The Bay of Fundy is one of the natural wonders of the world, so it’s no wonder that there are plenty of ways to experience its majesty. Whether it’s a hike along the coast, an island visit, a retreat in one of the communities that line the shores, or going into the water itself, the Bay of Fundy is a fantastic way to create memories together. Before you start on any of these activities, it’s important to check the tide times before you head out. Since the huge tidal shifts are part of what makes the Bay so special, you want to make sure you experience this for yourself.
Explore Nova Scotia counties along the Bay:
Balancing Rock Trail
This cliffside trail is a marvel all on its own, giving a spectacular view of the Bay. Its name, however, comes for what awaits you at the end of the trail and 235-step staircase. The Balancing Rock is an enormous column of basalt, and it’s balanced at the edge of the cliff, defying gravity for centuries now. If you love rocks, love nature being crazy, or just love a hike with something cool at the end, the Balancing Rock Trail is perfect for you. (Directions)
Address: Highway 217, Tiverton; 902-245-2861
Boars Head Lighthouse
With a Bay this big and the crazy shifting tides, it’s not surprising that there are several lighthouses along the coast. The site for the Boars Head Lighthouse is older than Canada as a concept, with the first lighthouse built in 1864. It was replaced by the current one in 1957, and continues to help vessels navigate from the Bay to the Petit Passage. Naturally, this place gives you a spectacular view of the area, and it’s a popular choice for picnics.
Address: 222 Boars Head Rd, Digby
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Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head Park lets you enjoy the beauty of the Bay of Fundy on both land and sea. You can wander the Acadian Forest in search of the perfect picnic place (and there are a few), take a hike, and of course enjoy the beautiful beach. It’s important to watch the tide at Burntcoat Head, because at low tide you can have an adventure on the ocean floor. Using caution, you can walk out to where the waves were rolling only a few hours before, and observe the inhabitants of the ocean floor as they hide in tide pools and sand piles, waiting for the water to return.
Address: 45 Faulkner Lane, Noel; 902-369-2529
Brier Island could truly be your entire vacation, accommodations included. The Lodge sits high upon the Island, which sits right at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy. There’s a wide array of natural activities to do, so it’s the perfect place to take a real break from the outside world. You can go birdwatching, whale watching (both from the island and on a whale watching tour), observe the fishing boats, and look for minerals from amethyst to zeolite!
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
If you’re looking for a wilder retreat and you’ve got some experience in backcountry camping, Cape Chignecto is ready to challenge and delight you. While some changes have been made for the 2021 season, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the wild beauty here. There are campsites you can walk into, hike into, or even kayak into, so your adventure can start before you even set up your tent. If you want a challenge for the daytime, the park has a 52 km rated Difficult trail along the coast, so grab a good stick and trail mix, and you can set out on this recommended 3-night-stay trip.
Address: 1108 West Advocate Road, Advocate Harbour; 902-392-2085
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Central Grove Provincial Park
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more family-friendly and easier outing, you should visit Central Grove Provincial Park. They’ve got a picnic area here right by the roadside, perfect for a stop on a longer drive (or if you just want to eat your lunch outside, which I fully support). If you want to stretch your legs after your picnic, there’s a walking trail that takes you out to a rocky beach and a lovely view of the Bay. Take a break from the fast pace of your vacation; stop and smell the ocean.
Address: 1731 Highway 217, Central Grove
Cottage Cove Provincial Park
If you’ve never been to the Valley before, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it gets hot there. It’s not unusual for it to be over 25 degrees in the summer, and while the sunshine can feel delightful, everyone needs some shade. Cottage Cove Provincial Park is a picnic park that can provide just that. The picnic tables are sheltered beneath huge pine trees, and you can still have a view of the Bay while you eat. Once you’ve had a chance for shade, the rocky shore offers opportunities to find cool rocks and to watch the local bird population as they too try to cope with the heat.
Address: 11935 Shore Road East, Cottage Cove
Delaps Cove Wilderness Trail System
The Delaps Cove Wilderness Trail System allows you to learn about the natural world as you walk through it, perfectly marrying the land and sea as it marries recreation and education. There are two loops here, each about 2 km, and they are connected by the 2.7km Shore Trail. The trails meander through the forest, but you never stop smelling the sea and each loop takes you next to the coast for part of the walk. As for learning, there are panels at the trail head that identify all the flora and fauna you may see on your hike.
Address: 2077 Shore Road West, Delap’s Cove
If you like to golf, and you like the spa, and you like good food and relaxation and the scent of pine trees, you should stay at the Digby Pines. Elegant and welcoming, there are options to stay in the Main Lodge and in a cottage that’s up to three bedrooms. Taking a weekend getaway with the guys or the gals has never been so piney, with package options including golf, whale-watching, spa treatments, and so much more. The Digby Pines is re-opening in April, so whether you’re looking for a spring getaway or a summer vacation, you can start planning now!
Address: 103 Shore Road, Digby; 1-800-667-4637
Five Islands Park
So the Five Islands Provincial Park isn’t actually on the Five Islands, but you’ve got the best view of them in the Bay! The park is primarily a camping destination, with both serviced and unserviced campsites available. They’ve got several amenities for campers, and the sites are close to the beach. You can swim, paddle, and hike around the park during the day, and watch the sunset and the stars at night. There are accessible showers as well, and the camp sites are close to the parking lot, so everyone can have a beautiful camping trip.
Address: 618 Bentley Branch Road, Highway Two, Five Islands; 902-254-2980
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Fundy Geological Museum
I like cool rocks—everything from interesting shapes to astounding formations and, of course, actual fossils. The Fundy Geological Museum has all of this, so you can get a clear picture of just how cool the Bay of Fundy rocks are. The museum has a working fossil lab, dinosaur bone exhibits, and minerals of all kinds. The museum also offers walking tours of the beach for all ages, and of course, they have a stunning gift shop.
Address: 162 Two Islands Road, Parrsboro; 1-902-254-3814
Fundy Tidal Interpretive Centre
With all this talk about the tides, you might have questions—why are they so big? What’s the Tidal Bore? How does the ecosystem function with such drastic change daily? The Fundy Tidal Interpretive Centre has answers for this and so much more. The staff provides a guided explanation of the area, and the Observation Deck looks out on the Shubenacadie River (more on that below). When you’ve had your fill of the view, take a hike in the nature park, and watch out for birds, including bald eagles!
Address: 9865 Highway 236 South Maitland;902-261-2250
Fundy View Trail
Now of course, most of the trails on this list have some view of the Bay of Fundy—it’s a bit hard to miss if you’re near the coast. But this trail was specifically designed to give you a spectacular view of the Bay, and it absolutely delivers. The trail is only 1.3 km one way, with several places to stop along the way, and the view from the trail is spectacular. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, no problem! This trail also connects to other trails which lead to Beautiful Cove and Fisherman’s Point, both of which sound like worthy destinations (and add roughly an hour to your journey).
Address: Freeport, Nova Scotia
Geocache Lighthouse Series
Geocaching as an activity allows you to join in a community of people who love treasure hunting while enjoying the beauty surrounding them. That’s why the Lighthouse Series is so interesting—you’ll find sites at six lighthouses across Annapolis County. Learn about lighthouse history, enjoy the spectacular views, and find the new secrets these lighthouses have to offer. All you need is something that can tell you GPS coordinates (which cellphones can do at a beginner level), and you’re ready to solve the lighthouses’ mystery.
Horseback Tidal Floor & Fossil Tour
If you want to explore the ocean floor at low tide and find fossils without getting your feet wet, Spirit Reins Ranch is ready to take you for a trail riding adventure! The tour is roughly 2.5 hours and takes you from the beach at Wasson Bluff (where dinosaur bones were discovered), through Swan Creek Cove and to a snack break under the fossil cliffs. This tour is available for ages 10 and up, and can be adjusted for everyone between beginners and advanced riders.
Address: 432 Prospect Road, RR#1, Parrsboro; 902-254-3138
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Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Now you can’t just take one trip into the past via rocks, and Joggins Fossil Cliffs exist to prove that. Once a coal mine, the Cliffs are now home to the Joggins Fossil Centre, where you can learn all about what happened on this site 200 million years ago. You can also go down to the cliffs and see where fossils have been found, and maybe find one of your own. Take a trip to the gift shop and café that both supply local creations, and learn about how this centre came to be from coal mine to fossil heaven.
Address: 100 Main Street, Joggins; 1-888-932-9766
Lake Midway Provincial Park
The Bay of Fundy is a beautiful example of the power of the ocean, but sometimes you need some fresh water to get a fresh look at things (no, I will not apologize for my puns). Lake Midway is just west of Digby and has a mix of hardwood forests and open fields, complete with picnic tables. It’s great for fishing in trout season, and there’s also a boat launch so you can bring your own canoe or kayak for a day on the lake. Swimming is allowed when the water quality is good; check before you jump in, and you’ll be good to go!
Address: 7600 Highway 217, Lake Midway
Nova Shores Adventures
Now, if you’re looking for kayaking and canoeing and even SUP (stand-up-paddle) adventures within the Bay, Nova Shores Adventures is happy to help! They conduct a wide variety of tours; everything from multi-day camping trips to beginner’s day tryouts. Most of these adventures include local food for meals and snacks, so you don’t have to pack anything. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler new to these waters, their helpful guides and expert planning will make your Nova Shores Adventure a memorable one.
37 School Lane, Advocate Harbour; 1-866-638-4118 or 1-903-392-2222
Ocean Floor Adventures
The Ocean Floor Adventures tour takes place at Burntcoat Head Park (see above), and allows you to get a hands-on education about the ocean floor. These guided tours are appropriate for all ages, and they take you out into the ecosystems of the tidal pools and mudflats. While you can wander on your own, this tour teaches you how to do so safely, helps point out areas and creatures of interest, and teaches you about the natural history of this stretch of the Bay. If you’ve got little ones in your group, this is a great chance to learn on vacation!
Sandy Cove Beach
Swimming in the Bay of Fundy can be tricky, not surprising considering the dramatic tidal shifts. But at Sandy Cove Beach, you have a chance to get sand between your toes and go for a nice dip. The beach is quite long, and with the concrete wharf the currents are much safer for swimming. Some visitors report spotting seals, and of course it’s a great place to observe seabirds. Come near the end of the day and watch the sun set over the Bay of Fundy, or come whenever and watch the tides come in and out.
Another great educational opportunity, Sissiboo Landing Centre can teach you all about the human history of the area. There are five main cultures that founded Weymouth—the United Empire Loyalists, Acadians, Black Loyalists, the Mi’kmaq, and settlers from New France. Sissiboo Landing has information on all of them, from the early days of the town until the present. Learn about the area’s industries, the cooperation and conflict between the founding cultures, and then take a walk down to the waterfront to observe the wildlife that have been making their home here before Weymouth was even a dream.
Address: 4575 Highway #1, Weymouth; 902-837-4715
Smith’s Cove is a community that has something for everyone, making it an ideal base for a Bay of Fundy getaway. There are campgrounds, inns, and cottages to stay in, lovely restaurants for mealtimes, and plenty of beaches to explore. Smith’s Cove also has a trail system nearby, and you can do some genealogical research at the Old Temperance Museum if you’ve got family roots in the area. No matter how you choose to spend your vacation, you’ll know you can always rest your head in the peaceful community of Smith’s Cove.
The Tangled Garden is the creation of Beverly McClare, and over thirty years she has crafted a stunningly beautiful landscape overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The garden is home to a flower labyrinth, garden paths, and classic garden rooms—you can explore these on your own or on a guided tour, led by Beverly herself! You can also enjoy goods created from the garden, including chutneys, jams, and even fruit and herb liqueurs. Pick them up at the shop or try them out at the onsite Tea Room!
Address:11827 Highway 1, Grand Pre; 902-542-9811
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Tidal Bore Rafting Resort
Paddling is great, but sometimes you just wanna go fast! And if you’re looking for a place where you can stay in top-notch chalets with every modern convenience, enjoy gourmet meals (one on a sandbar!), and ride a raft on the Shubenacadie River, then Tidal Bore Rafting Resort is the place for you. Ready to welcome all guests to a nature-focused getaway, the resort is even dog-friendly, so your pooch can enjoy the vacation too! It’s also close to other day trip options like Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, Truro, and so much more. Enjoy the ride, enjoy your stay, and enjoy your travel partners!
Address: 12215 Highway 215, Urbania; 902-400-0104
If you want to see whales, you’ve come to the right Bay. Once spring has sprung the whales start returning from their migrations, and by June just about everyone is home. There are several whale-watching tours in the Bay, each with their own focus and area, so you can choose the right tour for you and your group. I’ve been on one of these tours, and I promise you that you have no idea how big a whale really is until it breaches right next to your boat.