If you’re visiting Nova Scotia, you HAVE to visit the Bay of Fundy! This list of coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy will make your trip to Nova Scotia truly EPIC.
A natural wonder of the world, the Bay of Fundy has a LOT going on. The highest tides in the world. Dinosaur fossils. Impressive cliffs. The world’s rarest whales. Plus, wine! There’s something here for everyone.
And since the Bay of Fundy is only about an hour away from Halifax, it’s pretty easy to see on a Nova Scotia road trip.
Let me introduce you to my ultimate favorite spot in the Maritimes.
MAP: ALL of the Coolest Things to Do in Nova Scotia
Now, the map below includes ALL of the coolest things to do in Nova Scotia. Things to do on the Bay of Fundy, in and near Halifax, and on Cape Breton Island. This makes it easier to plot out your own Nova Scotia road trip.
To use the map below: Use the buttons at the top to access map details (i.e. to hide areas you’re not visiting), to share it (i.e. with yourself to modify it for your own trip) or view a larger version.
11 Coolest Things to Do on the Bay of Fundy
There are SO many incredible things to do on the Bay of Fundy.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tide in the WORLD at an incredible 56 feet – the same height as a 5-storey building! This is because of its natural shape and natural rocking motion (called “resonance”). It takes about 6 hours for the tides to change from low to high, so you can usually experience both low tide and high tide during daylight hours. While these powerful forces continue to carve crazy rock formations in the area’s sandstone, volcanic rock still rises triumphantly, hundreds of feet above sea level.
Remarkable geological discoveries have been made at the Bay of Fundy. These include dinosaur fossils, fossils that unveil the evolution of life, and semi-precious gems and minerals. You can explore a number of trails and beaches where these fossils were found.
Fundy’s powerful tides create the ideal environment for certain marine life. Closer to the mouth of the Bay of Fundy where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Maine, whales return from their southern migration to give birth, feast and play. This includes the Finback, which is the second largest whale, and the North Atlantic Right whale, which is the most rare. All whale-watching tour operators follow a code of ethics respecting whale interaction.
Convinced to check it out? Let’s go!
1. Ride the world’s highest tidal wave … right here, in Nova Scotia
This is my #1 coolest thing to do on the Bay of Fundy, AND in Nova Scotia. It was the most exhilarating, most fascinating experience. I laughed SO hard and screamed SO loud.
The best place to experience the Bay of Fundy’s incredible 50-foot tide is along the rivers that flow into the Bay of Fundy’s two upper basins: Chignecto Bay in the north, with a common tide of 46 feet, and Minas Basin in the south, at 53 feet. As the tide pushes against outflowing rivers, you get the phenomenon called the tidal bore. The initial wave can be as high as 3 feet and the following rapids up to an incredible 12 feet.
One of the rivers flowing into Minas Basin is the Shubenacadie River, which is where you can hop on a raft to ride the tidal bore. Tidal bores only happen in a few places in the world, and the Bay of Fundy is the ONLY place where you can go tidal bore rafting.
Tidal bore rafting is the BEST way to experience the Bay of Fundy tides. Be sure to come between June and September! We were here in late September and went with River Runners in Maitland, who gave us the time of our lives and were super family-friendly. They provide full rain gear, boots and lifejackets, and have showers for cleaning up afterwards.
Now, I’ll tell you right away – unless you’re staying in the Maitland area, you’ll likely have to get up early to have this experience. But yes, it’s worth it! The absolute coolest experience was standing in the middle of a sandbar as the river was swallowed up around me, and seeing the urgent faces of the crew calling us back to the boat (run, don’t walk!). Time. Of. Your. Life.
If you’d rather watch from the shore, a great place is the Shubenacadie River near the South Maitland Tidal Bore look-off. If you’re staying in New Brunswick, another great spot with interpretive panels is along the Maccan River.
2. Dine on the ocean floor
Now here’s a bucket list-worthy experience for you: gourmet lunch and dinner paired with local wines and craft beer, plus a private guided tour right on the ocean floor. Wow, right?! But don’t let the sophistication deceive you: you still need to bring your boots or water shoes.
This incredible Nova Scotian experience happens over at Burntcoat Head Park. A local chef, winery, brewery and guide come together to host Dining on the Ocean Floor and spend most of their day with you. Your 6-hour adventure includes both lunch atop the cliffs and a 3-course dinner on the ocean floor – both paired with local wines and craft beer – plus two private tours (wild edibles along the cliffs and tidal exploration tour along the ocean floor) and a campfire along the ocean floor complete with coffee and tea.
As to be expected, this packed and exclusive itinerary is rather pricey at $950+tax per couple but it fills up quickly. To check it out, visit novascotia.com/packages/experiences.
Now, if this is a little too rich for your wallet (like mine!), how about a picnic lunch (or second breakfast, if you’re coming from River Runners) on the ocean floor? Just remember to pack out what you bring in.
3. Take on the trees at Canada’s largest high-ropes challenge park
Continue west along the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin towards Annapolis Valley. On your way, stop at this really fun detour only 10 minutes off the highway. How did I not find this when I was here?!
Ontree Park is Canada’s largest high-ropes challenge park. The Park has 18 courses at different levels of difficulty (from easy to “extremely difficult,” yikes!), including two for young kids (5-7 years). Test your skills and guts on the 350-foot zipline, 50-foot base jump, climbing wall, bicycle on a wire, Tarzan ropes and spiderwebs. Bring your leather gloves!
Check out the Ontree Park (RR#3 370 Martock Road, Windsor)! For ages 5 and up.
4. Fine-dine with local Nova Scotian wines
While #2 of the coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy is rather steep for me, THIS one is doable! Head over to Wolfville and the Annapolis Valley region to relax and partake of some of Nova Scotia’s best award-winning wines and chefs.
Nova Scotian wines have a distinct quality, with grapes grown in one of the cooler climate limits for vines. The area has a rich history in producing wines as one of the first in all of North America. And by pairing their wines with the culinary finesse of gifted chefs, you’re in for a real treat.
Here are some fabulous options:
- Lunch at Luckett Winery (1293 Grand Pre Rd, Wolfville): The winery’s Crush Pad Bistro has fantastic reviews for its delicious local food paired with its delicious wines, overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
- Wine tour (departures from Wolfville, Halifax, Dartmouth and Sackville): A number of group and private tours are available, typically getting you out to three or four wineries for tastings. Choose from a tour that includes lunch, dinner or just a snack (and then you can experience both Luckett and Grand Pre). For details, visit novascotiawinetours.com.
- Dinner at Grand Pre Wines (11611 Highway 1, Grande Pre): If possible, plan your visit to take in one of Le Caveau Restaurant’s special events featuring a five-course meal paired with local award-winning wines. It was incredible. (Tip: book a night in the area; I’m including a fabulous option as #6. Our drive back to Halifax was tough after an early morning and a day filled with food and wine.)
5. Admire whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Bay of Fundy’s friendly waters
I’m not a whale-watching cruise kind of gal, but if you’re ever going to go out to look for whales, the Bay of Fundy is the place to do it.
The Bay of Fundy attracts up to 12 species of whales. This includes the second largest whale, the Finback at 80-feet long and 73 tonnes, and the protected, most rare in the world, the North Atlantic Right whale at 50-feet long and 45 tonnes. Plus, of course, super-cute dolphins and porpoises.
If seeing whales is a big part of what you want to experience while visiting Nova Scotia, plan to come in August when all species have returned. At any given time, it’s estimated that the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine whale population ranges between 300 and 400.
For all whaling tour operators, visit this page on novascotia.com. They all have fantastic reviews and operate down past Digby along St. Mary’s Bay, which is a 2-hour drive from Wolfville. The closest one is Petit Passage Whale Watching (3450 East Ferry, Digby), which will save you time not having to wait for ferries. All Bay of Fundy boat tours must follow a code of ethics to avoid crowding or harassing the whales.
6. Sleep in a sea captain’s mansion
Now that you’ve had quite the adventure and been wined and dined all day, retire in style. One of the coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy is sleep like a mighty sea captain in his glory days.
Built to impress, this 3-storey, Victorian-style sea captain’s mansion dates back to the 1870s. Blomidon Inn has been lovingly restored and elegantly furnished with antiques, including four-post beds in every room. Exotic teak and mahogany is used throughout the mansion, including the grand staircase, and marble adorns original fireplaces.
The two dining rooms and seasonal terrace are very popular (reservations recommended for lunch and dinner), as are the reestablished Victorian-style gardens.
All 33 rooms include ensuite washroom, wifi and a buffet breakfast (cold). Some also have a jacuzzi tub and fireplace. Guests rate the Blomidon Inn very high for comfort, charm, food and service. Check out Blomidon Inn.
7. Hunt for obscure-shaped rocks and fossils on a Bay of Fundy beach
Head up to Nova Scotia’s north shore on the Bay of Fundy to experience epic cliffs, fossils and lighthouse views. This is your longest drive of the trip: it’s 3 hours from Wolfville to Joggins Fossil Cliffs. But I assure you, it’s definitely worth the drive to experience this amazing area.
Joggins Fossil Cliffs have the world’s most complete record of life in the Carboniferous era. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of this, and features 9 miles (15 kms) of coastal cliffs that expose pre-dinosaur fossils. Joggins Fossil Cliffs are located along the north end of Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast.
Constant erosion from the Bay of Fundy’s high tides creates endless opportunities for exposing new fossils. Keep your eyes open! But note that you legally need a special permit to remove a fossil. If you find a fossil, please take a picture to show staff and leave it where you found it.
I strongly recommend joining a guided tour to make the most of this area. The short half-hour tour is great for those with limited mobility, but the 1.5- or 3-hour tours will give you a much better understanding of the area. We opted to just roam the beach which was okay, but I didn’t learn much.
Find more information on Joggins Fossil Cliffs.
8. Hike along the Bay of Fundy’s 600-foot cliffs
Continue your westerly drive along Nova Scotia’s northern Bay of Fundy coast to its tip at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. This is a spot I was really curious to see, but my husband’s not into hiking. So that’s that. For now.
But if your travel companion is up for it, check this out: 32 miles (52 km) coastal loop that takes you through deep valleys and sheltered coves, over 600-foot seaside cliffs and along secluded beaches, including 12 backcountry kayaking sites. The Cape Chignecto Provincial Park route has 9 maintained “campgrounds” with 80 walk-in sites and out-houses, but only the main campground has drinking water. To do the full loop, plan to spend three nights along the way. Now that would be epic.
Or … you can also choose a less intense experience. There are seven other hikes: four range from 30 minutes to 6 hours (rated easy, moderate or difficult) and three are full-day hikes (all rated difficult). Or, head over to the day-use trails just north of Eatonville, which include two 1-hour return hikes.
9. Walk among the hauls of fishing boats
Advocate Harbour is a small fishing community right at the end of where Nova Scotia juts out into the Bay of Fundy. (I’m sorry … I couldn’t figure out what it’s called!)
Advocate Harbour is tucked in between Cape Chignecto Park and Cape d’Or lighthouse (#8 and #11 of the coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy), and where you can join a kayak or boat tour (#10).
At low tide, Advocate Harbour’s fishing harbor dries up, so you can literally walk right up and touch the haul of these great fishing boats. Walking among the boats as they tower above you is crazy cool, and I must say, a little eerie … I kept an eye on that waterline!
You can experience both the low and the high of the Bay of Fundy’s 50-foot tides in the same day. There are typically two high tides and two low tides every 24 hours.
10. Get the water’s view of the Bay of Fundy’s 600-foot cliffs and sea stacks
Kayak along the tallest cliffs on mainland Nova Scotia and through narrow archways under towering rock formations. Ahhh … paradise!! HOW did I not see this when I was here?! This is definitely at the top of the list for my next visit to the Bay of Fundy.
Choose between 1-, 2- or even 3-day kayaking tours to see more of Cape Chignecto Park’s phenomenal coastline. Beginners can do it, too (woohoo!) and meals are provided (double-woohoo!). There’s even a family tour, but it doesn’t take you to the sea stacks.
Tours leave from Advocate Harbour. Check out Nova Shores for details.
Or … if you don’t love kayaking but do want to get out on the water, take a powered boat! It’ll take you past views like no other. It’s definitely one of the coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy and will give you a different perspective.
You can choose between two boat tours on the Bay of Fundy: the mysterious little island called Isle Haute with majestic cliffs and a thriving seal colony; or, Cape Split at the mouth of Minas Basin, where the powerful tidal currents have left amazing geological formations. These tours also typically take you past Cape Chignecto Park’s stunning cliffs.
To up the epic factor, spend a night out on the island! A personal guide will tour you around the island, deal with all the hassles of setting up camp, and provide all snacks, meals, drinks and gear. Includes a “hot bucket shower” … now that sounds grand, haha! And like every great island, there’s also legend of hidden treasure.
All tours are a maximum of six people. Check them out at Advocate Boat Tours.
11. Sleep at a lighthouse overlooking the majestic Bay of Fundy
At the very tip of where Nova Scotia extends into the Bay of Fundy is a little lighthouse, its guesthouse, and a fantastic restaurant. This tip is called Cape d’Or and staying here was certainly one of the coolest, most memorable things to do on the Bay of Fundy. The Cape d’Or Lighthouse overlooking the Bay of Fundy is one of the very few lighthouses where you can stay overnight.
Cape d’Or is about a 15-minute drive along a gravel, sometimes bumpy remote road (so be sure to fuel up before heading here and prepare to drive slowly). Once you reach the end of the road, you’re rewarded with a stellar view above where the Bay of Fundy meets Minas Basin and creates the highest tidal wave in the world; on either side are sheer cliffs. You’ll be greeted by your super-friendly and professional, gourmet-cooking host.
I highly recommend spending the evening and night here, or at minimum, lunch. The lighthouse and guesthouse are simple, but the sunset views and food are absolutely fantastic. There are hiking trails and telescopes onsite to give you close-up views of the mighty tides around you.
Also note that it’s a bit of a trek downhill from where you park and more so back up; I definitely recommend packing an overnight bag. And given that this area is quite remote, be sure to connect with the host beforehand to make sure it’s open when you plan to come. Find more information on the Cape d’Or Lighthouse.
12. Walk – and then kayak – among towering Bay of Fundy rocks
This next spot is in New Brunswick and looks INCREDIBLE. We didn’t make it here, because it was just too far out of the way for us. But from my research, this is another fascinating experience and definitely among the coolest things to do on the Bay of Fundy.
At the most northerly corner of the Bay of Fundy on Shepody Bay is Hopewell Rocks Park. The Bay of Fundy’s highest tides in the world have eroded the rocks into intriguing twists and turns, creating a fascinating area to discover … at least twice.
When the tide is low, walk along the 2 km of ocean floor and gaze up at the towering rocks and wander through the coves and archways. When the tide is high, kayak around these now-small islands and over the exact same paths where you walked, now covered in 40 feet of water. Incredible.
The Bay of Fundy’s tides happen twice a day, everyday, so you can experience both in the same day. You can also enjoy the sandy beaches at either end of the park and the walking trails. Find visitor information about Hopewell Rocks.
Summary and Resources
So, what do you think? Have I convinced you to put the Bay of Fundy on your travel bucket list?? Which of these coolest things to do make your must-do list?
I hope I’ve convinced you to try something new, too!
Here are my favorite online resources for planning a trip to Nova Scotia:
- Nova Scotia Tourism at novascotia.com
- Bay of Fundy Tourism at bayoffundytourism.com
- Tripadvisor.com page for the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley
- Nova Scotia guidebook from Lonely Planet; I LOVED this guidebook for my trip
Interested in other great adventures in Canada? Check out these other great spots: