The Bay of Fundy and the shores surrounding it are a hidden gem of natural wonders in Canada. Fundy National Park and other sites for nature lovers abound.
The Bay of Fundy is a body of water in the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by New Brunswick to the north and west, Nova Scotia to the south and east, and parts of Maine at its southern end. Its a cold and deep bay known for having some of the highest tides in the world. The bay also happens to be an under-appreciated destination for tourists looking to escape the city bustle and enjoy a true natural wonder.
The Fundy Tides
Imagine standing on a dry beach, looking up, and seeing seaweed clinging to the rocks 30 feet above. Thats possible at the Bay of Fundy where the tides can be as high as a three-story building and have been measured as high as 50 feet! The bay itself is a long, narrow channel closed at the end by the landmasses of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The gravitational pull of the moon raises and lowers the water level, peaking and then bottoming six hours and thirteen minutes later. At the same time, the shape of the Bay of Fundy produces a standing wave known as a seiche that nearly perfectly matches the frequency of the tides. This coincidence leads to the northern tip of the bay having the highest vertical tidal range in the world.
Fundy National Park and Other Attractions
Many attractions line the bay, with most of them focused in some fashion of the famous Fundy tides. Fundy National Park in New Brunswick is the crowned jewel of the protected natural areas along the bay. The park covers over 50,000 acres of forest, bog, and seashore including dozens of waterfalls and miles of hiking trails. Further up the coast is Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park where visitors can walk around the bottom of towering rocky sea stacks at low tide and sea kayak around the tops of the same stacks six hours later.
Across the bay from these parks is Nova Scotias Cape Chignecto Provincial Park which provides lush “fog forests” and sea stack-lined shoreline similar to the New Brunswick side. For a more urban view of the effect of tides, visitors can watch the Reversing Falls in New Brunswicks capital Saint John. Here the St. John river tumbles down a series of rapids on its way to the Bay of Fundy. But when the Fundy tide floods in, the whole course of the river reverses, creating rapids in the opposite direction.
The abundance of wildlife in and around the Bay of Fundy make it a popular destination for wildlife watchers of all types. Whale-watching tours can take you out to see the giants of the ocean during the summer months. Humpback, Minke, and Fin whales are most commonly seen, but the bay also serves as summer feeding grounds for the critically endangered Right Whale and the worlds largest animal, the Blue Whale. Sharks are common in the cold waters of the bay as well. In what has become a local legend, a Great White Shark measuring 37 feet in length was caught in the bay in 1930. That would have been the largest shark of its type ever recorded, but most marine scientists think the story was heavily exaggerated.
Bird-watchers flock to the coasts of the Bay of Fundy at all times of the year. Spring and summer are particularly good times for spotting birds in the forests along the coast. In Birds of Atlantic Canada, Roger Burrows cites 23 different species of the colorful warblers nesting in Fundy National Park and massive numbers of all kinds of shorebirds congregating on Grand Manan Island at the south end of the bay from August to October.
Among mammals, moose are undoubtedly the big attraction all around the bay. Be careful, however, because moose sometimes like to use the roads to travel at night and hitting at moose is guaranteed to ruin your vacation!
Whether your adventure of choice is sea kayaking, bird-watching, fishing, hiking, camping, or just relaxing in the cool ocean breeze, the Bay of Fundy will not disappoint.