Every time I talk to anyone from New Brunswick who dares to say: “St. Martins? Never been there.” or “Fundy Trail Parkway? What’s that?“—I have to fight the urge to turn into the kind of scary mermaid sailors tell campfire stories about.
What do you mean you live in New Brunswick and you have never been to St. Martins?
Nestled about thirty minutes from Sussex, an hour and thirty minutes from Moncton, or about forty minutes from Saint John is the cutest little seaside town you ever did see. Home to picturesque covered bridges, open sea adventures, fresh seafood, otherworldly sea caves, and of course—the famous Bay of Fundy Tides and Fundy Trail Parkway. This 30km coastal parkway offers stunning views of Bay of Fundy that rivals Nova Scotia’s famous Cabot Trail.
Yes, all of that magic exists just a short scenic drive away from two of New Brunswick’s most bustling cities and I bet some of you reading this are thinking, ‘Wow, I had no idea.’
With Summer 2020 being the year of the NB Staycation, we have an amazing opportunity to explore exactly what our province has to offer. Why not make this the summer you explore all that St. Martins has to offer!
PLANNING YOUR ST. MARTINS DAY TRIP
One of the things I LOVE about St. Martins is that you can easily plan a day trip there and see so much of what it has to offer. I recommend leaving early to squeeze as much in as you can, so we’re always on the road by 9:00 am so we’re arriving at 10:30 am.
If you’re hoping to explore the world famous St. Martin’s Sea Caves, make sure to check the tides and plan accordingly. You’re only able to walk to them at low tide, which happens twice a day, so if the sea caves are a must—I usually suggest starting or ending your day at the caves, based on the tides.
Likewise if you’re planning an ocean adventure with Red Rock Adventure such as kayaking or their boat tour. You’ll want to know what time the tours are offered and plan your day around that (and the tides!)
INDULGING IN COASTAL DINING & STAYING HYDRATED
There are a handful of convenience stores and gas stations when you arrive in St. Martins but this mermaid always packs a cooler full of cold drinks, plenty of water and snacks. We also love to bring a picnic lunch of fresh sandwiches and charcuterie which we’ll always enjoy at one of the many picnic tables along the Fundy Trail Parkway. (Note: During these strange times, I recommend bringing a table cloth for added comfort and safety if you’re choosing to eat at picnic tables.)
To get yourself fuelled for adventure, I recommend starting your day with a coffee and freshly baked cookies from the Shipyard Cafe, located in Red Rock Adventure’s yellow house by the wharf. The coffee is delicious and cookies are sinfully good! They make a great dessert for any picnic lunch.
Planning to grab lunch or supper in St. Martins? The Caves Restaurant or Seaside Restaurant both offer delicious coastal menus with fresh lobster rolls, fish & chips, seafood platters and of course—award-winning chowders! Both have great patios with dreamy views of the sea caves as well as indoor dining options.
WHAT TO WEAR AND PACK IN YOUR BAG
Keeping in mind that St. Martins and the Fundy Trail Parkway are located on the world famous Bay of Fundy, you should know that the weather can and will always be unpredictable. It could be a hot sunny day back home in the city and be cool and foggy when you arrive in St. Martins. Or it can be hot and balmy on the Bay of Fundy and chilly back home. It likes to keep us all on our toes!
I always recommend layers. Make sure you have pants but also pack a pair of shorts just in case. You should always have a sweater and a waterproof windbreaker. While it’s a coastal parkway and you will be in your vehicle a lot, you should also plan to have comfortable walking shoes. If you’re planning to explore the Sea Caves then flip flops, water shoes or sneakers you don’t mind getting muddy are recommended.
Must haves for your backpack? Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. This is an excellent location to be having so much fun, you didn’t notice that sunburn creep up on you. Restaurants, cafes, and the Fundy Trail Parkway itself take major credit cards so no need for cash. And because these are wild times – I recommend sanitizer wipes for after meals and hand sanitizer for everything else.
Oh an a tripod or selfie stick for family or couple photos! Not everyone will be comfortable touching a stranger’s phone or camera to snap a photo for them this year, so be considerate (and savvy) and bring a tripod to set up those perfect photo memories from your day. My favorite ipone tripod is this one.
CRUISING THE FUNDY TRAIL PARKWAY
As I mentioned, the Fundy Trail Parkway is a coastal route with some of the most stunning views in New Brunswick. While you could easily drive all 30kms and see sweeping views without ever leaving your car (which, in 2020, we don’t judge if you feel safer in your vehicle.) There are SO MANY incredible lookouts and stops along the way worth visiting and just made for socially distanced enjoyment.
Some lookouts require nothing more than pulling your car over and getting out to take in the view, while others might involve a short trail or stairs to access lookouts. Due to COVID-19, there are some trails that are currently closed for safety, so make sure to read the parkway’s COVID-19 operational plan before visiting.
Here are a few of my Mermaid MUST Stops along the parkway:
The Melvin Beach Lookout
Melvin Beach is easily one of my favourite lookout spots along the drive and you don’t have to take many steps to checkout the view. While I’ve never been down to the beach, there are stairs to access them should you feel the siren’s call to do so.
The Pangburn Beach Lookout
Arguably probably my favourite beach lookout, Pangburn Beach will take your breath away and it’s another one of those lookouts you don’t have to walk far from your vehicle to enjoy. The water always looks so turquoise and the sand so white, you might even feel like you’re in the Bahamas for a hot minute.
Want to access the beach? You can only get to it from Melvin beach at LOW tide, so make sure to check the tide schedule before planning any sort of adventure.
Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge
One of my favourite picnic spots in the park, Big Salmon River has a very Point Wolfe vibe to it (for my Fundy Park fans) as its home to a freshwater river that flows into the ocean. It’s also home to an interpretive centre, gift shop, and a very fun Suspension Bridge that I highly recommend checking out. It’s a great place to cool off on a hot summer day!
Gotta pee? This stop has several bathrooms to choose from.
If you’re itching to get your toes in the sand on a beach that doesn’t require much hiking or too many stairs, Long Beach is a must. It’s easy access, family friendly, and home to so many cool things to find an explore on the ocean floor when the tide goes out.
Gotta pee? This stop has great washrooms.
Another notable stops along the trail include Fuller Falls – a beautiful waterfall hike and the Walton Glen Gorge lookout hike, which is currently closed at this time due to construction.
The parkway opens daily from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm until August 16th and then from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm until August 31st. Gates are closed and locked at closing time, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly. If visiting after August 31st, check their website for updated hours and information here. Rates can also be found here.
EXPLORING THE SEA CAVES
I’ve raved about how incredible St. Martin’s Sea Caves are on East Coast Mermaid many times before, but our most recent visit for Father’s Day was extra special as I was able to show them to my parents for the first time. While some could do a drive-by sea cave experience and view them from the shore, I definitely recommend allowing for at least an hour to go in and out of the caves, marvel at their awesomeness and search for sea critters on the ocean floor.
And of course, take advantage of ALL the sea cave photo ops!
Trust me when I say, if you’ve never given St. Martins a chance or heard of the Fundy Trail Parkway, 2020 is the summer to change that. It’s beyond magical and I promise, it’ll make a great adventure for you and your family to talk about for years to come. It’s also important now more than ever for us to support the New Brunswick tourism industry AND these small seaside towns ready to welcome tourists.
If you have any questions at all about planning your St. Martins trip, I’d LOVE to help! DM me on my shell phone or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 🐚