Prince Edward Island is the "gentle island" - but it's anything but sleepy!
One of the first trips I ever took was as a little girl on a family vacation to Prince Edward Island - and I've loved the island ever since. It's compact enough that you can explore it thoroughly in a short amount of time yet large enough that it can keep you intrigued and entertained for a long time.
I take every opportunity I can to go back to visit and I think it's the perfect place to spend a week - or even just a spare afternoon. And best of all? It's incredibly affordable. You'll find fantastic value throughout the island, especially when you do some of my favourite things.
Do the Tip-to-Tip Tour
It's not often you can claim bragging rights for driving from one side of a Canadian province to another but you can do so fairly easily on Prince Edward Island. The tip-to-tip tour encourages visitors to take a road trip from the East Point Lighthouse to the North Cape Lighthouse - and you even get a certificate when you complete your journey!
The tip-to-tip tour is one of the ultimate Canadian roadtrips. While you can accomplish the drive in a few hours, plan on spending the entire day so you can take your time and explore to your heart's content. Bring along some spare change so you can stop at roadside produce stands and stock up on local goodies for a cookout -more on that below!
Head to the Harbour for Seafood
PEI is rightly famous for potatoes, however in my opinion, the most delicious fare is their local seafood. For the best deals, head straight to the harbour and buy directly from the fishermen. You'll always get the freshest (and most delicious!) catch and it's a fantastic opportunity to make new friends and get to know the locals. And if you play your cards right, you might just get the inside scoop on a local ceilidh (kitchen party style concert).
Take a Trip to the Beach
I've seen a lot of beautiful beaches around the world but there are few that can compare to those in Prince Edward Island. Gorgeous lighthouses, tons of soft sand, and water that's warmer than you might expect - plus great beachcombing opportunities. We've always found lots of driftwood, shells, and beachglass on the beaches of PEI.
Chat with the locals to see which beaches allow campfires. One of my absolutely favourite things to do is have a beach cookout at sunset. There's nothing wrong with hotdogs and marshmallows, but on PEI you can also have a lobster and corn boil, with baked potatoes roasting in the coals and local strawberries on standby for dessert. (As always, obey local regulations and be a responsible fire caretaker).
Visit the Land of Anne
Prince Edward Island is home to Green Gables National Historic Site - an absolute must for any Anne of Green Gables fan. But PEI isn't called the "Land of Anne" because of just one spot. Green Gables is just the beginning! There are landmarks associated with Anne and her author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, all over the island.
In Cavendish itself, just down the road from Green Gables, is the village post office. It's been a functioning Canada Post bureau for a long time - so long, in fact, that Montgomery herself was once post mistress there. This is the perfect place to mail your post cards and souvenirs! (Speaking of souvenirs, I heartily recommend the chocolate covered potato chips sold in gift shops all over Cavendish. I know, I know, it sounds strange, but they really are incredible and when the chips are made from local potatoes, they're even better).
In Charlottetown, you have to take the time to take in a performance of Anne of Green Gables The Musical. It's a magical show and kids will absolutely love it -and so will adults!
Discover Charlottetown's Artsy Side
Anne of Green Gables The Musical may be the hottest show in town, but it's not the only option for art lovers. City Cinema is Charlottetown's only independent theatre and shows a wide variety of Canadian, foreign language, and art house films. It's the perfect way to spend a quiet night relaxing in the capital and it's my go-to spot in the city (great popcorn too!)
If you're looking for music recitals, concerts, plays, festivals, art exhibitions, lectures, or special events, you're going to love The Buzz. It's a comprehensive newspaper of all the artistic happenings and, while most events take place in Charlottetown, they cover everything on the island.
A lot of people come to PEI to rent a cottage on the shore - an excellent plan! But the accommodations in Charlottetown are extremely affordable compared to other Canadian cities and, in particular, I think the local bed and breakfasts offer a great value.
Some Final Tips
Should you take the ferry or the bridge to PEI? I say both! I suggest driving over Confederation Bridge so you are in the perfect position to start exploring the west shore right away. The bridge itself isn't very scenic (in fact, you can't see a thing!) but the drive through rural New Brunswick to get there is very pretty.
To leave PEI, I suggest taking the ferry to Nova Scotia. My preference for this lies in the fact that there is counter selling homemade fudge in the gift shop at the PEI ferry terminal! This trip is VERY scenic and a sunset ferry ride is a fantastic experience. There are also musical performances on several of the summer ferry crossings. Occasionally crossings can get busy and for that reason I don't suggest taking the last ferry of the day, just in case you can't get on.
Of course, that's all contingent on the fact that you'll actually want to leave - an unlikely scenario once you get one glimpse of the island!
I'd love to hear from you - what's you're favourite island in the world?
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