In the Bay of Fundy, the world’s highest and quickest tides offer optical illusions and unbeatable white water rafting excursions. As a hundred billion tons of saltwater pour into an ever decreasingly wide bay, it makes for tides up to 50 feet, which can take as little as an hour and a quarter to fully come in. When you leave for a whale watching expedition, you may walk directly onto the boat from the dock, but when you get back, you could have to climb about 50 steep steps to get back to that same dock.
The Truro river, in Nova Scotia, lies towards the narrowest gap in the Bay, where Nova Scotia meets New Brunswick at almost the center of the most inland point of the Bay. Here, you can experience some of the most exhilarating and white-knuckle fun with jet boat rides that race against a river’s normal flow, only to be confronted by 20 to 30, and even higher foot waves rushing upriver towards you. Flying over top of a few of these tidal bore waves gives you a new respect for Mother Nature.
One of the best places to drive to see and experience the Bay of Fundy is Digby Neck. If you look at a map of Nova Scotia, Digby Neck is the little thumb near the middle of the Bay, a series of five small islands, none longer than 2 to 5 miles, each connected by a small ferry. The cost is $2 per car, so it is not an expensive sojourn, and there is at least one campground per island, but no hotels or motels. You can walk down to the shoreline, preferably not during an incoming tide, and watch whales and seals play from the shore, if not on the shore.
Traveling to New Brunswick, the Hopewell Rocks are one of the Province’s, if not the Bay’s most popular destinations. You can walk on the Atlantic Ocean’s floor, explore caves and walk amongst huge rocks, shaped by the tides over the centuries, which have rather heavy vegetation, including trees and shrubs, near their tops. Be sure to listen for the tide warning sirens, because once the tide starts coming in in full force, there is no beating it out of he valley.
There are also jet boat rides that take you on a thrilling ride against the tidal bore at Saint John, New Brunswick’s “Reversing Falls”, on the Saint John river. This is quite the optical illusion, and can be seen from shore or on boat. The Saint John river is not exactly a small river, emptying a large portion of eastern Quebec, Northern Maine and Eastern New Brunswick into the Bay of Fundy. When a wall of seawater starts flowing up against the fast waters running out of the river, a deep ledge near the entrance of the river, in conjunction with the shorelines’ cliffs narrowing constantly towards the Bay, the illusion of a waterfall falling upriver is almost nauseating to watch for too long.
The Bay of Fundy is one of the premiere whale watching tour destinations, with many different species of whale, but the most sought-after in the Bay is the North Atlantic Right whale, but Orca whales have been seen around Grand Manan Island since 2001. When you happen to luck into a family, or community of these behemoths, the young ones will suspend, face up, at the surface, right beside your boat, and they appear to be as interested in you as you are in them. Or, maybe even more so.
There are an estimated 15 species of whale in the Bay of Fundy, and with watching migration schedules, you can select which species you would prefer to see, or at what time the most species would be available to be seen. Remember, sightings are not guaranteed, and each boat has a 15 minute turn at floating with a pod with their engines off.
For kayak and canoe enthusiasts, or even Zodiac boats, seals and other marine mammals can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks of the shoreline, from Nova Scotia to the Maine – New Brunswick border. And for those with a likings to the mysteries that surround old tales, the treasure of Captain William Kidd, on the Grand Manan Islands.
Come, explore. Your breath will be taken away. No matter where on the Bay of Fundy you stay, you will see marine life, and be near a restaurant or roadside shack that sells amazingly good seafood, from scallops to fried clams, crabs to lobster (seasonal), mackerel and codfish.
Travel smart. Travel informed.