Looking for the ultimate family vacation, but only have a few days on your hands? Well, you can stop your quest because New Brunswick’s Fundy Coastal Drive rocks in the family fun department with whale watching, beaches and other natural wonders.
A Whale of a Town
The Fundy Coastal Drive hugs New Brunswick’s southern coast tightly along every scenic curve and hill that makes up this magnificent area. After arriving at St. John Airport and picking up a rental vehicle, make your way 90 minutes west to St. Andrews by-the-Sea, one of the oldest resort towns in the East Coast.
It’s no surprise that tourists have been flocking to the area since 1889. Walking around the town is a delight and adults will spend a lot of time looking at the turn-of-the-century architecture, but children may want something a little more exciting.
That can be found by taking a trip on a Quoddy Link Marine Catamaran, out to the Bay of Fundy to see porpoises, bald eagles, harbour seals and the big stars of the bay: the whales. This cruise has an onboard touch tank, with starfish, clams and other sea creatures, that can be handled with the help of the on-board marine biologists. As well, guests are offered hot chocolate and delicious salmon mousse with crackers during the two-hour trip.
Once back on terra firma, families will want to visit Katy’s Cove, a sandy, saltwater beach with a supervised swimming area, play area and canteen. As well, the Children’s Creative Playground is a great place for some free family fun. It’s a giant wooden castle with lots of places that are perfect for playing hide-n-seek.
Where to stay: the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel has an outdoor pool, playground, spa and spacious, comfortable suites. Although a little pricey, specials can be found in the summer.
Three hours east of St. Andrews, the Fundy Coastal Drive will lead you to the small village of Alma, the perfect place to put the suitcases down for a couple of days and explore the surroundings. On one side of the village, there is Fundy National Park.
This park is one of Canada’s first national parks (created in 1948) and one of the most family-friendly. There are a variety of hiking trails, with different degrees of difficulty, swimming areas and lots of kids’ programs. A popular one is the Fundy Naturalist Club where children attend park workshops to earn pins and go up levels to reach the ultimate one: extreme naturalist.
A few kilometres east of Alma is Cape Enrage, a light station located on towering cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The view, which is truly spectacular, can be enjoyed even more while rappelling down the cliffs to a beach teaming with fossils and polished stones. Other activities include kayaking, caving and climbing, all available for families through the adventure centre located on the grounds. There are also tours of the light station and a student-run restaurant with some mouth-watering fare for when the lunchtime munchies strike.
Continuing east on the Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick’s “rockstars” are on display: the Hopewell Rocks. Here visitors can experience the world’s highest tides by kayaking around the famous flowerpot formations and hours later walk on the ocean floor combing for maritime treasures. The Interpretation Centre is an excellent place to for the kids to learn about tides and the Fundy eco-system through a multimedia exhibit that will keep them entranced for hours.
Where to stay: Parkland Village Inn in Alma is an excellent choice for families. The room rates are very reasonable ($75 a night for a standard room) and it is right on the beach. The hotel also has a superb restaurant.
For info on the Fundy Coastal Drive:
Story: Anna Rodrigues
Images: Phil Raby
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