The Bay of Fundy, which stretches for 270km between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Canada's Atlantic coast, is home to the world's highest tides and one of the most popular places to experience and appreciate this natural wonder is Hopewell Rocks.
Our first family visit to Hopewell Rocks was in 2002 before my 9 year old daughter, Emma, was born so we decided that a return trip was necessary during our Atlantic Canada trip last summer. We stayed in Moncton and drove out to Hopewell Cape to spend the day. Visitors should plan to spend several hours to fully experience the park as the ideal visit includes walking on the ocean floor at low tide and observing (or kayaking) the world's highest tides at full tide.
We arrived in the morning at low tide and opted to walk from the Visitors' Centre down to the viewing platforms and beach, pausing to take photos along the way. There is also a shuttle bus that runs down to the viewing platform for anyone who isn't up to the 15-30 minute walk.
We spent about an hour and a half walking the ocean floor which can be safely explored by visitors from 3 hours before until 3 hours after low tide. It's wise to have sturdy footwear that can be hosed off afterward as the beach is quite muddy and squishy in places. A few areas were roped off due to the danger of falling rocks from eroding cliffs so visitors should exercise some caution when walking cliffside.
Emma was particularly fascinated by the mounds of seaweed on the ocean floor.
The red cliffs at the Hopewell Rocks were first formed millions of years ago and the incredible 40-70 foot high rock formations that we see today are a result of steady erosion of the soft sandstone along the shoreline by the daily tides. The Hopewell Rocks are also known as the Flowerpot Rocks as many of the intriguing rock formations have trees and plants growing at the top creating a resemblance to large flower pots. The rock formations that have been sculpted by the tides are spectacular and I took close to 200 photos while we were there in an attempt to capture the incredible natural beauty.
As the tide slowly started to come in we headed back up to the Visitors' Centre to browse the educational displays, do a little souvenir shopping and have some lunch at the High Tide Café. As we made the climb back up to the upper level of the park, we looked back to discover that the tide had already started to swallow the beach.
As high tide approached we walked back down to the observation area and were fascinated to see how the tide had encroached on the area where we had been walking just a short time earlier. I dare you to find a kid that doesn't think that it's incredibly cool to watch the water rise and cover a beach that they had played on earlier.
We found a spot near the bottom of the staircase to the beach in order to watch the tide rise and the kayakers paddling around the rocks with their guide. I had been too concerned about trying kayaking with Emma to book an excursion ahead of time but after observing the group I felt certain that we could have managed and will definitely try this the next time we visit.
In our fast-paced world of electronic distractions and short attention spans, Hopewell Rocks is the perfect place to introduce kids to the wonder and the power of nature.
What You Need To Know
- An interesting fact is that each day 100 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy during one tide cycle - that's more than the combined flow of the world's freshwater rivers.
- The Hopewell Rocks is a self-directed park open seasonally from mid-May to Mid-October. Interpretive staff are available to answer questions.
- The park also has picnic areas, walking trails and two sandy beaches for visitors.
- There is ample free parking and an in-park shuttle service (7 passenger golf carts) available.
- The park has an educational multi-media Interpretive Centre; clean washrooms (with diaper changing facilities); and a restaurant, snackbar and gift shop.
- The park is located about an hour from Moncton, New Brunswick in Hopewell Cape. Directions are available here.
- Entrance rates are available here and are valid for two consecutive days so that visitors may choose to visit a high tide one day and low tide the next.
- The park is pet-friendly but guidelines must be followed.
- The park is wheelchair and stroller accessible apart from the beach area which is accessed via a set of stairs.
- There is a children's playground outside the Interpretive Centre.
- Always check tide tables prior to visiting as high and low tides occur at different times each day. Tide Tables are available on the Hopewell Rocks site for the open season. Anyone visiting during the off season should check the tide tables on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.
- It's best to book kayaking ahead of time as it's a popular excursion that can sell out.