Hopewell Rocks: Walk Where the Fish Roam

When I think of provinces with gorgeous coastlines in Canada, New Brunswick isn’t usually the first province to pop into my head. Even so, there is one stretch of shoreline along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick which is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Given that it spends most of its time underwater, it’s safe to say this experience was bound to be a unique one.

Our first stop was ducking into the Visitor Center for a bit of warmth after buying our tickets. The coolest thing about our tickets – aside from the crazily affordable $10 price – is a feature we didn’t even take advantage of: your ticket allows you entry in two consecutive days, which allows you to see both High Tide and Low Tide. Had we known what a bust Moncton would turn out to be, we probably would’ve gone the night before to see High Tide. Regardless, we knew what we wanted most from our visit: a chance to walk on the ocean floor.

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We spent more time wandering the museum portion of the Welcome Center on our way out, as we were eager to see the Rocks. Even though the museum area is small, I suggest taking a quick peek. For one, because it’s already included in your ticket price, and for two, they have interesting information about volcanoes and formations of cliffs. They also had the skeletal remains of a mastodon’s leg, and a video showing the tide progression at Hopewell Rocks.

Before even getting to the main attraction – known as Flowerpot Rocks – there were several lookouts. Although the real excitement is walking on the ocean floor, I highly recommend stopping at the lookouts; the view is fabulous.

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Our first stop gave us a picture perfect view of Daniels Flats, a 4 km (2.5 miles) mud flat named for one of the early settlers in the area.

From the next lookout, we could see Diamond Rock clearly, and at the third lookout – down a somewhat steep incline – we had a perfect view of Big Cove. We had each lookout mostly to ourselves, and I highly recommend not skipping them. The views are stunning, and it gives you your first glimpse at what you will soon be up close and personal with.

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There are two options for getting to the stairs that lead down to the ocean floor – you can walk the wooded trail (about 15 minutes, not counting time spent at the lookouts), or you can take the shuttle (which is an extra $2 each way). An important note – if you take the shuttle, you will miss the lookouts. There is a metal staircase down to the rocks, and supposedly it’s about 100 steps down (I was too in awe of my surroundings to count).

An important aspect to look into before your visit is the tide level and the hours of access on the ocean floor. For ease, Hopewell Rocks provides a Tide Table, which you can use to figure out what time you should arrive for the High and Low Tides, depending on the date of your visit.

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This was truly one of the most surreal experiences of my life, to be walking alongside massive rocks that were created by winds and tides over thousands of years, knowing that water covers a significant portion of the rocks for much of each day.

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At the Welcome Center, you can arrange for a guide to accompany you to the ocean floor to answer your questions and provide you with information about the Rocks. While we opted to walk by ourselves, I did stop a nearby guide to ask him about the seaweed in the area.

One of the two types of seaweed, bladderwrack, has a clear gelatinous substance inside that is used in toothpaste, chocolate, and other common foods and products. It also provides medicinal benefits and assists with weight loss. The guide split open one of the bulb-like ends to show us, and it reminded me of the gel in aloe vera in appearance.

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It surprised me hardly anyone else was there while we were at the Rocks. Whether it was because we chose early June or just pure luck, I don’t know. It also helped that it was initially a chilly morning and it constantly looked like the skies were about to open up on our heads. Whatever the reason, I was relieved for the general solitude we managed to have; it only added to the otherworldly feeling of walking where roughly 14 metres (46 feet) typically would be.

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I was surprised to see how brown the water was. As it turns out, it wasn’t just a weather-based fluke; the water mixes with silt from the nearby mud flats, causing the colour change known as “chocolate river”. It sure made for interesting pictures.

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Had we visited at High Tide, we could have opted to kayak around the Rocks, an intriguing thought after walking along the ocean floor beside them. Our trip was so jam-packed with awesome sites and adventures that I don’t regret not seeing High Tide also, although it’s definitely on my to-do list. All the more reason to return one day!

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A bonus tip for visitors: wear rainboots. I’m not exaggerating when I say that four different sets of visitors stopped Brit and I to say, “wow you were smart to wear rainboots” as they trekked along the shore in mud-caked shoes or flats. Though there is an area to rinse off your shoes at the top of the stairs, you won’t regret making it less of a chore for yourself.

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Hopewell Rocks was beyond amazing, and I highly recommend seeing it in person, since pictures cannot possibly do the same justice as seeing it with your own eyes. As we made our way back through the secluded forest walk, feeling as though we stepped back in time, I knew this place would be cemented in my heart as one of my favourite sites in Canada.

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Have you been to Hopewell Rocks and walked along the ocean floor?

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