Prince Edward Island
Why don't you visit Prince Edward Island and see the ‘World’s Best Island Destinations’ as named in the Travel and Leisure Magazine’s list. Prince Edward Island may be the smallest province in Canada, but it is long on hospitality. As an island, it is naturally separated from the rest of the world: the pace here is easy, comfortable and relaxed, making it the perfect place to unwind and cast off stress. Named for the British Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, it was originally home to Mi’qmak First Nations people. Subsequently under French and then British rule until joining the Canadian federation in 1873, it is known as ‘The Birthplace of Canadian Confederation’. The primary industries are fishing and agriculture, and more than seventy percent of the land area is farmland, while the thriving shellfish industry provides excellent lobster, oysters and mussels that are well known for their quality, and exported all over Canada and the rest of the world.
One of its most famous cultural exports is the Anne of Green Gables series of children’s books: written by Clifton PEI resident Lucy Maud Montgomery, the stories revolved around the adventures of a red-haired orphan girl named Anne, who came to live on Prince Edward Island with her adoptive parents. After more than twenty books, Anne lives on in infamy with a thriving tourist mystique built around her character, including a museum, and several long-running theatrical productions. Prince Edward Island also boasts a rich musical culture, with their own brand of Celtic Folk Music being quite popular, featuring a particular fiddling style and step dancing which is unique to the region.
Things to do:
Famous for its beaches, golfing, local folk art and fresh cuisine, there are plenty of pastimes the whole family will love. Wrapped in sandy beaches, it’s easy to chase the sun around the coastline: picturesque lighthouses dot the seascapes which vary between white and red sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, marshy wetlands, red sandstone bluffs and massive fields of dunes. Of the thirty-three golf clubs on the island, there is a course to suit any level of player from beginner to expert, and none are too far away from the ocean. Canada’s number one golf destination, there are several ‘stay and play’ resort vacations, and if so inclined, one could play a different course every single day! Not a golfer? There are plenty of other exciting outdoor activities, both self-guided and fully hosted. Cycling is popular on the island, with hundreds of miles of flat roads and groomed trails to ride or hike. Boating, kayaking and sea fishing are also very popular, and excursions are offered: take a trip out to the clam beds to hunt for giant clams, have a cookout on the beach, fish for lobster, mussels and crab and finish up with a deep sea fishing adventure. For culinary enthusiasts, the Fall Flavours Festival runs through the month of September and includes signature events featuring celebrated chefs from across Canada, while the PEI International Shellfish Festival is hailed as Canada’s largest kitchen party, boasting “good friends, good times, good music” and all the PEI shellfish you can eat!
If the arts are your thing, Prince Edward Island is host to several festivals presenting independent community productions and musical theatre as well as long-running Broadway blockbusters. Starting in May and running through October, show offerings run the gamut, offering everything from Shakespeare to Anne of Green Gables. For fourteen days in June, the Festival of Small Halls features critically acclaimed traditional music, dance and storytelling presented in community halls all over the island, a perfect way to take in the local culture during your stay. Explore a bit of Canada’s history in Charlottetown, known as the ‘Birthplace of Canadian Confederation’, or discover archeological wonders that date PEI’s first Aboriginal settlers back thousands of years. Experience the beauty of the island and its rich Celtic, Acadian and Mi’qmak First Nations heritage, and get to know what makes this one of the top island destinations in the world.
Choose any of our Prince Edward Island holidays and we recommend that this is best traveled to in the spring to autumn months, between late April and late October. Though temperate, the weather in the early months of the year is quite unpredictable and it is not unusual for the province to endure blizzards and other harsh Maritime weather. The temperatures in the summertime average a cool twenty-three degrees Celsius, although daytime highs can soar to thirty and higher in July and August. The winters are moderately cold, but can be quite long, with sea ice remaining often until late April or early May. Autumn is an ideal time to visit, as the late onset of frost allows for fabulous golfing that lasts well through the end of October when the rainy season begins.
Here are some top tips for Prince Edward Island activities:
- Golfing: with thirty-three golf courses, none more than a forty-five minute drive from each other, one could literally golf a different course every single day! There are courses appropriate for all levels of proficiency, and some courses are certifiably world-class. Many feature on-site accommodation with ‘stay and play’ packages offering full resort amenities such as spas and fine dining. Voted number one by Trip Advisor, The Links at Crowbush Cove boasts an immaculate course and spectacular ocean views, while their staff and service is five-star all the way.
- Beaches: Cavendish Beach is probably the most popular beach on PEI, and it stands to reason that it is the most crowded. Fortunately, there are several other beaches, all equally as lovely and less populated. Singing Sands Beach on the Eastern side of the island is popular with teenagers and young adults, and gets its name by virtue of the sound the sand makes when you walk on it – kind of a squeaky noise rather than actual ‘singing’ but a natural wonder nonetheless!
- Anne of Green Gables House and Avonlea: Though the subject matter in these popular children’s books was fiction, it was all inspired by a very real place. You will find tributes to the beloved red-haired Anne all over the island in museums, exhibits and theatrical productions, but traveling to Cavendish, within the Prince Edward Island National Park, you can actually explore the Green Gables House and wander the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails that are described in the book. Pure magic for any who have once enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables series, and a significant part of the cultural history of the region that celebrates the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, as a national treasure. The neighboring village of Avonlea is worth a visit as well, a nineteenth century town that recreates the look and feel of the book, complete with theatres, restaurants and plenty of opportunities to shop for all things Anne.
- Brackley Beach Drive In: It’s exactly what it sounds like – a good old fashioned drive-in movie theatre, complete with bad audio and a canteen to purchase popcorn and candy. There aren’t too many of these left in the world, and if you’ve never experienced a drive-in, you absolutely must! Take a blanket and some insect repellant and watch a first run film from the comfort of your car. Perhaps not for everyone, but a campy North American experience you will never forget!
- Ceilidhs: Live music is plentiful on Prince Edward Island, and a Ceilidh is synonymous with island life and good times. A Ceilidh translates roughly to ‘good time’ but has come to mean a variety show that includes singing and dancing, and they are plentiful. Check local listings to find one, although those that are advertised tend to be more geared towards tourists. Some aficionados claim the more ‘authentic’ Ceilidhs are not advertised, but ask your innkeeper or host, and you’ll surely find yourself with plenty of suggestions.
- Lobster Supper: There is nothing more delicious than a Lobster Supper from a place that serves only lobster. You could easily find the local specialty at a commercial restaurant, but the locals will tell you that finding a down home ‘Lobster Supper’ run by a church group or family-run spot that serves nothing but lobster is the way to go. Be on the lookout during your coastal drives; most don’t advertise but are easily located with a few well-placed queries.