From the Bay of Fundy to the Acadian Shore, New Brunswick promises a range of exceptional adventures and experiences. Much of the province offers pristine wilderness just waiting for visitors to hike, camp, and kayak their way to sheer serenity, but its cities and towns offer world-class restaurants and breweries to delight the most discerning palate. Acadian and Indigenous cultures intersect to bring a rugged authenticity that’s uniquely New Brunswick.
Discover the dramatic Bay of Fundy from shore or sea
Located in the Bay of Fundy UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Fundy National Park is fringed by dramatic rock formations carved over millennia by the highest tides in the world – rising and falling a staggering 50 feet. Hike the challenging Coastal Trail, more than 12 miles along cliff tops and through deep forest, or head out with FreshAir Adventure to kayak around rock formations to discover hidden beaches. Experienced kayakers can up the adrenaline level by choosing to Surfski instead, taking a lean 20-foot-long kayak out to surf the waves of the bay. Discover the most dramatic five-stories tall flowerpot rock formations at the Hopewell Rocks, best explored by sea kayak at high tide, or by foot when the tide is out, and you can explore the sea caves from the ocean floor.
Climb the highest peak at Mount Carleton Provincial Park
At 2,690 feet, Mount Carleton is the highest peak in Canada’s Maritime Provinces and reaching the top rewards hikers with unmatched views of pristine wilderness. There are three other notable climbs in the park: Mount Sagamook (2,549 feet) offers the most challenging climb, Mount Bailey (1,850 feet) the easiest, and Mount Head (2,589 feet), a bit trickier to get to but totally worth it. The naturally diverse park spans 42,000 acres, with 100 species of birds and 30 different animal species making a home there. Stay overnight in a heritage log cabin or campsite to admire the vast starry nights - the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has granted the park Designated Dark Sky Preserve status.
Rock climb, zip line and rappel Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark
The awe-inspiring landscapes of Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark were carved by colliding tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, ice ages, and the opening and closing of oceans. Spanning several sites around the hip seafront city of Saint John, the park encompasses a range of experiences that could see you climbing and rappelling down a 542-million-year-old volcanic rock wall, zip-lining through an old growth forest, paddling the Kennebecasis River in an authentic voyageur canoe built by the local Oromocto First Nation, or hiking along fault lines learning about the one billion years of geological high drama that shaped this incredible park.
In Rockwood Park, one of the Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark sites situated around the city of Saint John, you can climb (and rappel down) a 542-million-year-old volcanic rock wall.
Mountain biking at Minto
The trenches of what was once the Minto Coal Mines make for ideal mountain biking terrain, and Mountain Bike Minto serves up the best trail system in Atlantic Canada, whatever your skill level. There are more than 18 miles of varied trails: The Coal Mine/Jones Trail (total 2.5 miles) is ideal for beginner riders, but for experienced riders looking to test the limits of their skill and endurance, the New England Loop (8 miles) is a series of trails that draws you in with a nice smooth ride first and then is filled with punishing features towards the end. The annual Coal Miner’s Lung race, held in June each year, is one fantastic party complete with food trucks and a beer garden.
Whale watching by Zodiac
The postcard-pretty town of St. Andrews By-the-Sea serves as launch point for several whale-watching operations. Head out on an inflatable Zodiac boat with Fundy Tide Runners, and with a little luck their knowledgeable guides will show you playful humpbacks, up to 50-feet-long, breaching the ocean, Minke whales, finback whales, and perhaps even the rare North Atlantic right whale. The bay’s high tides churn the ocean floor to create a rich buffet for marine life, drawing whales into the bay, but also seals, porpoises, bald eagles, puffins, and many other marine birds.
Drive across the ocean floor to Ministers Island
Just outside of St. Andrews By-the-Sea, low tide reveals a half-mile long sandbar connecting the town to Ministers Island. Drive across the ocean floor to this 500-acre island where you can fully connect with nature and explore the island via its biking and hiking trails. Tour the sprawling Van Horne Estate, built as the summer home of American William Van Horne, who was responsible for building the Canadian Pacific Railway. The home (with its 50 rooms, including 17 bedrooms, 11 fireplaces, 11 bathrooms), circular stone bath house that became Van Horne’s art studio, and agricultural buildings that the railway visionary started building in the 1890s are a major draw to visitors.
Enjoy sheer luxury glamping in the wilderness
In the woodlands of Haut-Shippagan, along the astoundingly pretty Acadian Coast, Cielo Glamping Maritime offers luxurious accommodations and exceptional foodie experiences. Spend the night in one of their five -"pearls"- geodesic domes equipped with queen beds that have skylights overhead so that you can star watch as you lay there, kitchens, bathrooms, and private patios complete with wood-fired hot tubs. Excursions offered include bass fishing on nearby Miscou Island, oyster harvesting, and clam digging and foraging expeditions (all of which end up in beach cookouts over driftwood fires). Guests also have access to stand-up paddle-boards in order to seek out private beaches and islands.
Sip fine spirits at Fils du Roy Distillery
In the tiny community of Petit-Paquetville on the Acadian Coast, you’ll find a family-owned distillery making international award-winning gin, absinthe, molasses brandy, vodka, pastis, fruit liquors, vodka, and grain spirit. Using traditional methods and copper stills, with ingredients sourced from local farmers, Fils du Roy turns local flavors into some very special products. Their Gin Thuya, a bold London dry gin, won gold four times at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and their Courailleuse absinthe has won awards in competitions in New York, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. Fils du Roy also produces a line of premium beers named for famous historical Acadians. Visit the distillery for a tour and tastings.
Experience the culture and history of the Acadian people
Descendants of French colonists of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Acadian people have a long connection to New Brunswick. From 1755 - 1764, some 11,500 Acadians were deported to the American colonies, the Caribbean, France and Europe, by the British, with one third dying from drowning or disease in the process. It is a sad history, remembered in memorials and museums throughout New Brunswick, but the Acadian French culture and language persists both here and in many places the world over. The Cajun people of Louisiana, in fact, are descendants of the Acadians. Visit the Village Historique Acadien, in Bertrand, to be immersed in living history as costumed actors take you through the daily lives of Acadians as they lived from 1770 - 1949. Take a cooking class, chat with the blacksmith or tavern keeper, shop at the general store, or eat an authentic meal (pork stew, salt codfish in cream sauce, sugar pie) at one of the restaurants in the village.
Canoe on the Restigouche
Go deep into the spectacular wilderness of New Brunswick’s Restigouche County by taking a canoe trip along the Restigouche River Watershed, which carves its way through the densely forested Appalachian Mountains. Rent a canoe from Arpin Canoe Restigouche and go your own way down one of the river’s five branches, take their quick half-day guided tour, or go big with a five-day trip following the log-driver route complete with wilderness camping and meals cooked over an open fire. However you choose to tackle the river, you’ll likely encounter moose, jumping wild Atlantic salmon, and bald eagles soaring overhead.
Lola Augustine Brown is a travel writer who lives in Atlantic Canada. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @lolaaugustine.