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The World's Highest Tides

The Guinness Book of World Records states that the world's highest tides occur in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, with the maximum tidal range recorded at 16.8 meters (54.6 ft). Parrsboro, the largest seaport on the Minas Basin, gives the best view of this tidal phenomenon. At this point, the tide floods and ebbs over 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) of tidal flat from the low water mark to the head of the harbour. Each phase of the cycle takes approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes.  


The initial cause of tidal action is the pull or attraction on the world's oceans by the moon, sun, planets and stars. They exert their gravitational influence in relatively narrow bands around the Earth at about 45 degrees north and south latitude. This is so because those areas are tipped closest and farthest away from these celestial bodies. Although the gravitational pull on the Earth, particularly by the moon, is strong, it is not enough to actually lift water, but it can significantly influence its direction of flow, thus creating ocean tides.


Along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, ocean tides account for a general rise and fall of from 1 to 2 metres. Sometimes, this figure can be higher if there is a celestial alignment, which would combine the gravitational influence of these bodies on the Earth. However, for the Bay of Fundy Region, two other principal factors (geographical shape and tidal resonance) change these two-metre tides to the world record-breaking sixteen-metre and above variety. The ocean's pull by the celestial bodies at the mouth of the funnel-shaped Bay of Fundy creates a wave of water that continues to double up on itself as it travels to the Bay's head and then falls back. The entire trip takes about thirteen hours, by which time the moon is ready for another pull. The timing of this cycle creates a rhythmic rocking or "sloshing effect" to the water in the Bay, which amplifies the tides to such unusual heights. It is estimated that for the Fundy Tides, there may be as many as two hundred different factors that all in some way influence the timing and heights of tides.

The Mighty Fundy Tide

The tides in Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world. Twice a day, 115 billion tones of water move in and out of the 257 km/160 mi long v-shaped pocket of seawater. The rise and fall are 6, 9, and often 12 metres in some places. During periods of high winds and a full moon, some Bay of Fundy tides have risen above 15 metres. The record variance between high and low has been measured as 16.5 metres in Burncoat Head on the Minas Basin. The Glooscap Trail, named from the Mi'kmaq creation story, follows the shoreline of Chignecto Bay, the Minas Channel, the Minas Basin, and Cobequid Bay, where long stretches of mud flats are exposed during low tides and where curious backward waves called tidal bores occur during the rise. Further along the mouth of the Bay of Fundy in St. Mary's Bay, at Digby, in the Annapolis Basin and along the coast of the North Mountain are other, if less dramatic, examples of the amazing Fundy tides.


As a natural phenomenon, the Bay of Fundy Tide is not a sudden and dramatic event but a gradual, remarkable one. In some places in Cobequid Bay, the high tide comes in as fast as one inch per minute, a fair warning for adventurous beachcombers who stray too far from shore. Ships and fishing boats that use the Bay of Fundy Ports like Delaps Cove, Parker's Cove, Hampton, Parrsboro, and Hall's Harbour are found flush and even with adjacent wharves during high tides, but become stranded, high and dry, 20 feet down when the tides recede eight hours later.


Rivers running into the Minas Basin, Cobequid Bay and Chignecto Bay often experience a tidal bore - a wave of water that moves upstream against the current, making it seem like the river is running backwards. Tidal bores regularly occur in the Macaan River and River Hebert near Amherst, the Chigonois and Salmon River near Truro, the Shubenacadie River and the Meander River near Windsor. The Salmon River on the outskirts of Truro is the most popular place to watch the tidal bore. Tide times are well-posted, and there is parking near the viewing sites. Unlike the gradual tide change, a tidal bore occurs in a matter of minutes. It passes in seconds. As the high tide reaches its peak, a small wave of water (the wave increases in height with wind direction and the phases of the moon) suddenly appears at the mouth of the river and works its way upstream. At some places in the stream, the bore causes white water turbulence as the river fights to push back the advancing tide. But the mighty Fundy tide always wins, and soon the mud-covered river sides are engulfed in water, the river fills its banks, and the advancing bore disappears gradually upstream. A remarkable and unusual sight - found nowhere else in North America, part of the magic and mystery of the amazing Fundy tides.

Spencers Island - Advocate Harbour

Our Favourite Things to Do in Advocate Harbour

1. The Cape d'Or Lighthouse, est. 1922 CLICK HERE

A fog whistle was established on the cape in 1875 to warn mariners of the tidal rips. The first light, a square wooden tower painted white, standing on a red wooden trestle, was built in 1922.

From the evidence in photographs, the first keeper's house was built at the site of the current lighthouse. The current keeper's bungalows were built in 1958/59, and the concrete lighthouse in 1965. The light was automated and de-staffed in 1989. In 1980, an archaeological dig just west of the lighthouse discovered tool fragments of aboriginal people which were dated to about 2000 years ago. Cape d'Or was the last verified nesting site in Nova Scotia for the rare Peregrine Falcon. When attempts to re-establish the birds began in 1982, it became a falcon release site. You may see these birds if you visit. Rare plants grow on the cliffs, usually found only at high altitudes in the Rocky Mountains.

2. Cape Chignecto Provincial Park CLICK HERE

May 17 to October 14, 2024

At Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, towering 185-meter (600-foot) cliffs rise from the Bay of Fundy while the world's highest tides lap at their base. Cape Chignecto is a 4,200-hectare natural environment park on a dramatic coastal peninsula. The park features 29 kilometres (18 miles) of pristine coastline, some of Nova Scotia's most significant geological features, deep valleys, sheltered coves, rare plants, remnant old-growth forest, scenic views, and a rich cultural heritage. We offer wilderness camping in secluded coves and ravines, while a spectacular coastal hiking trail leads visitors along high cliffs and deep valleys.

3. Spencer's Island Beach & Lighthouse

Staying at the Old Shipyard Beach Campground -YOU HAVE ARRIVED! Beautiful scenic beaches, historic shipbuilding area with Spencer's Island Lighthouse

Spencer's Island Lighthouse History

Spencer's Island Lighthouse is a small light located on the Minas Channel, the link between the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy. The village of Spencer's Island, where the light is located, is named after the nearby island which lies in the channel. Spencer's Island Lighthouse was built in 1904 and first lit on July 15 of that year. The original project, supervised by the first keeper, Baxter McLellan, cost $645.87. The building, constructed of timber, was 33 feet high from the base to the ventilator on the lantern, with a main floor with interior stairs leading up to the light. It was built on the beach, 63 feet from the water to the eastward of the inner end of the Government pier. (Now gone.) The light was fixed red, visible for about 7 miles from all points of approach, with a seventh-order dioptric lens.

The original tower, which still stands, is much closer to the water. It no longer has the old fog bell apparatus that was used many years ago because after it was de-commissioned, a local had a little too much rum and decided to ring the bell with his shotgun for one last time... and you know the rest of the story..... There was a winding mechanism, and once wound, the bell would ring for about 12 hours before re-winding was necessary. The first keeper, Baxter McLellan, was paid $100 yearly at his appointment in 1904.

The light was discontinued in the 1980s because commercial shipping no longer used the channel. It was acquired by the Spencers Island Community Association from the Federal Government after two years of negotiations. It opened to the public in 199I as a small museum with pictures of the sailing vessels built in local shipyards, artifacts and the like. In 1995 and 1996, major renovations were made, funded by local fundraising projects. In 2006, the Canadian Coastguard permitted the light to be back on. Instead of attracting ships, it now attracts tourists.

A nearby cairn tells the story of the Mary Celeste, a brigantine built here as the Amazon in 1861. She was wrecked off Cape Breton in 1867 but salvaged and re-registered in 1868 in New York as the Mary Celeste. In 1872 she was found sailing herself off the Azores with not a soul left aboard. Her abandonment is one of the enduring mysteries of the sea and has been the subject of numerous articles, plays and novels.

The beach is a breeding site for the Double Crested Cormorant, Black Guillemot and Blue Heron. You can usually see herons feeding in a marsh located on the land side of the beach. This is the only local nesting site for the Black Guillemot, but herons and cormorants breed all along the coastline from here to Five Islands.


4. Three Sisters CLICK HERE

The Three Sisters rock formations, located in the Minas Basin near Cape Chignecto in Nova Scotia, are a striking natural landmark shaped by the Bay of Fundy's highest tides in the world. Often compared to New Brunswick's Hopewell Rocks, these towering sea stacks offer numerous activities for visitors such as Trails for breathtaking coastal views, Sea kayaking around the base of the formations during low tide provides a thrilling, up-close perspective. The area is a photographer's paradise, especially at sunrise or sunset, and offers excellent wildlife watching, with chances to see seabirds, seals, and occasionally whales. Beachcombing at low tide reveals marine life and interesting geological features. The Three Sisters provide a memorable and scenic experience, showcasing the natural beauty of Nova Scotia.

5. Down Shore Farmer's Market Advocate Farmers' Market

July to August they are open Saturday mornings, all local produce, crafts, and baked goods 

6. Driftwood Beach - West Advocate, Nova Scotia - This beautiful beach is filled with driftwood gifted from the natural tides

7. Age of Sailing Shipbuilding Museum CLICK HERE

May, June, Sept & Oct

Open Thursday-Monday 9:30-5:30

July & Aug  Open 7 days a week 9:30-5:30

8. Local Guy Adventures Outdoor Adventures CLICK HERE

9. Nova Scotia Adventures, Bay of Fundy Kayak Tours CLICK HERE 

10. Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site (not far from Advocate) CLICK HERE

Places to Eat

The Rite Stop - Advocate Country Store (closes gas station, NSLC, Scottsburn Ice cream, pizza, and so much more!

Hook and Anchor -Delicious  Lobster Rolls, Seafood Chowder, Fish and Chips and mouth-watering blueberry pie.

Monday & Tuesday Closed

Wednesday to Sunday 12-7 p.m.

Wild Caraway CLICK HERE - Nova Scotia's Restaurant of the Year! - Fully licensed dining experience where they incorporate seasonal and locally foraged food into their fun and delicious five-course tasting menu.

Monday 5–7:30 p.m.

Tuesday & Wednesday Closed

Thursday - Sunday 5–7:30 p.m.

The Town of Parrsboro

Parrsboro is the nearest town to the old Shipyard Beach Campground. It is tucked away on the Northern Shore of the Minas Basin. Parrsboro has been called "Nova Scotia's best-kept secret." From our harbour, one can view the world's highest tides. Situated approximately 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Trans-Canada highway linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Parrsboro is less than a two-hour drive to the airports of Moncton and Halifax.

     "The world's highest tides are in the Bay of Fundy, and the area around Parrsboro has to be the prettiest place to watch them sweep in and out."       

       -Professor Bob Rosebrugh

     "This sweet northwestern corner, around the coastal town of Parrsboro, is more than picturesque; it's full of unusual things to see and do."

      - Barbara Peck

Old Ship's Company Theatre CLICK HERE  40th Anniversary Season

Ship’s Company Theatre develops, produces and presents unique, high-quality theatre, music, and events for all. Based in Taqamiku’jk, Mi’kmaki, they are dedicated to providing professional programming with a focus on innovation, inclusion and cultural leadership. They are passionate about highlighting artists, stories and communities anchored in the Atlantic region. 

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