Exploring the Bay of Fundy: a 6-day New Brunswick Itinerary

Are you ready to explore one of the most magical regions in North America?
Are you ready to explore one of the most magical regions in North America? | Courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick
Rebecca Hallett

Freelance writer and editor

Some of the best places to witness the Bay of Fundy’s startling tides and craggy coastline are on its western side, in New Brunswick. As well as a truly stunning natural setting, this laidback province boasts several historic cities with thriving arts and culture, and more craft beer than you could drink in ten trips. This six-day itinerary works best if you have a car, as there’s no access to Saint Martins or Fundy National Park by public transport.

Day 1: Fredericton

Start your trip in New Brunswick’s capital, Fredericton. As with many towns and cities near the US border, its unique character is shaped by its history. Loyalists were resettled here following the American Revolution, and Fredericton’s Garrison District still has several buildings from the era. Spend your morning exploring the picturesque downtown, nestled in a bend of the Saint John River, where you’ll find the outstanding Beaverbrook Art Gallery; its collection of works by Canadian and British artists is particularly strong.

Some of the best art in New Brunswick is displayed at Beaverbrook

After a picnic lunch, head out to explore the over 115 kilometres of riverside walking and cycling trails – or perhaps go kayaking or canoeing. Refuel at any of the downtown area’s excellent restaurants in the evening; vegetarian Abbey Café is a good choice, showcasing local art and attached to Red Rover cider house. For an after-dinner drink, try local craft brewery Picaroons – though as Fredericton has the highest concentration of craft breweries in the beer-obsessed Maritimes, there are plenty of other options too.

In the morning, drive a couple of hours to the picture-perfect St. Andrews near the Maine border. Though packed with tourists every summer, at other times this coastal resort town is pleasantly sleepy. Stroll down Water Street, taking in its brightly painted wooden buildings on your way to the 27-acre Kingsbrae Garden. Here you can enjoy lunch at the Garden Café, serving fresh New Brunswick produce, or just visit the rabbits, alpacas and pygmy goats.

Next, make your way to the historic Van Horne estate on Ministers Island, which has sweeping views over the bay, and where you can learn more about the Passamaquoddy people, on whose ancestral land St Andrews was built. Check the tide schedule carefully, as the causeway to the island quickly becomes submerged. Alternatively, head out on a small-boat whale watching trip; between June and October over 12 different species can be spotted here, attracted by the bay’s nutrient-rich waters.

For a bit of luxury stay at the Algonquin Resort, open since 1889. Dine at the hotel’s excellent Braxton’s Restaurant, or drive 5 minutes to the secluded Rossmount Inn, where the daily changing menu features local, seasonal produce, much of it foraged or grown in the kitchen garden.

Ministers Island is as historically interesting as it is spectacularly beautiful

Day 3: Saint John

After breakfast, drive an hour up the coast to the historic Loyalist city of Saint John. At first glance it’s just another attractive old port town, streets lined with Victorian red-brick buildings in Uptown and the Trinity Royal Historic Preservation Area. But there’s a lot hidden below the surface, from North America’s oldest market to Canada’s oldest independent brewery, Moosehead, plus plenty of bustling independent shops and cafés. After a morning exploring, head to the river for lunch overlooking the Reversing Falls Rapids. Time it right and you’ll witness an incredible natural spectacle, as the powerful Bay of Fundy tides reverse the flow of the Saint John River, creating roiling rapids.

Spend your afternoon getting to know the city’s thriving art scene; try to time your visit to coincide with one of the popular Gallery Hop evenings, an arty take on a pub crawl. Round off the day with impeccable Italian cuisine in a historic industrial building, at Italian By Night.

North America’s oldest market is as vibrant as ever

Day 4: St Martins

Just 40 kilometres east of Saint John, St Martins is a small fishing village at the southern end of the Unesco-designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve. This stretch of coast is marked by bizarre rock formations and diverse marine life, and in many places looks completely different at high and low tide. When the tide is out, you can explore St Martins’ fascinating red-rock sea caves on foot; when it’s in, you can experience the coast from the water, either whizzing along on a zodiac or dipping into the caves by kayak. Bay of Fundy Adventures can arrange guided versions of all these trips, and advise on when it’s safe to walk to the caves.

Back in Saint John for the evening, visit the East Coast Bistro for dinner, where the French-inspired menu features fish and seafood from the coastline you’ve just explored.

A view of the sea caves of St Martins when the tides are in

Day 5: Fundy Trail Parkway

Setting off in the morning, drive east to the Fundy Trail Parkway, a 30-kilometre-long coastal road which links up with several trails. In 2020 a route inland to Sussex was added, followed in 2022 by a scenic link to Alma and Moncton. Along the way you can stop off at beaches, scenic spots and lookout points, or park the car and hike or bike through the diverse coastal scenery. Most of the Parkway’s facilities are clustered around the Big Salmon River, where you can learn about the logging settlement that used to be based here, join gentle loop trails, and enjoy the view downriver from a suspension bridge.

Continue east to the unassuming fishing village of Alma, on the eastern edge of Fundy National Park. For dinner, try the famous local seafood chowder – everyone has their favourite place, so ask around. Alma is also known for being the birthplace of the excellently named Molly Kool, Canada’s first female Master Mariner; you can visit her house near the harbour.

There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure to be had in Fundy National Park

Day 6: Hopewell Rocks and Moncton

Leave Alma – picking up some sticky buns from Kelly’s Bake Shop on your way – and head to Hopewell Rocks Park in the northern reaches of the Bay of Fundy. Here the tidal bore is a staggering 14 metres (47 feet), the water rushing in at up to 3.6 vertical metres (12 vertical feet) per hour. From the clifftop you can see the exposed ocean floor stretching away into the distance at low tide, the visible sliver of water a deep brown from the mud churned up, hence its nickname “the Chocolate River”.

Down on the beach you can get up close to the top-heavy rock formations, mostly rust-coloured sandstone stacks and arches, formed by the water’s relentless rise and fall. The interpretive centre explains the science of the astounding tides, and their place in the stories of the Mi’kmaq people, who are indigenous to the area.

In the afternoon, make your way 40 kilometres north along the Petitcodiac River to Moncton. The biggest city in New Brunswick, Moncton is the de facto capital of Acadia, the province’s predominantly French-speaking northern part. Laidback but cosmopolitan, it has great food and music scenes – try the Tide & Boar Gastropub for impeccably executed comfort food, house-brewed beer and live music – and is a great urban spot for viewing the tides. Pull up a bench at Bore View Park and you can watch the longest wave in the world sweeping past, often with a few surfers enjoying the ride.

Head to the Tide & Boar for some of the tastiest meaty dishes in all of New Brunswick

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