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Bay of Fundy, a unique wonder

A lot has been written about Atlantic Canada's Bay of Fundy since it was named one of the top 28 finalists in the global New7Wonders of Nature campaign, but lesser known is the multitude of opportunities the bay offers to tourists.

A lot has been written about Atlantic Canada's Bay of Fundy since it was named one of the top 28 finalists in the global New7Wonders of Nature campaign, but lesser known is the multitude of opportunities the bay offers to tourists.

There's sightseeing, hiking, fossil hunting, boating, whale watching, tidal bore rafting, fishing, camping and, of course, enjoying the variety of delicious seafood.

The 270-kilometre-long Bay of Fundy is bordered by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and features the world's highest tides.

More than 100 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the bay during each tide cycle, resulting in dramatic changes along the shoreline.

In places like Hopewell Cape, N.B., you can go kayaking, and just six hours later be walking on the ocean floor.

"If the tides are that high, they're also that low, so they go out several kilometres in several locations around the bay," said Terri McCulloch, executive director of Bay of Fundy Tourism.

"There is an opportunity for people of all ages to explore the ocean floor at low tide."

McCulloch recommends Alma Beach and numerous places along the Fundy Trail in New Brunswick, as well as the Parrsboro area in Nova Scotia as places to safely walk on the ocean floor when the tide is out.

The Fundy Trail — which runs between St. Martin's, N.B., and Fundy National Park — offers visitors lots of opportunities to experience the bay from scenic vistas, as well as excellent driving, biking and hiking routes.

In St. Martin's you can see the caves that have been carved into the cliffs by the tides. Here there are a number of quaint bed-and-breakfasts, and a number of places that boast the best seafood chowder — a claim you'll hear in many places around the bay.

Speaking of food, there's never a lack of fresh lobster, clams or mussels to feast on anywhere on the New Brunswick or Nova Scotia sides of the bay. Smoked salmon is another delicacy the bay is known for.

If viewing marine life is more your fancy, there are many whale watching companies that offer tours in the outer areas of the bay — particularly between Grand Manan Island and St. Andrews, N.B.

"We have 12 species of whales in the bay," McCulloch said. "The right whales are probably best known because they are an endangered species and we are the summer feeding habitat for those whales."

Porpoises and seals are also plentiful in the outer bay, and passengers taking the ferry ride to Grand Manan are almost guaranteed to see a variety of sea life.

"Seeing the whales is something that has meant a lot to us as a family," said New Brunswick Premier David Alward. "It is very much a part of who we are."

If you're a history buff, Campobello Island offers a look into the life of former United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here you'll find his summer home, which is now part of an international park operated jointly by the Canadian and U.S. governments.

The small island, at the mouth of the bay, also offers camping, golf and good food. It can be accessed by ferry from New Brunswick, or a drive over a short bridge from Lubec, Maine.

A stop in Joggins, N.S., offers a look back further into history — some 300 million years to be exact. That's almost twice as old as the dinosaurs.

Here you'll find the Joggins Fossil Cliffs where the tidal action continually uncovers fossilized plants and trees.

"Our cliffs are tilted, so as you're walking up the beach, you're actually going back in time," said spokesman Jordan LeBlanc. "Kids love it because they can find fossils just laying on the beach."

There is a museum, and 30-minute, two-hour and four-hour beach tours are offered.

If adventure is more your style, a short distance from Joggins you'll find the Shubenacadie River where three companies offer a chance to raft on the tidal bore.

Each time the tide is forced into the narrow river, it creates large waves and dramatic rapids.

"We call it nature's roller-coaster, and the waves can go anywhere from two metres to five metres tall," said Heather Smith, co-owner of Tidal Bore Rafting.

"They are standing waves, so if you find a wave you really like, your Zodiac boat driver can go around and do that wave again," she said.

The company offers a number of different packages, including the chance to go mud sliding on the smooth, rock-free river bottom at low tide. They also guarantee you'll see bald eagles during your visit because there are so many in the area.

Across the bay, you can also try jet boat rides on the reversing falls in Saint John, N.B.

These suggestions represent just a fraction of the many activities available for tourists who decide to explore the 1,200 kilometres of coastline around the Bay of Fundy.

The final seven finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature campaign will be announced Nov. 11.


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