Want to visit someplace REALLY cool?
I never knew that the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world until my husband and I started planning a trip to Nova Scotia to celebrate 15 years of marriage. I still didn’t really get what that meant or whether it would be worth seeing until we were there. Watching and riding the Bay of Fundy tides was such a delightful surprise!
Burntcoat Head Park is one of the best places to see the dramatic changes in the Bay of Fundy tides, and it turned out to be one of my favorite stops on our trip. It is located just over 60 minutes drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia. We drove from Truro, which is a little less than an hour away.
Why did we love it? Well, how often do you get to walk on the ocean floor without getting wet? That’s what you can do at Burntcoat Head.
We arrived just before low tide and scrambled down to the bay floor where we found lots of tide pools with little fish and crabs. The tide visibly pulled away from our feet. We were amazed to see the high tide mark nearly 50 feet above us, and know that the water would reach it again in just over six hours.
Burntcoat Head is as scenic as it is wondrous. The trees and the shoreline are lovely.
Here are my tips for timing your trip to Burntcoat Head and making the most of your day.
Check the tides
You’ll be able to watch the tide change any time at Burntcoat Head, but it’s best if you can plan your visit around high or low tide, and preferably both.
If you can’t hang around for 6 hours to see both tides, go at low tide. You’ll be able to see the high tide mark and you’ll be able to walk on the floor of the Bay of Fundy. The difference between high tide and low tide is astonishing.
Check the tides for Burntcoat Head Park at www.burntcoatheadpark.ca/tides.
Wear sturdy shoes
Wear sturdy walking shoes with good traction if you decide to walk onto the bay floor. The first part of the walk is rugged, and will probably be wet and muddy since it is covered in water twice each day.
Be careful of the incoming tide
Signs at Burntcoat Head are very clear that you walk onto the bay floor at your own risk. It is rocky and slippery, and the tide rises quickly. You don’t want to be stranded or drowned.
That said, as long as you pay attention and keep track of the tide schedule, you should be fine. The tide rises visibly, but slowly, and you’ll have time to get out of the way as high tide rolls in.
Pack a picnic
Burntcoat Head is somewhat remote, with few dining options nearby. It’s also a lovely place for a picnic. You’ll find picnic tables on a lawn surrounded by shade trees near the parking lot and visitor center.
The Burntcoat Head website offers a few local grocery and cafe recommendations where you can pick up picnic supplies. You’ll find many supermarkets and restaurants in Truro or Halifax. The Truro Farmer’s Market was open on the morning of our visit to Burntcoat Head and we picked up some local berries and peas in the pod on our way.
Raft the tides
After our visit to Burntcoat Head, we rafted the tidal bore with Wild Waters, a few miles away. The tide rises so high and so fast that it reverses the flow of nearby rivers. This creates big swells that are really fun for rafting.
Read my tips for rafting the tidal bore HERE.
Good to Know
Where: On Burntcoat Road in Noel, Nova Scotia, Canada
When: Burntcoat Head Park is open year round. The lighthouse is open mid-May to mid-October.
How Much: FREE. There is no charge to visit Burntcoat Head Park.
How Long: Plan your visit around the tides and plan for 6+ hours if you want to see both. If you just come for low tide, plan for 1-2 hours.
Amenities: Free parking, restrooms, picnic area, gift shop. Not all amenities will be available year-round.
The Burntcoat Head website is exceptionally helpful. Check there for more information about the park, plus tips for tours, local activities and dining.
How else can I help?
Need a place to stay? Burntcoat Head Park is located in a rural area. You’ll find a couple of small inns nearby. Otherwise, there are many hotel options in Halifax or Truro. We stayed inexpensively at the Super 8 in Truro. We also liked the Hampton Inn by Hilton in Halifax, which had a great location near the waterfront. Check rates and availability for local hotels now on TripAdvisor.
Need a rental car? You’ll need your own car to get to Burntcoat Head. We saved 35% when we prepaid at Budget Rent a Car for this trip. Get more money saving tips for rental cars from this post: 9 Easy Ways to Find the BEST Rental Car Prices.
Need a flight? Halifax Stanfield International Airport is the nearest major airport to Burntcoat Head Park. You can compare and track fares for major airlines at AirfareWatchdog.com. Be sure to book directly through the airline, rather than a third-party site. Find out why HERE.