It’s now much easier and more rewarding to plan a Bay of Fundy road trip along New Brunswick’s southern coast. This is thanks to the new roads now open between Saint Martins and Fundy National Park as of summer 2021.
To get from Saint Andrews to Moncton, you’ll cover roughly 320 kilometres. The active driving time is approximately four and a half hours. However, this is a part of the world where you’ll be rewarded for taking your time. A week offers a healthy amount of time to take in everything this region has to offer. If you can swing it, 9 to 10 days will allow for the richest experience. We’ve suggested the spots where you’ll get the most out of extending your stay below.
Most visitors who drive to New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy coast will come from the west. When entering from the west within Canada, exit the Trans-Canada Highway at NB Highway 3 and go south to Saint Andrews to start this drive. From the U.S., the Calais, Maine, border crossing positions you 30 minutes away from Saint Andrews. (You also have the option to cross at Lubec, ME. This would take you to Campobello Island, where you can tour the Fundy islands and take ferries to reach the mainland. We’ll save those details for a future itinerary.)
If you’ll reach this region by air, we recommend flying into Moncton and approaching this drive from the east. If this is your plan, you’ll take this drive in reverse order. Start at the bottom of the itinerary and work your way up to Saint Andrews. At that point, you can drive up to the Trans-Canada Highway and loop back to Moncton.
Day 1: Saint Andrews By-the-Sea
Start your Fundy road trip in the seaside resort town of Saint Andrews.
The top activities not to be missed here are whale watching, driving to Ministers Island, and visiting the shops and restaurants on Water Street. Ministers Island’s hours of operation change daily with the tides. It’s theoretically possible to do all of this in one day. However, depending on Ministers Island and whale watching availability (you’ll definitely need a reservation), you may prefer to add a second day for a more relaxed experience.
Hotel suggestion: If your budget can swing it, The Algonquin Resort is a Saint Andrews classic.
Day 2: Head for Saint John
When you’re ready to get the day started, pack up the car and head toward New Brunswick Highway 1.
For the most part, you’ll want to stay on the highway through this stretch. The drive will take approximately an hour. If you’re looking for a brunch or lunch stop along the way, check out the BayBreeze Restaurant ($) in Pocologan.
Spend the rest of the day in Saint John. Check out the Reversing Falls and Carleton Martello Tower. Head uptown (the local term for downtown) to explore the Saint John City Market and Waterfront Container Village. Enjoy the city’s excellent restaurants. A few suggestions: Italian by Night ($$$), Thandi ($$$), Grannan’s Seafood ($$), Lemongrass ($$).
Hotel suggestion: the Hilton Saint John offers some of the best views over the Saint John River and the Bay of Fundy.
Day 3: Sea Kayaking in Saint Martins
Plan to spend a full day in Saint Martins. It will take approximately 45 minutes to drive from Saint John along NB Route 111.
The tides will dictate your itinerary on the day of your visit. First, you’ll want to make a reservation with Bay of Fundy Adventures. (The tour out of Saint Martins is called the Sea Caves Kayak Tour.) You’ll either kayak in the morning and explore the sea caves on foot in the afternoon or vice versa. When the tide is out, the sea caves can be accessed on foot from the parking lot beside the Caves Restaurant.
Hotel suggestion: the Beach Street Inn is a boutique hotel with breezy and well-appointed rooms and an excellent on-site restaurant ($$$).
Day 4: Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway is truly a choose-your-own-adventure type of destination. You could spend an hour or a day here exploring the 30-kilometre stretch of road traces the shoreline with 21 lookouts, five beaches, and four waterfalls.
Note the Parkway is a gated road with specific hours and days when it is open. To enter the park, you’ll pay a fee at the entry gates. There is a simple canteen at the Cookhouse, or you can pack a lunch and have a picnic. To access the Parkway, you’ll cross the covered bridge in Saint Martins and continue along Big Salmon River Road until you reach the gates.
If you try to map the route outside the park’s operating season or exclude tolls in your search, your GPS or map service may try to send you around the Parkway. Be sure to check your route and timing carefully before you set out.
Once you pass through the east gates, you’ll drive for roughly 10 minutes or 12 kilometres to reach Shepody Road. This is the turn-off that takes you directly to the entry gates for Fundy National Park. There’s one large sign that marks this turn. Be sure you don’t miss it. If you do, you’ll likely end up in Sussex and need to loop the long way back down to the national park!
Continue on to your accommodations. Whether you plan to camp in the park or stay in a cabin or hotel, we recommend booking at least two nights. You can spend the remainder of this day exploring Fundy National Park. If you arrive later, relax for the evening and dive into the park on the following day.
Hotel suggestion: the Alpine Motor Inn in Alma offers simple and cozy accommodations. If you’re looking for a bite to eat in Alma, we recommend Tipsy Tails ($$) or the Alma Lobster Shop ($). The latter is a true East Coast experience. They’ll serve your steamed lobster on a tray lined with paper and hand you a bib. Dig in!
There are a few things to note about camping in Fundy National Park. Headquarters Campground is centrally located, and a staircase gives you direct access to the shops and restaurants in Alma. It’s very convenient! However, the campsites don’t have private fire pits. We stayed here in 2018 and found the communal fire pits to be a fun way to meet fellow travelers.
If a private fire pit is an essential camping experience for you, though, you may prefer an alternate campground. Point Wolfe is further down the road, but it’s on the Bay of Fundy and has a beach nearby, so it’s a popular choice. If you don’t mind being deeper in the forest, Chignecto and Lakeview are smaller and more remote options. The Cannontown Campground is reserved for RVs and offers three-service sites.
Day 5: Fundy National Park
Dedicate at least one full day, and more if you can swing it, to exploring Fundy National Park. This is one of the most family-friendly national parks in Canada! There’s so much to do: visit the beach, go for a swim at the pool, or check out the playground at the Salt & Fir Centre. Go for a hike, mountain bike on the trails, or rent a canoe or kayak.
Take in the nine-hole golf course, then drive to Point Wolfe to see the only covered bridge you’ll find in any Canadian national park. And don’t forget to pick up the activity booklets for the Parks Canada’s Xplorers program. When your kids complete the activities, they can show the books at a visitor centre and receive a small collectible medallion to take home.
Day 6: Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park
From the village of Alma, follow NB Route 114 to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. It will take just over half n hour to travel the 45 kilometres.
The tides will dictate your best itinerary for the day at Hopewell Rocks. NB Parks maintains a tide table, which you can check here.
You’ll be able to book a sea kayak excursion at whichever point in the day the tide is high. Baymount Outdoor Adventures manages kayaking tours within the park. These tours are in high demand, so book this as early as you can. The operators recommend making reservations at least three weeks in advance.
Spend the other half of the day exploring the rocks on foot. There’s a shuttle from the visitor centre to the main staircase, or you can walk the trail, which is less than a kilometre. At the launch area for the kayak tours, there is a ramp down to the rocks for those who need accessibility. Note that the sea floor is muddy and slippery no matter where you reach it, so comfortable clothes and good shoes are essential.
The restaurant on site is a convenient lunch option. If you’d like to continue on to the end of the bay, plan to overnight in Moncton.
Day 7: The end of the bay
If you’re traveling with history buffs, you’ll want to add this final day into your plans. It takes you to the very end of the Bay of Fundy and provides some of the area’s cultural context.
From Moncton, head roughly half an hour southeast to the village of Memramcook to visit Monument-Lefebvre National Historic Site. Here, you’ll learn about the expulsion of the Acadian people and explore aspects of Acadian culture via the community centre’s on-site museum. Kids can take part in the Xplorers program here. On a day when there are no events taking place, an hour will provide enough time to explore the site. It’s a quick stop, but the context it provides pairs well with the final destination on our itinerary.
You’ll end your tour of the New Brunswick Fundy coast at the border with Nova Scotia. Here, Fort Beausejour-Fort Cumberland National Historic Site is located in the town of Aulac. The fort is on the easternmost point of the Bay of Fundy on the Isthmus of Chignecto. It was built by the French but conquered by the British in 1755. They later used it as a holding site for Acadians who were awaiting deportation. It’s a historically significant place that offers plenty of opportunity to learn, But it’s also worth stopping for the views alone!
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds, or try the fort’s unique equipped camping experience.
From here, you can continue on to Nova Scotia, cross the isthmus to reach the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, or return toward home.