One of my favourite places to visit and explore is the East Coast of Canada. A few years ago, I got to experience it for the first time when I planned a trip to Nova Scotia (which you can read about here and here). It was the trip of a lifetime and I couldn’t wait to go back. Well, I finally did, but this time I decided to explore New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island over ten days which was an equally amazing trip.
Joel and I went at the start of September 2019 and spent a total of 10 days (yes I know this blog post is way overdue…#bloggerfail). We saw some amazing sights, including the Hopewell Rocks and the Fundy Trail Parkway. There was so much to see and do!
I hope to share with you some helpful tips and must-see places to visit if you are also planning a trip to NB or PEI, and if you’re not planning a trip anytime soon, I hope you enjoy following along our adventures!
Day one and two: Fredericton
Day one was our arrival. We flew from Toronto Pearson directly into Fredericton, which has probably one of the world’s smallest airports. It was super easy to navigate and find a taxi to take us to our first bed and breakfast, By the River B&B, which was about a 20 minute drive from the airport.
Fredericton is such a neat city. It’s New Brunswick’s capital and is rich in culture, food, and entertainment. It truly is a craft beer lovers dream with countless numbers of breweries to check out. Some of the breweries we visited were The Picaroons Roundhouse and Trailway Brewing. I particularly loved Picaroons – they had a large inviting patio, an amazing atmosphere, and an eatery to grab some tasty snacks. I highly recommend the york county cider if you decide to go.
Fredericton is also home to some seriously amazing bike trails. You can get around the city’s downtown core solely by bike. I actually opted to not pick up our rental car these two days because based on my research and planning, I knew how easy it would be to get around on a bicycle (plus it cut down the car rental cost!). We rented our bikes for a full day from Savages.
There’s also some great walking trails which was the perfect way to watch the sunset.
Day Three: St. Andrews
Day three we picked up our car rental early in the morning and headed south two hours to St. Andrews. St. Andrews by-the-sea is a picturesque town that is full of history, culture, and art. It’s full of bright colours, cheerful residents, and a quaint downtown full of shopping, restaurants and cute cafes. Oh, and did I mention that the deer in St. Andrews like to hang out in peoples’ backyards?
Do you see what I mean about the deer?!
St. Andrews was probably one of my most favourite towns we visited. I wish we had an extra day to spend. There’s lots of places to stay, with the biggest and most luxurious being the Algonquin Resort. We opted to stay at the Garden Gate B&B. It was a lovely bed and breakfast with very friendly owners who cooked up a wonderful meal the next morning. It was also within walking distance to the downtown core.
We spent a lot of time walking around, looking at the shops, and had an amazing dinner at Gables. They have super tasty seafood and a great view overlooking St. Andrews Harbour.
St. Andrews is also where we went whale watching. Whale watching is a pretty awesome experience, however I must say I was slightly disappointed this time around. Apparently regulations have changed now and you are not able to get within 100 metre of whales or else the tour companies can face a $100k fine. This is totally understandable however! I guess we just got lucky during our last whale watching experience when we were within arms reach of some humpback whales! None-the-less, if you’ve never gone whale watching I still highly recommend it. Maybe you’ll get lucky like we did this time and see a baby whale breach!
A few years prior, we travelled through Nova Scotia and got to experience whale watching for the first time off the coast of Brier Island. That time around was an absolute blast and was truly a once and life time experience. We were able to get within arms reach! You can read more about that experience here and here.
A baby humpback whale breaching!
Another thing we did in St. Andrews, which I also highly recommend, is visit Ministers Island. The neat thing about Ministers Island is that it’s only accessible by driving across the ocean floor at low tide. This means that you need to get back before high tide or risk getting stuck on the island! Don’t worry though, you’ll be provided with the time that you need to leave once you enter. If you get there early enough, you can have about 5 hours on the island. You can check out the tide schedule here to help with your planning!
See where I’m standing here? In 5 hours, this will be covered by water!
Once on the island, there’s lots to explore and discover. Some highlights include Sir William Van Horne’s Estate (which was built in 1891) and the bathhouse (built in 1912). The bathhouse is built from red sandstone blasted from the beach below.
There are also beautiful carriage lanes through the woods and fields to walk along. Visiting the island truly makes you forget about your everyday life and focus on the here-and-now.
Day Four: Deer Island and Campobello Island
One of the most amazing things about New Brunswick is the number of other little magical islands that you can explore and travel to by ferries. I’ve never been on so many ferries before!
There are three islands situated next to each other – Deer Island, Campobello Island, and Grand Manan Island. These islands are called the “Fundy” sisters as they are located along the Bay of Fundy. Campobello Island is actually off the coast of Maine, but is part of New Brunswick. To get to each island you have to take a separate ferry.
The first island, Deer Island, is located in Letete, New Brunswick (about 45 minutes from St. Andrews) and you can catch a free ferry every 30 minutes. Check out the ferry schedule here. Deer Island is rather small – only 12km in length, however it’s still a great place to stop and sightsee.
I had the timing of the ferries down to a science, so we didn’t have a ton of time to explore Deer Island, as we were headed directly to catch the next ferry to make our way to Campobello Island.
There is a cost to taking the ferry from Deer Island to Campobello Island. Be expected to pay $22 for the car and driver and $5 for each passenger. This ferry leaves every hour on the half hour. You can check out the schedule here.
Our accommodation for the night was Friar Bay Inn & Cottages. It was a perfect little place and had the best view to watch the sunset.
One of the places we visited while touring Campobello Island was the Mulholland Point Lighthouse. It’s a picturesque lighthouse overlooking Maine and the bridge to the USA. You could wave and the citizens in Maine could probably see you!
Another must-see is the Head Harbour Lighthouse. Head Harbour Lighthouse—or East Quoddy Lighthouse as it’s more officially known—is a neat little spot on the island. It’s also on its very own island, accessible only at low tide. The lighthouse was built in 1829 and is the second oldest lighthouse in the province. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit the lighthouse before the high tide started coming in, but this was okay because we still got to view it from a distance.
Day Five: Grand Manan Island
On day five we were headed to the third island, Grand Manan Island. I really wished we had more time to spend here as there was so much to see and explore. But first, we had to get to the island, and guess how we did that? Yep, you guessed it, we took another ferry! This ferry was the ultimate experience. It’s massive compared to the other two. You park your car in the bottom and walk up to the top where you can grab a bite to eat at the restaurant or walk around the observation decks. It’s a 1.5 hour ride from Blacks Harbour and you don’t pay for anything on your way over. However, on the way back, be expected to pay $60-70 per couple and reservations are a good idea (especially in the summer) as the ferry only leaves six times a day. Check out the schedule to help with your planning. Oh, and did I mention, give yourself 45 minutes before the ferry leaves. (Don’t be like me and think two hours is enough time in between to go hiking and get lost and almost miss your ferry. Safe to say that Joel no longer trusts me when I say “lets for a quick hike”).
I really wish we had more time to explore Grand Manan Island. One night was not enough. There’s so much to see and do. Here’s some of the sights we saw:
The Southern Head Cliffs
This was by far one of the most breathtaking sights we saw on our entire trip. The Southern Head Cliffs can be found at the the southernmost point of the island. It’s free to access and it’s an absolute sight to see. We stayed as long as we could before it got too dark out. Word of caution… there are no safety rails or guards, so be careful when looking down below!
Swallow Tail Lighthouse
The Swallow Tail Lighthouse is a short drive from the ferry terminal and accessed by stairs, a wooden footbridge, and gravel trails. It’s free to walk out to the lighthouse and $5 to tour it. Once you get to the lighthouse, you won’t be disappointed. When we went it was misty and foggy which made the lighthouse eerily beautiful.
Day Six: Saint John
Our day in Saint John was the only day we had rain. It was also dedicated to travel, as we had to catch all three ferries back before driving to Saint John which acted as our rest stop. We decided to spend the night here as the next day we would be exploring the Bay of Fundy. By the time we arrived at our accommodation in Saint John, it was already well into the evening. We did have a bit of time to check out the Saint John City Market and walk around before getting a bite to eat at Cask and Kettle.
Since it was raining and because we were so exhausted from the busy morning, we kept this evening in Saint John pretty low-key. If we had more time I would have liked to enjoy some of the other sights to see, including:
- The Reversing Fall Skywalk – okay so we did technically stop here the next morning after we left our Bed and Breakfast… but I feel like we were there at a bad time because we couldn’t really see the reversing effect! Since we were in such a rush and it was so early that the skywalk wasn’t open yet, there wasn’t really a whole lot to share about my experience! I definitely think you should check this out if you have more time as it is quite a unique sight to see…. the reversing effect is created by the collision of the Bay of Fundy and the Saint John River.
- Rockwood Park – Rockwood Park has over 55 trails and paths with freshwater lakes for fishing, swimming, boating, and skating. It can be enjoyed all year long.
- Irving Nature Park – Irving Nature Park is minutes away from downtown Saint John and is a 600-acre site where visitors can enjoy trails, boardwalks, and look-out points.
- Timbertop Adventures – Timbertop Adventures is a treetop aerial adventure park located in Dominion Park, 10 minutes from uptown Saint John. They have 11 courses with over 100 obstacles and 20 zip line challenges and are the number one ranked aerial adventure park in Canada on TripAdvisor!
- New Brunswick Museum – The museum is located right in the downtown core of Saint John with plenty of art galleries and exhibits.
- Carleton Martello Tower – The Carleton Martello Tower dates back to the War of 1812 and is situated on a rocky cliff overlooking Saint John. With interactive exhibits and knowledgeable staff, you’ll be able to step back in time while viewing breathtaking views of the Saint John harbour and the Bay of Fundy.
Day Seven: The Bay of Fundy
The next morning we woke up bright and early and drove about 45 minutes away to the St. Martins Sea Caves, which is located just before the Fundy Trail Parkway. It’s a must-see before entering the parkway – you have to take the time to stop here! I highly recommend planning your visit according to the tides so you can experience both low and high tides. It’s such a stunning view!
The Fundy Trail Parkway is truly a sight to see and is the perfect place to view the stunning scenery and natural beauty of the Bay of Fundy. The trail stretches 30 km and can be accessed by car, bike, or by walking. There are over 20 scenic lookouts, five beaches, four waterfalls, and one suspension bridge. If you want to find out more about the Fundy Trail Parkway, then you can check out my dedicated blog post sharing more details about my favourite stops. Here are some of the highlights!
Make sure to drive slow as there are many winding roads!
There are so many lookouts to visit – each one has such a stunning view.
We made sure to check-out the suspension bridge!
We also saw three out of the four waterfalls.
Day Eight: Hopewell Rocks
The eighth day of our New Brunswick adventure was dedicated to exploring the Hopewell Rocks Park. (We actually checked it out the previous night, but only for a few hours before it got too dark – yesterday was a very busy day!). The Hopewell Rocks Park is the best place along the Bay of Fundy to witness the natural phenomena of the world’s highest tides. It’s easily one of New Brunswick’s biggest tourist attractions. During periods of low tides, you can walk 2 km of beach and explore multiple coves. Just don’t go too far! In 6 hours the water will be completely covering the ocean floor you once just walked on. I highly, highly recommend planning a full day here so you can see both the low and high tides. You can even plan a kayaking trip later in the day during high tide (which is what we did!).
I’ve also written a dedicated blog post on our experience with both the low and high tides at the park if you want to read more! This was by far the highlight of our trip. I can’t recommend visiting the park enough!
After we spent the majorty of the day exploring the Hopewell Rocks, we continued on with our adventure and drove an hour north to Shediac, which is the lobster capital of the world!
We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Shediac and had dinner at the Auberge Gabriele Inn restaurant, and yep, you guessed it… we made sure to endulge in a lobster feast!
Day Nine: PEI
On our ninth day of exploring the east coast, we decided to make things even more exciting and visit Prince Edward Island! I knew as I was planning our trip that one day was not going to be enough… and I was right. As tiny as PEI is, there is so much to see and do. We could have easily spent the entire length of our trip just exploring PEI. We will definitely have to go back!
To get to PEI you have a few options. You can take a ferry from Nova Scotia, fly into Charlottetown, or drive across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick – we opted for this option!
From Shediac, it’s about a 45 minute drive to the toll bridge. The bridge is 13 km long and brings you to the town of Borden-Carleton and the Gateway Village visitor centre and shopping complex. It takes about 10 minutes to cross. You don’t have to pay to cross the bridge, but when you leave expect to pay around $50 for the toll fee. I definitely recommend stopping at the visitor centre once you get to the other side. You’ll be able to speak with staff who can recommend what to see and do based on the length of time you have.
Make sure to check out PEI’s tourism site when planning your trip to PEI! There are lots of great resources and intineraries to checkout!
There are three main coastal drives that you can follow to experience each part of PEI. If you’re lucky and have enough time, you could tour all three! Each drive is marked with colourful road signs to help navigate your way. We opted to focus on spending most of the time we had along the central coastal drive, making lots of stops along the way. The main sights included the Green Gables Shore and Red Sand Shore. With scenic landscapes, red cliffs, and white sand beaches, our day was jam-packed with the most gorgeous views! Seriously… every five minutes I wanted to pull the car over so I could snap some photos of the landscape. I was in such awe of how beautiful the scenery was!
The beaches were unlike anything we had seen before. The deep, rich red sand that is found along the south side of the island was absolutely stunning! The red actually comes from the abundent amount of iron from the red sandstone that has eroded onto the beach.
I definitely had to find a few keepsakes along the way!
Continue driving north along the coastal drive and you will find white sand beaches! In total, there are 14 national and provincial beaches. I can’t even recall how many of the beaches we stopped at… there was definitely a few.
There are also plenty of lighthouses to see along the way. In fact, there are over 60 along the red shores.
While in PEI we of course had to check out all things Anne of Green Gables. For anyone who has never read the stories or seen any of the shows or movies, Anne of Green Gables is one of the most beloved stories by Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables is home to PEI and is one of the main attractions. If you wish to experience life as Anne, then you can check out the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish like we did. There is also lots of other places to explore along the Green Gables Shores, including more beaches, parks, and sightseeing.
After our very busy day exploring the central coastal drive, we ended our night in Charlottetown at the Shipwright Inn. We also walked around Charlottetown for a little while before having dinner at The Old Triangle. The food was fanstastic!
Day 10: Moncton
Our last full day before hoping back on a plane the following morning was fairly low-key. We continued to explore more of PEI on our way back and by the time we got to Moncton it was well into the afternoon. Unfortunately I think the busyness of the trip was catching up to me as I realized I didn’t really take any photos of this day! Some of the things we checked out include:
- Magnetic Hill – This has been one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions since the 1930s. Magnetic Hill is a lifesize optical illusion where you drive to the bottom of the hill, put your car in neutral, take your foot off the break, and roll uphill. How does it work? Well, it’s no magic trick, just a trick on your eyes! If you youtube Magnetic Hill you can find countless videos explaining the scientific explanation.
- Magnetic Hill Zoo – Located next to the magnetic hill is the zoo, which is the largest in Atlantic Canada. We stopped here and spent a couple of hours seeing all the different animals. It was actually really worthwhile. There are lots of animals and exhibits to check-out.
- Magnetic Hill Winery – If you love wine, then make sure to check out the winery! Magnetic Hill Winery has a great selection of wines – especially fruit wines. We loved it so much that we shipped a box back home! You can also stay at the Bed and Breakfast which looks so lovely. Unfortunately they were all booked up that night or else we would have stayed!
Well that about wraps up our adventure to New Brunswick and PEI! It was adventured filled and so much fun – I can’t wait to go back! I hope this gives you some ideas if you are planning a trip out east. It truly is a trip of a lifetime.
Don’t forget to check out my video of all the highlights from our trip!