Recap from our trip to New Brunswick
We’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of New Brunswick. My head is still spinning from all that we experienced over the past week, so I thought it best to capture a few of our initial thoughts from the trip while it’s still fresh on the brain.
This was our first time visiting the under-rated Canadian province.
Initially, when we told people we’d be traveling to New Brunswick we received mixed responses. Some questioned why New Brunswick, of all places? “Are you visiting family,” they asked.
Others, that have visited before, shared stories of friendly people, quiet fishing villages, undisturbed coastline and drool-worthy seafood.
We have a travel goal to visit every province and territory in Canada. We also want to visit every national park in Canada, so we knew we’d likely visit this Maritime province at some point during our travels. But we weren’t in a hurry and filed a trip to New Brunswick under “we’ll visit some day when were older and have kids.”
Well, we’re older now. And we have kids. So why not now, right?
When we received our New Brunswick itinerary, the experiences that jumped out at us was a whale watching tour aboard the Jolly Breeze Tall Ship, eating fresh lobster on a lobster cruise and walking on the ocean floor at the Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
Whales, lobster and crazy tides – does it get more ‘New Brunswick’ than that?
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories and photos from our visit, but today we’d like to highlight some of the things we did on the trip.
Our trip began at the iconic Algonquin Resort, one of Canada’s most luxurious and legendary resorts, located in the heart of St. Andrews by-the-Sea.
We arrived late at night, so we didn’t have a chance to absorb our surroundings until the following morning. What a place! It feels more like a castle and museum than a resort.
After a quick piano session in the garden at the Algonquin, we packed up the minivan and drove to the nearby Huntsman Fundy Discovery Aquarium.
It’s not a very big aquarium, but it’s home to a wide range of sea creatures and playful sea lions. It’s the perfect size for little ones with short attention spans.
After the aquarium, we ventured back into town and spent the afternoon exploring the vibrant Kingsbrae Gardens, a 27-acre horticultural masterpiece with over 2,500 species of perennials.
The Kingsbrae Gardens is also home to several pint-sized homes for little ones to explore…
… and it has alpacas! I captured these feisty guys in the middle of a neck-twisting tussle.
That evening, we wandered around the cute seaside village of St Andrews-by-the-Sea and enjoyed fresh seafood and cold pints of Picaroons Traditional Ale with unobstructed views of the ocean. At that time of day, the Bay of Fundy was a low tide, exposing the ocean floor for all to see. It was a perfect ending to the day.
The tidal movements in New Brunswick are mind boggling!
Yes, you are reading that correctly. The difference between low tide and high tide in St Andrews was 18.4 feet that day!
Think about that for a moment. That’s the equivalent of 3 people stacked on top of each other. That’s a lot of water movement!
Above – low tide at the pier in St Andrews. Below – close to high tide.
Whale watching in the Bay of Fundy
The following day, we returned to the pier and joined a whale watching excursion aboard the Jolly Breeze. What makes this tour unique is that guests sail through the serene Bay of Fundy on a beautifully preserved wooden tall ship.
Another fun part of the tour is that kids can dress as pirates complete with plastic swords and eye patches. Once aboard, the crew offers a number of family activities to keep the little ones entertained. Connor steered the tall ship for a moment and Braydon handled a real live starfish.
It was a successful day at sea. We witnessed 5 minke whales in their natural habitat, along with several porpoises and sea lions.
The whales were playing tricks on us that day, surfacing every few minutes in completely new locations. It was quite comical actually. We would spot a whale in the distance and the captain would change course to get the ship closer.
Then, we all held our breathe in silence, cameras locked and loaded.
The group focused intensely on the spot where the whales last surfaced, waiting patiently for that postcard photo. Then, without warning, we’d hear the familiar sounds of water shooting out of the whale’s blowhole. This time however, the whale surfaced on the opposite side of the boat, a few hundred meters away.
We ran to the other side of the ship, snapping our cameras with rapid fire. These whales only surfaced for a few seconds, so we had to be quick. The whales kept their distance from our boat, so the above photo is the best I was able to capture.
We had a great time on the water that day. I don’t know what it is about whales that’s so fascinating, but watching them play in the wild is quite the experience.
City of Saint John
The next stop on our road trip through the province was a visit to the historical city of Saint John, the largest city in New Brunswick and the second largest city in the maritime provinces.
I love the old brick buildings in downtown Saint John. It reminds me of the North End in Boston, but on a much smaller scale.
While in Saint John we made a stop at the Reversing Rapids, a unique phenomenon created by the collision of the Bay of Fundy’s monstrous tides and the mighty St. John River.
I’ll let Wikipedia educate you on this natural wonder – read about the Reversing Rapids here.
St. Martins and the Sea Caves
The next day we drove to the village of St. Martins to check out the sea caves and drive the Fundy Trail Parkway. St Martins is about a 45 minute drive east of Saint John.
Along the way, we kept passing signs that said we had to stop at The Caves Restaurant to try it’s “World Famous Chowder”.
I’m a sucker for seafood chowder and there are few better places than Atlantic Canada to get the real deal. This creamy bowl of goodness did not disappoint. It was loaded with big chunks of fresh lobster and clams.
In the above photo, you can see the famous sea caves at high(ish) tide. At that time of day you would need to walk in the water or swim in order to enter the mouth of the sea caves.
We returned to the sea caves about two hours later at low tide, pictured below. At low tide you can walk across the ocean floor right up to the caves. There’s a little stream that separates the caves from the rocky beach (you can barely see it in the photo), so if you’re not careful when crossing you might end up with wet shoes.
Fundy Trail Parkway
Our road trip continued to the Fundy Trail Parkway. We joined the other 7 family bloggers that were also on the #LetsGoNB retreat and met up with our guide. We stopped at a few lookout points while on the parkway and visited the Fuller Falls, pictured below.
Above is a photo of the #LetsGoNB team at the Long Beach Lookout.
The following day, we packed up the minivan and said goodbye to Saint John.
Next up on the road trip was a visit to the city of Moncton. After we checked into the Delta Beausejour in downtown Moncton, we ventured outside the city limits to the Magnetic Hill Zoo.
Magnetic Hill Zoo, Moncton
I’ll admit, we didn’t go in with high expectations, which was a good thing because it far exceeded our expectations. Don’t you love it when that happens?
Now, I don’t want to oversell it because it’s not a very big zoo, but it is home to black bears, zebra, cougars, a leopard, tigers, lions, black jaguars, reindeer, lots of different lemers and monkeys and, of course, plenty of farm animals that you can feed. We had a great time!
We saw a lazy lion taking a snooze…
… not one, but TWO black jaguars …
… a curious cougar …
…. a pair of black bears….
… and, let’s not forget, the lifesaver Popsicle.
The Hopewell Rocks
A visit to the Hopewell Rocks was arguably the most anticipated destination on our New Brunswick itinerary. Also known as the Flowerpot Rocks, these famous rock formations are located on the shores of the Bay of Fundy at Hopewell Cape, about 40 km’s south of Moncton.
At low tide you can walk along the ocean floor and explore the unique rock formations, some jutting up as high as 70 feet. In the above photo, you can see a few people walking on the shore. A few hours later, that entire area was covered with water. Here’s a photo of what it looks like at high tide.
The Hopewell Rocks is one of the most popular places to witness the extreme tidal range of the Bay of Fundy. We didn’t have enough time to experience the full tidal cycle but it’s highly recommended to stick around to watch the changing tides.
Lobster cruise in Shediac Bay
After visiting the Hopewell Rocks we traveled to the town of Shediac, a seaside town that’s known as the “Lobster Capital of the World”. The purpose of our visit was to eat some fresh lobster aboard an evening lobster cruise with Shediac Bay Cruises.
It’s a fun tour with an entertaining captain that educates his guests about the history of the lobster industry in New Brunswick and how to properly cook and eat an Atlantic lobster.
This big guy didn’t stand a chance… he was most delicious.
Well, that’s a wrap for today. What was meant to be a quick update seems to have turned into an 1,700 word post with 50+ photos! We will be sharing more stories in greater detail over the coming weeks, so make sure you check the blog if you’re interested in learning about one of Canada’s most underrated destinations.
To read more stories from the #LetsGoNB Retreat, check out these blogs:
- Sober Julie – http://www.soberjulie.com/
- This Lil Piglet – http://thislilpiglet.net/
- Tammilee Tips – http://www.tammileetips.com/
- Whispered Inspirations – http://whisperedinspirations.com/
- Our Family World – http://www.ourfamilyworld.com/
- My Organized Chaos – http://www.myorganizedchaos.net/
- My 3 Little Kittens – http://www.my3littlekittens.com/
Have you visited New Brunswick? Did you visit any of these locations? What did you think?
Share your thoughts and tips in the comments section, we’d love to read about your experiences!