Sometimes you find a special place. One of those places that not only makes you slow down and really appreciate where you are, your surroundings, and the people you are with, but that will also truly make memories that will last the rest of your life. The kind of place you frequently find yourself saying “do you remember that time when…..” One of those places is Canada’s beautiful Bay of Fundy.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia has the highest tides in the world, with rises that swell more then 50 feet in some places during high tide. There is diverse and flourishing sea life in the Bay of Fundy, as well as (as would be expected) a large fishing and lobstering community.
Should you find yourself near the Bay of Fundy (or should you desire to find yourself there), some experiences are not to be missed. First, bring your appetite, as the seafood is fresh and delectable. If you are so inclined, you can catch your dinner yourself- there are fishing excursions available, or you can rent (or bring your own) kayaks or canoes. With water, water, everywhere, watersports are plentiful and easy to come by- in many places, you will see signs for fishing and aquaculture wherever you look.
It is an amazing thing to walk on the ocean floor when the water has receded away. You can do this yourself, or under the eye and guidance of a tour group or guide. For me, this was the only option, as I was not familiar with either the area or the tides, and didn’t want to find myself (or my young son) washed away with the next one. Another perk to being with a tour guide is that they can point out all sorts of fun things that I would not have noticed or been able to identify on the ocean floor- different types of seaweed, crabs, and shellfish. We took a great tour called “Plankton, Periwinkles, and Predators” that we booked through our hotel in Nova Scotia, the Digby Pines (http://www.digbypines.ca/). The hotel was beautiful, with tons to do for families both on the grounds and nearby, and the rooms were clean with various sizes available, including cottages for rent. You can also book the tour independently however, via www.GaelTours.ca. Led by a father/daughter duo, you and your family will explore the area from the very top (where no water reaches) down to the very bottom, where water has only recently drained. It gets a bit soggy, so bring your puddle-jumpers and pants you don’t mind getting dirty in.
Seek and ye shall find- periwinkles, that is. Not only them, but also an array of shellfish and crustaceans. Learn how they interact with each other, what they eat, and how they move about. Catch a few, and see them close up with magnifying glasses and special magnified jars that Gael Tours has brought along. When you get home, you can tell your friends how you walked on the ocean floor- and show them pictures.
After you have walked under the sea, you might want to take a tour on top of it as well to get the full perspective. Also, it’s fun. Head over to Jolly Breeze in St. Andrews by-the-sea, New Brunswick (http://www.jollybreeze.com/). It’s on a different part of the Bay, so you can see another side (literally) of the area. The tides vary just as much, and the water level when you catch the boat to leave will not be the same as when you get back- watch and see how different it looks. They take that into account when they build the docks- that in itself is pretty interesting to see.
The Jolly Breeze is a pirate-themed whale watch ship, where you and your children can use the costumes and even swords and more that are in the “treasure chest” in the booking office. Pose for a quick photo with the mascot pirate if you’d like, then head over and board your ship. Kids will get a turn steering the vessel, the old-fashioned ship’s wheel almost made me want to take a turn of my own. Almost. The 9 year old next to us might have tossed me overboard if I took time from them, but it was cool enough that I seriously considered it. While your little pirate gets his or her sea legs, make sure you keep your eye out for not only whales but also for seals and birds. There are about two dozen species of whales in the Bay of Fundy, including Humpback and Right whales at one time or another, as well as dolphins and porpoises. You can also see grey seals and the more plentiful harbor seals, and birds such as Peregrine falcons, Common eiders, Eagles, and once a year, even Atlantic Puffins.
There is a bathroom below deck, as well as a bar (with sodas, alcohol, and hot chocolate) that also serves soup to everyone as the cruise nears it’s end. A biology lesson is given, with a crew member bringing out some sea life that can be handled as you learn about it and it’s environment, the majestic bay you sail on. Hold starfish, crabs, shellfish, and more while you get a Q and A with the team member. You can even handle a whale tooth- which delights the kids.
The Bay of Fundy is a truly magical place, one that you and your family will remember forever.
Disclosure: I received press passes in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own and honest.