Although Prince Edward Island is one lovely land mass, due to the many geological curves along the coastline, it appears to be divided into three; North Cape, Central Coast and Points East. The main hub being Charlottetown.
We arrive in time to take a stroll and get a feel for this capital. A boardwalk, anchored by a conference centre, is sandwiched between the marina and colourful emporiums. Queen and Great George are two of the main streets where we find everything, from book stores to gift shops. Stately churches, Confederation Centre of the Arts and City Hall intermingle with heritage brick beauties, all which are picture-worthy.
But the best way to explore PEI is to get out of this hub and put our pedal to the metal. And over the next two days we do just that.
"Over 88,000 acres of potatoes are grown here every year?" my travelling encyclopaedia a.k.a. husband states. "They've been harvesting spuds here since the late 1700's."
Although this statistic is new to me, based on the number of crops (and loaded potato trucks) that we breeze by, it's obvious—farming is a way of life on PEI. The fishing industry is a stiff competitor. In the many bays we pass, buoys bobble over thriving oyster beds, markers float above mounds of mussels, lobster traps pile up next to sea-going vessels and propped up fishing boats take up space in many front yards and driveways.
As well as pastoral settings, pretty villages and fragrant forests, our 475 km East Coastal Drive loops by vacated golf courses, campgrounds, cottages and diners. In the summer months, all would be a bustle. But during this September visit it's quiet and tranquil. And, of course, the fifty beautiful beaches that rim this region's shoreline never close.
Beaver, Shipwreck and Savage are all sandy strips that get washed by the Gulf of St Lawrence. Crowbush Cove is one of our favourites along this northern section. A boardwalk links the parking lot to this lovely crescent, and white-tipped waves lap over its gentle sloping shore. Greenwich Dunes in Prince Edward Island National Park is another must-visit. A fairytale-like boardwalk rolls across the pristine wetlands and leads us to the largest dunes on the island and an interpretive centre provides an overview of archaeological findings that date back 10,000 years.
The Coastal Drive continues to the Eastern point lighthouse, but there are a number of roads that bisect the island, allowing a short cut to the other side. After a short cruise, we're facing the Northumberland Strait, a warmer waterway that lures the swimmers. Even at this time of year.
"It's not bad," Brent says, when putting his tootsies beyond the tide at Red Point Provincial Park. This playground draws in hoards of outdoor hounds in the warmer months, but today we're solo and loving the serenity.
Towns along the way also have that laid-back feel. Souris, Montague and Murray Harbour all deserve a look-see. And don't leave out those lighthouses. Our favourite and final stop on this East Coast drive is Pt. Prim, the first brick lighthouse to beacon sailors on PEI –and to all of Canada.
With only one day left and not enough time to explore both the North Cape and Central Coast, we opt for the latter.
The beaches pale in comparison, but this region makes up for it in scenic overload. Picture-perfect pastures seem to roll into the sea, pristine parklands meld with world class attractions and the names of a few tickety-boo townships remind me of home. Clinton, Hope River, Victoria. No, Toto, we're still not on the West Coast! But it is the famous landmark for Anne of Green Gables. Bus loads come in droves to check out this well-known site and get the historical scoop.
"We had 195,000 visitors this past summer," the tour guide shares. "You've come at the right time." Brent does the math. On average, that's around 2,000 a day. It's hard to believe, as there are only a handful of us browsing through the renown house today.
Our final viewpoint is Confederation Bridge, an astronomical feat that spans Northumberland Strait. Tomorrow, we'll be crossing it, a fifteen-minute journey from PEI to New Brunswick. And as if clicking my heels three times, we'll be transported away from this peaceful province, a place where people are as friendly as your next door neighbour and time seems to stand still.
IF YOU GO:
For more information about PEI
Photos by Jane & Brent Cassie
#1strolling the Charlottetown boardwalk
All material used by Travel Writers' Tales is with the permission of the writers and photographers who, under national and international copyright law,
retain the sole and exclusive rights to their work. The contents of this site, whether in whole or in part may not be downloaded,
copied or used in any manner without the explicit permission of Travel Writers' Tales Editors, Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts,
and the written consent of contributing writers and photographers. © Travel Writers' Tales