I have spent two weeks on Prince Edward Island (PEI) in May, and I still miss this place. Before my visit, I had not met anyone who grew up on Prince Edward Island or heard of anyone who had traveled there. Prince Edward Island is one of Canada’s three Maritime provinces and is the smallest province in Canada in terms of land mass and the population, but travel around PEI is extremely fun and awe-inspiring. Here, I will reveal the parts that I love about Prince Edward Island and why you should visit if you are in Canada.
Charming coastal drive
Who would not like to drive on the coastal highways with oceans on one side and the extended greenish farm fields on the other side? Apparently, nobody. Prince Edward Island has countless beaches, bays, and inlets, and a road trip along the coast delivers appealing scenery at every turn. One can explore the island in three coastal drives: North Cape Coastal Drive, Central Coastal Drive, and Points East Coastal Drive. Each coastal drive has different vistas, seascapes, and culture.
Picture: Route 12 to North Cape by Julie Cao
I have driven around the island, and the coastal drive on the North Cape is my favorite. The finale took me to the North Cape, where North America’s longest natural rock reef tower over the red sand beaches. This is also where the Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence meet, creating strong winds comes from all directions. The panoramic seascapes are so serene and charming that I cannot help but stare.
Picture: North Cape at the end of Route 12, Prince Edward Island by Julie Cao
Prince Edward Island has some unexpected historical facts waiting for you to discover. Do you know this small Atlantic province is the birthplace of Canada? Canada was born there in 1864 through the Charlottetown Conference. A visit to the Founder’s Hall will take you back to 1864 to learn how Canada started to take shape over that period.
Along the North Cape Coastal Drive, there are several museums in the rural communities for you to learn about Canada’s history and the heritage of the island. One of the most interesting museums in North Cape is the Canadian Potato Museum, which about a 30-minute road trip from Tignish. It features the history of potato farming machinery and agriculture, and potato artifacts. At the door, you can take a photo with the world’s largest potato sculpture.
Picture: Canada was born in PEI, in 1864
If you are interested in the discovery of the first nation, visit Lennox Island, the largest Mi’kmaq community in Canada. Take a trip to the Acadian Museum in Mischouche to learn the history and the culture of the French pioneers. For lighthouse artifacts, visit West Point Lighthouse Museum and watch the sunset – it is one of the best on the island. Overall, the history of Canada can be found everywhere on Prince Edward Island.
Festivals all summer
Summer is when Prince Edward Island comes alive. There are countless sports events, outdoor concerts, culinary festivals, and theater productions on the island. One can get a taste of local lifestyle and learn so much more about Prince Edward Island by simply hitting the musical festival at Homburg Theater in Charlottetown.
If you like plays, the Victoria Playhouse Festival is the best place to visit. The historical Victoria Hall features comedy, drama, and music that display the significance of the island culture. One can also enjoy culinary events like the Indian River Festival and the Summerside Lobster Festival. Other festivals and events can be found here.
Picture: Sunset at Cavendish Grove, Prince Edward Island by Julie Cao
Fresh seafood galore
If you are obsessed with seafood, Prince Edward Island is a wonderful place for you. With the stunning coastline and blooming fishing industry, Prince Edward Island has a variety of delicious seafood to offer. If you take a stroll along the coast in the early morning, you will spot the fishing boats in the middle of the ocean capturing sea creatures for businesses.
The best way to indulge in a seafood meal is to grab mussels and lobsters from the local fisheries. They are less than half the price as in the restaurants. Find out how to cook mussels and de-lobster yourself, and have them for dinner with PEI potatoes and a bottle of wine at an outdoor seating area. Many restaurants also offer delicious local delicacies, such as lobster dinner, fish and chips, and lobster rolls.
Whether you decide to cross land to New Brunswick or not, you cannot leave Prince Edward Island without checking out the Confederation Bridge. This 12.9-kilometer bridge links Border-Carleton, Prince Edward Island, to the mainland, Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick, and it is the longest bridge over ice-covered water in the world. This bridge is an engineering marvel, taking four years and costing CAD $1.3 billion to build. It takes approximately 20 minutes to travel across. This bridge has dozens of surveillance cameras, speed limit, emergency alarms and curves to make you focus on the drive. The view of the bridge is the best from the lookout on the North Carleton road.
Picture: View of Confederation Bridge in North Carleton by Julie Cao
The friendly and trustworthy locals make it a perfect reason to visit Prince Edward Island. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed by locals, and I was invited to their groups for dinner, games, and playing tennis. There are several B&Bs on the island, and for each one I stayed, I was treated as a queen. Not every B&B I have stayed elsewhere had owners who set up a table for me for dinner, share their favorite spots on the island, tell me where to get the seafood, help me find accommodations on my next leg of travel, invite me for post-dinner games, and chat me up like we were old friends.
Under the tourists radar
Prince Edward Island is a less-visited place, and you can totally embrace the serenity this island has to offer. If you venture there during the low-season in May and if you are in the places outside Charlottetown and Summerside, chances are you will have the most attractive sites on your own. Although Cavendish on the central coast can get slightly busy, it does not get quite as packed as the city center in large metropolitan, and you will find plenty of spots to rest and embrace the stunning vistas. In North Cape where I spent the most time traveling, I could count the numbers of oncoming vehicles on Route 12. On Route 14 from the North Cape to West Point, I felt I had wheeled myself into a no-man’s land with a long stretch of coastline on the side of the road. At the East Point, I only saw one traveler walking around the oceanfront, and he left shortly after we arrived.
Picture: Basin Head and we were the only group there
I hope this post shows you how interesting and fun it is to explore Prince Edward Island. Do not take Canada’s smallest province for granted. It is rich in culture and history, and filled with unparalleled natural sites. It provides a great insight into island life and into how the island shape into how the confederation to what it is today.
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