New Brunswick Road Trip Guide to the Bay of Fundy
A New Brunswick road trip is one for the bucket list—one that will tease the senses, mystify the mind, sooth the soul and embolden the explorer in you.
New Brunswick is located in Canada’s Maritime region, which also makes up Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (PEI). Bordering the state of Maine to the west and Quebec to the North, New Brunswick is flanked by water on the other two sides of the province, most notably the Bay of Fundy.
With only a week to explore, I decided to limit my New Brunswick road trip to the Bay of Fundy area. Unlike the rather petite size of Nova Scotia and PEI, New Brunswick it quite large, making it difficult to explore the entire province in just the week I had.
I was already in Nova Scotia, so my New Brunswick road trip started by driving to Digby, NS where I boarded a ferry and sailed across the Bay of Fundy. If you are not already in Maritime Canada, you could fly into the Moncton International Airport or Saint John Airport.
The ferry crossing is around 2.5 hours and is quite comfortable, with many areas on the ship to relax in an array of different seating configurations. From theater-style seats to watch a movie on a big screen, or at a desk-style seat to get some work done using the on-board wi-fi, there is something for everyone. Outdoor seating and viewing areas to search for whales and other sea life is also an option.
I have put together the following guide to the perfect Bay of Fundy New Brunswick road trip. Be sure to watch the video and check out the interactive map at the end.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY ONE
From the ferry terminal in New Brunswick, make your way to Saint John, the only city on the Bay of Fundy. Here are some of the things not to miss while in Saint John.
- Take a harbor cruise – You’ll see the Reversing Rapids, an amazing natural phenomenon where the Bay of Fundy collides with the Saint John River. Lots of sea life and cityscape scenery to enjoy.
- Skywalk Saint John – Brand new attraction where you can walk out onto a platform cantilevered over the Reversing Rapids and look down through a glass floor to see the power of the water below.
- Stroll downtown – You’ll often see live music, festivals and other activities going on. There is public art and historic buildings to peruse, including the Saint John City Market, Canada’s oldest continuous farmers market.
Recommended Saint John Restaurants:
- John Ale House – Like a hip pub, but their pub-style food is much more refined, using local ingredients from the land and sea.
- East Coast Bistro – The husband and wife owners focus on making refined maritime cuisine in an elegant setting in the heart of downtown Saint John.
- Downtown Saint John Hilton – The location is superb, overlooking the Bay of Fundy and within walking distance to everything.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY TWO
Drive to St. Martins, about 40 minutes from Saint John. This is a wonderful area to explore sea caves at low tide, and also provides an opportunity to go kayaking as the tide rises. While in St. Martins, don’t miss:
- Exploring the sea caves at low tide. Warning: the parking lot is not well defined, so don’t drive past any car toward the beach as you could get stuck in the sandy rocks like I did.
- Have lunch at Caves Restaurant while you wait for the tide to come in.
- Just up the hill from St. Martins you’ll see a dirt road to the right. Turn there and drive just a bit until you come to a large clearing. Park the car and set off on foot down the trail to explore the sea cliffs. Amazing views from here.
- At this point the tide should be heading in and you can get set up for a kayaking adventure with the folks at Red Rock Adventures. Kayaking the sea caves that you just walked a few hours earlier is a thrill.
- Head back to Saint John for the evening.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY THREE
The next morning head toward St. Andrews by the Sea and don’t miss:
- En route to St. Andrews, stop by New River Beach Park for a hike down the Barnaby Head coastal trail. This fantastic hike is met with bends in the trail, curvy boardwalks and covered bridges. Oh, and the expansive beach is pretty cool too.
- Check the tide chart for this next excision. Just before reaching St. Andrews there is a road that will take you to Ministers Island. You can only cross at low tide when the road is revealed. This is a very cool road trip excursion to explore the opulent vacation home of a 19th century railroad tycoon.
- Whale Watching with Fundy Tide Runners. Getting up-close to the massive mammals of the sea is quite a treat and the folks at Fundy Tide Runners are pros at spotting and predicting the breach spots.
- Check into the Algonquin Resort for a relaxing evening. This is a stupendous historical property known the world over. The service, accommodations and fine-dining experience are second to none.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY FOUR
Spend the day exploring the utterly charming town of St. Andrews. There is often music being played in the park, a farmers market or other events going on.
- If you’re a golfer, don’t miss a chance to play the Algonquin course, many of the holes are alongside the bay, or have views of the water.
- Simply stroll the streets. Lots of restaurants and quaint shops to explore. Check out Station on King for lunch.
- If you missed Ministers Island the day before, have a look before heading off to the next destination.
- Head to Black’s Harbor to catch a ferry to Grand Manan Island.
- Check into the urban chic Island Home Bed and Breakfast (right in front of the ferry terminal) or the Inn at Whale Cove is another great option.
- Whichever B&B you pick, have dinner at the Whale Cove Inn…lovely place.
Spend the next two days exploring and relaxing on the utterly charming island of Grand Manan. The island is not that large, so you’ll have time to see at least four corners of it. Don’t miss the following:
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY FIVE
- Long Eddy Point Lighthouse – Great spot to watch the sunset after having dinner at the Whale Cove Inn.
- Hole-in-the-Wall Park and campground – Some fantastic hikes in this park, including one to its namesake where you will see a large rock formation with a giant hole in the middle. If you’re into camping, there are some spots right on a sea cliff with stupendous views. If not occupied, makes a great place for a picnic too.
- Swallowtail Lightstation – My favorite lighthouse on all of New Brunswick. Great place to explore, take in the sights and just relax on a nice day.
- Bleu Marie – Wonderful little French bistro, a great place for lunch.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY SIX
There are several ferries a day from Grand Manan, you may want to take an early one so you can continue the Bay of Fundy road trip to the Fundy National Park. There is so much to explore, here are some of the can’t miss highlights:
- Dickson Falls – There are many hikes in the park, but this was one of my favorites. It’s just a 1-mile loop that might take a half hour or so.
- The trail heads straight down and then follows along a little creek where many boardwalks are provided to navigate over some of the terrain, crisscrossing the creek several times along the way. There are many vantage points to view the falls and the rushing mountain creek.
- Village of Alma – After a couple of hikes, head to this small community for lunch. There are many options, but one not to miss is the Buddha Bear with outdoor wood-fired oven preparing some amazing food, along with a number of local brews to try.
- Hopewell Rocks – Probably the signature attraction for all of New Brunswick. Through erosion over thousands of years, unique formations have been carved to create coves and distinctive sandstone formations that have trees on top. Get a tide chart and time it so you can visit during low tide. Time permitting, go back and kayak during high tide. This is the place where the lowest and highest tides in the world take place.
- Head to Moncton – Moncton is the largest city in New Brunswick and a great place to call it a night. I stayed downtown at the Marriott Residence Inn. Just a block down the street is a fantastic restaurant for dinner, Tide & Boar Gastropub. Voted as one of Canada’s top-50 restaurant by Mclean’s Magazine, Tide & Boar is a casual, yet sophisticated establishment serving seasonally inspired dishes.
NEW BRUNSWICK ROAD TRIP DAY SEVEN
Moncton is one of the coolest cities in all of Atlantic Canada, with a hip vibe that embraces its heritage through art, music, food and friendliness. Some of the things not to miss in Moncton include:
- Tidal Bore – There are only a few places in the world where you can see a tidal bore occur, and downtown Moncton is one of them. This phenomenon is when the leading edge of an incoming tide forms a wave of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay’s current. Occasionally, the wave is large enough to surf!
- Magnetic Hill – This experience will mystify the mind. Drivers wait in line to drive to the bottom of this world-famous hill. Once at the bottom of the hill, you put your car in neutral and take your foot off the brake. Then, the amazement begins…the car simply starts rolling backwards, up the hill you just drove down! It seems to defy natural law, but of course is just an optical illusion. There are a number of other activities in the park, from a zoo, swim/slide, amusement park and more.
Bay of Fundy New Brunswick Road Trip Interactive Map (Enlarge the map and click the yellow icons for more information)
I hope you find this New Brunswick road trip guide helpful. If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below. If you’ve done a Bay of Fundy road trip and have some additional suggestions, please leave them below as well. If you have the time and want to explore the other two Maritime Canada Provinces, click the following links: Nova Scotia Road Trip or PEI Road Trip.