The last week of September was spent driving north into Canada – an inexpensive mini-vacation, and one I’ve wanted to take for years. Our first stop was Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.
The Hopewell Rocks are accessible at low tide only, and the fun here – besides the sight of the rocks themselves – is walking on the ocean floor. There is a 6-hour window to be able to do this, 3 hours on either side of low tide. Because of this, planning ahead is important and we arrived right at low tide.
The Bay of Fundy runs between New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine and boasts the highest tides in the world, generally between 32 and 46 feet. The highest tide recorded was over 50 feet – the equivalent of a 4-story building. A hundred billion tons of water flow into the bay twice a day – and the joint effort of the tides and winds over millions of years is responsible for shaping these Rocks.
The main staircase down to the Rocks is 99 steps, but since my traveling companion has a brand-new knee we opted for a staircase of only 27 steps just a five minute walk away. Descending the steps to the ocean floor I was unprepared for what I saw: here at the mouth of the Petitcodiac River – locally known as the Chocolate River – the water was indeed a bizarre chocolate brown. The beach was a similar color and about the consistency of melting chocolate, and we walked until we came upon the famous tree-tufted sandstone “flowerpots” known as the Hopewell Rocks.
The photos here speak for themselves. This is an awesome place, with the chocolate water giving it an other-worldly feel. Signs posted warn visitors to keep an eye on the time because the tide comes in so fast you can be trapped before you know it. (At the top of the stairs leading down to the shore is a sign that warns, in English and French: “DANGER. To avoid being trapped by the rising tide YOU MUST return to the stairs by the time shown here.”) Travel guides say to truly appreciate the power of the Bay of Fundy you should visit at both high and low tides, but our schedule did not allow that.
Listed as one of the Marine Wonders of the World, this was really a unique experience and I highly recommend it. As Ben Franklin once claimed, time and tide wait for no man … and never was it more apparent than in the Bay of Fundy!