause to shoot photos. If you’re planning a road trip in New Brunswick I recommend planning plenty of contingency into the duration of each day’s driving. I’ve found that estimates on the internet tend to list actual time on the road, excluding breaks.

 

Viewing the Hopewell Rocks

Driving from Halifax to Hopewell Cape took me around three hours.

My first impression of the Hopewell Rocks, some of which resemble human faces and animals, was at night. I joined Kevin Snair, a local photographer and interpretative guide, for his Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Excursion.

Hopewell Rocks at night with the Bay of Fundy in the background
An image created during Kevin’s night photography session.

On evenings when the Bay of Fundy’s tide is out, Kevin hosts 2.5-hour sessions introducing the basics of night photography to small groups. He also talked informatively about the shaping of the rocks by erosion.

Thanks to the region’s low level of light pollution many more stars sparkled in the night sky than I see at home. Thanks to Kevin’s tips, I shot some cracking photos and had a great time.

Travel blogger Stuart Forster standing at night by one of the Hopewell Rocks by the shore of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada
A selfie at the Hopewell Rocks.

Walking on the ocean floor

The following day I visited the Hopewell Rocks Interpretative Centre and discovered that 160 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy each time the tide ebbs and flows.

It results in the world’s highest tides. The water level varies anything up to 16.64 metres (54.6ft); the height of a four-storey building.

Yellow kayaks by the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada
Kayaks for exploring when the tide comes in.

That churn means an ample supply of food for marine creatures, explaining why humpback, finback and minke whales are frequently spotted in the Bay of Fundy.

Two humpback whale dives in the Bay of Fundy off New Brunswick
Two humpback whales dive in the Bay of Fundy off New Brunswick.

First Nations’ legends about the formation of the rocks include a story about a monster lashing its tail. The one that I liked best told how Mi’kmaq people were turned to stone by angry whales.

I spotted several human-like forms in the rock formations while walking on the ocean floor when the tide was out.

People visit the Hopewell Rocks, also known as the Flowerpot Rocks, are shaped by the water of the Bay of Fundy
People exploring at low tide (check tide times when planning your trip).

A detour to Cape Enrage

Cape Enrage is the location of a historic lighthouse and worth a detour if you enjoy an adrenaline rush. During the summertime you can ride a zipline and abseil down the 43-metre (142 ft) cliff to the beach.

A humming bird hovering mid-flight in New Brunswick, Canada
A hummingbird – New Brunswick’s bird life is worth taking time to appreciate.

A lobster dinner in Alma

Maritime Canada is famed for the quality of its seafood.

Oysters served at the Rossmount Inn at St Andrews by-the-Sea in New Brunswick.
Oysters served at Rossmount Inn near St Andrews by-the-Sea.

At the Alma Lobster Shop (36 Shore Lane) I ordered a lobster for lunch and sat outside, at one of the benches, to twist off the claws and crack open the shell.

A lobster dinner served with sweetcorn and potato salad at Alma in New Brunswick, Canada
Lobster dinner with sweetcorn and potato salad at Alma.

That’s easier than it sounds. If doing that doesn’t appeal look for dishes such as lobster roll and pre-shelled naked lobster.

Lobster served at the Rossmount Inn at St Andrews by-the-Sea in New Brunswick
Naked lobster at Rossmount Inn.

Walking in Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park is one of the two national parks in New Brunswick. The other, Kouchibouguac, is a tad trickier to pronounce.

On arrival, I headed to the red chairs, which are a feature of Parks Canada-managed sites across the country. They’re usually set up at places with outstanding views, so worth settling into for a few minutes. Those in Fundy National Park overlook the coastline.

Parks Canada red chairs overlooking the Bay of Fundy at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick
Parks Canada’s red Adirondack chairs overlooking the Bay of Fundy.

Golf is an option during the summer but I chose to walk one of the park’s marked trails. In this coastal region it’s worth being prepared for weather changes by carrying a backpack but I was fine in my T-shirt and shorts.

The Reversing Falls Rapids at Saint John

I had a cracker of a night in Saint John, including a couple of craft beers at the Big Tide Brewing Company.

At the Reversing Falls Rapids it’s possible to see the Saint John River flowing in two directions, depending on the tide. The Skywalk Saint John is designed for optimal views.

Saint John's Market Square hosts a shopping mall, library and the New Brunswick Museum
Saint John’s Market Square hosts a shopping mall, library and the New Brunswick Museum.

Kayaking off Deer Island

One of the highlights of my visit to New Brunswick was a guided kayaking excursion off Deer Island. Porpoises arced along the sea’s surface just a couple of boat lengths away.

Man kayaking off New Brunswick's Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy
Kayaking off New Brunswick’s Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy.

When I paused to get a better view at a bald eagle perched on a shoreline tree, a harbour seal popped up to take a look at me, as if to question why I’d stopped paddling.

Seals and seabirds on rocks off New Brunswick's Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy.
Seals and seabirds on rocks off Deer Island.

Staying on Campobello Island

Taking the ferry to Campobello Island enabled me to visit the house where Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent his summers before being elected US president. It stands in Roosevelt Campobello International Park.

Roosevelt Cottage, the summer home of FDR, at Roosevelt Campobello International Park Campobello Island in New Brunswick
FDR’s former summer home, Roosevelt Cottage.

It’s by no meant the island’s only attraction. Head Harbour Lightstation has been painted with a red cross for around 170 years and opens to visitors when the tide is out. Be prepared to climb ladders to reach the landmark.

Head Harbour Lightstation, also known as East Quoddy Lightstation on Campobello Island in New Brunswick
Head Harbour Lightstation is also known as East Quoddy Lightstation.

St Andrews By-the-Sea

St Andrews By-the-Sea is an attractive coastal town dotted with heritage buildings, including a battery and blockhouse dating from the War of 1812.

St Andrews Blockhouse, constructed to defend a shoreline battery at St Andrews by-the-Sea during the War of 1812
The St Andrews Blockhouse was built to defend the shoreline battery during the War of 1812 – 

As a lover of history I visited the estate of railway magnate Sir William van Horne on nearby Ministers Island. It’s worth checking the tides as the drive includes crossing a tidal bar.

Bath house on Ministers Island, part of the summer estate of rail magnate Sir William Van Horne
The bath house on Ministers Island.

Kingsbrae Garden is a gorgeous place to visit. An al fresco lunch is an option in fine weather.

Sharing platter with smoked fish, cheese and toast, served for lunch at the Garden Cafe in Kingsbrae Garden at St Andrews by-the-Sea in New Brunswick
Sharing platter at the Garden Café in Kingsbrae Garden.

If I was to return for a similar trip I’d plan a couple of extra days and a trip to Grand Manan Island.

Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Most United Kingdom passport holders flying to Canada for leisure or business require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter the country. Some people need visas.

Apply for your eTA via the official Government of Canada website before booking travel. Don’t leave it until you’re at the airport, just prior to travel, as the approval process sometimes requires supporting documentation and takes several days. Once approved, eTAs are valid for up to five years.

Be aware that any site charging more that CAD$7 to process an ETA application is not the official Government of Canada website.

Getting to New Brunswick

Flying from the UK to Moncton, Saint John or Fredericton requires a transfer in Montreal or Toronto. I think the easiest way of travelling to New Brunswick from the United Kingdom is to fly to Halifax Stanfield International Airport then pick up a hire car. Moncton is less than 2.5 hours’ drive from Halifax.

WestJet operates direct flights between London Gatwick and Halifax plus seasonal services from Glasgow (April to October) and Manchester (June to October).

Further information

For ideas about things to do and see in Canada check the #Forglowinghearts hashtag on social media. Additionally, visit the www.explore-canada.co.uk website to see inspirational content from across Canada.

The Tourism New Brunswick site has information on the province’s attractions.

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4 Comments

  • Anna

    March 10, 2020 at 18:32 Reply

    Wow what a great trip! I would love to go to Canada one day! Those weird rocks look so cool! Bet it was great doing a photography trip at night too :D!

    • Stuart Forster

      March 17, 2020 at 18:50 Reply

      Visiting the Hopewell Rocks really was a great experience during a memorable trip. I’d highly recommend participating in one of those workshops.

  • Kathryn Burrington

    March 15, 2020 at 16:33 Reply

    I had a fabulous time staying in Saint John, New Brunswick a few years ago and visited many of these places. It’s a fabulous area that is often under-rated. The scenery, food and people are wonderful and I couldn’t agree more about leaving plenty of time while travelling to stop and admire the view and explore a little as you go.

    • Stuart Forster

      March 17, 2020 at 18:53 Reply

      That’s great to hear. Saint John is a lovely city with some super bars. The people there really made it for me. New Brunswick is a province I’d happily revisit.

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