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Green travel guide to New Brunswick

Sure, this is a “green” travel guide — and we’ll keep it green — but it’s New Brunswick’s actual colors we’ll talk most about: the warm red tones of the south coast’s rocky sea caves that reveal themselves only at low tide. The fierce blue-grey of the waters in the Bay of Fundy, a feeding ground for a dozen species of whale. The soft golds of the sands on the Acadian Coast, which has the warmest saltwater beaches north of Virginia, and of the cardboard tray of toasty fried clams you got from the beach canteen.

But back to the green: Avoid that carbon-intensive flight, grab a few friends, and carpool six hours north of Boston, just across Maine’s northeastern border. From the Canadian Appalachians to the Acadian Coast, here’s your eco-friendly guide to experiencing the best of New Brunswick.

Scouting for marine life around Saint Andrews

Traveling green: Your eco-friendly guide to New Brunswick

Photo: Justin Dutcher

There are many reasons to visit Saint Andrews, not least of which is this picturesque seaside tourist town’s location just 30 minutes from the US border at Calais, Maine. Once you’re here, activity #1 should be a whale-watching tour, where you’re virtually guaranteed to have an up-close whale experience from June to October.

To get on the water, connect with Island Quest Marine for a tour. Your boat captain, familiar with the animals’ markings, will greet humpback and minke whales like they’re old friends. Captain Chris is the only local captain who grew up in and around these waters, so you’re in good hands. Island Quest Marine also offers an incredible shark-tagging experience, guided by a team of biologists.

While you’re in the area, check out the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, a research and education facility (and aquarium!) whose mission is to inspire stewardship through community engagement. Get hands-on, grab your boots, and go on the “Beach Crab Grab” — a two-hour coastline hunt to collect and study the invasive European green crab.

Hiking along the Bay of Fundy

Green travel guide to New Brunswick

Photo: Tourism New Brunswick

Overlooking the entire bay, the Fundy Trail Parkway is a gigantic seasonal wilderness park that incorporates trails, beaches, and a twisty, 19-mile seasonal drive along the wild Bay of Fundy coast. Branching off the main drive are 16 hiking paths of varying difficulty that encompass 20+ observation decks and lookouts (some of which are wheelchair accessible), a 200-foot-long suspension bridge, and a “flowerpot” rock similar to those at Hopewell (see experience #4 below).

Choose a micro-hike like the one that leads to the fascinating “Sea Captains’ Burial Ground,” or embark on a short-but-steep trek through lush forest to McLeod Brook Falls. For a serious challenge, tackle the 25-mile Fundy Footpath, recently listed as one of the “50 Best Hikes in the World” by Explore Magazine.

Fundy National Park, less than an hour farther up the coast, has over 75 miles of well-marked trails through the Acadian forest, leading to beaches, beaver ponds, salmon pools, and waterfalls. Overnight options there include campsites, yurts, and cabins. It’s also a Dark-Sky Preserve, where moonglow and a million stars are all that lights up the night sky.

Walking the ocean floor once every 12 hours

Tourism New Brunswick Hopewell Rocks

Photo: Tourism New Brunswick

The draw for many travelers to New Brunswick is the Bay of Fundy, a UNESCO biosphere reserve with the highest tides in the world. Twice a day, 160 billion tons of seawater pour in and out of the crevice-shaped bay, a unique geological feature created by a fault valley some 300-400 million years ago. At high tide, the water rises to about 45 feet — just below the height of a five-story building (even higher on a full moon!) — while at low tide, the water completely subsides, exposing a surprisingly firm, walkable ocean floor.

The perfect place to experience both extremes is The Hopewell Rocks, only 40 minutes from downtown Moncton. Here, several giant sandstone “flowerpot” rocks about 40-50 feet tall are surrounded by water for half the day and exposed for the other half, providing a variety of exciting kayaking and hiking opportunities on the exact same turf.

Back along the coast closer to Saint John, in the photogenic village of St. Martins, Red Rock Adventure runs more guided excursions, like their sea caves kayaking tour and Bay of Fundy culinary tours. Don’t miss the Maritime Lobster Boil, which takes place right on the beach.

Exploring dunes and islands on the Acadian Coast

Traveling green: Your eco-friendly guide to New Brunswick

Photo: EB Adventure Photography

The best beaches in New Brunswick are on the east side — aka the Acadian Coast — with Parlee Beach and Aboiteau Beach standing out as favorites. They’re not just for beach-bumming, either — as with many coastal sites around New Brunswick, local tourism incorporates environmental initiatives to help preserve the landscape. They’re both blue-flag certified beaches that meet stringent, sustainable standards.

A little farther north, La Dune de Bouctouche is a seven-mile-long sand dune featuring a half-mile boardwalk and is one of the last remaining dunes on the continent’s northeastern coastline. Onsite is an eco-center that offers free educational programs and tours, as well as access to a beautiful stretch of sandy beach. Birdwatchers take note: The dune is a nesting ground to a small number of piping plovers who return year after year.

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