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Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada

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Did You Know … ?

  • In one tide cycle, more water flows through the bay than the amount of water in all the world’s rivers.
  • Arthur Ganong, president of Ganong Bros. chocolate makers for 40 years, ate three pounds of chocolate daily.
  • The American traitor, Benedict Arnold, took refuge from the American colonies in Saint John.
  • As an energy source, the bay is 10 times more powerful than any other site in North America.
  • Some of St. Andrews’ historic buildings were ferried in from Maine after the American Revolution.

Waterpower in the bay

Canada’s Bay of Fundy, which separates two provinces, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is the quintessential destination for the adventure traveler. It attracts the active vacationer with its outsized tides, craggy shoreline and an interior featuring rolling hills, several smaller bays and rivers. The bay’s 170-mile stretch of Atlantic waters produces the world’s highest tides and other unusual marine phenomena.

The area draws all types of travelers, as well, to see the bay’s famous and numerous whales, plus porpoises, seals and a raft of seabirds; to relax in charming seaside resort towns, and to enjoy the scenery, on the New Brunswick side, by walking or driving the Fundy Coastal Trail.

The Fundy Isles, in New Brunswick’s piece of the bay, are known for bird-watching opportunities and Campobello Island, where a U.S. president — FDR — summered. It is now home to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.

It’s de rigueur for tourists to observe examples of Fundy’s exceptional tidal activity. The top choices are walking on the bay floor at low tide, usually at Hopewell Cape, and watching the aptly named Reversal Falls on the St. John River. The bay’s tides are so strong that, twice daily, they force the St. John back from whence it came, and during a well-timed visit, tourists can see the waters change directions.

In addition, the bay has the Western Hemisphere’s largest whirlpool, called Old Sow Whirlpool for its sound effects, visible from Deer Island in the Fundy Isles.

There are many ways to see these natural wonders, some considerably less tame than others. The adventurous go for kayaking or jetboating, for example.

Similarly, there are wet and dry ways to watch whales; those who want to get closest to the huge and fascinating animals may choose a Zodiac.

The Fundy Coastal Drive extends from St. Stephen, home of Ganong Bros. chocolate makers, and St. Michaels, Canada’s first resort town, both on the Maine border, to a bit beyond Sackville to the northeast. The trail travels via the Fundy National Park and Saint John, Canada’s oldest incorporated city (1785) and home to the country’s largest group of intact Victorian structures.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a sea kayaking excursion from any of several places including the village of Alma or from Deer Island. Or, for a livelier take on the bay’s waters, book a seat on a jetboat and charge through the rapids for a real feel for the Reversing Falls at Saint John.
  • Eat the salty dulse at least once. Dulse is a type of seaweed — and an acquired taste.
  • Sign on for a four-day experience aboard the Huntsman Marine Science Centre’s research vessel, as a way to learn about the bay’s marine life and seabirds in some depth.
  • Camp close to the sea near the New River Beach Provincial Park.
  • At Cape Enrage, site of an old lighthouse, rappel down a 140-foot cliff toward the bay. Return to the starting point by scaling a 60-foot sandstone cliff.
  • Hike some of the more than 60 miles of trails in the Fundy National Park. Walking up into the forested hills rewards the energetic with grand views of the bay, as well as the less-obvious streams and waterfalls.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Do your bird-watching in the Grand Manan archipelago, described as a birder’s paradise. Look for the puffins, for one thing.
  • Take a ferry from Letete, near St. George, to Deer Island, the smallest inhabited island among the Fundy Isles. It is lined with charming fishing villages, but, depending on your interests, its chief attraction may be a viewing of Old Sow Whirlpool.
  • Stay at a historic inn such as the 1878 Tanners Home Inn, St. John, or the 1854 Marshlands Inn in Sackville. Or book the Tidal Watch Inn in St. Martins, 150 feet from the high-tide line, and watch the bay’s waters rise and fall from the dining room or your guest room.
  • Go deep-sea fishing from St. Andrews.
  • Try your hand at some old-fashioned skills, such as carding, spinning wool and throwing the weaver’s shuttle, all this during a daylong experience at the Keillor House Museum in Dorchester. Your fee includes a hearth lunch and the St. James Church Textile Museum.
  • Whale watching is a must-do; the only question is how to seek out the world’s largest mammals. Choices (options that suit all personality types) range from a Zodiac to sailboat, catamaran to tall ship. You may see finback, humpback, minke and right whales, as well as porpoises and seals — plus, as still another bonus, seabirds.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Tour the Chocolate Museum in St. Stephen, home of Ganong Bros. chocolate makers, and take the town’s Chocolate Heritage Walk. Time your visit to attend the summertime Chocolate Fest where you may discover your inner chocoholic at the chocolate-themed brunch or at the decadent Chocolate Trio dinner.
  • Visit the summer home of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today it is the centerpiece of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, jointly maintained by the U.S. and Canada.
  • Have one or several lobster dinners. Wash that down with blueberry beer from a microbrewery or with blueberry wine.
  • At the Hopewell Rocks, on Hopewell Cape, walk on the ocean floor at low tide, then return at high tide to stand 45 feet above your now-washed-away footprints. Also, at Saint John, view the Reversing Falls (from Reversing Falls Restaurant, no less), also at both low and high tide. Arrive about 20 minutes before slack tide (when the tide goes still) to ensure you’ll see it all.
  • Book a room — and cooking class — at the Fairmont Algonquin, the property that when opened in 1889 made St. Andrews Canada’s first resort town. Continuing the foodie theme, when in Saint John, shop for local foodstuffs at the Old City Market.
  • Build your itinerary around a drive along the Fundy Coastal Trail taking in the towns, the scenery (land and sea) and the dramatic rising and falling tides for which the bay is famous.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership at www.bayoffundytourism.com