the flowerpot rocks & the quaint town of alma

Monday, October 3, 2022: This morning we checked out of our Airbnb in Saint John and headed for The Hopewell Rocks.

The Hopewell Rocks, also called the Flowerpot Rocks, or simply The Rocks, are rock formations known as sea stacks caused by tidal erosion. They are scattered on the shores of the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy at the Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick, Canada. Due to the extreme tidal range of the Bay of Fundy, the base of the formations are covered in water twice a day. It is possible to view the formations from ground level at low tide, which is what we did.

The Hopewell Rocks formations consist of red-brown sedimentary sandstone and minor mudstone rock. They stand 40-70 feet tall. After the retreat of the glaciers in the last Ice Age, surface water filtering through cracks in the cliffs eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face. Meanwhile, advancing and retreating tides and the associated waves have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes.

We went at low tide to explore the ocean floor around the rocks. We were lucky to have a beautiful day.

It was about a 15-minute walk from the visitor center to the rocks. As we walked, I started doing an exaggerated march, being my silly self. I was wearing my new fisherman hat. Mike said, “Oh, there goes Chairman Mao marching away!” We laughed so hard we were in convulsions. That hat is truly a Chairman Mao hat.:-)

High tide today was at 18:44 and low tide was at 12:43.  We arrived at 11:43, and wandered along the coastal floor from one end to the other. The rock formations looked like Clydesdale hooves with all the seaweed clinging to the bases. Our feet got quite muddy traipsing around but there was a fountain at the top to clean them off.

Back up near the Visitor Center we had a view of the mudflats, coastline and the Bay of Fundy itself at Daniels Flats, named for one of the area’s early settlers. The bay is about 2.5 miles wide at this point. Salt marshes form a green band around the Bay of Fundy.

Because the Bay of Fundy is funnel-shaped (wide/deep at one end and narrow/shallow at the other) tides are pushed increasingly higher as they move up the bay.The length of the bay also plays a factor by causing a natural sloshing effect called resonance. This sloshing amplifies the effect of the funnel.

Among the highest in the world, the tides reach up to 14 meters (46 feet) at Hopewell Cape and 17 meters (56 feet) in the upper reaches of the bay. Not only does the tide rise 46 feet (14 meters) vertically, it also recedes almost two football fields horizontally. In fact, 160 billion tons of water move in and out of the bay every 25 hours. Powered by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, Fundy’s tides are among the highest in the world and vary daily with the changing positions of these celestial bodies.

The name Fundy is thought to be an English translation for the French word “fendu” meaning “split.” The bay has been navigated by western European fishermen since the 16th century.

I posed for a picture with my fisherman hat in the tiny S. S. Hopewell. So goofy. 🙂 Mike has endless names for me in my hat. Here, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. 🙂


me in the S.S. Hopewell

We left Hopewell Rocks and went by Cape Enrage. The 140-year-old lighthouse, which is still working, is perched on the end of the cape’s rocky promontory. Here, tides rise 16 vertical meters (53 feet). We stopped here but it was closed and locked so we couldn’t walk the beach trails.

On the way, we got out to wander a bit on a cairn-dotted rocky beach.

Back at Fundy National Park, we took a short (boring) hike to Point Wolfe Beach after checking out the cute red covered bridge.

The Point Wolfe River was once the center of a lumber operation. In the early 1800s, the lumber industry was booming on New Brunswick and mills sprung up on most rivers along the Bay. The Point Wolfe Mill was opened in 1826 and continued off and on for almost 100 years.

We finally headed to Alma where we would stay the night. The small seaside village services Fundy National Park with restaurants and motels.

We showered and changed and wandered around town looking for a place to eat. I had it in my mind I wanted lobster. We found a lineup of colorful Adirondack chairs and boats tied to the wharf which made fetching reflections in the water.

Alma Lobster Shop beckoned. Mike had a lobster roll and chowder. I had a Lazy Lobster Dinner: Shucked lobster meat, cole slaw, drawn butter and roll. We sat on the open air porch, where annoying flies buzzed all around us. We bought two mugs and an Alma lobster shop onesie for the real-life Alma that Mike’s best friend’s son is trying to adopt.

As we walked  back to our tiny but cozy Airbnb, we saw fishing paraphernalia, colorful coils of rope and lobster pots.

We settled into our cozy Airbnb and watched the last episodes of Virgin River and read.

Steps: 16,779; Miles 7.09. Drove 160 miles.

Tuesday, October 4: This morning we left Alma and headed to Prince Edward Island to visit my friend Lisa. On the way, we returned to Hopewell Rocks. We were hoping to see the rocks at high tide, at which time all you can see are the tops of the rocks covered with vegetation and appearing as tiny islands. Alas, we arrived too late for high tide. We got there at 9:58 a.m., and high tide had been around 7:50 a.m., so we were two hours late. The water was definitely higher than when we were there yesterday, but it was low enough that we could have walked all the way to the beach at the far end.

The time span between low and high tide is 6 hours and 13 minutes. People have the chance to walk on the ocean’s floor from 3 hours before low tide until 3 hours after.

Today’s hours of operation in the park were 9:00 to 17:00, so there was no way we would have seen the morning’s high tide anyway.

We enjoyed some views of the Flower Pots nearest the stairs but they weren’t covered at all by water while we were there from 10:00 a.m. until 10:20 a.m.

We took off, heading for Prince Edward Island.  We made a stop in Moncton at Café Archibald, where we had coffees and an egg, bacon and cheese English muffin. The cafe was cute and the staff was busily preparing lunches for take-out.

We left after a bit and drove down Moncton’s main street. It was a charming town. People apparently spoke both French and English there. I was sad we didn’t have time to explore more.

Still in New Brunswick, we stopped at Cape Jourimain to take pictures of the Confederation Bridge leading to Prince Edward Island. It is a box-girder bridge carrying the Trans-Canada Highway across the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait, linking the province of Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick on the mainland. Opened May 31, 1997, the 12.9km (8.0mi) bridge is Canada’s longest bridge and the world’s largest bridge over ice-covered water.

Tolls only apply when leaving Prince Edward Island (traveling westbound). Toll rates since January 2022 are $50.25 for a two-axle auto. Motorcycles pay $20. Pedestrians and cyclists are not permitted to cross the bridge, but a shuttle service is available.

Cape Jourimain is an area comprising two islands and a section of mainland along the southwestern shore of the Northumberland Strait. The two islands, Jourimain and Trenholm, have been connected to the mainland since 1966 by an artificial causeway. It is host to the western end of the Confederation Bridge. In 1980, the two islands, including a section of mainland, were designated as a National Wildlife Area.

There were trails that looked enticing but we didn’t take them because we were due to be at Lisa’s house by 3:00-4:00.

We saw a lighthouse, the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse, built in 1870 after nearly 30 years of petitions. The 15.5m lighthouse was built to help sailors navigate the narrow strait. The lighthouse operated until 1997 when the Cape Tormentine Ferry service was decommissioned as a result of the opening of the Confederation Bridge.

Here is a short video of our time at Hopewell Rocks and the rest of New Brunswick.

We crossed the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.