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Have you ever planned a trip by looking at a map and thought if I had more time, I would love to get there? Well, I missed New Brunswick on two previous trips while driving to Nova Scotia. Sorry that it took so long but I’m really happy that I finally made it.
New Brunswick is one of the largest Canadian provinces. This blog will only cover the coastal communities along the Bay of Fundy with a five road trip itinerary for seeing the best of New Brunswick. As a lover of nature and finding unique spots, New Brunswick is the destination to visit. New Brunswick has the Tidal Bore with the highest tides in the world.
Day 1: Saint John
Saint John is one of the largest cities in New Brunswick. This city has a historic downtown district located by the harbor. It is very hilly, so be prepared for challenging walks. Perhaps the best restaurant of the entire trip was Vegolution on Germain Street. Whether you are vegan or a steak lover, this place must be visited for its food and staff. The curry tofu was incredible. In the summertime, there are free shows and performances on Thursday nights by the Pier.
A great hotel is the Chateau Saint John that is an excellent hotel and close to downtown. This hotel was surprisingly inexpensive given the quality and had a great breakfast. Highly recommended.
Irving Nature Park offers many opportunities to get into nature despite being located in the middle of the city. Walk the boardwalk until you reach the seal observation deck. Also, the lookout tower provides views above the trees to the land and the Saint John River. It is an excellent place to spend several hours.
To many beer lovers, Saint John is known as the source of Moosehead Beer. Whether you try a cold one at a restaurant or choose to tour their factory, we definitely recommend that you try one! The brewery tours are offered Monday- Friday during the day, however, you should reserve ahead. You will be able to sample several varieties. We recommend to take a taxi or have a designated driver if you intend to drink!
Day 2-3: Alma & Fundy National Park
Alma is located next to Fundy National Park. It is however known as the Tides Capital of the world as every six hours the water rises as high as 50 feet. Alma is also known as the lobster capital of the world. Between both titles, you know that the food and sights are going to be terrific.
I recommend eating at Octopus’s Garden Café. I learned that lobsters taste different depending upon the location where they live thanks to our knowledgeable server.
Nature lovers cannot miss the Fundy National Park, which is home to Hopewell Rocks and other beautiful Canadian nature. Here, you’ll find spectacular hiking as well as kayaking! It’s easy to spend several days exploring Fundy National Park’s beautiful waterfalls and beaches.
You can stay in Alma for convenience or choose to camp. You’ll find hiking for every level, including advanced hikers. An easier hike is Dickson Falls with its many stairs while those seeking a challenge might prefer Third Vault Falls, a beautiful waterfall worth the high.
Hopewell Rocks is the one place that I wanted to see. The rock formations were shaped by the Bay of Fundy tides. It is extremely popular, so be prepared for the crowds. Before you visit, check the high tide and low tide for the days which you plan to visit. During low tides, you will be able to walk around the shore and during high tides, a kayak is required. The cycle occurs every six hours.
By luck, I arrived two hours before high tide. Most of the shore was open for walking but quickly became inaccessible within two hours. The rocks where I had been standing became the entry point for the kayakers entering the Bay. This is a great experience and will remember it for a long time. If you love kayaking and you’re a strong paddler, you should consider renting a kayak!
Day 4: Moncton
Moncton is the largest city in New Brunswick and known from its’ Tidal Bore. It occurs every twelve hours. It naturally occurs to the Petitcodiac River by the surging waters from the Bay of Fundy. The effect is changing a calm river into a current. I saw a surfer riding the waves.
The daily schedule is available, but often the tide arrives 15 minutes before or after the predicted time. Bore View Park has a balcony where the tidal bore is best seen. The park is next to a great hotel, Chateau Moncton, that I recommend staying at.
Day 5: Grand Manan Island
Grand Manan Island is located in the middle of the Bay of Fundy between the coastline of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It is the largest island in the bay. It has a dark past as a smuggling capital as late of the 1980s. Today, it is a relaxed island that draws thousands of North Americans each year.
Getting to Grand Manan Island is not difficult as the ferry has numerous daily departures from Blacks Harbour. Visitors will need a bicycle or car to explore the island. I was a “day tripper” without a car or bike and returned the same day. Next time, I will not make the same mistake again. Make reservations on the ferry if you are bringing a car as the ferry is in high demand during the peak season. If you simply coming over with a bike or on foot, reservations are not required. The ferry ride is worth the trip alone as whales and other marine life were spotted on the 90-minute trip. Passengers with binoculars spotted many of the sea life. Next time, I know better.
If you do not have a car or bike, there are still things worth visiting on Grand Manan Island that make the trip worthwhile. Close to the ferry is the Swallowtail Lighthouse that is a half-hour uphill walk uphill from the ferry. The lighthouse is a must for any visitor to Grand Manan Island. It is idyllic even in the middle of the tourist season.
On top of the lighthouse, you can view the cliffs and marine life from above. I even spotted porpoises and seals. I met individuals who spotted whales earlier in the day. This is an expensive area to stay, however, volunteers with the Swallowtail Lighthouse organization are able to stay overnight at the lighthouse and it might be worth looking into this possibility! When you leave the lighthouse and near the ferry, there are two nearby restaurants worth visiting. The old post office has been converted into a café serving pizza. The Old Well House Café was excellent with a wide menu that we enjoyed immensely. Be sure to try the hummus.
If you are planning to visit, all the locals rave about the Rotary Festival that is held in July/August. There are numerous parades, firework displays, live performances which adds to an amazing place. It is an extremely popular time to visit the island, so be sure to plan ahead carefully!
Getting to New Brunswick independently
Getting to Saint John from North America generally requires a stopover in Toronto or other larger airport. I found the flights from NYC to be expensive and also time-consuming due to stopovers. I met several Americans who flew into Maine and rented cars and drove to Canada. There are airports in Northern Maine so be sure to check which airport works best for you. Rental cars can be driven into Canada providing the rental companies are notified in advance. Be sure to make advance arrangements.
I drove up from Maine. The drive was pleasant. Compared to the United States gasoline prices, Canadian gasoline price costs 25% more than American gasoline (2019). Before entering Canada, fill your car up. At the moment, the currency difference otherwise works in favor of Americans, so we recommend eating on the Canadian side.