When the tide goes out twice daily in the Bay of Fundy, it goes out far. As the ocean funnels into, then back out, of the bay between the Atlantic Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it rises, then drops some 50 feet, making it the world’s largest tidal range. That gives Bay of Fundy Adventures a six hour window to host Savour the Sea Caves: An Ocean Floor Culinary Adventure, a dining experience hosted at caves carved into red cliffs by monumental tidal forces.
In the days leading up to our arrival, the Bay of Fundy Adventures team lowers over the cliff the equipment required to pull off this daring dinner. On the high tide preceding the dinner, they land food and drink by boat.
The experience, which is only offered one or twice per year, is open to groups of 24 people. I grabbed one of the last tickets, and followed instructions to gather at the tiny village of St. Martins about 45 minutes from the coastal city of Saint John and three hours north of Maine. The tide goes so far out around this time that the gravelly ocean bottom stretches between the parking lot and the water. With the tide so far out, we had enough time to complete our four-hour dining experience. The congenial group chatted as we waited to be led down into the caves and begin our adventure.
Here’s what it’s like to dine on the ocean floor where the world’s highest tides ebb and flow.
What to expect during the Savour the Sea Caves dining experience
On the trek to the dining room sea cave, the guides take their time, stopping to educate guests about the history of the Bay of Fundy. As we walk and pause, walk and pause, that old saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” comes to mind.
Bay of Fundy Adventures guide, Joe Brennan talks science, telling us how these extreme tides happen. The motion of water sloshing back and forth is called a seiche. That’s what happens twice daily as a billion tons of ocean (more than the flow of all the world’s rivers combined) rocks in and out of the bay.
We stopped at the mouth of a shallow cave to snack on appetizers. A natural stone lintel (a beam that typically spans the opening of a fireplace or window) the size of a bus makes this cave a bit too dangerous to enter.
After we enjoy our appetizers, the group embarks on the journey to the larger sea cave, where we’ll be seated for dinner. I feel so small, clambering around on the rocky outcrops covered in thick layers of seaweed. Up and down we go, along a path so far from the bay, it’s hard to believe it’ll all be under water six hours from now.
Up over the last ledge and around a corner, we finally arrive at our destination: A long picnic table is set up at the mouth of the cave. It’s clear there’s no other way to get to this sea cave—much larger than the previous ones—than to hike across the ocean floor at low tide.
As we arrive and explore the outdoor dining room, Bossé and the Bay of Fundy Adventures team are already getting the first course together.
The atmosphere is casual around the communal table where I meet couples, many of whom seem to seek out these kinds of dining experiences as a hobby. We swap stories of memorable meals and road trips, creative chefs and inspiring landscapes. Because our voices echo off the stone walls surrounding us on three sides, the ambiance is one of intimacy, even though we’re outside in such a large space.
The end of meal is nearing. Now it’s time for dessert. Because we’ll be assembling our own dessert, Bossé begins with a demonstration.