22 February 2019 by Andy Austen
In short, Canada’s smallest province packs a lot in. From burnished red beaches to rolling hinterlands, island life plays out over quaint villages, historic sites and a full spread of outdoors activities. It’s all animated by oh-so friendly locals. So, without further ado, here are Wexas specialist Andy Austen’s top five reasons to come to this most welcoming of Canadian islands.
1. The Drives
Road near New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island
Put simply, Prince Edward Island is a driver’s paradise. Quiet country roads showcase the best of the province, sweeping you between lonely villages and forest-dappled hinterlands to arrive at a series of scenic overlooks. It’s all linked to the mainland by the giant, 13km-long Confederation Bridge. However, it’s the coastal drives that demand the most attention, with routes (marked by colourful signposts) taking you right among giant sandstone cliffs, rocky crags and seaside towns alive with island life. As they’re fond of saying over there, “there’s no wrong turn on the island”.
2. Arts, Culture and History
Anne of Green Gables National Historic Site
If you thought that the island looked like something out of a Victorian childhood idyll, then you’d be right. As the setting of Anne of Green Gables, you’ll be able to visit the lonely lighthouses, villages of Victorian houses, and, yes, the titular house itself of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic. The latter is even immortalised in a superb national historic site.
The island’s human history dates back much further, with archaeological evidence of thousand-year-old Mi'kmaq settlements. Today, indigenous life lives on in colourful festivals and a superb cultural centre. Then, trace your way through the time of the French colonists with a visit to the Acadian Museum before continuing towards the present day with historic farms, fisheries and art galleries. The capital, Charlottetown, also deserves a special mention. Among its redbrick townhouses and tree-lined streets, Canada as a nation was born with 1864’s Confederate Conference.
3. Activities and Natural World
Cycling on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island
Termed the “Garden Province” for a reason, Prince Edward Island packs in no fewer than 23 provincial parks. It’s a rural jewel, from its old-growth forests to its rust-red shorelines and gently undulating farmlands. However, Prince Edward Island National Park is the undisputed highlight, spanning 60 kilometres of the north coast’s most impressive scenery. Expect rolling sand dunes and sea-battered crags.
Wherever you are, you’ll have a full complement of outdoor activities to choose from. The golf courses are world-class, the hiking superb, and the Confederation Trail offers some of North America’s best biking. Then, if you hit the waters, you’ll have everything from kayaking and paddle-boarding to snorkelling and seal watching to keep you busy.
4. The Food
Prince Edward Island lobster
When seafood is sold right out of boats’ nets, you know it’s got to be good. I’ve got particularly fond memories of the lobster and mussels, with Prince Edward Island Canada’s top producer and exporter of the latter. They’re this gorgeous, oversized blue that all but melts in the mouth. Then, back on land, it’s all paired with the famous, just-picked Prince Edward potatoes, immortalised in the kitschy brilliance of the island’s Canadian Potato Museum. Be sure to wash it all down with a tipple from one of the island’s wineries and craft-beer breweries, or pick your own strawberry dessert in the North Cape. There's a reason that the province is known as "Canada's Food Island".
5. The Beaches
Yes, I’ve highlight Prince Edward’s natural beauty already, but the beaches deserve a special mention. Much of the island’s 1,100 kilometres of shoreline is dappled into gorgeous sands, ideal for beautifully windswept walks or, come summer, some much-needed relaxation – perfect when paired with an active morning. There’s even some excellent surf to be had. My favourite beach pick, though? Those with the island’s iconic red sands, which make for some truly spectacular sunsets.
Lastly, although I’ve picked out a few of my favourite itineraries below, please also don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our Canada specialists today. For more information, fill out an enquiry form or call us on 020 7590 0610.