I am always on the hunt for the most thrilling adventures—in Guatemala that meant hiking the active Pacaya Volcano, in Guayana it was pirahna fishing, and in Canada that thrill was a wild afternoon of tidal bore rafting. Nova Scotia’s severe fluctuation of tides create some serious rapids that will take you and your boat on one heck of a ride! It is unlike any other rafting trip you will ever be on, and one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia.
About the Nova Scotia Bay of Fundy Tides
Nova Scotia is a province found in Canada and is the second smallest province out of ten. It is home to the Bay of Fundy which boasts the world’s highest tides. Within a 24 hour period, there are two low and two high tides, with about six hours between each. These tides can fluctuate up to 11 feet!
Charts are available that show the tide times of each day and even the predicted heights.
One of the best places to witness the difference in the tides is at Hall’s Harbour located along the shore. At low tide the lobster boats patiently sit on the harbour’s floor, but if you come back later they are bobbing in the water ready to leave the dock.
I went early in the morning, then returned just a few hours (and glasses of wine at Luckett Vineyards) later and this was the difference:
What is a Tidal Bore?
The severe tides cause 160 billion tons of water flow through the Bay of Fundy twice a day, which feeds into the Shubenacadie River.This surge of seawater creates a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like no other. As the tide enters Cobequid Bay, then moves onward into the narrowing river a tidal bore is created, which is the leading wave of the tide. This wave can be mere inches or a massive 10 feet in height. It happens quick and considering most mother nature is somewhat unpredictable, the arrival time of the tidal bore is a fairly exact science.
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You can watch the tidal bore wave from the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Observation deck OR you can experience it in one of the most unique ways, tidal bore rafting the Bay to Fundy rapids.
Fun fact: Though not acknowledged as one of the wonders of the world, it has been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records!
The Tidal Bore Rafting Experience
Next to the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Observation center is where with met the Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures team. They got us suited up with a life jacket and yellow rain coat, even though there was no chance of rain. I was about to learn why these jackets were a good thing to have!
After loading the boat, we headed out further into the waters that were the color of cheap, lightly creamed coffee. And then we waited. I wasn’t exactly sure what we were waiting for, I knew it would be the tidal bore, but didn’t know if it would be a 10 foot wave rapidly heading for us or would it be a small ripple?
Our guide said “here it comes” and in the distance we saw a small white capped wave. It came towards us as if it were going in slow motion. It was a couple feet high and we rolled over it like it was a little bump on the road. Seriously? Was that it?
Then the waters started to rise covering over the sandbars and creating a fury of waves. It looked like the scene of a Hollywood adventure film, the river resembled the rage of the ocean during a storm. Waves were formed in a random pattern and direction.
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It took the expertise of our guide to locate the best ones. He directed the boat straight for them, jumping and crashing into them. We held on tight to the ropes attached to the side of the raft while we bounced off our seats. We zipped high over some waves, while others just crashed into the boat drenching us from head to toe and submerging the raft. My rain coat was only a protection from the wind because water had easily found its way inside.
We laughed, screamed and held on tight. It was a thrilling experience that wasn’t initially on my husband and my couples bucket list, but I wouldn’t hesitate to add it to yours (It was so much fun, I even added it to my list of the top things to do before you die!).
When your boat finally gets hit, you can never be sure what to expect, but get ready to get drenched, out of breath, tossed from side to side and just a fun outcome. It is important to have the correct recommended attire for you to be comfortable and safe.
Here’s a quick video of the action (and me screaming!):
Mud Sliding on the Shubenacadie River
After your rafting craze, it’s now time for a muddy affair along the shores of the Shubenacadie River (if you choose!). The river, is approximately 72km in length and in certain spots has muddy hills that make a perfect playground for kids and adults alike. This isn’t just any old mud, it feels like a mousse: light, fluffy and dirty
Your boat will park, allowing you to climb to the top of the hill and slide, roll or run down—the only requirement is that you have fun!
Remember to carry a change of clothes, there’s no way these two experiences will leave you clean or dry. You may even decide to not even bring your dirty clothes home!
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Essential Tidal Bore Rafting Tips
Location: Nova Scotia is is located along the Eastern portion of Canada, and is mostly bordered by coastline. Tidal Bore Rafting is done on the Shubenacadie River, which runs through the central north portion of the province.
Getting There: Nova Scotia is home to three airports, but most likely you will fly into is the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The Shubenacadie River is about a 45 minute drive from here. The best way to get to your chosen Tidal Bore Rafting company is to rent a car at the airport and drive.
Tours: There are many companies that have Tidal Bore Rafting, but these are the most popular, plus have great reviews:
- Shubenacadie River Adventures
- Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures (We chose this one because if was a shorter excursion (2 hours versus 3 1/2 – 4) and it included mudsliding)
- Tidal Bore Rafting Resort
- Shubie River Wranglers
Where to Sleep:
- Budget: Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake
- Moderate: Château Bedford Hotel & Suites
- Luxury: Prince George Hotel
- Make sure to bring a change of clothes, you will be muddy and wet.
- Bring and wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days you can get sunburned
- If you plan on wearing sunglasses, make sure that they are an older pair that you don’t mind losing.
This post was provided in a partnership with Canada by Design where I was on a self-driving tour of Canada’s Nova Scotia which allowed for me to make detours on the loose itinerary when and where I saw fit. This let me concentrate on finding the best adventures that fit into my bucket list lifestyle.
All opinions my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.
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