Tidal Bore Rafting: the Most Unique Nova Scotia Adventure Activity

Located between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy is well known for being home to the world’s highest tides. Twice a day, every day, the Bay fills and empties a billion tonnes of water. 

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This incredible natural occurrence creates some pretty unique experiences and attractions. You can walk on the ocean floor, kayak amongst rock formations, go whale watching, or go Tidal Bore rafting. 

Tidal Bore rafting
Tidal Bore rafting. Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia
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But before we get too far, let’s first talk about the phenomena of the tidal bore.

About Tides and Tidal Bores

The average tidal range of all oceans around the world is 1 meter (3ft), and yet the Bay of Fundy sees tides of up to 16 meters (52.5 ft). You can see vertical and horizontal tidal effects around the bay’s coastline, but the best way to experience it is by witnessing the tidal bores. 

Tidal bores only happen in a handful of places worldwide, and the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia is one of these unique spots. The tidal bore phenomenon occurs when the incoming tide of the bay meets the Shubenacadie River and causes an abrupt change in the current. It pushes the water back, leading to a turbulent chaos of waves and roaring rapids. 

The lead wave is referred to as the tidal bore. It can range from 8 to 20 feet (2.5-6 meters), and be classified as regular, high and extreme, depending on the timing. 

Tidal Bore
Tidal Bore in action

Tidal Bore Rafting on Shubenacadie River

The best way to experience the power of the Bay of Fundy tides is to go Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia. This fun experience is only found on the Shubenacadie River or locally known as the Schubie River, noted as one of the top five rivers in Canada by Lonely Planet.  

Many companies offer rafting trips on Shubenacadie River, but no one does it better than the original founders of the experience, the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort

Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia
Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia

The tours are only offered in the warmer months from May to October, and the level of adventure is scalable based on your preference. These trips range from 1-hour to 4-hour rafting trips! 

4-hour trips cover around an 18 km (10 miles) stretch of the river. Shorter tours cover just 9 km (6 miles) of the river but still offer the same high-adrenaline adventure. 

Once a month, Tidal Bore Rafting Resort puts on the Fundy Tides and Fireside Adventure experience, which includes a beautiful lunch on the tidal floor, a tidal bore rafting adventure, a lobster boil dinner and an overnight stay in one of the on-site cabins. 

We couldn’t squeeze a stay at the resort into our East Coast Canada adventure but managed to join the crew for an afternoon lunch on the tidal floor and a Tidal Bore rafting adventure!

Tidal Bore Rafting Resort
At the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort on Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia

Tidal Bore Rafting: Our Experience 

We arrived at the Tidal Bore Rafting Resort, not really knowing what to expect from this trip. After parking our car, we made our way inside and were pleased to see the laid-back attitude of the staff and the guides around the resort.  

The guide’s brief introduction of the experience made one thing clear: Tidal Bore Rafting was not a typical rafting adventure! 

Shubenacadie River
Shubenacadie River at low tide

We grabbed safety jackets and helmets and geared up for our adventure. It was hard to imagine any powerful rapids as we descended to the calm and peaceful Shubenacadie River. 

“Just wait for the bores,” laughed our guide, noting our puzzlement. “You won’t recognize this river in just a few hours time”

There was no better way to wait for the rapids than to enjoy a beautiful seafood lunch on the tidal floor. The tables were beautifully set with linen tablecloths, and the lunch spread featured fresh seafood paired with local signature wines called Tidal Bay. 

Lunch on the Shubenacadie River floor
Lunch on the Shubenacadie River floor

After lunch, the river started to transform.

We jumped back on the raft and headed out to the river mouth. We quickly learned that Tidal Bore rafting is not exactly like other rafting trips, as there are no paddles involved and the guide has complete control of the boat. So we got comfy and got ready for the ride of our lives!

The excitement began as soon as the first tidal bore reached our boat. All of a sudden, dozens of other Tidal Bore Rafting boats appeared around us, riding the waves as they sped up around us. Each wave was a thrill as we rode the highs and lows, getting splashed along the way. 

Tidal Bore rafting, Shubenacadie River
En route to catch the Tidal Bores
Tidal Bore rafting, Shubenacadie River
Tidal Bore rafting on Shubenacadie River
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On the Shubenacadie River for Tidal Bore rafting
Tidal Bore rafting on Shubenacadie River
Tidal Bore rafting on Shubenacadie River

On the way back to the resort, we got to enjoy some mud sliding around the banks of the river.  Snacks and drinks awaited us back at the resort. 

Tidal Bore Rafting Resort offers guests a private cottage on the property with either one or two bedrooms and plenty of great facilities, including free wifi, ensuites, heating and AC. Some of the cozy pine chalets even offer a hot tub as well, or there’s a seasonal outdoor pool for everyone to enjoy. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay for the overnight experience. But it looked like such a fun trip for a special occasion! The experience is made complete with a lobster dinner and a beer or glass of wine by the fire for a relaxing chat with guests before retreating to cedar rooms. 

Tidal Bore Rafting: Tips & Advice

  • Due to the power of the river and the tidal bores, no paddles are used on the Tidal Bore rafting adventures, making the experience more akin to a rollercoaster ride than a thrilling workout! 
  • The Tidal Bore Rafting Resort supplies mandatory life vests, rainwear and boots if needed.
  • River water temperature ranges between 20-27°C (55-80°F), while the air temperature is usually quite a bit cooler. Warm flotation suits are available at no extra charge. 
  • The Tidal Bore Rafting Adventure is available daily in the summer, but the special Fundy Tides and Fireside Adventure is only offered a few times a year.
Canada Nova Scotia Tidal Bore rafting 20220701 142356 00 022 2023 02 01 15 29 21 screenshot
Tidal Bore rafting on Shubenacadie River

Why Go: Final Thoughts

A tidal bore rafting adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The rafting trips offer one of the best ways to experience the natural phenomenon of the Bay of Fundy tides. Plus, the overnight Fundy Tides and Fireside Adventure and wilderness seclusion allow for the ultimate enjoyment, with relaxing cabins, delicious food and extra time to experience the area. It was such a fantastic experience for our East Coast Canada vacation, and we highly recommend adding it to your Nova Scotia itinerary.

READ NEXT: 14 Best Things To Do In Nova Scotia

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