While traveling (and even at home), I am always on the hunt for the most thrilling adventures. In Guatemala that meant Hiking the active Pacaya Volcano, in Costa Rica it was rappelling down a 100 foot waterfall and in Nova Scotia that excitement was a wild afternoon of tidal bore rafting.
Being on a flexible self-driving tour of Canada’s Nova Scotia with Canada by Design 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.
Tidal Bore rafting was one of them.
The Nova Scotia Tides
The tides are a natural phenomenon in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy, in some areas fluctuating up to 40 feet in just six hours!
One of the best places to witness this anomaly 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:
These 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 mother nature is somewhat unpredictable, the arrival time of the tidal bore is a fairly exact science.
You can watch this wave from the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Observation deck (boring!) OR you can experience it in one of the most unique ways, rafting the the tidal bore rapids.
Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia
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.
Windchill was a factor.
We took a short, muddy trek to the motorized boats that were floating in the little bit of water that was in the river. It was low tide and my feet sank in the soft mud which made me grateful for stopping by Walmart beforehand to get some cheap disposable water shoes.
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 I didn’t know what to expect. We sat in the motionless boat looking in the direction of where the tidal bore would be coming from. Would a 10 foot wave just rapidly start 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.
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 buckets list, but I wouldn’t hesitate to add it to yours. It turned out to be a great addition to my list of the top things to do before you die.
Here’s a quick video of the action and me screaming:
For over an hour we rode the rapids, before they started to die down. But with this company there was one more adventure to be had before the day was done — mudsliding. The waters create a muddy edge that makes for a perfect mucky slide.
Who doesn’t want to roll around in mud?
I climbed to the top of a slope and plopped down on my butt. It felt like a mud mousse: light, fluffy and dirty. With a little push we rapidly slithered our way down. It was a muddy slip & slide. By the end there was mud in crevices I didn’t know I had.
We headed back to the starting point and attempted to get clean, which was futile. I changed my clothes, wrapped my old ones in a plastic bag resigned to the idea that it may be easier to throw them out than attempt to wsah them.
This adventure was surely worth a new set of clothes.
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. . . Check it Off Your Bucket List . . .
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.
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.
An easy option, and how I traveled throughout Nova Scotia, was by taking a flexible self-driving tour with Canada by Design. They not only tailored my itinerary to include activities I liked, but also made my car and hotel reservations, making it no-fuss for me. Because it was a loose itinerary, it left plenty of room to explore on my own, finding my own unique experiences and sleeping in when I wanted!
- Each trip is exact as the tide waits for no one. So when your chosen company tells you when to arrive, you better be prompt. And wear old clothes, your gonna get wet and dirty.
- There are many companies that have Tidal Bore Rafting. River Runners, Shubenacadie River Adventures and Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures are amongst the most popular, plus have great reviews. We chose the latter of the three because if was a shorter excursion (2 hours versus 3 1/2 – 4) and it included mudsliding. They are a smaller outfit than the others, but they were very experienced and it felt personalized.
Where to Eat:
You’ll probably be pretty hungry after your tidal bore rafting adventure, so head a half hour north to the town of Truro for a meal at Saloni Japis. Upon entering you’re no doubt going to wonder why in the world I would send you there, but look past the shabby interior. Once you get a taste of their local and fresh Greek/Bangledesh fusion dishes you’ll want to return again and again.
- 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.
LANGUAGE: English is primarily spoke on Nova Scotia, but French is also very common and you will see many signs in both languages.
CURRENCY: Canadian Dollar
ELECTRICITY: Plug Type A/B, 110v. The voltage and socket is the same as the U.S., so there is not need for an adapter or converter.
TIME ZONE: Atlantic Time Zone (ADT)
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate. You must have the strength to secure yourself in the raft as it is going over the rapids.
My trip to Nova Scotia was hosted by Discover Holidays, but all opinions are my own.