Explore New Brunswick’s best natural highlights: the Bay of Fundy, known for its festival of whales, Grand Manan Island and Hopewell Rocks with their superb scenery, and fantastic birding as you self-drive along the coastline.
The mouth of the Bay of Fundy, including the Fundy Isles, is a haven for whales. Attracted by shoals of fish and zooplankton, these leviathans of the deep use this natural habitat for nursing their young, courtship and mating. Fin, humpback, minke, and rare North Atlantic right whales abound here and can sometimes be seen from shore. The largest island in the Bay of Fundy - Grand Manan - is also a haven for migratory birds.
This itinerary is designed for bird and whale enthusiasts and includes three different whale watching experiences: by kayak, sailing boat and small motor yacht.
Day1: Fly to Saint John, New Brunswick
Daytime flight via Tornoto or Montreal to Saint John, New Brunswick, collect your hire car and drive to your accommodation nearby. (Depending on your landing time, you may transfer to your hotel and collect your car the next morning.)
Accommodation Homeport Historic Inn, 1-night
Day2: Travel to Grand Manan Island
This morning, explore the city’s museums before driving to Black’s Harbour, where the ferry leaves for Grand Manan. On the way you may see some raptors such as red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture and American kestrels. Just waiting for the ferry can be quite entertaining with bald eagles and ospreys soaring past and perhaps a procession of monarch butterflies beginning to migrate south.
John James Audubon frequented Grand Manan Island, and these days birdwatchers from all over North America come here, and for good reason: the seabird possibilities are some of the best on the east coast. But perhaps the most spectacular visitors are the whales - Grand Manan has become well-known as one of the best whale-watching sites in North America. On the 90-minute crossing it is not unusual to spot harbour porpoise, minke, fin and humpback whales from the ferry, accompanied by huge flocks of wheeling gulls.
The rest of the day is free to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery, using your hire car.
Today you take a boat trip out ino the Bay of Fundy for your first whale-watch. Cetacean species common in the bay include harbour porpoises and the rare North Atlantic right whale - arguably the most endangered large animal on earth. These wonderful mammals come to feed their young in this part of the bay and huge 10-metre basking sharks are also sometimes seen.
Where there are whales you often see seabirds, since they are attracted by the same food. Flocks of great and sooty shearwaters, Wilson’s and Leach’s petrels can be impressive. Other seabirds include Arctic and pomarine skuas, great northern divers, black guillemots, puffins and razorbills.
You spend the morning on the boat, and in the afternoon you can drive to Southwest Head with its attractive cliffs of columnar basalt and a good range of flowers and butterflies.
Day4: Whale watching in the Bay of Fundy
You take a second morning boat trip in search of whales and seabirds. You could see Leach’s petrels, grey and red-necked phalaropes and, occasionally, Sabine’s gull. Sea ducks can include both white-winged and surf scoters, eider and red-breasted mergansers.
In the afternoon, you will investigate other wildlife sites on the island – perhaps a bog with its pitcher plants and sundews, dragonflies and garter snakes, and surrounding scrub which can attract flycatchers and blue-grey gnatcatcher.
Day5: Sea kayaking & exploring Grand Manan
In the morning you embark on your kayak for a 3-hour tour with seals. Seals flourish in the waters around Grand Manan, and exploring by kayak gives you the opportunity to approach these playful creatures up close. Eagles, osprey, porpoise and even whales are regular visitors. This activity doesn’t require a high level of fitness and is considered a ‘soft’ adventure.
You can spend the rest of the day exploring the island. Anchorage Provincial Park offers lovely trails beside the ocean. Migrants here can be abundant, and it's not uncommon to see ten species of warbler, including pine and prairie warblers together with American redstarts in just one flock. Other migrant passerines can include grey catbird, dark-eyed junco, red-breasted nuthatch and bobolink. Besides wonderful scenery and quaint wooden houses, the island is an excellent area to observe the dynamics of the famous Fundy tides.
Sunsets can be spectacular from The Whistle, on the west side of the island. The road here cuts through thick red spruce forests which are ideal for migrating warblers and hawks. Whales are often seen playing in the ocean from this headland which also offers a view overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay to mainland USA.
Day6: Drive to Fundy National Park & Hopewell Rocks
Today you take an early ferry off the island to drive to Fundy National Park which boasts the world's highest tides. Here you will find a variety of habitats including salt marsh, tidal mudflats, and Acadian and red spruce forest. The forest could provide you with views of northern goshawks, pine siskins, white-winged crossbills and a good range of migrants. You then continue your drive onto Hopewell Rocks.
After breakfast you can visit Hopewell Rocks, one of the Bay of Fundy's most famous attractions, which nearly disappear twice a day beneath the incoming waters. These rocks, each a towering ‘flowerpot’ of sea-carved stone, stand as a striking legacy to the force of the bay's tidal motion. You can then explore the surrounding attractions such as the famous Mary’s Point Bird Sanctuary.
Day8: Transfer to Halifax via Sackville & Fort Beausejour, depart
Today you drive back to Halifax via Sackville and Fort Beausejour. With an evening flight, you should have enough time to explore the waterfowl park in Sackville. There might also be the option to visit the National Historic Site of Fort Beausejour, strategically situated on a hill with great views all round, and explore its underground rooms.
Another two hours drive takes you to Halifax airport to return your car before boarding your overnight flight back to the UK.
Day9: Arrive UK
You should note: Accommodation varies depending on availability and personal preference. This itinerary is based on the use of an Intermediate C hire car with unlimited mileage for the duration of your stay.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 9 daysfrom £2,195 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 8 daysfrom £1,945 pp
Single supplement: From £295
When to go: Jun-Aug
Connect with wildlife in its natural environment. Abundant bird species are present here – from Atlantic puffins to bald eagles – as well as mammals such as moose, black bear and whales. The Bay of Fundy is a haven for fin, minke and the rare right whale, seabirds, and harbour and grey seals.
Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, American black bear, moose, harbour seal, Atlantic puffin
Excellent for: Whale watching
Nutrient rich waters surrounding this, the largest of the Fundy Islands, provide a haven for seabirds, seals and whales. Cetacean species include humpback, the North Atlantic right whale, harbour porpoise and white-sided dolphin. Over 360 species of land, shore and sea birds have been identified here.
Where: New Brunswick
Ideal for viewing: North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale, minke whale, Atlantic puffin, Atlantic white sided dolphin
Excellent for: Whale watching
One of the marine wonders of the world, the Bay of Fundy boasts the world’s highest tides, a distinctly scenic coastline, and one of the North Atlantic’s highest concentrations of whales and seabirds. Humpback, minke, and the rare North Atlantic right whale are amongst the species to be seen here.
Where: New Brunswick
Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, harbour porpoise, bald eagle, fin whale, North Atlantic right whale
Excellent for: Mark Carwardine wildlife holidays, Whale watching
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Situated in the heart of Grand Manan Island, facing the Bay of Fundy, Compass Rose is the ideal base for keen naturalists. This charming heritage inn has only seven rooms, each offering comfort coupled with incredible views. Activities include birdwatching, kayaking and whale watching.
Innisfree is a charming 160 year-old farmhouse, entirely renovated and surrounded by exquisite gardens, with superb views of the Bay of Fundy. Offering hearty breakfasts and a cosy fireplace, it is full of character, and an ideal base from which to explore the natural highlights of Hopwell Rocks at low tide.