Escape To Nature In New Brunswick
New Brunswick – it’s home to the highest tides in the world, a third of the world’s French fries, and is the only official bilingual province in Canada.
And yet, the largest of the three Maritime provinces often gets overlooked – seen as the gateway to Nova Scotia and PEI, New Brunswick doesn’t find itself at the top of most travel bucket lists. But as I quickly discovered on my recent trip with Porter to the east coast, the province is a hidden gem just overflowing with natural beauty.
Once landing in Moncton after a short flight from Toronto, I checked in to my room at the lovely Delta Hotels by Marriott Beauséjour (also home to the four diamond restaurant The Windjammer) and planned my next two days in New Brunswick, a province I admittedly knew very little about. With just four wheels and an open road, I set out on a solo trip to see what New Brunswick had to offer and ended up discovering four breathtakingly beautiful outdoor escapes, all within an hour’s drive of Moncton.
Fundy National Park
Located on the picturesque Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park is a scenic hour-long drive from Moncton and boasts the highest tides in the world (12 metres high, to be exact).
Although seeing the tides rise from the ocean floor is pretty epic, the park has a lot more to offer than just an Instagram-worthy dramatic shoreline – there are over 100 km of trails you can explore on bike or foot, ranging from a leisurely stroll to a strap-on-the-hiking-boots kind of adventure.
Babbling brooks, waterfalls, covered bridges and breathtaking ocean landscapes make Fundy one of the most spectacular national parks in Canada, and without hordes of tourists, one of the most serene as well.
Tip: Make sure you stop off at Fundy Take-Out, located just before the entrance of the park, for a lobster roll that will change your life.
Arguably New Brunswick’s most iconic natural wonder, the Hopewell Rocks are an absolute must-see on your trip out east. Halfway between Moncton and Fundy National Park, the rocks are distinctive sandstone formations caused by tidal erosion that sit at 40-70 ft. high. Depending on what time of day you go, you’ll either see the rocks at high tide, partially covered by water and free to kayak around or at low tide, entirely exposed and open to discover by walking along the ocean floor. Trust me when I say, there are fewer experiences in life where you’ll feel more connected to nature.
Parlee Beach Provincial Park
Venture north of Moncton and you’ll trade the rocky coastlines of Fundy for the sandy shores of Shediac.
A popular summer destination, Shediac is the self-proclaimed lobster capital of the world (there’s a giant lobster statue to prove it). It’s also the home of Parlee Beach Provincial Park, where you can set up a tent overnight or pop by for an afternoon on the beach, dipping your toes into the warmest salt water in Canada. And of course, grab yourself yet another lobster roll at any one of the waterside cafés in Shediac.
If you’re after a quiet spot to watch one of New Brunswick’s famous sunsets or looking to find a spot for an afternoon picnic, drive 30 minutes north of Parlee to the small town of Bouctouche. This town is popular for the Bouctouche Dunes – a long stretch of saltwater beach and one of the remaining few great dunes on the northeastern shores of North America. The boardwalk stretches for just under a km (perfect for a jog), but the dunes themselves are 12 km long, so it’s not rare to find yourself completely alone in nature.
Tip: Make sure to pop into the Irving Eco-Centre on site as well, where you can learn about the biodiversity of the dunes and the wildlife that have made it their habitat.