Who knew a small village of roughly 300 could offer so much fun and adventure? St. Martins, New Brunswick offers the traveler a number of things to do and see, with the Fundy Trail Parkway and the Bay of Fundy — the world’s highest tides — sitting right at their doorstep.
I love a good surprise, and that’s exactly what St. Martins offered us during our three days there.
From wildlife viewing to hiking, to eating poutine and chatting with the locals, here are the best things to do in St. Martins including along the Fundy Trail Parkway.
Best Things to Do in St Martins, New Brunswick
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1. Go Sea Kayaking with Red Rock Adventure
Sea kayaking on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada is a must-do adventure. And St. Martins has the best outdoor adventure company right at your fingertips to explore the wild woods and coastline of New Brunswick.
Red Rock Adventure is an educative outdoor adventure company focusing on bringing together the rich experiences of the wild Bay of Fundy and Fundy Biosphere with adventure and education, and even unique wilderness culinary opportunities!
Sea kayaking on the world-famous Bay of Fundy during high tides to the St. Martin sea caves was the highlight of our trip to St. Martins!
2. Take a Scenic Zodiac Fundy Coastline Boat Tour
If you don’t enjoy kayaking, you can still get a chance to marvel at the splendid Fundy coastline from your seat on a speedy inflatable Zodiac boat! We got to see grey seals, the gorgeous coastline, and a magical salmon-pink sunset!
3. Discover the St. Martin Sea Caves on Foot
The St. Martin Sea Caves can be explored by land OR sea. Neat, huh? During low tide when the Bay of Fundy empties out to the Atlantic Ocean uncovering and exposing the seabed, you can take a self-guided walking tour around the sea caves.
The sea caves have naturally been carved out by the 150+ billion tonnes of water that surges in and out of the Bay every day twice a day – due to the tide cycles.
It’s pretty cool to explore the seabed on foot and then later by kayak when you are 25+ feet above where you were standing just a couple of hours earlier!
4. Explore the Hikes, Beaches, and Falls of the Vast Fundy Trail Parkway
There are so many things to see in St. Martins on the Fundy Trail Parkway. So hop in your car and get to exploring! The Fundy Parkway costs $9.50 per adult for a day pass so make sure to use your time wisely and get there early to take advantage of a full day.
5. Visit Flowerpot Rock
Flowerpot Rock is one of the iconic images from the Fundy Trail Parkway. Located at Parking 1 of the parkway, Flowerpot Rock can be seen from 3 different vistas. Which viewing deck will be your favorite?
6. Hike to the Great Salmon River + Salmon Pools
On a hot summer’s day, people often go swimming at the Suspension Bridge but if you follow the river up you will find private salmon pools – crystal clear pools of water perfect for a refreshing dip.
Although the Atlantic salmon are not returning to the river now, once upon a time you couldn’t even see through the clear water because it was that full of salmon.
7. Visit Fuller Falls Hike
Fuller Falls Hike isn’t’ much of a hike but it offers a nice view of a waterfall. Climb down a unique set of rope ladder steps to the viewing deck!
8. Walk Across the Suspension Bridge
The Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian footbridge crossing the Big Salmon River. Informational signs regarding native fauna and flora speckle the trail. From here you can continue on much longer hikes, like the ones mentioned above and below.
9. Visit the Famous Hearst Hike + Lodges
The famed Hearst businessmen once owned a cabin out in the woods up along the Big Salmon River. It was said he used to host famous people like Frank Sinatra for a weekend of fishing at the Hearst Lodge. The hike will take roughly 2 hours to complete, but you can stop to cool off in the salmon pools on your way.
10. Visit the Interpretation Center
St. Martins was once one of the richest settlements in the entire commonwealth, thanks to its bustling shipbuilding industry.
You can learn all about the shipbuilders and families who once thrived here through an 8-minute historical/information video inside the Interpretation Center. There are also washrooms, merchandise for sale, and not to mention artifacts and memorabilia collected from the 1800s.
11. Take the Footpath to Seely Beach
If you wish to dip your toes in the water at Seely Beach then a short yet moderate hike will get you there. Park at P14 and continue following the trail down the hill. Just remember, what you climb down you must climb up on the way back! You can also park and camp here in a tent overnight.
12. Take a Stroll Down Long Beach (Great for tides)
Long Beach is suitably named for its distinctive long beach which spans roughly 2 km. What’s pretty neat about Long Beach though is that, during low tide, you can practically walk out on the seafloor for 0.5 km!
Overhauls and large camper vans beware – the road to get down to Long Beach is steep with a 15% grade at times! We had to take it slow with Van Rouge.
13. Check Out Isle Haute Lookout (Ned Lowe, pirates..)
Isle Haute is a “tall island” that sticks out from the horizon between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, although it’s officially NS territory. While it’s uninhabitable and only accessible via boat tour, you can still ponder its mysteries and myths from one of the viewing decks at Isle Haute Lookout.
It is said that the island was once used by pirates. Rumor has it that even the infamous Ned Low buried his treasure here!
14. Hike the McCumber Brook Wetlands Trail
The McCumber Brook Wetlands Trail is an easy hike for beginners new to the Fundy Trail Parkway. From the P15 parking lot, follow the wide foot trail that leads to the wetlands observation deck.
There are many more hikes, vistas, and falls to see inside the Fundy Trail Parkway. Just get out and explore!
15. For Hiking Enthusiasts, Hike the Fundy Foot Trail (5 days – 55km)
If you have an adventurous spirit then consider getting a multi-day pass to hike the Fundy Foot Trail which spans 55 km and roughly 4-5 days, depending on your level of physical activity.
The Fundy Foot Trail will follow the coast, passing through rugged terrain and slopes, up and down. It’s said to be one of the most challenging treks to complete.
If you’re not feeling like lugging all of your camp equipment, you can reach out to Red Rock Adventure for one of their supported tours.
As noted on the Fundy Trail Parkway website:
The Fundy Footpath (recently listed in the “50 Best Hikes in the World by Explore Magazine) is separate from the Fundy Trail Parkway although part of it does fall within our park. The footpath is a challenging wilderness trail that starts at the suspension bridge at Big Salmon River and hugs the coastline to the boundaries of Fundy National Park. Four to five days is recommended.
16. Visit the Sea Captain’s Burial Grounds
At parking P2 inside the Fundy Trail Parkway, you can go for a very short but nice “hike” up to the Sea Captain’s Burial Grounds, where two families of shipbuilders and sea captains are laid to rest.
When they first discovered the cemetery it was overgrown. Today they’ve cleaned it up respectfully and it’s a quiet yet nice discovery inside the FTP to enjoy a moment of reflection and stillness.
We happened to see a small snake on our way back out so make sure to watch your step!
17. Visit the Old-Timey Huttges General Merchants
Whether you’re in need of stocking up on groceries or not, a quick peek inside the Huttges General Merchants shop and you’ll feel like you’re going back in time.
This old-timey store dates back to the 1800s and features a Victorian-style ceiling. An old picture showcasing what the family and shop used to look like hangs inside.
They also serve local goods, including their own store-made sausages.
18. Eat @ St Martins Ice Cream Parlor Fresh Lobster Rolls
St. Martins Ice Cream Parlor Fresh Lobster Rolls — the official name on Google — is a sweet little restaurant on the side of the road that sells all types of soul food like poutine, lobster rolls, chili cheese fries, and of course, ice cream.
Take a seat on one of the colorfully-painted benches and enjoy your treat in the garden. It’s not the best place to eat in St. Martins, but it’s local and the ladies working inside sure are sweet. Especially if you give them a tip!
We ordered poutine for two and literally couldn’t eat half of it. So if you do order something, order light!
19. Get Panoramic Views @ West Quaco Lighthouse / Trail
The West Quaco Lighthouse offers beautiful panoramic views of the Bay of Fundy and Fundy coastline, thus making it a popular morning hike for locals or an overnight stop for camper vans.
We actually parked and slept here for a total of three nights during our time in St. Martins. Each morning offered a beautiful salmon-pink sunrise. You can also watch the tide empty out, exposing the rocks, and then fill back up, covering them a few hours later.
The trail that loops around the lighthouse is a semi-rugged trail but is easy enough and offers dramatic cliff views.
20. Shop Locally in ‘Downtown’ St. Martins
There are quite a few local stores selling all sorts of crafts and accessories. Both locally made or locally owned, your purchase will help support a businessman or woman from the community.
Downtown is also a gallery, run by Joe from the Tourist Info Center, showcasing local artists’ work. Make sure to take the time to check it out!
21. Eat Octopus Ice Cream (Not Octopus Flavored)
Right across from the Tourist Information Center sits a row of dainty little shops. One of them might pique your interest over the others for nothing but its name: Octopus Ice Cream.
Though it might fool kids, the Octopus Ice Cream shop doesn’t really offer octopus-flavored ice cream. But they do have homemade waffle cones and oh-so-tasty butter pecan and maple walnut ice cream.
22. Visit the St. Martins Tourist Information Center
Speaking of lighthouses, don’t miss out on a short and sweet visit to the St. Martins Tourist Information Center while in the village.
It isn’t a functioning lighthouse but is rather decorated as one. You can climb up the stairs to view the harbor from atop the lighthouse. There are
endless information and resources on what to do and see and if you have any doubts, friendly Joe will be happy to assist you.
23. Visit the Quaco History Museum
We didn’t get the chance to visit, unfortunately, but if you’re a history enthusiast you’ll love learning about St. Martins’s rich shipbuilding history which was one of the wealthiest industries of the commonwealth.
Because they say it better, here’s what the museum is all about:
First settled in 1783, the village of St Martins was a major maritime destination during the Golden Age of Sail. With over 500 vessels launched off of our shores, the vessels built here sailed all over the world and brought back ideas and architectural designs which the Captains, wealthy shipbuilders, and mariners applied to the construction of their own homes. The shipbuilding and lumbering industry in the area once supported a population of nearly 4000 people. The Quaco Museum attempts to do justice to the vibrant past of St Martins by preserving and promoting our history through exhibits, activities, and education.”
24. Scope Out This Secret Trail Above the Sea Caves
Get incredible views of the sea caves from above via a secret trail! We found this hike above the St. Martins sea caves thanks to our friends from Red Rock Adventure.
Pro Tip: Bring your travel hammock! There are two perfect trees to hang your hammock here and take in the views for a while.
Drive past the sea caves restaurants up the hill. Take the first right onto a dirt side road. There will be a cemetery down a bit to the left. Continue following the trail straight and you’ll find several lookouts!
We discovered this trail thanks to Red Rock Adventure. It seems like mostly locals know of it (until locals let you in on the secret)!
25. Grab Coffee + Blueberry Scones @ Shipyard Cafe
Last, but not least, before heading out of St Martins make sure you stop by the cozy Shipyard Cafe for some yummy homemade blueberry scones.
Kim, the co-owner of the cafe, hand-makes them herself and they usually sell out quickly so hurry and grab one! Shipyard Cafe can be found right inside with Red Rock Adventure, so if you go for one you can’t miss the other.
Whether its sea cave kayaking, exploring the trails or eating a pound of poutine, there’s always an adventure up for grabs in the sweet little village of St Martins!
P.S. The best time to visit St. Martins, New Brunswick is during the summer and autumn months when all of these things to do are readily accessible (weather permitting), although Red Rock Adventure will be adding winter activities in the future!