During lockdown in the UK, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and look back at some of my favourite past adventures. One them has to be exploring the Fundy Coastal Drive across New Brunswick in the Atlantic Canada province.
I wanted to put together this guide to explain exactly why the Fundy Coastal Drive should be at the very top of your bucket list and planning for your future travels.
New Brunswick has a lot to offer travellers – from incredible natural beauty, to large open spaces, epic nature trails, and cosy fishing communities along the way. The Fundy Coastal drive makes the province an excellent choice for UK travellers when the times of lockdown are over.
Atlantic Canada comprises four Canadian provinces located along the Atlantic coast such as the three Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island – and the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This is a two-part blog series which will explore the Fundy Coastal Drive across Atlantic Canada, visiting New Brunswick and the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. With these two posts, you’ll easily be able to follow the road trip over two weeks (14 days), or break up the trip and do each province over a week.
The route is ideal if you would like to extend the duration of your trip. You could spend more time in Halifax, or visit Prince Edward Island. Simply put, Atlantic Canada is yours to explore.
This road trip guide will focus on exploring the Fundy Coastal Drive across New Brunswick over one week. Let’s get started!
How to travel to Atlantic Canada from the United Kingdom
(Please note that all information within this blog post is pre-pandemic and subject to change)
Flight time from the UK to Atlantic Canada is quicker than you might think, with London Heathrow Airport to Halifax, NS International Airport taking just 6 hours and 55 minutes on a direct flight.
Halifax is the biggest city amongst the Maritime provinces, and offers the best international connections to the area, making it a good starting point for the Fundy Coastal Drive.
Of course, you can also fly domestic to Saint John (not to be confused with St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador province) from Halifax if you wish to start your adventure in the New Brunswick province.
The route will take you along the Fundy Coastal Drive to Moncton along roads 114 and 111. You can also find a domestic airport in Moncton.
Halifax to Moncton will take you two hours and forty minutes driving time. From Halifax Airport, the journey is two hours and fifteen minutes.
Moncton is a good starting point of the New Brunswick Fundy Coastal Drive.
Alternatively, you can also look into the new Eastern Exit, which has been added as a starting point to the Fundy Coastal Drive since 2020.
Travel tip: You might want to arrange your car rental at Halifax airport.
You can also find a ferry that departs from Saint John, NB to Digby, NS – it takes around 3 hours of travel time to make the crossing. If you had a two-week timeframe, it’s possible to make a complete loop around the two provinces, and in this case, I would use Halifax as your reliable start and endpoint.
Start your journey across New Brunswick in downtown Moncton
At this point, you’ve probably just crossed the Atlantic, and you might be feeling a little restless. Use your first arrival day in Atlantic Canada to arrange your car rental, possibly drive 3 hours from Halifax to the start of the Fundy Coastal Drive, and stay overnight in downtown Moncton to wake up bright and early and prepare for the morning.
Residence Inn by Marriott Moncton is a perfect location for the first night – with parking, friendly service and a hearty breakfast buffet to enjoy in the morning. Don’t forget to pack your travel coffee mug; you will need it for the road trip ahead.
Once you’ve arrived in downtown Moncton, you can walk around before sunset and grab an evening meal.
I would recommend checking out a local gastropub called Tide and Boar. Be sure to sample some of the fantastic locally crafted beers, wide selection of fresh oysters, and for the brave ones – you can even try Boar Poutine for a local and unique twist on a classic Canadian dish.
In the morning, it’s time to head out to along the Fundy Coastal Drive.
Night-sky photography at Hopewell Rocks
Today is an easy drive to a New Brunswick landmark, the Hopewell Rocks.
The Hopewell Rocks are rock formations caused by tidal erosion.
You can see them in the Hopewell Rocks Ocean Tidal Exploration Site.
Formed over thousands of years ago by a glacier retreat, this location allows you to walk around and explore many formations that the area has to offer.
Why not return to Hopewell Rocks as the sun starts to set and enjoy fantastic night-sky photography? Don’t forget to bring your camera and a hot flask of tea.
Adventure awaits at Cape Enrage
Don’t forget to visit Cape Enrage along the way to Alma.
Here you will find old fossils, breath-taking views of the Bay of Fundy, a 140-year-old lighthouse and (subject to tide conditions) you can see a reef that has claimed many a vessel over the last century.
If you fancy adding a touch of adventure, why not take part in zip-lining or rappelling, which is on offer here.
Alma and Fundy National Park of Parks Canada
Alma is a charming fishing village located along your route, and it’s the perfect spot to base yourself if you wish to explore Fundy National Park located just on the doorstep of the town.
Fundy National Park is part of Parks Canada, and you will need to get a pass from the information centre if you wish to do some hiking.
I’d recommend starting with the Dickson Falls trail – a nice and easy one to do after a long drive. You can walk around in a loop until you find the stunning waterfall which is well worth the walk.
To learn more about many of the endless trails you can do in Fundy National Park, be sure to pick up a map and get some advice at the information centre when you pick up your Park Canada Pass.
Kayak around the sea caves of St. Martins
Next along your journey is the cosy coastal town of St Martins. This is the perfect location to go sea kayaking and will take up most of your day.
I would recommend checking out Red Rock Adventure – they can put together a 2.5-hour tour for you which will cover most of the famous sea kayaking spots around the St. Martins’ coast.
Paddle out into the sea caves with your kayak, afloat on the world’s highest tides.
Immerse yourself in the dramatic coastline of sheer red rock cliffs, carved to smooth perfection over millions of years.
Your tour will allow time for some beachcombing, and you will get a chance to try some delicious smoked salmon. How’s that for a pit stop?
This is a great way to explore the spectacular high tide and coastal coves that New Brunswick has to offer.
The scenic drive of the Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway was one of the trip’s highlights, offering a stunning coastline driving experience.
Aim to be at the entrance when it opens, and complete the whole drive all in one go. The park only has one entry and exit point, so you will have to go back on yourself at some point.
This way, you will pretty much have the whole park to yourself until you start to make your way back, as visitors tend to stop at the first point of interest rather than the last.
Mornings are also a good time for beautiful light, and fingers crossed you get some good weather on the day.
Stop off at Picturesque St. Andrews By-The-Sea
It’s time to visit the stunning coastal town of St. Andrews By-The-Sea, this charming town is practically as far as you can go along the Fundy Coastal Drive.
If you want to go whale watching in Atlantic Canada, St. Andrews is your best bet – especially if you arrive in the right season.
Head out to Passamaquoddy Bay’s waters with Fundy Tide Runners who offer top-class whale watching rib boat tours. See the Atlantic Canada maritime lifestyle from the waters and see if you can spot some lobster boats out at sea.
Be sure to visit Kingsbrae Gardens whilst in St. Andrews, home to twenty-seven acres of gardens and horticultural masterpieces. From outdoor art displays, statues, ponds and streams, it has a lot to offer visitors.
If for looking for a lunch spot, Kingsbrae Gardens is home to Garden Café. The menu is hosted by multi-award winning Chef Alex Haun, and I would highly recommend the lobster croissant if it’s on the menu, a delightful dish with a local twist.
If you’re also looking for a place to stay, the historical Algonquin Resort has recently gone under renovation and has been serving guests at its location since 1889. This classic location is the ideal place to be based during your stay in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
Discover Ministers Island at low tide
To access the Ministers Island by car, you must wait for the low tide. Otherwise, the only access road to the island is underwater. The tide changes throughout the year, so it’s best to find the tide times on the day.
If the tide comes back you have to wait until it goes again, so make sure you keep an eye on the time, or you could be on the island longer than expected.
For those that love a brisk walk, you can easily walk around the whole coast of the island in a few hours, which I would highly recommend. The paths are easy and scenic at the same time.
The main attraction on Ministers Island is the former summer home of the Canadian Pacific’s Sir William Cornelius Van Horne who created most of the railway network in Canada.
Best to take a brief guided tour to learn more about this well-preserved house and about Van Horne’s life and interesting habits.
Enjoy a boat trip to Campobello Island
The best way to access Campobello island is to leave the car behind and avoid having to cross through multiple borders by taking a boat from St. Andrews.
The main attraction on the beautiful island is the summer home of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s family.
The island is also a fantastic whale watching viewpoint if you happen to be around at the right time.
The highlights will be checking out the picturesque lighthouse, and maybe enjoying some of the hiking trails if you have some extra time.
End your adventure in Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John is one of the biggest cities in New Brunswick and is worth stopping off at for a night or two.
The city is known for the Reversing Rapids, and food and craft stalls found in the city market in operation since 1876.
In recent years, Saint John has slowly become a vibrant city with new development projects, restaurants, cafes and breweries popping up on almost every corner.
Park up the car for the rest of the day as Saint John has an incredible nightlife and craft beer scene worth exploring around the uptown area.
Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the Fundy Coastal Drive. If you want to complete a loop and explore Nova Scotia for another week, then feel free to continue the adventure over on part two of this road trip blog guide.
Thank you for reading my travel guide to exploring the New Brunswick Fundy Coastal Drive
Thank you for reading my guide to exploring New Brunswick, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the read.
The Fundy Coastal Drive was an extra memorable trip. I hope the above information has helped your travel planning, and that you’re looking forward to exploring Atlantic Canada shortly.
If you have any further questions about this trip, feel free to send me an email, and I’ll be more than happy to help.
I can’t wait to re-visit Atlantic Canada once it’s safe to travel, restrictions have eased, and borders are open up again. I hope that New Brunswick is at the top of your bucket list for post-lockdown travel.
This article was put together in collaboration with Atlantic Canada and New Brunswick Tourism.