The Canadian province of New Brunswick is filled with a huge range of things to do. I spent 8 days in the province and could have easily stayed for longer! I went on several New Brunswick Tours during my stay. And wow did I have some fantastic experiences!!! Here some of the brilliant tours I enjoyed most on my New Brunswick vacation – from a distillery to night photography to reliving life 200 years ago to whale watching!
1. New Brunswick Tours – Hopewell Rocks
Hopewell Rocks are visited by millions each year and is the most popular tourist attraction in New Brunswick. The park is open from Mid May to the middle of October.
There is a lot to do – and multiple visits required to really experience Hopewell Rocks! I highly recommend visiting both high tide and at low tide.
I first visited Hopewell Rocks as the tide was going in. This meant that I was able to walk down the stairs and walk on the ocean floor although only at the edges as there was still water.
Walking tours are held daily at the Rocks at various times. And your entrance ticket covers two days so that it is possible to see the rocks at both high and low tide.
The second way to experience Hopewell Rocks is through a Kayaking tour. This was fantastic!!!! Of course, the kayaking tour takes place at peak high tide. I had never been in a kayak before and found it quite easy to pick up and not very physical.
All of the kayaking tours at Hopewell Rocks are run by Baymount Outdoor Adventures. I was very impressed with how professional and organized they were as on operation.
Being in a kayak means it is possible to head in and out of the coastline and rocks including the flowerpot rocks. This provides a unique perspective on the rocks – and some great photo opportunities!
The third way to experience Hopewell Rocks is through a night photography tour. This was such a special experience! The tour is guided by the amazing Kevin Snair. Not only is Kevin a very talented photographer, he actually works at Hopewell Rocks and runs their social media!
He is so passionate and knowledgeable about Hopewell Rocks. And he is a brilliant teacher! I learned new things about a camera that I have owned for 15 years!
I met Kevin just outside the Hopewell Rocks gate as the sun was going down. We were then able to go into the park – the only people in there! After parking, we walked down to the ocean floor and set up our tripods and watched the moon rise and took different shots. We moved around to a few positions which of course Kevin knew and he had brought a specialist light to help with getting the lighting just rocks.
This was such a special and unique experience. If you are interested in photography I highly recommend you take this wonderful tour – click here to read more reviews which are just as positive!
The ability for the tour to run is very much weather dependent. To begin with, there are only a few days each fortnight where the tides allow for the tour to happen. And then if the weather is too cloudy the tour won’t go ahead as without seeing the moon there isn’t much to photograph.
I felt very lucky to be able to take this tour as I had only one night in Hopewell Rocks. The other people on the tour had planned several nights in Hopewell Rocks to make sure they would be able to take the tour!
I am afraid that an iPhone doesn’t have the ability to cut it when it comes to night photography. A DSLR or similar level camera is required – just email Kevin and ask. He will consider loaning out a camera. I borrowed a tripod from him.
And do make sure you wear good solid walking shoes – it is quite rocky and slippery on the ocean floor and the dark highlights this. And bring a warm jacket.
If you’re staying in Saint John and want to visit Hopewell Rocks click here for a day tour to Hopewell Rocks from Saint John.
2. Go Whale Watching in Saint Andrews
Saint Andrews is the place in New Brunswick to see Whales in their natural habitat. There are so many great options for excursions here that I have written an entirely separate blog post about this!
3. Have a Turtle Shore Adventure
Another brilliant thing to do in St Andrews is to take a Turtle Shore Adventure! Turtle Shore is run by the fantastic and super interesting Genny, a St Andrew’s local. Genny is a trained biologist who is also the island’s science teacher during the winter! She absolutely loves what she does and is so lovely and fun and full of joy and stories.
Her tours can easily be personalized for whatever you want. A common stop is the wonderful Ministers island. Ministers Island is just a stone’s throw outside St Andrews. This small island can only be reached at low tide when it is possible to drive across the ocean floor – which is beautiful!
Ministers Island was the home of the rather eccentric and quite amusing Sir William Van Horne. Van Horne is best known for being the man who built the Canadian Pacific Railway. He bought land on Minister’s Island in 1891 and then made sure he had an easy commute!
The Van Horne family home, Covenhoven, is in the south of the island. At the other end of the island is the old barn which is also a beautiful building. Van Horne was quite the character – when he noticed that his workers in the barn were looking out the windows when they should have been working he had the windows raised so they couldn’t see anything!
Genny also takes tours at low tide with portable microscopes that allow guests to examine the ocean floor. Due to the high tides, new treasures float in every day. There are starfish etc but also sea glass, even old crockery – so many different finds!
Genny is an expert in all things St Andrews so she also does guide tours of the town (watch out for the wonderful random deer who roam the streets of St Andrews!!!). Take a tour with Genny to really get under the skin of this amazing town!
4. Campobello Island
Campobello Island is most well known as the childhood summer home of US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He and his wife Eleanor and their children continued to summer on the island and visited a couple of times after he became the US president. Thanks to the Bay of Fundy the island is much cooler than many other islands in the area so it is a great place to escape the heat.
Campobello is part of Canada but can only be reached from Canada by sea. However, the island has a highway bridge that connects it to Lubec Maine – the United States! There are many stories as to why Campobello is part of Canada rather than the US – mostly involving a few too many drinks! But hey it is. After FDR died Eleanor asked JFK to turn their old summer home into a memorial to FDR and have it free.
An international park that is jointly administered by the United States and the Canadian government was established in 1964. Part of the island was converted into a National Park where it is possible to cycle and/or hike and the Roosevelt Cottage was restored and turned into a living museum.
I took a tour of Campobello Island with lovely local Peter Harwerth. Peter met my boat from St Andrews at the harbor (it takes about 35 minutes to get to Campobello Island from St Andrews). We then drove through the national park whilst he filled me in on the history of Campobello Island. We also drove to several of the most scenic spots on the island which allowed me to get shots of lovely Lubeck Maine.
Next up we headed to the visitor’s centre at Roosevelt Cottage which has loads of information and a couple of films. The actual Roosevelt Cottage is just a few steps away from the visitor’s centre. It is only possible to visit Roosevelt Cottage on a guided tour but these run every 15 minutes and are free.
There is a restaurant in the Prince’s house and I had a lovely lunch of lobster roll and seafood chowder sitting on the veranda.
The afternoon was more exploring of Campobello Island and then I had tea with Eleanor Roosevelt! Apparently, Eleanor Roosevelt had tea at 3 pm every day no matter where she was – her favourite was Orange Pekoe. At a site nearby you too can have Tea with Eleanor and learn much more about this fascinating woman.
Then it was back to the harbor and the water taxi back to Campobello.
Check out Peter’s blog and contact him to take you around the island here.
It is possible to stay the night on Campobello Island but there are not many choices for hotels. Renting a cabin is the best option – check out the Sea Urchin Cottage. Try The Pier near Wilson’s Beach for a meal and The Porch is known for great blueberry pie!
Top tip – take your passport!!! The weather can change on Campobello Island before you know it. If you’re stuck and boats can’t operate from the harbour the only way off the island is through the US. They won’t let you in without a passport. So you’re then spending the night on Campobello. That isn’t so bad but accommodation options are limited and of course, you won’t have your things.
If you like New Brunswick, you’ll LOVE Canada’s Nova Scotia! Check out my posts:
⇒ 6 Day Nova Scotia Itinerary
⇒ Atlantic Canada’s Number One Tourist Attraction: Harbour Hopper Halifax
⇒ A Complete Guide to Halifax Farmers Market
⇒ How to guide for Wolfville Wineries
5. Pays de la Sagouine
The Acadian Peninsula is a beautiful area of New Brunswick on its East Coast heading North. I had never heard about the plight of the Acadiennes before visiting New Brunswick. To cut a very long story short, in 1713 the French colony of Acadia was ceded to the British.
Between 1755 and 1763 nearly 2/3 of the Acadian population was deported to the US, Great Britain, France – anyone who would take them. Tragically, families were purposely split up and many never saw each other again. For those who stayed, they needed to keep their Acadian identities quiet or else face prejudice.
Unfortunately, this situation remained in place until far too recent times. Finally, in 2005 an annual day of commemoration was established for Acadians in August. The Acadian Festival is now held around this time in Caraquet every year with those who have Acadian roots coming from all over the world to celebrate their heritage.
Additionally, there has been a big drive to recognize the Acadians through local tourism and businesses.
One of these is Pays de la Sagouine. Author Antonine Maillet wanted to show what it was like to live the Acadian life and has written over 40 novels. She won the prestigious Prix Goncourt and has an international reputation.
Pays de la Sagouine is essentially a theatrical village that celebrates her works. The village brings to life a traditional Acadian village with its buildings – including the barber’s shop which is original. Plays are then held regularly featuring Maillet’s stories and characters.
This unique attraction opened in 2002 and the character of La Sagouine was played by one actress for many years before she suffered from ill-health. Antonine Maillet is a healthy 90-year-old today and is still writing and publishing novels! I was lucky enough to meet this amazing woman on my visit to Pays de la Sagouine!
The wonderful Dorinne was my amazing and amusing guide through Pays de la Sagouine! She kept in character for the entire tour and was extremely entertaining. She also introduced me to the local pastry known as a Nun’s Fart! It was quite tasty – like a cinnamon bun without the cinnamon but more sugar!
6. Find out more about the life of the Acadians of New Brunswick
Opened in 1977, the Village Historique Acadien was a tourism attraction ahead of its time. The village was opened to celebrate and preserve the way of the life and customs of the Acadians. It is a theatrical village in that all the staff are in character and in costume. It really does feel like going back in time!
The village is now divided into the 19th and 20th centuries and has more than 40 houses. The actors/staff are each assigned to one house for each summer season. These actors then learn the actual craft they will be practicing like how to pull apart and die wool, milling grain etc etc. Note that actors from the 20th century are absolutely not allowed to enter the 19th-century area!
Not only are they then able to illustrate these customs for guests they are also able to keep these skills alive. They also sell everything they make in the village and bring in local children to teach them the ways of the Acadians.
The Village Historique Acadien is much more than just a walking tour – it is an immersive experience. No wonder it has won so many awards! The Village covers Acadian life up to 1939. They have a restaurant as well as a hotel. And don’t miss the opportunity to dress up in the clothes of the time and have your own sepia coloured photo taken to transport you back in time!
7. Experience Saint John’s Reversing Falls
Another way to experience the unique tides of New Brunswick! The Reversing Falls are created by the collision of the Saint John River and the Bay of Fundy. At low tide, the river empties into the bay which causes a series of whirlpools and rapids. In between the tides, the Reversing Falls rapids are peaceful and like a lake in appearance. When high tide comes the whirlpools and rapids start up again – but this time they go in reverse! This can generate large waves as well at the highest tides.
The tide cycle is roughly 12.5 hours. The moon has the largest effect on the rapids. A full moon can produce swings in the water level of 9 metres!
There are several ways to experience the Reversing Falls Rapids. It is very easy to get to the visitor area by car as it is just off the highway. It is difficult to see the phenomenon clearly from the car park. The visitor center has a Skywalk. I got fantastic views here! And they show a video on the falls for more tide geekiness!
Or best of all, get up close with this amazing phenomenon of nature on a speed boat!
8. The Bay of Fundy
If you are taking a road trip – which is what I did – you will be able to visit all of these fantastic places at your own pace and take advantage of the many different tour options which each attraction provides – the majority of which are free and don’t require booking ahead.
If you travel to New Brunswick on a cruise ship that is stopping in Saint John then you, of course, won’t have that option. Here is a few Bay of Fundy day trips from Saint John New Brunswick:
⇒ the Fundy Coast to Fundy Shore tour lasts 5 hours and covers lovely St Martins with its photogenic harbour and sea caves as well as the Reversing Rapids and the town of Saint John. The New Brunswick Shore Excursion offers a similar itinerary.
⇒ the Fundy Harbours Hidden Gem coast ride tour will allow you to see St Martins, The Fundy Trail, and the Reversing Falls.
9. Take a Distillery Tour
Acadie’s first distiller is run by the fantastic mother and son team of Diane and Sebastian Roy. They opened the distillery in 2011 with the aim of providing reasonably priced great quality spirits for the people of New Brunswick. Gin and Absinthe were the two launch products. Since then, they have added whiskey, all types of beer, fruit-based liqueurs, vodka and many more!
Sebastian and his mother are very proud Acadians and it is their spirit – plus the great products! – which makes visiting Distillerie Fils du Roy such a fantastic experience. The distillery was pumping like a bar at happy hour at 3 pm on a weekday!
Free guided tours and tastings are on offer. We were lucky enough to have Sebastian take us on our tour. His passion and storytelling are so engaging – and infectious! Every product which has been developed by Sebastian has a story.
My favorite was the story of Evangeline and Gabriel, a nut-brown Ale and a spruce beer. This is the story of a couple who were separated by the deportation of the Acadians. They searched the USA for each other. They came close to meeting again once but alas they died without being reunited. The graphics on the packaging mean that when these two products sit next to each other they are united – and the two beers can be combined to make a cocktail. That is just one of the many fabulous stories shared by Sebastian. I could have listened to him all day!
Sebastian originally trained as a scientist. He has applied his love of chemistry to the world of brewing as well as using classic techniques and recipes. Products from Distillerie Fils du Roy are now highly sought after and available at good bars and restaurants throughout New Brunswick. And don’t miss the cranberry liqueur – it is amazing! It genuinely changes in flavour profile over the first 3 sips!
I found the types of nb tours on offer to be quite unique. From seeing Hopewell Rocks at night, from a kayak and walking its ocean floor during the day to the amazing Reversing Rapids to learning about Acadian life to Whales and whiskey taking the above tours greatly added to the amazing experience which was my trip to New Brunswick!
Another great place to visit in Canada is it’s Capital Ottawa – check out my posts on:
⇒ 17 Instagrammable & Fun Things to do in Ottawa and Outaouais
⇒ Top Byward Market Restaurants & Other Ottawa Restaurant Gems
⇒ 3 Brilliant Ottawa Tours Not to Miss!
Where to Stay in New Brunswick
I have written a whole blog post about boutique hotels in New Brunswick Canada!
How to get to New Brunswick
There are 3 international airports in New Brunswick: Saint John (1.5 hour drive from St Andrews), Fredericton (1 hour 45 mins drive) or Moncton (2.5 hours). The other option is to come in from the US through the airport in Bangor, Maine (2 1/2 hour drive).
I landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which possibly has the best overseas flight options. However, this was a part of spending 8 days in Nova Scotia. A direct drive from Halifax airport to the border with New Brunswick takes about 3 hours.
I highly recommend you hire a car to get around Nova Scotia. It is a big area and a car makes it much easier to get between places.
Who Paid for What in this Post
My trip to lovely New Brunswick was hosted by the New Brunswick Tourism Board. They covered all my accommodation and car hire costs as well as the majority of my meals and activities. I paid for a few extra whale watching tours as well as more lobster rolls of course! New Brunswick tourism paid for my flight to New Brunswick and part of my flight back to London (I upgraded!).
But as always my opinions are my own.
This post also contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure you knew.
READ NEXT: 17 Instagrammable & Fun Things to do in Ottawa and Outaouais
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