New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy, Family Vacations with Discoveries at Irving Eco Reserve, Kouchibouguac National Park, and Hopewell Rocks. Listen to the tidal rush from the viewing deck at Hopewell Rocks. Sit on the rocky shoreline and count whales; glide the channels of the Bay of Fundy or hike a boardwalk along the Atlantic Coast. How "green" can a family vacation be?
Here's the scoop. New Brunswick is naturally beautiful and perfect “au natural” vacation for families. Our the back-to-nature “green” list includes many remarkable spots each providing memories that will meet the test of time.
Irving Eco Reserve. Irving Eco reserve is a terrific sea side refuge for the wild life of the area. Although not impressive-looking from the road it is a working concept with a plan to not just educate but entertain. Bilingual puppets delight children with antics in English and French against the backdrop of the fragile dunes along the bay. There is also learning center with hands on exhibits for children. Stretching over the marshlands and dunes is a boardwalk that allows access to the remainder of the preserve. During the day naturalists are stationed along the walkway to answer questions and explain the value of the area. Bonus points: This is a fun place. They have pretend tracks to use in the sand to make prints. There is also lots of stuff to look for in the dunes. There is also a bike trail all the way to Richbucto – which is the place to get scrumptious ice cream. (Irving Eco-Centre. 1932 Route 475, St. Edouard de Kent, NB E4S 4W9. (506) 743-2600 and toll-free 1-888-640-3300 or www.irvingecocenter.com)
Bay of Fundy National Park. Once you enter the gates you may never want to leave. The programs offered by the rangers are excellent and the topics varied. There are nature walks during the day and night talks in the amphitheater. The trails in the park are varied and well maintained. Many of them are boardwalks through the woods. Not to be missed are the tidal pools which are different each day. Rangers lead shoreline ecology walks and birding excursions. Participating is like being part of a mini nature series. Bonus points: The drastic tidal changes make the beach walks really enjoyable. Within the park rangers provide nightly fireside talks. (Bay of Fundy National Park (902) 254-2772 or www.bayoffundytourism.com)
Hopewell Rocks. Making this excursion with children is wonderful at any age. The rocks are about an hour south of Moncton along the ever-narrowing bay. The key to being able to walk at the bottom of the sea is to plan for the tides. This extra planning is worth the view. Return at high tide to marvel at how high the water goes – a truly extraordinary sight. There is state-of-the-art interpretive centre at the top of the main trail. It is the best place to start because the hands on exhibits make the visit much more important. It is there that we learned why the Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world. They range for 32' to 46' depending on the phase of the moon. Bonus points: There are huge rocks to climb along the underside of cliffs and there plenty of ting creatures as well as seaweed to inspect. (Hopewell Rocks, 131 Discovery Road, Hopewell Cape, NB E4H 4Z5. Toll-free 1-877-734-3429 or www.thehopewellrocks.ca )
Kouchibouguac National Park. Where else can you take the kids bog walking? There is almost no end to the unique experiences families can enjoy with little effort. One option is to follow a hiking map provided by Parks Canada guide at Kouchibouguac National Park. The trailhead begins in a rather unimpressive parking lot tucked just of the road in the thick of the forest. After a few minutes the pine needle trail gives way to a boardwalk and the distinctive smell of peat becomes noticeable. The trail weaves through thick growth and a domed sphagnum moss bog to a viewing tower at the edge of a primeval landscape. (Kouchibouguac National Park.
Two terrific sleeping places.
Fundy Highlands Inn and Chalets at Fundy National Park. The cabins rent by the day or week. The cost for a week in a cabin sleeping four is varies by location. The cabins, built sometime in the early 50’s have had little done to alter their appearance. The guidebook term for them is ”quaint”. The cabins located on the high meadow also have motel suites. They (little efficiency apartments) are a better deal because they have been renovated in the last two years and have sleeping alcoves for kids. The back patio views are grand. There are playgrounds with each cabin complex but the lower complex has a state-of-the-art configuration more suitable for companions with less than eight years. The lower complex does not have a view of the bay but it is within walking distance of the restaurant, golf course (what a first hole) and visitor center. (Fundy Highlands Inn & Chalets. 8714 Route 114, Fundy National Park, NB E4H 4V3. Toll-free 1-888-883-8639 or www.fundyhighlandchalets.com)
Richibucto River Resort. Cozy pine chalets nestled on the bank of the Richibucto River allow a comfortable place to relax after partaking in the vigorous outdoor activities in the immediate vicinity of the resort: canoeing, hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The chalets are fully winterized with air-conditioning, televisions, BBQs, kitchens, and fireplaces. Bonus points: the owner Goetz George raises Icelandic horses and provides riding lessons and group rides to the sea. (Richibucto River Resort. 160 Finno Lane (on Route 116), Upper Rexton, NB E4W 3A1. 1(506) 523-4480 or toll-free 1-866-803-4480)
Best Family Eating Spot
Fundy Haven. Go out of your way to enjoy Fundy Haven’s ocean view dining and hospitality. Call in advance because the place is small and has an outstanding reputation for quality and service. When kids become bored they are invited to play outside on the lawn or run along the nearby beach. (Fundy Haven. Route 790, Dipper Harbour, New Brunswick, E0G 2H0. 1(506) 659-2231 or www.cottagesincanada.com/fundyhavencottages)
For the fun of it.
FreshAir Adventure. This high-energy sea-kayaking outfitter offers outstanding service and quality tours along some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. They have both two hour and multi day excursions. No matter which one you choose they will meet or exceed your expectations. From their base in Alma on the doorstep of Fundy National Park they organize, outfit and depart on a tight daily schedule. The enthusiasm displayed as we checked in made us feel like we had known them forever. That same level of efficiency and attention to detail did not diminish during the day. Reservations are a must. They are excellent. (FreshAir Adventure. 16 Fundy View Dr., Alma, NB E4H 1H6. Toll-free 1-800-545-0020 or www.freshairadventure.com)
Baymount Outdoor Adventures. They have a ‘White Caves Day Adventure” that will knock your socks off. It is ideally suited for families because it is a field trip with a purpose. Some of the earth’s rarest and most fragile eco systems a be found in caves. These spelunking adventures take participant into two natural gypsum caves Hillsborough. Part of the tour goes to the “Bat Room”. Not to worry, there are no bats in the summer. They provide all the necessary gear and can arrange for a bilingual guide. Discovery: They also have other options if going underground does not sound appealing. They love their province and have a natural spirit for showing off nature. This is a good choice when the weather is gray or you have had too much sun and need a break. Be sure to call ahead for reservations. (Baymount Outdoor Adventures. 17 Elvin Jay Drive, Hillsborough, NB E4H 2S9. (506) 734-2660, toll-free 1-877-601-2660 or www.baymountadventures.com)
Get even more information about the Fundy Trail Parkway. 229 Main Street, St. Martins, NB E5R 1B7. (506) 833-2019, 1-866-386-3987 or www.fundytrailparkway.com
Information provided by Nancy Nelson-Duac, FTF Editor and staff. Images provide by Canada Tourism. Updated 2013.