The Bay of Fundy, stretching along the south shore of New Brunswick and the north shore of Nova Scotia, is home to the highest and lowest tides in the world. Every (approximately) six hours, the waters that shift from low to high, and vice versa, and are displaced, are equal to the volume of all the rivers on the planet; translated, 160-billion tons of water. Average tides stand at 47.5 feet; extreme ones at 53.6 feet!
Along this wide peninsula, a hump jutting into the Bay of Fundy, is Burntcoat Head Park, the exact point where even Fundy tides get to their very highest peak (usually the maximum occurs in October). A word of warning here. Tides are not regular (they shift approximately every six hours and 20-odd minutes, but they are not exact and not predictable as many think they are). Therefore, savvy travellers will consult one of many websites that provide Bay of Fundy tide predictions. A rush of high tide or undertow of low tide can kill you; come to marvel by all means, but be sure to practise tidal awareness.
That said, Burntcoat Head is jaw-droppingly beautiful, whether the tide is in or out, a source of endless amazement even for locals who frequent the place. The soil in this area is a rusty red (burnt-coat?), and as such the beach, only visible (it is in effect the sea bottom) during low tide must be climbed down to on a wooden staircase to access. What becomes a small island during high tide is walkable from the shoreline, but is utterly isolated at high tide. At low tide, this stretch of picturesque beach is popular for picnics, walks and rock-hounding, but really isn’t a swimming beach.
Locals venture here in the winter months, but again, tides can be dangerous, even more so when the air is colder and the odds of slipping go up. In summertime, the sodden beach is also littered with rocks covered in seaweed, so they are very greasy. Leave the sandals in your car and wear your rubber boots. Ocean Floor Adventures offers 90-minute guided tours of the beach and rocks, and remaining tidal pools, when the tide is out (departure times are scheduled accordingly), at about $18 per adult and $6 per child; very informative and worthwhile, plus, you know you’re safe from any danger of tides.
The ultimate experience at Burntcoat Head? Dining on the ocean floor. Yes, you read that correctly! A fabulous lunch on shore, a long groaning board situated directly on the ocean floor at dinner (featuring local comestibles and seafood), and tea and coffee on the cliffs later as you watch the mammoth tide come in. Naturally, this experience is not inexpensive, and sells out at least a year in advance. In any given summer, there may be as few as a dozen opportunities to coordinate the tides with this dining schedule. Presented by The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery based in nearby Summerville, this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences to brag about! Contact the Flying Apron for upcoming years’ schedules, and book your singular dinning treat. Most guests wear decent evening attire, and rubber boots… There is nothing quite like it.
Burntcoat Head is a marvel of the world. No other province, or country, can claim this tidal extreme; precious few afford such dramatic scenery for unique vacations or natural explorations. There are camping sites nearby, and a few small motels in the area. Visit the lighthouse at nearby Walton, or drive into the town of Windsor for a selection of accommodations, restaurants (don’t miss Lucky Italiano for awesome pizza!) and museums. Along this shoreline, traditional beaches are limited; the closest beach is Evangeline Beach at Grand Pré, about an hour west.