How to Dig for Clams: the Bay of Fundy

Two men walking at low tide.

The professor and the Clam Digger Went to See

It had been raining all day and as we drove to Gulliver’s Cove, Nova Scotia, we wondered whether it was realistic to go clam digging in such weather. What a joke. Terry Wilkins, our clam digging expert has been digging clams four to five hours a day, six days a week for 44 years. Somehow, I don’t think a bit of rain has ever stopped him.

Fortunately, the test of our fortitude didn’t happen as the weather broke just before we got there. In a light drizzle we walked out at low tide to go clam digging. And low tide is really low tide. Gulliver’s Cove is on the Bay of Fundy which has the highest and lowest tides in the world.

A simple but extraordinary opportunity for travelers.

The clam digging was organized by Wanda Vantassel of Fundy Adventures. With people like Terry, she helps you “experience the Bay of Fundy as the hard-working men and women of Guliver’s Cove have done for generations” She introduces you to traditional clam digging, dulse harvesting, winkling and lobster fishing.

Clam digger and wheel barrow

Terry was our masterful leader in the art of clam digging.

One might think that clam digging is a relatively easy task. You have a huge fork like implement and a bucket, you dig with a fork and put the clams you find in the bucket. Easy!

Not quite. Because, there are not as many clams as you might think. Even if you find the tell-tale signs of small holes in the flattened sand and dig there, you may come up empty. I would dig a hole, nothing. Another, nothing. Wanda helped me. We did a bit better. Then Terry came along. He has a dig and roll technique that moves so quickly that my bucket was half full in no time. It’s like, well, maybe, he knew what he was doing.

Full clam digging gear and tools.

One cannot underestimate the skill of any profession. Likewise the cooking of the clams. Wanda cooked up a feed for us and served it with her special biscuits – a secret recipe I’m afraid.

It was a great outing. As a solo traveler, you can meet up with others for an afternoon of clam digging, dulse harvesting or whatever strikes your fancy. Just remember, you can’t go at any time. You must schedule your outing according to the tides.

This is Wanda, the brains and spirit behind Fundy Adventures.

Young woman eating clams

And after the clam digging, there was clam eating!

Man with cowboy hat and guitar.

Terry is a clam digger of many talents. He shared his original tunes with us about life on the Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy is a special place in so many ways that it is shortlisted as one of the New7Wonder of Nature. I went to have a look thanks to New Brunswick Tourism and Tourism Nova Scotia. The final list of Seven will be announced in November. Between now and then, I’ll write a couple of posts a month to share with you why you definitely want to go there and, hopefully, why you to help them with the cause by voting for The Bay of Fundy.

  • D.j. Cross McInnis

    Where would you go if you were traveling alone? Tancook Island via of Chester and ferry. They are on FB for more details.

  • Theodora

    Ah! This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and you really bring it to life, Janice.

  • Maria

    Clam diggin’ with live music? That is far better than whistling while you work *grin*