Bay of Fundy

Grand Manan Island

Grand Manan. I’ve been trying to get here for three summers now and it finally happened! I was not disappointed and I think it even over-delivered. :)

My friend Ashley was back in town for school and had a short window of time to explore NB before school started. We wanted to go somewhere new, so we chose Grand Manan! We had a few things planned, but mostly figured we could explore the island and end up seeing most of what we wanted to see.

We were fortunate enough to get a campsite at Hole in the Wall on their final summer offering the cliffside sites. I didn’t know this before booking, but was so happy we got the opportunity!

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It actually may have been my favourite part of our whole trip! Happy and sad!

I still can’t get over that view.

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And there weren’t even any ropes on the cliff edge!

Once we got our place set up, we went for pizza at Post Office Pizza and it was just as good as we’d hoped!

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We also got a friendly greeting and local “lowdown” of the island free of charge from the owner - a former Bostonian turned Grand Manan’er. He said he and his family bought a house there on their second trip to the island. It certainly does take ahold of your heart.

We had a great sleep and I woke up for a bit to snap some pics of the sunrise. (I’ve heard there are some nights where a fog horn goes off all night. Thankfully our nights were clear nights!)

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And then it was time for one of my favourite parts of camping - breakfast and coffee!

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Does it get any better? I’m not sure that it does.

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We then accidentally started driving out of our campground and turned around to do the Hole in the Wall. lol. Gotta get that pic, right?

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It was really pretty, and I understand that you can actually take that trail all around the island. That’s pretty cool!

After our short hike, we went to Swallow Tail Lighthouse, which was right by our campground. It is kept up very nicely and you can go up to the top for a small fee. I hear this is a good place to watch for whales from, but we only saw seals :(

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One thing I’m a sucker for is cute cafes. So, I knew the Old Well House Cafe would be a stop for sure! Apparently they just opened this summer and had a great first season. That was on our list because NRTHWRD suggested it, and I’m so glad we went.

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It was so beautiful and unique and the food was delicious.

We decided to spend the rest of the day driving around the island and stopping where we wanted to stop or where we heard people say was cool.

We went south, stopped for coffee at Newton’s,

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Had a pit stop at Seal Cove Beach to touch the ocean,

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Saw the South Head cliffs (slightly mind-blowing),

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Briefly visited Dark Harbour,

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And picnicked at Stanley beach for supper!

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Ashley and I are both doers, so this was a great pace for us :)

Many people suggested seeing the sunset at “The Whistle” and it was pretty cute to enjoy the sunset with about 12 other people, locals and tourists alike.

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What a day. Topped off with a fire under the stars.

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DAY 2

Since we really “conquered” most of the island on day 1, our plan was to take it easy on day 2 and revisit some favourites. We started with coffee by the fire and ocean. I can’t.

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Then went to the beautiful, delicious, quaint bakery, North Head Bakery. Their baguettes are raved about and the donut and croissant I had were both delish.

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There was a farmer’s market in town that day so we wandered there for a minute and then had another meal at the Old Well House before getting back on the ferry.

We were really determined to see a whale so we spent all of the return journey on the deck watching and waiting. Our only rewards were one or two whales really far away and windburn. Less than satisfactory. Lol.

Well, it’s safe to say that Grand Manan worked its way into my heart. I really, really loved our time there. It was the perfect way to end the summer. I’ll be back soon.

Love,

Laura

Split Rock Trail

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I love going to new places! 

After "meeting" on social media, I was finally able to meet up in person with videographer, New Brunswick-lover, adventurer, (and new friend), Kirsten Stanley. She wanted to show me one of her favourite places in Saint John, and I was so pumped to just be "along for the ride" on an adventure, and not the one making all the plans and plotting the course. We met at my favourite coffee place in NB, Rogue Coffee, for a flat white, chatted (mostly about our dogs), and headed out for a hike! 

So, Split Rock Trail . . . like I said, I didn't do a lot of the planning, but I'll share a helpful link at the end of this so you can plan your trip easily ;) 

We were lucky to have two cars, so we dropped mine off at one end of a gravel road and drove back to the start of said road. You can make the trail a full loop, but you'd have to walk the gravel road for at least 1.5 km in order to do that, which isn't my idea of a great time. 

The trail starts in a dirt parking lot right after a generating station, which provides an interesting dichotomy of nature and industry for a little while. 

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The trail is pretty much all along the coast, which is most of what makes it awesome. 

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How beautiful is that?

So, confession: we were really chatty, so I didn't do a very good job of tracking time and distance, but I'd say about a third of the way in, you get to the trail's "namesake", Split Rock - a big rock out a ways from the coastline: 

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And then about two thirds in, you get to what was probably my favourite part of the hike . . . your own private beach! You climb through the trees with buoys on them with the help of some ropes and sketchy roots to this beautiful spot!

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We climbed up on that rock and had a picnic with . . . some seals! 

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Do you see their little heads?!

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What a beautiful spot for a picnic break! 

We said goodbye to our buddies and continued on. 

After another 15 minutes or so of hiking, we made it to the cave! There's a rope to help you down to explore. We went until you couldn't see anything (hoping we wouldn't see anything, really) and were satisfied :) 

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This trail really has quite a bit of character - beautiful coast, beach, seals, a cave, and even a lighthouse! 

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I guess you could say I'm sold!

The main trail ends at the lighthouse (except a 1km walk on an ATV trail back to the parking lot), unless you want to keep taking it all the way down to Black Beach. 

Many sections of the trail reminded me of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. So breathtaking . . . 

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And that's a wrap. 

We did this on a hot day (was there a not hot day in July?) and were so sweaty by the end that we were both eager for a fresh-water swim, even though it was much later than I planned to be in town. So, we headed to Lepreau Falls to cool off. It was wonderful! But that's for another blog post . . . 

We ended the day with some pub food and I headed back at dusk. Feeling worn out after a day of adventuring is one of the best feelings! 

Oh, and Kirsten made a sweet vlog about our day too! You can find it here. And check out her other adventure videos while you're there! 

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Ok, so I hope I've convinced you to get there! We did an approx. 6.5km hike - about 5km from the first parking lot to lighthouse, and then 1.4km to the second parking lot. For more details on routes, parking, distances, etc., check out the Facebook group for the trail here. This trail was actually created by a local woman and a chainsaw, with the help of her furry friend!

As always, take out what you take in! Let's keep this place special.

 

Chance Harbour Nature Spa

I had my eye on this place for quite a while before finally experiencing it myself a few weekends ago now. We know New Brunswick has a lot to offer, but a lot of our hidden gems are "summer only" spots, so I was excited to check out a place that's sweet no matter what season it is! Besides, is it really a polar bear dip if it's not in the winter? :) 

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Two of my "couple friends" had been there about a year ago and spoke highly of it so they let me tag along this time! We now have two new members of the polar dip club!

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So, the whole spa operates to provide thermal therapy. As they say on their website, this therapy is not very well-known in western society, but it boasts many health benefits and is just fun! 

They recommend a certain pattern for your therapy going from hot to cold to hot, and so on. You can do the recommended pattern or just build your own adventure. We really like the sauna and the hot pool and the bucket of ice cold water! But more on that later. You can find out more about the health benefits and pattern here

We went on a brisk -7 winter day, but there wasn't much snow as we've had such a weird winter (for the third winter in a row)! We brought our own bath robes, but you can also rent some there if you don't have your own. It is recommended to wear shoes that can get wet as you're in and out of water all day. I wore flip flops and I didn't get too cold going from place to place. Rubber boots were a little more cumbersome, so I'd recommend the sandals.

We started off admiring the Bay of Fundy in the beautiful sauna.

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And then once we started sweating, we cooled off with the bucket of freezing fresh water! 

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We then rushed to the hot pool to get warm again, which was also nice and relaxing. I liked that it was nestled up in the trees. :) 

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The "cold option" closest to the hot pool was the waterfall. We did meander over, but access is a little more difficult in the winter. I sat in the waterfall for a second before rushing back to the hot pool. 

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It was nice to be able to see another New Brunswick waterfall while I was there! 

From there, we finished off our first "round" in the steam room. This area is quite small and only fits about 5 or so people. It was a little too steamy for me, but it was my friend's favourite spot! 

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We spent most of the day trying to decide if we were going to brave the Bay of Fundy for the Polar Dip! Mark and I worked up the courage, and Lindsay was our photographer. :) 

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This is clearly BEFORE I froze my butt off! 

It was SOOO cold!! We RAN to the sauna to warm up again. 

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Like a beacon in the night. 

Humans do weird things.

They also have their Polar Bear Cafe where they offer drinks and healthy snacks.

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Or, you can bring your own lunch and enjoy it by the fire. 

We had a really fun day at the spa and it was a really nice winter adventure! I'll definitely be back. 

I'll leave you with my favourite capture of the day! 

Saint Andrews

Saint Andrews holds a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of going there as a kid with the family. It really is a great place for a day trip with a family or without. I thought this would be a good adventure for my mom and me to do together; so on Monday, we headed out on the 2 1/2 hour drive to Saint Andrews. 

We started the day off right with "take out" from Clam Digger. Now, if I haven't already stated on here, I don't like seafood (I know, I lose MAJOR maritime points - I'm working on it), but my mom got the fish and really enjoyed it. I actually loved what I'm pretty sure was home-battered chicken fingers. From what I've gathered as a non-seafood lover, this is the place to go for some fresh, deep-fried seafood goodness.

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After an extremely filling lunch, we head to the aquarium. I remember coming here as a kid and loving to touch all the creatures in the touch pool. It's a pretty cool experience! 

But since I was a kid, they made an entirely new facility that has a lot to offer: touch pools, huge tanks with seals and other underwater animals, a visual of the highest tides in the world, daily feedings of seahorses, seals, and salmon, and more! Check out all they have to offer on your trip here

One thing I love about Saint Andrews is the beauty of the waterfront shops and pier. Before whale watching, we did a quick tour of some local shops. I managed not to buy another beautiful mug and just came away with an underwater phone case. :) 

And now for our adventure of the day! This was only my second time going whale watching so I was pretty excited! After a final trip to the bathroom (no bathrooms on board), we headed to Fundy Tide Runners for our trip! 

We got suited up in these sweet flotation suits that I actually loved. The last time I went whale watching, I was super cold, so it was nice to be warm out on the water. Feeling like an astronaut was pretty cool, too.  After a safety talk from witty Captain Dave, we were on our way! 

We traveled on a 24 foot Zodiac. This made the journey out to the whales quick and intimate. You're really quite close to the water/whales. It was a full boat with 12 passengers - two families of four and my mom and me. It's cool being in an environment like that where you become friends with strangers for 3 hours. Dave made it easy to do so, remembering almost everyone's names and giving each kid a chance to steer the boat as we cheered them on! 

Between jokes and driving, Dave pointed out a few key landmarks. This was our "haul": 

A million (ok, like 100) seals! 

A lot of porpoises (they were hard to capture): 

East Quoddy Lighthouse: 

And a whale!! 

We saw a minke whale, affectionately called Rudolph because of his bent dorsal fin. It's so cool/impressive that Dave knows many of the whales they see, because many of them have been traveling there for over a decade. Fundy Tide Runners has been in the business for 23 years now, so they're experts! 

Even though the weather wasn't great, and we didn't see as many whales as I would have liked, it was awesome to be out on the water and see Saint Andrews and the Bay of Fundy from that vantage point. It was a really great experience hanging out with fellow travellers and seeing all kinds of wildlife. Although they don't guarantee a whale sighting, their record is almost perfect during peak season. The Friday before our trip, they saw a couple of right whales, which is one of the rarest whales in the world!  

After our whale watching adventure, we raced to Ministers Island to get there before low tide was over! Yeah, you read that right - you can only get to the island during low tide, when you can drive across the ocean floor! It's a pretty neat experience. The island is named after one of the first owners, a minister, and it has SO MUCH interesting history to take in, but I won't get into a lot of it here. 

The extremely impressive buildings on the island were owned by Sir William Van Horne, an American responsible for building the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It was expected to take ten years to build; but under Van Horne's leadership, it was completed in five. The multi-talented man, had Covenhoven built - a 50-room summer home with walls constructed from sandstone cut from the shore, a windmill, leading edge gas plant, carriage house, garage, circular bath house and farm buildings. The centrepiece of the agricultural buildings is the livestock barn, a massive two-story timber structure with a hipped gable roof, which was home to Van Horne's thoroughbred horses and prized herd of Dutch belted cattle" (MinistersIsland.net).

 Covenhoven

Covenhoven

 The living room. 

The living room. 

 The billiard room.

The billiard room.

 The Bathhouse. 

The Bathhouse. 

There are also hiking trails to explore on the island, but we didn't have time to get to those today. We did see some wildlife though - horses and a deer! 

I didn't plan out my day very well, but all the timing ended working out great. I would highly recommend planning your day around the tide, feedings at the aquarium, and availability for whale watching! Or, stay overnight and you can take your time. :) 

There's really so much to do and see in Saint Andrews! You've got your quaint town, history, science, adventure, and shopping! We didn't even make it to the block house or the Kingsbrae Garden! Will have to go back again soon . . . 

 

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own! 

 BYE GUYS! See you next time! 

BYE GUYS! See you next time! 

STAY IN A YURT!

I thought it would make sense for my first blog post to be in my favourite place - Fundy National Park. This visit re-ignited my love for it too!

I've wanted to try a yurt since they opened in Headquarters a few years back. My stay was everything I had hoped for when I first peeked through the windows back then. Where it was so early in the summer it was great to have the option to play games inside and sleep in a heated space. I will also admit that it was nice to not have to set up a tent after getting back from a good hike. :) 

Who doesn't love bunk beds?! I called the top bunk and the festivities began. I went with a couple of friends and after enjoying some Fundy Take-Out, we laughed our heads off playing Anomia, roasted some 'mallows, ate way too much, and cast lots to see who would be taking me to the bathroom in the middle of the night. 

The yurt can sleep up to 5 people (I'd say 3 comfortably). There's a double mat on the bottom of the bunk beds, a single on the top, and a futon that turns into a double bed. It is heated and has solar powered lights. One thing that I missed as a "glamper" was power for phones, etc. Not sure if I should admit that or not . . . 

With views like this . . .

And breakfast here . . . 

How could you not have an amazing stay?! 

 Thanks Lauren, for keeping us nourished. 

Thanks Lauren, for keeping us nourished. 

 

Book your yurt here.

Tip - if you look at the details of each yurt/Otentik when you book, it will tell you if it's a "scenic" site or not! This was Yurt 2. 

Notes: 

Headquarters only has "community" fire pits. If you're looking for a personal fire pit, you should check out Chignecto. 

The yurts have their own "cookhouse" very close with a wood stove. 

Each yurt has a picnic table, deck, deck chairs, and a charcoal BBQ.