Updated for 2023! Having just been back to New Brunswick for a second time, I’ve added a few more tips, a few more photos and even a fresh new video. I just love this province so much I couldn’t help it.
Let’s start with a big statement; I absolutely love Canada. I just feel at home here, and I’ve only been to 3 out of 10 provinces (I recently added Nova Scotia to that list). It’s a combination of factors; the people, mountains, nature and the great open roads.
It’s the feeling that I could spend my whole life exploring Canada and still barely scratch the surface. I also make it no secret that I love a road trip. I’ve been driving since I was 15 (on private land, not illegally!). I owned a VW campervan and I plan to buy another one. And I can’t think of many better ways to travel than great music, good company and country roads.
I’ve realised that over the past few years I’ve been compiling a list of Canadian Bucket List Road trips. Edmonton to Calgary (via Jasper and Banff) is one I’ve completed, twice actually. Calgary to Vancouver is another which I am yet to do. New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy is now one I’ve just completed, and Cape Breton was recently ticket off.
This article is a guide to doing it yourself. It’s your day-by-day itinerary. For me, there were two main reasons I wanted to do this road trip, two jaw-dropping photos in a magazine that made me say “I’ve got to go there”. The first was Hopewell Rocks, on day one. The second was the Fundy Trail Parkway, which we did on day three. But as I researched and planned it, I couldn’t believe how many other stops I would need!
This road trip needed to be at least 7 days long. So, sit back, make a cuppa start planning. Just be ready to want to book your flight to New Brunswick right away.
Planning the trip
First time around we flew into Moncton via Toronto with Air Canada and stayed one night here. It’s the closest town to our first stop Hopewell Rocks and enables you to do an ‘A to B’ road trip, flying out of Saint John a week later. However on my second visit we combined Nova Scotia and NB into one trip. Flying in and out of Halifax, driving from Nova Scotia and getting the Saint John to Digby Ferry back. So you have two great options.
A week is just about enough time to do it all if you plan it carefully, but like many trips, the more time you have the better. I found there were 3 places I could have stayed a day longer, so if you have 10 days then you won’t regret it.
Most car hire companies allow you to pick your car up and drop it off at a different location. This usually incurs a fee, but for this trip that is well worth doing. Most cars are automatic in Canada, which is handy if like me you’re used to driving on the other side of the road.
It’s a good idea to check all the timings of the main attractions, as the opening times and availability change depending on the season. Most of the links you need are in this article. We travelled at the start of June; which was a brilliant time to travel.
It’s before high season and still pleasantly warm, and fewer people meant lower prices (and better photos). However, there were a handful off things yet to open, and opening times were shorter in certain places. In addition, there is a chance the whales haven’t made it to the Bay of Fundy yet, so there’s a higher probability of seeing them in July/August. That was when I visited second time around, and we did see whales!
Day One – Hopewell Rocks & Broadleaf Ranch
Hopewell Rocks is one of those iconic places you just must visit in your lifetime. It’s around a 40-minute drive from Moncton. The tide at Hopewell Rocks is out first thing in the morning and late afternoon. This is when you can walk along the beach and get up close and personal with the rock formations. If you want to kayak it at high tide, you can do that early afternoon. The tides here are fascinating, you really can’t appreciate how much they change without seeing it for yourself.
I could have spent the whole day here, saw it a low tide, kayaked it at high tide and then photographed it at night.
In fact, I loved it so much look out for my next article all about the Hopewell Rocks. I’ll be writing all about the rocks and the Bay of Fundy, focusing on the amazing tidal changes. I’ll also tell you more about the night-time photography shoot we did with Kevin Snair, a park guide and local photographer. It really was a massive highlight of the trip and learning about night photography at a place like this is fantastic. The photos speak for themselves.
Update: Sadly Kevin has moved on from his time at Hopewell Rocks and there is currently no replacement doing night photography tours. However, you can replace that option with a sunset kayak around the rocks! This was an unreal experience and kayaking here has been long on my bucket list.
Next up we headed to Broadleaf Ranch, only 20 minutes up the road from Hopewell Rocks. The ranch has a great restaurant to get your first taste of the abundance of fresh lobster you can find in New Brunswick. The ranch has some fantastic horse-riding and hiking trails, and you can also canoe to one of the iconic covered bridges. You can also stay here overnight (although we didn’t), with a choice of chalets, glamping and camping. They have electrical and waste hook-ups for campervan and RV’s too. That night we stayed locally (see below), as we were heading back to Hopewell Rocks for the night-time tour with Kevin, however if you weren’t doing the tour you could travel on to Alma where we stayed the following night.
Night photography at Hopewell Rocks is $85 for 2.5 hours. Horse-riding at Broadleaf Ranch starts at $30 for 30-minutes, and a country cabin costs $180 per night. They also have dormitory cabins, please check for availability.
Eat: Lobster or steak at Broadleaf Ranch restaurant.
Sleep: I recommend the Residence Inn (Moncton) and Maplegrove Inn (Riverside-Albert).
Drink: Tide & Boar Gastropub (Moncton), fantastic local craft beers and amazing food too. Try the wild boar poutine and the ‘Maybe’ craft beer by Schwars (from Fredericton).
Day Two – Cape Enrage & the Fundy National Park
From Riverside-Albert it was a short 30-minute scenic drive along the 915 to Cape Enrage. You might want to allow a little longer though for photos! Unfortunately for us the weather came in during the morning, so we didn’t get the best views of Cape Enrage, or a chance to try the zip-line. However, it was clear to see how beautiful this spot is.
There’s also no shortage of things to do here when the park is fully open. You can abseil (or rappel) down to the beach, try the zip-line, walk along the beach looking for fossils, visit the lighthouse and even try a moonshine experience! We also stayed here for lunch, another delicious meal I can recommend.
From Cape Enrage we drove to Alma and the Fundy National Park, another short 25-minute drive. Youneed to stop by the visitor centre to buy your pass and quiz the guides about the best places to visit.
My first tip; try to allow plenty of time here. The park is massive, and if you like your hiking then you could spend weeks without repeating a trail. We didn’t have all that much time, but the good news was the weather had improved! Our first stop, which is a quick and easy one was the Dickson Falls.
Dickson Falls is a short trail of 45 minutes, and the falls are pretty. We then headed to the Point Wolfe Covered Bridge, there’s a beautiful estuary here and some stunning birdlife. My next tip is Bennett Lake, but we made the mistake of leaving that to the next morning (as you drive right past it on the way to St Martins). Unfortunately, the weather was once again terrible, with fog and rain preventing us getting a nice photo. That’s just one of many lakes here.
The next highly recommended trail is Matthew’s Head, which takes 1-2 hours and has stunning coastal views. You could definitely squeeze in both Matthew’s Head and Dickson Falls in half a day. Finally, there’s a variety of fantastic hikes along the Upper Salmon river, passing some stunning waterfalls. For this you’d need a bit longer here.
Entry to Fundy national Park is $7.80 for adults, or if you’re spending more time in Canada check out the Discovery Pass which includes 12 months entry to over 80 parks from $57.90.
Eat: We loved the Tides Restaurant at the Parkland Village Inn and Tipsy Tails. Sleep: For fantastic views, stay at the Cliffside Suites. The rooms were beautiful, but the only downside is the view means a bit of a walk back from town if you want a few beers! Drink: Fantastic craft beer at the Holy Whale, go and get a flight here! I mean, I bought the hoodie that’s how much I loved it.
Day Three – St Martins Sea Caves & the Fundy Trail Parkway
Whilst the next drive doesn’t look that far on the map, it takes around 1.5 hours, and more if you allow some time to stop. Today we have kayaking booked for around lunchtime, as the tide starts to come in. If you have time, head to the restaurants on the beach (we went to Caves Restaurant) to see it when the tide is out. It puts the tide change into perspective, as you can see the caves and even walk out to them at low tide.
Allow some time to walk around St Martins too, the covered bridge and harbour are beautiful. Even if you saw the caves on foot, nothing beats seeing them from a kayak. Our excursion with Red Rock Adventure took around 2.5 hours, kayaking out from the harbour to the caves, and stopping for a salmon lunch on a private beach. Red Rock also offer boat trips and shuttles and hiking gear for the Fundy Trail, below.
The Fundy Trail Parkway is incredible. When they say it’s a Bucket List road trip, they weren’t lying. If you like your driving as I do, you must add this to your list. Therefore, if you have the time, please allow at least a whole day to explore the Parkway. It’s an 18-mile drive (30km) with 20 lookouts, beaches and 4 waterfalls. If you like your hiking there is also a 10km hike. It’s another great way to experience the tides.
On my second visit, I decided to focus on hiking and picked 3 waterfall hikes. We entered the part at the new entrance closer to Alma, and started with the Eye of the Needle trail. This one is 1.2km and a there and back hike with some steep climes. But look at the waterfall halfway down.
From there we went straight into the Mcloed Brook Falls loop (3.8km), before driving to the Long Beach Brook Falls (2.2km). All three were great and I even had a swim at the last one.
The kayaking starts at $65. Entrance to the parkway is only $9.50 per adult and it’s usually open from 9am-5pm, apart from in peak season when it’s open 8am-8pm.
Eat: We ate at Fiori’s restaurant at Salmon River B&B. They have a mix of seafood and Mexican! Just beware at the start of the season most restaurants are only open from 5-7pm.
Sleep: We stayed at St Martins Country Inn (nicknamed by locals as the Castle!), there are a mix of rooms including a two-bedroom apartment like we had.
Drink: There really aren’t any bars in St Martins, so we popped into the off-license (liquor store) and had beers in our apartment!
Day Four – Whale Watching at St Martin
Today is the longest drive on the journey as we decided to head to St Andrews and leave Saint John until the end. This way really makes sense, as after all the small communities and countryside, you’ll really appreciate the city vibes in Saint John. You can then also fly from here or get the ferry to Digby.
Allow 1 hour 45 mins to get from St Martins to St Andrews, and even more time to stop for a break at the local’s favourite Ossie’s Lunch (just off Route 1). It offers amazing fish and chips (that means a lot coming from a Brit) and fried clams.
St Andrews is a pretty town, and on day five we explore it a little more. However, today was all about going whale watching with Fundy Tide Runners. There are regular sightings of Minke Whales, Finbacks, Humpbacks and even the North Atlantic Right Whale, the rarest whale in the world.
After being kitted out with our flotation suit and given a briefing, we boarded a Zodiac Hurricane high-speed rib boat. In addition to the nature, we also get lots of information about the area, the tides, fishing history and even the amazing whirlpools (some of the largest in the world).
On my first visit we didn’t see any whales. But we did spot harbour seals, harbour porpoises, bald eagles and other birds. It was a calm day at sea and a great way to see the area and appreciate the Bay of Fundy. But on my second visit we saw a Minke Whale and there was even a humpback further out in the bay!
As we are in St Andrews a few nights my Eat, Sleep & Drink recommendations are in the next section.
Day Five – Ministers Island & St Andrews
As we are already in St Andrews, there is very little driving required today! But you do get to drive across a sandbar only exposed at low tide. Sounds cool right?
That’s how you get across to Ministers Island. There’s a 1-kilometre sandbar that you can only pass at low-tide, and it’s only passable for around 5 hours. This is the gateway to Ministers Island, a 500-acre island which was the former summer home of Sir William Cornelius van Horne. And if you don’t know who he is then you need to pay a visit to the Covenhoven to learn all about his legacy.
Most impressively in my opinion was his work in the creation of Canada’s National Parks, thank you Sir William! The island itself is beautiful and you can walk around it in only 1-2 hours, I highly recommend that.
The rest of the day you must explore St Andrews. It’s a small town with a lovely vibe to it, so just walking along the marina or the High Street is a great way to pass the time. We headed to the Kingsbrae Gardens for the afternoon and a late lunch.
The gardens are stunning, 27-acres of new and old themes with forests, ponds and wildlife. It also hosts several events and festivals and supports the local art scene. If you have time, drop by the Huntsman Marine Centre Aquarium to meet Snorkel and Loki (two resident harbour seals), and the national historic site of St Andrews Blockhouse.
Entry to Ministers Island is $15 per adult, or $5 for hikers without a car (excludes building access). The aquarium is $14.25 and Kingsbrae Gardens is $16 (although entry to the shop and café only is free).
Eat: Try chef Alex Haun’s fantastic menu with lunch at Kingsbrae Gardens and Honeybeans Café.
Sleep: We stayed at the Algonquin Resort which is definitely at the higher end of the budget spectrum but does have a stunning golf course and a fantastic restaurant.
Drink: Head to Something’s brewing during the day (great food too), and most evenings there’s live music and a vibrant atmosphere at the Red Herring Pub.
Day Six – Campobello Island
Today we checked out of our hotel, as later we’ll travel to Saint John. But first the last recommendation from St Andrews is to head to Campobello Island. We took the 30-minute water taxi from the marina first thing in the morning, interestingly you can only gain access by car from the US state of Maine. You need a few hours to explore the island, including its viewpoints and lighthouses. My favourite spot must be the Head Harbour Lightstation (pictured below).
Campobello Island was also a summer playground for the Roosevelt family, and you can visit their cottage and learn about the time Franklin Roosevelt spent here. I mentioned its proximity to the USA, it was supposed to be part of the United States. Apparently, when the border was being marked, they missed it out due to bad weather! However, for me if you want a real treat, come back during the whale watching season, where they say to the north of the island, you can literally watch whales pass by while you eat your breakfast. Amazing.
We didn’t stay the night on the island so there are no sleep or drink recommendations. However, the food at The Prince Café (right next door to the Roosevelt Cottage) was amazing, and if they still have the Berry Salad on the menu, have it!
Day Seven – Saint John & the Reversing Falls Rapids
Later that evening we headed to Saint John to spend our final night and day here before flying home. After so much time in the countryside it felt refreshing to be in a buzzing city, and Saint John is just that. It had one of those vibes that hits you immediately, like a trendy up-and-coming arty scene. In truth, I wish I had more time here, perhaps to spend a few days at a slower pace after all the driving and take my time exploring the city.
On our first night it was all about exploring the craft beer and food scene, and what better way to do it than a tour with Gill from Uncorked NB. Tours like this are a great way to get your bearings in a city, and when you don’t have much time you can learn from the experts. We did just that, from sipping our first flight of beer in the sun at Market Wharf to hearing stories from the Brewmaster at Big Tide Brewing. It was fantastic and all the pubs and bars are listed below under ‘Drink’.
After wandering the town and checking out the market, the final thing we did on this epic New Brunswick Road Trip was visiting the Reversing Falls Rapids. In the Hopewell Rocks section I talked about the unique tides they have here, well never are they more apparent than at the falls at Stonehammer Geopark.
I’m planning to talk more about this in my next article but let me just say your mind will be blown whether you are into geology or not. The short version is the falls are created from huge Bay of Fundy tides; when the tide is out the river flows over the rapids, when the tide is in the river is forced upstream over the rapids. Then twice a day there is a 20-minute calm period when it’s safe for boats to pass. Honestly this is a must visit if you’re in New Brunswick!
Eat: There are plenty of lunch choices at the Saint John City Market and a number of curry houses, and the food we had at Saint John Ale House was great.
Sleep: We stayed at the Hilton, it’s in the perfect location for the pubs and restaurants with amazing views over the Saint John River.
Drink: Our tour included Saint John Ale House, the BunkHaus Hostel, Picaroons and Big Tide Brewing. Go to all of them!
Bonus Day: Fredericton
New Brunswick’s capital Fredericton is a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time, and I urge you to find time to include it in your trip. I’d just heard so many great things about the place. On my second visit I managed to squeeze it in alongside all the other great outdoor adventures in New Brunswick.
The main two things I wanted to do were the Freddy Taproom Trail on bikes, and Stand-Up Paddle-boarding on the Wolastoq river. We were due to do that with Second Nature Outdoors, who also provide kayaks and experienced guides. Sadly the weather was terrible and our trip was cancelled.
It almost put a stop to the Freddy Tap Trail too, but we decided to do it anyway and just get wet! It was brilliant fun, but a lot quieter than a nice summer’s day. I’m always looking for an excuse to come back to New Brunswick, and now I’ve found it; The Freddy Taproom Trail in summer.
Fredericton is best shown in the video below, enjoy!
And just like that our roller-coaster 7-day road trip around New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy came to and end. Now I don’t use the term Bucket List lightly, but this truly is a Bucket List Road trip. I cannot begin to tell you how many amazing things there are to see in New Brunswick.
As I mentioned there are three places where I wish I had more time, Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park and Saint John/Fredericton. So if you can make this longer than 7 days you won’t regret it. And finally, if you do end up doing this trip, please let me know in the comments below or on social media. Thanks for reading.
*My trip to New Brunswick was sponsored by New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. Nonetheless, the photos, video and opinions are all my own (as always). And honestly, as I mentioned at the start, I love Canada and the best way to travel is a road trip!
*Please note all prices quoted are not inclusive of Tax & true at the time of writing
3 thoughts on “Bucket List Road Trip: New Brunswick & the Bay of Fundy, 2023 updated!”
What an amazing place I would love to do this trip I love the video.
Thank you, it really was. I’d totally recommend it, you would love New Brunswick 🙂
good for projects about hope well rocks and the bay of fundy !