The Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s most unique and beautiful places. Plan a summer sea kayaking trip to experience New Brunswick, Canada.
Many people who have visited New Brunswick say the province is one of Canada’s best-kept travel secrets. When you ask them why, they say they enjoyed learning about history in Fredericton and Saint John, exploring quaint towns and villages, and “overdosing” on lobster and seafood. They also rave about the spectacular coastal scenery. One of the best ways to experience it is by sea kayaking on the Bay of Fundy.
What’s Special About the Bay of Fundy?
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world because of its shape and tidal resonance. Tidal resonance occurs when the amount of time between high and low tides is the same, or nearly the same, as the amount of time it takes a large wave to travel from the mouth of a bay to the far shore and back. Because of this phenomenon, there are two high and two low tides each day about six hours apart. This means you can walk along a beach in the morning, but it will be under water a few hours later.
There’s no shortage of kayak tour operators along the southern coast of New Brunswick. I had the opportunity to enjoy sea kayaking on the Bay of Fundy with two of them during a recent press trip.
Sea Caves in St. Martins
My first sea kayaking trip was with Bay of Fundy Adventures in St. Martins. It’s conveniently located on Main Street across from the harbor.
I’d been kayaking before, but it was on a peaceful stream in a maritime forest in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. So, I was excited but a little anxious at the prospect of sea kayaking. There was no need to worry because we had two expert guides—Nick and Geoff.
Our group consisted of a family from Toronto, a couple from Quebec City, and me. Once everyone put on a waterproof vest and lifejacket, our guides taught us the basics of kayaks: paddling forward and backward, steering right and left, and stopping. We also reviewed basic safety precautions and what to do in an emergency.
We sailed out of the harbor and into the bay, passed some covered bridges and colorful fishing boats, and made our way toward the St. Martins Sea Caves. Paddling the sea caves is the only way to see them. We also went into some of them to explore. After briefly stopping in a cove for a snack and pictures, we saw more sea caves and returned to the harbor.
The St. Martins Sea Caves are underwater in the morning but slowly emerge as the tide goes out. When I strolled on the beach in the afternoon, I walked into the same caves I’d explored in a kayak a few hours earlier. What an incredible experience!
Flowerpot Rocks at Hopewell Cape
My second sea kayaking experience was at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, famous for sea stacks dominating over a mile of shoreline along the Bay of Fundy.
The sea stacks consist of red-brown sedimentary conglomerate, sandstone, and minor mudstone rock and stand about 40 to 70 feet tall. They’re also called “Flowerpot Rocks” because trees growing at the top of the brown stacks make them resemble plants growing in clay pots.
When the glaciers retreated after the last ice age, surface water filtered through cracks in the cliff and eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face. Over time, advancing and retreating tides and waves eroded the base of the rocks faster than the tops, resulting in unusual shapes. Walking along the ocean floor, I saw why some formations were named Lovers Arch, Elephant, Bear, ET, Jay Leno, and Angry Mother-in-Law.
Pro Tip: There are many muddy spots along the beach. Wear waterproof shoes. There are faucets at the top of the staircase to wash off your feet and shoes.
Sea Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks
Kayak tours are in the afternoon. So, arrive in the morning to see the rock formations on the beach before the tide comes in. The easiest way to get to the beach is to take the walking trail or shuttle to Staircase Cove and descend 101 stairs to the ocean floor. If you prefer not to use the stairs, follow the signs to North Beach, and you’ll find a ramp with benches along the incline.
My kayaking tour at Hopewell Rocks was with Baymount Outdoor Adventures. This time, I was part of a much larger group—around 30 people, mainly from Atlantic Canada and Quebec. We had five guides—one leading the group, one paddling behind, and one on each side. The fifth guide circulated through the group to answer questions and help with equipment malfunctions.
As before, we began with a safety briefing and paddling and steering instructions. Then we made our way down the coast, and I saw the same formations I’d seen on land a few hours ago. Now, they were under around 40 feet of water.
I got a close-up view of the spectacular formations as we paddled around and through them. Our group was so large that not everyone could fit at once. So, our guides took us in groups of 10. While we waited for our turn, Bradley, Olivia, and the other guides told us stories about the formations and talked about the history of the area.
Since I was in a kayak, I saw the tops of the formations, a view of the formations many visitors don’t see. Most people visit at low tide and walk along the shore. So, they only see the base of the formations.
Helpful Sea Kayaking Tips
This was the first time I’d been sea kayaking. So, I thought I’d pass on these tips that I learned from my experience.
Don’t stress if you’ve never been kayaking. You’ll learn the basics of paddling and steering before you leave, and there’s always an experienced guide nearby who can answer questions and help with problems.
Wear waterproof shoes. A guide will push your kayak into the water when you get in, but you’ll probably have to step in a few inches of water when you get out. My tennis shoes spent the night on the air conditioner vent in our hotel room and in the sun the following day to dry out.
Wear sunglasses and a hat, even if you usually don’t. The sun is more intense when you’re at sea.
Use a dry bag. Put valuables like wallets, car keys, and cell phones in a dry bag and anchor it to a strap on the top of your kayak. All the tour operators provide them at no charge.
Experienced kayakers in the back. Most companies use two-person kayaks. Talk to the person you’re paired with to see who has more kayaking experience. The more experienced person should sit in the back seat, and the less experienced person should sit in the front seat.
Synchronize your paddle strokes with your partner. It’ll make paddling and steering easier, and you’ll have more fun.
Stay with the group! If the tide changes earlier than expected, it’ll happen quickly. The same goes for unexpected changes in the weather. The guides are trained to anticipate problems before they occur and get everyone back to shore safely.
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Plan A Sea Kayaking Adventure
The Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s most unique and beautiful places. If you plan a trip to New Brunswick between June and September, enjoy being on the water, and want an amazing experience, go sea kayaking on the Bay of Fundy and arrive ready to have fun! We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more to do during your visit to Canada and for more outdoor adventure destinations.
Experience Amazing Sea Kayaking on The Bay of Fundy