When most people think of kayaking, they think of calm and serene waters. However, the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick offer a unique kayaking experience that is sure to get your heart racing.
The Hopewell Rocks are a series of gigantic, flowerpot-shaped rock formations nestled along New Brunswick’s Fundy Shore. This rare geological sight is created by the dramatic tidal changes that occur in the Bay of Fundy and has been declared a national park.
Kayaking at The Hopewell Rocks is an incredibly exciting experience – best experienced by two visits in the same day. You’ll arrive, paddle amongst the tops of the flowerpots, then come back after a day exploring Moncton and walk along the sea floor about 40 feet below.
Let’s dive into why kayaking at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick is a must-do adventure in Canada.
What are the Hopewell Rocks?
The Hopewell Rocks are a series of massive, flowerpot-shaped rock formations located in the Bay of Fundy along the coast of New Brunswick. The rocks were sculpted over millions of years by the extreme tidal changes in the bay – with tides reaching up to 42 feet twice a day!
You may have heard of “flower pot” rocks before – such as the Flower Pot Islands in Tobermory. But these are different.
The Hopewell Rocks are much larger and more impressive – some of the pillars reach up to 70 feet in height. You’ll even see trees and plants growing on top of the rocks, making them true flowerpots.
The tides that created the rocks also threaten them. In 2016, a large formation known as Elephant Rock crumbled during a storm. Every year, there’s a risk we’ll lose even more of these giants. That’s why it’s vital to visit this site as soon as possible.
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
In 2007, Hopewell Rocks were declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, meaning that it’s important for the protection of both biodiversity and cultural heritage. This designation has allowed the area to receive funding which has been used to create interpretive trails, a visitors center, and much more – making it one of the few protected areas in Canada that offers a complete experience.
Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks is a unique and exciting experience. You get to paddle amongst the tops of these huge rock formations – both around them and even inside them.
During high tide, you can join kayak tours to explore the rock formations. You’ll start at the Hopewell Rocks Visitor Centre and paddle upstream to see the rocks in their entirety before heading back as the tide begins to lower.
In recent years, they have even expanded tours to offer them at mid-tide so you can go into more of the caves in canoes and at night when the stars are shining bright above you.
Timing is Crucial
Timing matters for every outdoor experience, but more so for this adventure amongst the Hopewell Rocks. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world – with over 100 billion tons of water flowing through the region. You can imagine how powerful the tides must be for that kind of force to happen every 6 hours.
To kayak during high tide without getting swept clean out into the Atlantic Ocean, you need to arrive at just the right time. That’s why a kayaking tour is so important. It’s not safe to do so alone – and not allowed in the UNESCO site.
What Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks is Like
Kayaking tours of Hopewell Rocks are very popular. They leave every day. They get fuller and fuller throughout the summer, sometimes having 40 people. But they divide groups with guides, so you never end up with more than 10 people per guide.
You have to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to listen to safety instructions, gear up with life jackets and dry bags for your belongings, and learn how to kayak if you’ve never done so before.
Unlike other kayaking tours I’ve done in Australia, Toronto, Vancouver, and New Zealand, you don’t have to propel yourself into the water. Instead, you wait and let the tide pull you out after you push off the sand. There’s no paddling as hard as you can into whitecaps like I had to do in Sydney, which left me drenched and salty for the rest of the tour.
The tours last 1.5-2 hours. You may think that’s a lot of time, but it goes by extremely quickly. You’ll paddle in between the rocks and explore caves, as well as take pictures of the incredible views from the water.
The guides tell you stories about the formations as you go, making it an educational and enriching experience. Plus, there’s nothing quite like seeing these giant rocks up close. I was completely blown away by just how large and beautiful they were.
Going in the caves was a bit nerve-wracking as not everyone can fit at once, and you don’t want to bump into the walls and damage the rocks. It is really cool to get up close to the tops of the rocks since most people only visit at low tide to walk along the shore.
The best company for kayaking at Hopewell Rocks is Baymount Outdoor Adventures. Their tours start at $74 for adults.
Low Tide at Hopewell Rocks, NB
Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks is not the only experience you can have. In fact, it’s just one part of what this incredible UNESCO site has to offer. The other must-see activity is exploring the beach, rocks, and trails during low tide. Your entry price is included in a kayaking tour, so you can come back within 48 hours to experience the same area completely changed.
You’ll wander down 100 steps on a metal staircase, pop off your shoes or sandals so they don’t get stuck in the muddy sand, and start exploring. People who kept their shoes on ended up with mud INSIDE their shoes, so I highly recommend cheap flip-flops or just taking them off. You can rinse your feet at the top of the stairs before heading home.
The beach beneath the Hopewell Rocks stretches for kilometers, which you can easily explore. You can walk through caverns that were just tight caves you were trying to turn a kayak in while yelling at your then-boyfriend to “pivot!” like some deranged Friends cosplay.
From the ground, the caves are much larger. And you can even walk beneath openings in the flower pot rocks you were brushing the tops of earlier.
It’s fun to go for an hour or two walk amongst the soft, mud-like sand – which makes your feet crazy soft afterward – as you explore the variety of rock formations.
If you visit with a loved one, there’s a Lover’s Rock meant to have a heart-shaped opening.
Kids will love running through the sand and finding different holes in the rocks to explore.
Best Time of Year to Kayak at Hopewell Rocks
You can only kayak at Hopewell Rocks in the summer months – typically from June to September is best. This is when you’ll have the longest time to explore the area between tides.
But since the Bay of Fundy is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, don’t expect it to be very warm, no matter what time of year it is.
Best Time of Day to Kayak at Hopewell Rocks
The best times to kayak at the Hopewell Rocks are either early morning when the tide is just coming in early or late afternoon/early evening for sunset.
You’ll want to avoid the middle of the day, as you won’t have enough time to explore before the tide starts going out. Go on a tour with a professional if you want to kayak during these times, as they can read the tidal maps and keep you safe.
These times change almost daily, but typically 11 am – 12 pm is a time that tours are available for high tide.
Where to Stay Near Hopewell Rocks
Hopewell Rocks are closest to Moncton. So if you’re looking to stay overnight, it’s best to drive back to Moncton and stay at one of the following inns or hotels:
- Hyatt Place Moncton – This hotel is conveniently located in Downtown Moncton with a view of the Bay of Fundy via the river running through the city. It’s got great restaurants nearby and is very quiet.
- A Seafaring Maiden – This Bed and Breakfast is incredibly charming. It was booked up when I tried to visit, and I can tell why. It’s a very cute place to stay that’s supposed to have really good breakfasts and lovely hosts. It’s a little bit further from Downtown, so you’ll need to drive to dinners.
- Wild Rose Inn – This hotel is a lovely blend of a large hotel and a B&B, offering charming service and easy comforts.
Getting to Hopewell Rocks
Moncton, New Brunswick, it’s about a 30-minute drive to the park. You can take an Uber or rent a car, and you’ll be there in no time. Take the NB-144S from Moncton and follow the signs for Hopewell. It’s very clearly marked.
From St. John
St. John is the capital of New Brunswick and the most common place for tourists to visit in the province. To get to Hopewell Rocks from St. John it’s a 2-hour drive. You’ll need to drive East on Route 1 towards Moncton. After about an hour, you’ll exit onto 211 for NB-114 East. Then follow signs for Hopewell Cape.
Things to Do Near Hopewell Rocks
There are lots of things to do around Hopewell Rocks that don’t involve kayaking – or if you want to take a break from paddling.
Here are some ideas:
- Explore the Beaches and Coastal Trails: The beach beneath the rocks stretches for kilometers, with plenty of craggy coastline and sandy beaches to explore. There are also plenty of coastal trails to follow if you’re looking for a longer hike.
- Visit the Interpretive Centre: The Interpretive Centre at Hopewell Rocks is an educational site that teaches you about geology, tide cycles, and the history of the Bay of Fundy.
- Visit Fort Beausejour: This fort is located only an hour from Hopewell Rocks and is definitely worth a visit. It’s set on a hilltop with great views of the surrounding area and is full of history.
- Go Whale Watching: The Bay of Fundy is home to incredible marine life – including whales, dolphins, and seals. There are plenty of whale-watching tours that depart from Moncton or St John in the summer months. It’s one of the best places to see whales in Canada.
- Take a Day Trip: The Bay of Fundy is worth exploring – take a day trip out to St. Andrews, which is only an hour away. Or perhaps make the journey to Grand Manan Island, which you can reach by ferry in under two hours.
- Head to Moncton to try the Reversing Falls and Magnetic Hill: Moncton is well worth a visit – take the time to explore Magnetic Hill, where your car can roll uphill. The Reversing Rapids are also not far away, and you’ll have an amazing view of the rapids from the bridge.
- Spend a Day at Fundy National Park: Just 30 minutes from Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park is a great place to explore the outdoors. With over 100 kilometers of trails – you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you’re looking to camp, this is the place to do it.
Conclusion: Is Kayaking at Hopewell Rocks Worth It?
The Bay of Fundy is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, and Hopewell Rocks provides a unique opportunity to experience it up close. With plenty of activities nearby, it’s easy to spend a few days here. With excellent views of the bay, plenty of wildlife, and coastal trails to explore – you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
So if you love the outdoors and want to experience something truly unique – kayaking at Hopewell Rocks is definitely worth it on your next trip to Canada.