How to experience the tides of the Bay of Fundy

The tidal range is normally measured as vertical distance: the change in the ocean’s elevation from high tide to low tide. At Hopewell Cape, N.B., visitors can walk beneath the flower pots that become islands immersed deep in the water at high tide. Similarly, at Burntcoat Head, N.S., where the highest tides were recorded, visitors can walk around an island in the tidal zone when the tide is low. The many small harbours around the Bay are empty at low tide and then completely fill about 6 hours later at high tide.

One of the best ways to experience the full impression of the Bay of Fundy’s tides is to visit the same coastal location at high tide, then return about 6 hours later at low tide (or vice versa).

Wharves along the Fundy coast in New Brunswick (St. Andrews, Alma, and St. Martins) and Nova Scotia (Advocate, Parrsboro, Walton on the Noel Shore, and Halls Harbour) are good locations for viewing extreme vertical tides.

In some parts of the Bay, the tide retreats as much as 5 km (3 miles) at low tide, leaving vast areas of the ocean floor exposed.

Where can I go to see the ocean floor?

The ocean floor is accessible at low tide in many locations all along the Bay of Fundy’s coast. We recommend the following places to explore the tidal zone.

New Brunswick

  • St. Andrews
  • New River Beach
  • St. Martins
  • Alma
  • Hopewell Rocks
  • Dorchester Cape

Nova Scotia

  • Joggins
  • Parrsboro
  • Five Islands and Economy
  • Noel Shore
  • Grand Pré
  • Blomidon

Check your tide table to see what time the tide is at its lowest level and plan to arrive about an hour before low tide. This will give you time to walk on the tidal flats before the tide begins to flow back in, creeping across the beach, rising until the vast expanse of mud and gravel in the intertidal zone is once again under the sea. The intertidal zone is often wet and muddy so choose appropriate footwear.