Saint John, New Brunswick
There’s not much to see in the immediate port area. My family went on the “St Martin and Sea Caves” excursion. This included stops at the reversing rapids, the sea caves/restaurant near St Martin, St Martin village, and the local market in Saint John. It was enjoyable overall, although it felt somewhat rushed at times. Narration from the local guide was informative. The stop at the small local market at the end of the tour was a complete waste in my opinion as many of the stalls were closed the day we visited (Sunday). Would happily have eliminated it in favor of a little more time at the caves or somewhere else.
The tour began with a quick stop at the reversing rapids. Unfortunately, there’s a large factory across the river from the viewing area, so it’s really not that scenic unless you make an effort to look away from the huge smokestacks. The tour also ended with a second stop at the rapids so that we could see the reversal in the flow due to the massive tides in the Bay of Fundy. It’s cool to see but not a must-do in my opinion.
Based on my experience, I would not book a tour that is solely focused on the reversing rapids. Not much to see. Especially don’t do a tour or stop here if you can’t stay long enough or make two stops to see the reversing flow.
Next up was a drive to the sea caves near St Martin. There are some nice views along the way, but there’s a lot of just plain highways and unscenic road as well. Hurricane Dorian had just passed through the area the day before our visit, so there were many trees down along the side of the road and in people’s yards. The power was out for most of the area.
When we arrived at the sea caves, the first order of business was a chowder lunch (included in the cost of the excursion). Despite the power being out, the restaurant staff did their best to accommodate our group. The chowder was good, but the seating was cramped. They had our group at long communal tables, which were positioned very close together with one end next to a wall. That made it essentially impossible to get up until the rest of the tables did. It was an issue because of the limited time we had after lunch to explore the beach and caves. The restaurant is right on the beach, but the room we were in had little to no view.
When we made it outside, the beach and caves were splendid. You’re not really meant to go into the caves. But if you have enough time and the tide is right, you can hike up close to them. Waterproof shoes are recommended if you want to walk on the beach. Keep in mind that it’s rocky, so not a good idea for those with mobility issues. You still have great views if you don’t go directly onto the beach.
St Martin village was the next stop. It’s tiny but scenic, with two covered bridges and a cute little dock. The ice cream from the shop at the dock was tasty. There was not much to do other than take a few photos and browse one or two shops.
The tour wrapped up with the aforementioned stop at the market and a final look at the rapids.