Experiencing 40 foot tides at Hopewell Rocks


The Bay of Fundy is famous for its tidal flow. With a peak range of over 50 feet between high and low tides it is not hard to understand why they get pretty excited about it. Hopewell Rocks doesn’t get quite that extreme – it tops out around 45 feet – but it is set up for visitors to explore what that means in real life experiences. On our last full day in New Brunswick on this trip we explored on the water (in kayaks, really) and on the ground at both high tide and low tide. It was rather incredible to see the differences in person.

For the kayaking portion of the tour we went with Baymount Outdoor Adventures, mostly because they are the only option licensed to operate at Hopewell Rocks. It also turns out that they were a very, very good operator (and coming on the heels of a less than stellar experience earlier in the week that was most welcome). It was a short paddle with about an hour spent out on the water. But we managed to score a boat on the “high tide” tour on the day we went so we got to see the water at its highest levels. If you didn’t know how far down it was about to drop the high tide really was just some pleasant paddling amongst cool rock formations.

We did get some direct experience with the speed of the tides dropping during our paddle – paths open on the outbound half of the journey were beaches when we returned – but that wasn’t the most impressive part. Only when the water disappeared did we really see just what the big deal was.

About four hours after we finished paddling (and after another lobsterific lunch) we returned to Hopewell Rocks and made our way back down to the waterfront. Except the water wasn’t there. It is almost as if someone pulled the drain plug on the bathtub which is the Bay of Fundy. The shoreline was mostly a muddy, gravely slurry that we walked out on to, retracing the path we had paddled earlier in the day and comparing the views from atop the water and the sea floor.

And the hike out on the muddy flats was  definitely cool, but without the reference point of seeing it at high tide I’m not so sure the impact would have been as significant.

A whole bunch more photos from the paddling are on Facebook or Google+ or my SmugMug gallery if you’re interested.

Entry passes for the park are valid for two days which makes seeing Hopewell Rocks at high and low tides reasonable, regardless of the tidal cycle. That’s pretty cool, too.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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