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Camping Across the Border on the Bay of Fundy

by Barbara Rogers

Jun 5, 2018

© Stillman Rogers

Travel Tips

The Canadian province of New Brunswick, just across the border from Maine, shares its neighbor’s abundance of outdoor activities, but with a French accent. This bilingual region (all road signs are in both languages) looks a lot like northern New England, but the phenomenal Bay of Fundy tides and cross-cultural attractions add an exotic flavor to a family vacation there.

 

It’s a perfect destination for a camping vacation, easy to reach by car from anywhere in the Northeast; you don’t even need to bring a tent and basic camping gear. New Brunswick’s two national parks have cottages and equipped camping sites all set up and ready to move into.

 

From its provincial and national parks you can explore sea caves, kayak among giant sea stacks and under soaring cliffs, hike, take whale watching cruises and swim in the warmest sea water north of Virginia. And of course, eat lobster.

 

The Bay of Fundy has the world’s highest tides, rising and falling about 50 feet. More than 160 billion tons of sea water flows in and out of the funnel-shaped bay twice a day. That’s more than all the fresh- water rivers in the world. The best place to experience all its wonders is Fundy National Park.

 

Canada, New Brunswick, Alma,

© Stillman Rogers

This huge tract of land on the coast of the Bay of Fundy centers around the small fishing port of Alma — stop there at different times of day to see fishing boats floating alongside the docks and a few hours later lying on their sides on the ocean floor. Tides Restaurant in the Parkland Village Inn is a good place to have lunch while watching the tide rise or fall, and be sure to stop next door at Kelly’s Bakery for the world-famous sticky buns.

 

Along with campgrounds, Fundy National Park has 60 miles of trails, a salt-water swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course and beaches. Ranger-led programs and activities introduce kids to the park’s natural environment and wildlife. There’s a wide range of choices: back country camping, campgrounds with tent and RV sites, rustic cabins, yurts and platform tents called oTENTic, with beds and furniture. There are more than 360 sites and you can reserve ahead.

 

For beautiful long sandy beaches and warm ocean water, travel farther north to the shore of the Northumberland Strait, a long narrow strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Its beaches are washed by waters that can be as high as 68°F in the summer and they are some of the nicest beaches on the entire Atlantic coast.

 

Low tide at Alma, N.B.

© Stillman Rogers

 

Parlee Beach Provincial Park has a campground (and changing facilities for day-trippers) and is a favorite with families because of its gentle surf, supervised swimming beach and daily sports activities that include beach volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer and sand-sculpture competitions. The 190 seaside campsites include both tent sites and those fully serviced for RV hookups. Seafood is king at most restaurants in nearby Shediac, where the kids will want their pictures taken with the giant lobster sculpture — Shediac claims to be the “Lobster Capital of the World”.

 

Farther north along the Northumberland Strait, Kouchibouguac National Park is known for its long wide beaches and sandbars that form tidal lagoons perfect for young children to splash in. Beaches, tall sand dunes and saltmarshes stretch 20 miles along the shore, and forests extend inland. Nature lovers like Kouchibouguac especially for the plants (more than 20 orchid species thrive here), rich and varied birdlife and the seals that bask offshore on the sandbars.

 

Camping, N.B.

© Stillman Rogers

 

Campsites throughout the park include some backcountry sites you can reach on foot, by bicycle or in a canoe. Like Fundy, the park has equipped campsites and oTENTik tents. The nature and Native American interpretive programs are excellent; the latter explore dances, crafts and tools of the Mi’kmaw people who fished and gathered clams here. Your kids will love digging for clams, as well as the Voyager canoe trips; you can rent bikes and canoes in the park.

 

Closer to the Maine Border and a good stopping point on the drive north is Herring Cove Provincial Park, just across the bridge from Lubec, Maine, on Campobello Island. It’s close to Roosevelt Campobello International Park, where you should visit the 34-room cottage where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt summered 1905–1921. Along with camping, Herring Cove has beaches, hiking trails and golf.

 

Tourism New Brunswick has information on other places to camp in the province.

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