Day 32 – Saint John, NB to Charlottetown, PEI

Route map

Distance = 376 km        Gas = $46.15 ($1.27/L in Saint John, NB)

I’ve made it to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I’m not feeling especially great, since I’ve got a cold and all I consumed today before I got here was two donuts and a bunch of Benylin, but I found a Boston Pizza, where I’m enjoying a chicken club sandwich and free wifi. I’ve been here three hours and still haven’t heard from my Couchsurfing host, so tonight could be another sleep in the car adventure. We’ll see.

It doesn’t take more than four hours to get from Saint John to Charlottetown, even going through Fundy National Park, and it’s a pretty drive. The park is nothing special (in my humble opinion) if you’re just driving through, but perhaps the lakes and hikes are nice. That being said, if you’re from B.C., maybe just skip the park altogether. If you’ve been through the Rockies, definitely skip it.

I’m glad I took that route though, because the little villages along the coast south of Moncton are really cute. Being fall, the leaves are all starting to turn, and there are pumpkins on doorsteps already. It’s definitely a tourist route, and being a tourist, I took my time and even stopped to talk with an artisan who makes bird houses at his little farm. I have no particular interest in bird houses, but I do have an interest in people who make them for a living. People are fascinating, everywhere you go.

Anyway, the main point of interest in this area of New Brunswick is the Hopewell Rocks Ocean Tidal Exploration Site – on the route from Fundy National Park to Moncton. The rocks are what you’ll most often find on the cover of any tourist brochure. They’re between 40 and 70-foot tall rust-coloured columns that were formed by the tides eroding the cliffs. (The tides are the highest in the world in this region, with 100 billion tonnes of seawater flowing in and out of the Bay of Fundy during one tide cycle, according to the Bay of Fundy Tourism website.) Evidently the rocks are the thing to see here, because there were licence plates in the parking lot from all over eastern Canada and the north-eastern US, but I skipped it for two reasons: one, it was high tide (therefore the rocks would be just little islands), and two, it costs $9 to see them. Say what? Nine bucks to look at nature? As a Canadian, I find that ludicrous. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure you don’t have to pay anything to see stuff in any park in British Columbia. Anyway, I decided to skip the rocks.

Travel tip: If you do visit the Hopewell Rocks, aim to be there at low tide so you can walk around the ocean floor and see the full length of the rocks in all their glory. High tide you’ll just be looking at their tops, which I can’t imagine is really anything to write home about. 

The drive across the Confederation Bridge is pretty stellar (at least, the first time you do it). The bridge is 13 km long, takes 12 minutes to cross (going 80 km/hour) and in winter is the world’s longest bridge over ice. It’s free to drive over to Prince Edward Island, but to leave there’s a toll of $44.50. The other option is to take the ferry to Nova Scotia, which costs about $70.

Along one of the side routes on the way to Charlottetown I passed a little self-serve honey stall where there was a note asking customers to please leave the correct change in the cash box. There were all kinds of lovely honey jars and bees wax candles for sale, and all of it open to the public, on the honour system. How charming.

NEXT POST: PEI

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