Burntcoat Head Park, home to the world’s highest tides, offers an unforgettable experience to witness the incredible tides in the Bay of Fundy.
One of North America’s seven natural wonders, the Bay of Fundy is well-known for having the highest tides in the world, and Burntcoat Head Park is the perfect place to experience these tides in Nova Scotia.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Burntcoat Head Park, from walking on the ocean floor to what to do while you wait to see the tide come in.
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Where is Burntcoat Head?
📍45 Faulkner Lane, Noel
Located on the shores of the Minas Basin, which is an inlet along Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast, Burntcoat Head Park is in the Annapolis Valley region of the province. It’s just over an hour’s drive north of Halifax, or 50 minutes from Truro.
The Highest Tides in the World
The Bay of Fundy, with the world’s highest tides, is one of North America’s 7 natural wonders.
Twice a day an impressive 160 billion tonnes of water flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy.
But it’s here at Burntcoat Head Park that the highest of those impressive tides was recorded.
The average tide is 14.3 meters, or 47.5 feet high, although the tide has measured 16 metres, or 53.6 feet, which is the highest recorded tides in the world.
Visiting Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head Park and the surrounding ocean floor are totally free to explore.
From the parking lot, it’s under a 5-minute walk down the path to the shoreline.
There, an attendant gives you basic info, including what time you need to be back off the ocean floor.
Then take the staircase down and you can walk along the ocean floor.
Fun Fact: The park literally got its name from a burnt coat. Before the area was named, there was a forest fire and one of the firefighters hung his coat on a tree while he went home for a snack. When he came back, the wind had shifted and burnt his coat. Ever since then, the area has been named Burntcoat.
Burntcoat Head Park Tide Times
Each day, there’s a high tide and a low tide. These times will vary each day so be sure to check here for the tide times before you visit.
You will want to time your visit for low tide so you can walk on the ocean floor.
For approximately 3 hours on either side of low tide, you’ll be able to access the ocean floor.
There are six hours between tides, which is perfect to enjoy the park’s walking trails and picnic area or to explore the local area.
What to Do at Burntcoat Head Park
Walk on the Ocean Floor
For three hours on either side of low tide, you’ll be able to walk on the ocean floor.
Take a guided tour, which lasts just over an hour, or explore on your own. Either way, it’s an incredible experience.
See the Flowerpot Islands
These islands, which are a well-known sight in New Brunswick’s Hopewell Rocks, are called that because, at low tide, the small islands resemble flower pots with the trees sitting high on top.
If you’re venturing close to these islands, be careful as some pieces of rock may fall, due to the daily erosion from the tides.
Look for Fossils
This area of the Bay of Fundy is one of the best places for fossil hunting in Nova Scotia, as the cliffs are constantly being eroded by the tides, revealing new fossils.
Over the years, many fossils have been found here, some from 200 million years ago.
It’s important to only take photos though – leave fossils if you do find them, take a photo and let a staff member know approximately where you found it.
Check Out the Tidal Pools
Tidal pools are a fascinating result of the daily tides. Kids love peering in the pools and seeing the ocean life that has been left behind until the next tide.
Just remember to leave everything where you found it. While it’s tempting for kids to want to bring their ‘treasures’ home, it’s important to leave all creatures where you find them!
Have a Picnic
There are picnic tables and benches available throughout the park, which are perfect for a picnic lunch, and there are plenty of stunning views to take in while sitting and relaxing.
Visit the Lighthouse
After walking on the ocean floor, stop in at the lighthouse, which is on the path that leads to the parking lot. Here you’ll find an interpretative centre with info about the Bay of Fundy tides, the history of the old lighthouse – this isn’t the original – and a bit of history of the area.
*Pro Tip: Wear shoes that you won’t mind getting dirty, as the red sand of the Bay of Fundy can stain lighter shoes. And while the path from the parking lot is maintained and easy to walk on, the ocean floor can be slippery and muddy in spots, so it’s best to wear good footwear.
Good to Know: Burntcoat Head Park Information
- Burntcoat Head Park is open 9 am – 5 pm from mid- May to mid-October.
- There’s a walking path around the park; part of the path is crushed stone and it’s an easy trail and fairly flat.
- There are stairs to the ocean floor, with railings, and a viewing platform with benches.
- From the parking lot to the ocean floor is about 4-minute walk.
- Dogs are welcome but must be leashed, even on the ocean floor.
- Washrooms are available on-site with flush toilets.
- Parking is free and there is plenty of parking, with room for RVs too, but no overnight parking is permitted.
Where to Stay Near Burntcoat Head Park
There are no accommodations at Burntcoat Head Park, but nearby options include Windsor, Halifax and Truro.
We have stayed at the Super 8 in Windsor, which is about 50 minutes from Burntcoat Head Park, or alternatively in Truro, the Inn on Prince Hotel and Conference Centre is a great option.
If you’re staying in Halifax, we recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites Dartmouth, which is one of the best Halifax hotels with a waterslide.
Things to Do Near Burntcoat Head Park
There are 6 hours between low and high tide, and if you’re staying to see the Bay of Fundy at both high and low tide, there are a few things nearby to help pass the time.
The Walton Lighthouse is the only original lighthouse left in East Hants, and it still smells of kerosene used to light the lamp years ago.
Climb to the top for 360° views of the Minas Basin and the stunning red Fundy Cliffs.
Fundy Tidal Interpretative Centre
Learn about the history, and facts behind the world’s highest tides, and watch the tidal bore from the observation deck.
A tidal bore happens when the incoming tide pushes up the river against the current, and forms a wave of water that rolls up the river. It’s an interesting thing to see!
The tidal bore occurs approximately 3 hours after low tide at Burntcoat Head Park and is a great option to pass the time between low and high tide at Burntcoat Head Park.
It’s possible to walk on the ocean floor at Burntcoat Head Park at low tide, then drive to the Fundy Tidal Interpretative Centre, which takes about 35 minutes, see the tidal bore and then return to Burntcoat Head Park to witness the park at high tide.
Tidal Bore Rafting
There are several companies on the Shubencacide River that offer rafting excursions to experience the tidal bore. It’s an exciting way to experience the tidal bore and a unique activity that you can only do in Nova Scotia.
Anthony Provincial Park
Anthony Provincial Park is a small park on the Bay of Fundy with spectacular views of the Minas Basin.
Wander the wharf, dip your toes in the water or have a picnic lunch overlooking Cobequid Bay.
The park is on the way from Burntcoat Head Park to Fundy Tidal Interpretative Center and makes for a great spot to enjoy while waiting for the tides.
Avondale Sky Winery
In the other direction from the Fundy Tidal Interpretative Centre, head towards the town of Windsor and stop at Avondale Sky Winery, one of the oldest vineyards in Nova Scotia.
I personally love their red, but the white Tidal Bay is also an excellent choice, and an appellation that you can only find in Nova Scotia.
Nearby Avondale Winery, is the town of Windsor, about 50 minutes drive from Burntcoat Head Park.
There are plenty of things to do in Windsor, known as the birthplace of hockey.
Visit the Hockey Heritage Museum and Haliburton House, or sample a flight at Schoolhouse Brewery.
How to Get to Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head Park is just over an hour’s drive from Halifax, 50 minutes from Windsor and 55 minutes from Truro.
It’s only possible to reach by car; there is no public transportation available.
To go from Halifax to Burntcoat Head Park, take Hwy 101 to Hwy 354 and head north towards Noel. It’s a pretty and scenic drive through the rural communities of Nova Scotia and an easy day trip from Halifax.
From Windsor, head towards Walton and then take the Glooscap Trail/ NS 215 which follows the coast to the park.
From Truro, take the Glooscap Trail/NS-2 towards Maitland, then head north and continue to follow the Glooscap Trail to Burntcoat Head Park.
FAQ about Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head Park is 91km from Halifax, and takes 1 hour 20 minutes to reach by car.
During low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy. There are several spots in Nova Scotia where you can do this, but the most popular and accessible spot is at Burntcoat Head Park.
The best place to see the tides in Nova Scotia is along the Fundy coast. Burntcoat Head Park is one of the best places along the Fundy coast to witness this phenomenon, and a staircase to the ocean floor makes it easy to descend at low tide.
Tide times change throughout the year and vary daily, so it’s best to check the tide table before visiting. Check the Burntcoat Head Park tide schedule here.
The best places to view the tidal bore in Nova Scotia are along the Salmon River in Truro and the Shubenacadie River in Maitland. Head to the Fundy Interpretative Centre in South Maitland or the Fundy Discovery Centre in Truro for the best views.
Final Thoughts: Visiting Burntcoat Head Park
Burntcoat Head Park is a must-see stop in Nova Scotia, where you can walk on the ocean floor at low tide and witness the world’s highest tides.
Spend the day along the Bay of Fundy and see the incredible shoreline at both high tide and low tide. In between, there are plenty of things to do, both at the park and in the nearby area.
Visit Burntcoat Head Park and experience this natural phenomenon.