Exploring Fundy Trail Parkway- St Martins, NB

Our next adventure took us to the coastal wilderness where we experienced yet another Bay of Fundy phenomenon – a coastline sculpted by the worlds highest tides.  It was a long and scenic drive to the Fundy Trail Parkway, and a bit foggy when we arrived.  So, you may wonder, what is the Bay of Fundy and what’s the big deal?

Bay of Fundy
Location of the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The bay is known for having the highest tidal range in the world because it is funnel-shaped across its width, deep at one end and shallow at the other.  This configuration forces tides to be pushed higher as they move up into the Bay.  We were fascinated to learn that the highest tides on earth fill the bay with over one hundred billion tons of seawater – as high as a four-story building – and brimming with diverse marine life.  Just hours later at low tide, we were able to stroll among the rock formations on the seabed.

St Martins, NB
A colorful crafts store near the beach.

There are three interesting ways to observe the tides: the Vertical Effect, the Horizontal Effect and the Tidal Rapids.  In my previous post, the Reversing Rapids were an example of Tidal Rapids.  During our exploration at the Fundy Trail Parkway we saw an example of a vertical tide.

At St. Martins, gateway to the Fundy Trail Parkway, we spotted a small harbor where fishing boats were sitting on the ground during low tide.  On our way back home we saw the boats bobbing in the water alongside the wharf.  Small harbors are the best place to see vertical tide changes that can be 50 ft or more!

St Martins low tide
Low tide at St. Martins – no fishing for a while, folks!
St Martins at high tide
High tide at St. Martins – OK, let’s go catch dinner!

We stopped at many lookouts to view towering cliffs, undeveloped coastline and panoramic vistas of beaches.  The Fundy Trail winds its way along one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador.

Fundy Trail Parkway
Undeveloped stretch of coastline.
Pangburn Beach
Looking out on Pangburn and Melvin beaches during low tide – they don’t exist at high tide.

At one point we hiked down to follow the Fundy Footpath all the way to Fundy Point.  We skirted along Big Salmon river and hugged the coastline, where Steve decided to create his own path all the way to where the river flows to the ocean.  He thought we would then walk across the shallow beach there and walk back up the path on the other side.  Wrong!

Big Salmon River
Steve created his own footpath to the beach, but his mission was doomed.

When we arrived on the beach, we witnessed  horizontal tide, which happens when the low tide retreats as much as three miles, leaving vast areas of the ocean floor exposed.

Big Salmon River
Let’s see how far we can walk out to the ocean – this would all be deeply covered in a couple of hours.

Unfortunately we were just a little late and the tide was coming back in, so we had to double back on the trail we had just taken.  Oh well, nice try!

Big Salmon River Beach
Let’s get out of here before the tide catches us!

On the ocean floor, we took notice of the seaweed attached to rocks, and tiny black sea shells…

…also some beautiful wildflowers and critters along the “real” pathway as we returned…

…finally arriving at the suspension foot bridge – the easy and correct way to cross Big Salmon river.

Big Salmon River
Goofing off at the suspension foot bridge – showing Steve this is the right way to cross the river!

With the fog lifting by early afternoon, we chose to follow the path to the Fuller Falls lookout, then hiked just over a mile down to Melvin Beach.  We noted the clay colored cliffs and colorful sandy stones that we walked on. The tide was starting back in so we chose to stay at Melvin Beach and not cross over to Pangburn Beach.

Melvin Beach
Melvin Beach and its huge piles of colorful smooth stones.
Melvin Beach
Searching for the perfect stone.  Note the high tide line on the wall behind me – and it has already been coming in for some time when we took this shot.

The entry fee was worth every penny, for we thoroughly enjoyed each view, path and trail we followed.  The 10-mile Fundy Trail Parkway is well constructed and maintained within the most picturesque area of the Bay of Fundy, and it provided us with a variety of experiences along its length.

On our way home we stopped by St. Martins village and enjoyed some more local fresh and delicious seafood, this time a lobster roll and a cup of delicious chowder.  The restaurant had a great view of beautiful sea caves – shallow features carved into sandstone and conglomerate caused by physical erosion of the high and low tides.

St. Martin seacaves
We had a beer and some yummy seafood here while checking out the nearby sea caves.

More images captured on our way back to camp…

St Martins, NB
An overcast sky lends mood to some shots.

A colorful home with a matching colored barn and gift shop

St Martin village
Folks here tend to use and match colors on their structures very well.

And back to the curvy and steep grades along scenic highway 111 .

Highway 111
Curvy and steep grades along highway 111.

We stopped and bought wild Canadian blueberries, with which I baked a delicious pie that we savored after a long day of exploration.

Wild Blueberries
Wild blueberries are best for pies!

We never fail to admire the Grand Bay-Westfield visitor center as we passed by it  on our way in and out of the campground.

Grand Bay Westfield
Visitor Center at Grand Bay -Westfield

We have more stories and pictures to share – the Canadian Maritimes are so scenic and colorful.  The weather has been near perfect, sunny but a bit breezy at times.  Stay tuned!




  1. Love your new header photo. Looks like you’re having way too much fun, if that’s possible. How bizarre to see those boats at low tide sitting dry then later floating like they were meant to. Interesting to say the least. Enjoyed the house photos as well….ya know me and Real Estate 😉

  2. Awesome photos and story! I’m glad the tide did not suck you out to sea.

    Keith Jackson is the guy with the red hair and the black hat in my photos on Facebook. His living wake was really fun. What a brave guy to throw his own wake.

    Have fun in Canada!

  3. Love the beach! All those cool rocks just waiting for us! Love the low low tide, cool how you can walk so far out!

  4. Vertical tide and horizontal tide. I’ve seen them but never knew they were called that. I always learn something when I read your posts. Great photos as well. Interesting to see high and low tide pics. And I always love a map!

  5. So glad you got to witness the dramatic tide change. It is so amazing! Looks like you are having a wonderful time with great weather. Love the picture on the swinging bridge:)

  6. Awesome! The smile on your face tells it all! We’re you surprised that the sand during low tide was not very squishy? We were. Totally loved the rocks and caves…so cool!

    So glad the weather is perfect and you are making wonderful memories!

    Yum….a blueberry pie!

  7. We are going to love your travels through Canada as we know virtually nothing about this area. It looks like a fascinating place to explore. Your photos are so lovely Mona. Are you still using the Panasonic camera? I have been researching cameras and would love some feedback on what you think about the camera you are using.

    My favorite photo is you on the suspension bridge. You look like you are having a blast! 🙂

    • This is actually my second Panasonic Lumix DMZ-ZS19 as I dropped the same model in Philippines. I use this camera 90% of the time and the other time i used my Panasonic Lumix GH2. Love this cam as the image quality is really great a you can see in my shots.

  8. The Bay of Fundy is truly amazing and you have really captured its allure. Chuck’s favorite of the provinces was PEI. Mine is Nova Scotia – I see you are going there too. I’m seeing all those LOBSTER signs and the stomach is rumbling….Baked a blueberry cobbler the other day too Yummy.

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