The Hopewell Rocks are one of the most visited sites in the Maritime Provinces. Located along the Bay of Fundy in Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in the province of New Brunswick, visitors from across Canada and around the globe come to witness the greatest tidal shift in the world. Every 6 hours and 13 minutes (give or take depending on the moon cycle) the tides shift between low and high tide, changing anywhere from 10-16 metres! It’s an incredible natural phenomenon that you can really only truly appreciate when experiencing it first-hand. Below, I’m sharing 5 tips for visiting the Hopewell Rocks so you can get the most out of your visit.
Know the tide schedule before going
Before making plans to visit the Hopewell Rocks, check the tide schedule. Since the tides change throughout the day (and occur at different times daily as the shifts don’t happen at the same time every day), it’s best to know when high and low tides are expected for your particular visit. Use this handy tidal chart to plan your visit. Walking on the ocean floor is a highlight for visitors and can only be done during low tide. You’ll be able to access the beach about 3 hours before and after low tide, so knowing when low tide occurs will allow you to maximize your time exploring the area. Of course, staying to see high tide is also a lot of fun, especially when you think that just mere hours earlier you were standing in a spot that’s now covered in water! If you have the time, I highly recommend booking a kayaking tour during high tide so you can fully appreciate the tidal shift while gliding in and around the iconic flowerpot rocks.
Learn about the park and geology from the parks’ staff
Right after you enter the park, you’ll come across the Interpretive Centre. This is a perfect stop before venturing further into the park. Here you can learn all about the history, geology, and tidal shifts of the area through interactive displays. This is also a great spot to come in and cool off if the summer temperatures are reaching high digits. You’ll also come across parks staff throughout the park, particularly on the ocean floor during low tide. Make a point to chat with them and ask them any questions you may have. They’re a fountain of knowledge and really passionate about the park. Some of them are also photography buffs and can point out great spots to get that perfect shot.
Wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy
Twice each day, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy. That makes for one muddy shoreline when exploring the beach during low tide. So be sure to wear appropriate footwear when visiting; rain boots, old runners, or even athletic-style sandals. The beach area is rocky and the terrain is varied, so opt for footwear that is also supportive and has good traction. Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park offers shoe-cleaning stations to wash off some of the mud you’ll inevitably pick up as you explore the beach, but I’d recommend leaving the new shiny-white sneakers in the car.
Pack a lunch and make a full day of it
To really appreciate and take-in the full effect of the tidal shift, plan to spend a full day in the park. Pack lots of water, a hat, and wear sunscreen, especially if you’re visiting during the summer months. The park offers food on-site which can be purchased at either the High Tide or Low Tide Cafes, or you can even bring your own lunch and have a picnic midday when the sun is at its highest peak. If you can’t spend a full day at the park, keep in mind that your entrance ticket allows you access to the park for 2 consecutive days.
Avoid the crowds by going early or later in the day
The Hopewell Rocks are a very popular destination along the Bay of Fundy. From roadtrippers visiting the Maritime Provinces to buses of tour groups, it can make visiting the area seem rather crowded. The good news is that most of these tour groups visit during midday, so a morning and/or late afternoon visit usually allows you to skip these crowds. The crowds are most noticeable at the top of the main staircase that gives access to the beach below and the flowerpot rocks near the bottom of the staircase. But once you venture along the beach in either direction, the crowds thin out and you can enjoy the experience without being jostled or dodging selfie sticks.
If you’ve been to the Hopewell Rocks before, what other tips would you recommend to visitors? Please share them below!