.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Nova Scotia

Burntcoat Head Park, Nova Scotia. World-Record Tide

01 Burntcoat Head Provincial Park

The highest tides in the world occur in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia.  Twice each day the Bay of Fundy fills and empties about 160 billion tons of water.  In 1975 The Guinness Book of World Records listed Burntcoat Head Park in Nova Scotia as the site of the greatest average tide of 47.5 feet. with an extreme range of 53.6 feet.  That’s about as tall as a four story building!

When I visited Nova Scotia last fall, one of the top things on my “to do” list was to see the sight of this great tidal surge.  Ideally you want to be there at both low and high tide to see the contrast, but because of limited time we had to confine our visit to the few hours around low tide.  And it was a dramatic experience.

Burntcoat Park has a small visitor center built in a replica lighthouse which also houses a small museum and gift shop.  The Park is not large by Canadian standards but has a nice picnic area, walking trails and gardens.  The main reason you come, of course, is to walk on the ocean floor and to see the effects of this great tidal movement.

Ocean Floor, Bay of Fundy, Burntcoat Head Park, Nova Scotia

A staircase takes you down from the escarpment to the ocean floor.  Be cautious as it is slippery from moisture and algae; water shoes (eg. Crocs or Tevas) are most definitely an asset.  I’d also take trekking poles to help you keep your balance on the slippery bottom.

I was a little surprised to find how relatively lifeless the walk on the ocean floor was, but I guess spending large amounts of time exposed to air will do that to an aquatic environment.  I did see some water plants, snails and barnacles, but not much in the way of tidal pools or fauna.  Still, it was quite surreal descending hundreds of meter to the distant ocean across trapped pools of water and polished sandstone and granite.  Fossils have been found in the sandstone nearby but collecting fossils is not permitted.

Ocean Floor, Bay of Fundy, Burntcoat Head Park, Nova Scotia

If you visit:

There is no admission fee.  From May to Thanksgiving guided tours of the shoreline are available (for which there is a small charge), or you can do what I did and just explore on your own.  The visitor center has a few limited displays which are worth reading before you head out.   The people working here were friendly and more than happy to answer your questions

The drive to and from the park is charming, with great views of the Bay, livestock and a river with a tidal bore.  A very recommended experience.

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