Nine years ago, my family and I did a particularly challenging and circular road trip of over 16,000 kilometers across North America, from the Pacific coast to Canada’s Atlantic coast in just a months. What made it such a special trip wasn’t only the spectacular and pristine natural beauty, but also the least travel time while covering the greatest area.
New Brunswick and the Phenomenal Bay of Fundy
After crossing the American border from Maine into Canada, we drove onto Highway 1 to Saint John to spend the night and purchase provisions. The Bay of Fundy, which lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is known for the highest tide in the world. At low tide you can walk on the ocean floor, and if you wait until high tide, you will be amazed at how quickly the water rises.
The main attraction is Fundy National Park, a beautiful coastal national park with a variety of hiking trails through the Acadian Forest, to see the wonderful sunset. From there, it took about fifty minutes to arrive at the Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park to see the astonishingly eroded “flowerpot” natural rock formations by the Gulf of Fundy, thousands of years old, in an area extending to two kilometers.
Prince Edward Island – Beaches and Sandstone Cliffs
Prince Edward Island State (PEI) is marked by red-sand beaches, sandstone cliffs, and fertile farmland, and is also renowned for its seafood, such as large, fresh lobsters from the sea, available during two seasons, between May – June and August – October. We crossed the Confederation Bridge, the world’s longest span bridge ever built, over ice-covered water that stretches for 12.9-kilometers and connects PEI with New Brunswick.
We stopped along the coast to see the unusual rusty-red colored beaches and cliffs. The sound of the waves in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the coastal meadows and sand dunes from yellow to red brick colors, the swaying vegetation, and the bright red sandstone cliffs make you want to pause as long as possible to absorb the natural beauty of the scenery.
In the heart of Charlottetown, the island’s capital, is home to the arts and culture, with many activities to choose from, such as Victorian Row, Great George Street Historic District, 100-year-old Magnificent St. Dunstan’s Basilica, the Confederate Center of the Arts with its musical shows, such as “Anne of Green Gables”, as well as delicious lobster on the Wharf during the summer.
From one capital to another, it took us about four hours to reach Halifax – Canada’s Atlantic coast’s largest economic capital, a port city known for its maritime history and strategic importance, earning it the nickname “Warden of the North.” Whether you are interested in nature, hiking, or cultural arts, this city meets all your needs.
Nature-Made at Cape Breton Island
We passed through spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, traveling through the Breton Plateau and Cape Breton Highlands National Park. For this trip, we opted for a clockwise-direction drive, which gave us an unmistakable sense of freedom in the world.
Along the Cabot Trail route, there are intermittent viewpoints, while a popular 360-degree viewpoint is from the Skyline Trail, which requires a bit of walking. We visited several spots, but the most impressive was Lakies Head, a coastline with natural rock formations that ripple the waves.
After Cape Breton Island, the next stops were Newfoundland and Labrador, a short trip on the Englishtown Ferry to North Sydney, where the ferry took about seven hours to reach Port aux Basque.
Newfoundland and Labrador
As reputed, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are very friendly. On our arrival, we were invited to join our new family for dinner in a camper van from where local dishes were served. The next morning, the family offered to take us on a sightseeing and nature walk at Rocky Harbor and Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, part of the Gros Morne National Park, for panoramic views of Bonne Bay overlooking a community at the estuary, surrounded by high mountains and turquoise waters.
For us, Newfoundland and Labrador were the ‘grand finals’ of our trip. Nonetheless, we believe that every traveler who has experienced a trip in any state on Canada’s Atlantic coast will experience a feeling of being one with Mother Nature, and the unforgettable pleasure of that closeness.