I’ve been to Prince Edward Island (PEI) seven times and each time I go I don’t want to leave, and this time, we almost didn’t (but more about that another time). My heart belongs to PEI. I was married in Brackley, PEI, and every time my husband and I return we meet with the woman who married us and catch up over wine and goodies. If you haven’t been to PEI here are six reasons you should book next year’s summer vacation there:
1) The Beaches: Take your pick- PEI has many great beaches. There is the infamous Cavendish Beach, which is known for its red cliffs, red sand and beautiful views, or just down the road is Brackley Beach, Stanhope Beach and Dalvay Beach – all are beautiful beaches filled with red sand and great for teaching your kids about the Arctic Red Jellyfish, crabs, various sea shells and hermit crabs. Basin Head is another great beach, known for its warm water and “singing sands,” the white sand there makes a whistling sound when you shuffle your feet through it. Basin Head was named the number one beach in Canada in 2013.
If you have a little explorer, like me, check out Argyle Shore when the tide is out (be sure to check online or on the park board upon arrival to make sure the tide is going out, otherwise the shoreline is very narrow). At Argyle Shore you will find traces of PEI’s other jellyfish – the White Moon Jellyfish as well as sea stars and crabs and plenty of shells. If it is sand dunes you are looking for be sure to visit Greenwich Beach – so picturesque, especially at sunset.
2) The Food: Even if you are not a fan of seafood, PEI offers some of the Maritimes best culinary experiences. From the gourmet cuisine at the historic Dalvay-By-the Sea, to the formal dining experience at The Dunes Café, to the delicious pub fare at Peakes Quay, and the casual anytime food at The Lobster Shack (Souris, PEI) or Richard’s – there is delicious food for everyone, regardless if you are a land lubber or sea dweller!
A lot of people visit Prince Edward Island with the intention of having a lobster supper. While New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is a popular spot, as is Fisherman’s Wharf in North Rustico, we prefer St. Ann’s Lobster Suppers (available every night except Sundays). Held in a basement church, it is the island’s original lobster supper and if lobster isn’t your thing, they also serve chicken. In addition to a freshly cooked lobster and mussels and all the sides, they also serve one of the best homemade chowders on the island (I think, anyway) and their desserts are freshly baked everyday! My husband claims it is the best lemon meringue pie he has ever had (but don’t tell my mother-in-law he said that).
And if you are looking for a great lunch spot to take the kids – or an afternoon escape with the girls, you must try the PEI Preserve Company. My husband swoons over their lobster quiche, while my daughter and I thoroughly enjoy their homemade scones and preserves during afternoon tea. And afterward you can tour their Gardens of Hope and visit their two miniature horses, Jenny and Magic. They also have a Butterfly House nearby filled with butterflies from all over the world just waiting to perch on your colourful hat, shirt or jacket.
One of my favourite food memories in PEI is the time my husband went, at the recommendation of a local, to one of the wharfs on the south shore to buy lobsters fresh off the boat! He returned to our cottage as proud as can be and we cooked and ate them the same day they were caught. You can’t get much fresher than that!
3) The Ice Cream: The word ice cream in PEI is synonymous with the word Cows. Cows ice cream is made right on the island and offers up some of the freshest and most flavourful ice cream you will find anywhere. In the summer months you can choose from their traditional flavours as well as PEI Blueberry and PEI Strawberry flavoured ice cream. So good. And if ice cream isn’t your thing, they also have gourmet applewood smoked cheddar cheese that will be sure to have you wanting more long after you eat the last piece!
4) The History: For decades people from all over the world have come to PEI to learn more about literary heroine Anne of Green Gables and her beloved creator L.M. Montgomery. The books’ characters come to life on the island whether it be through the live musical, the day-long adventures with the characters from the books in Avonlea Village or at Green Gables itself. By the end of your trip you will discover that there is a little bit of Anne in all of us.
The history of the island extends far beyond Anne of Green Gables and if you love old farm houses and agriculture simply strike up a conversation with any local (try Olde Village Bakery in Rustico, PEI – for the awesome locals and the incredible carrot cake) and you’ll learn more about the island in 15 minutes then you ever will reading about it.
5) The Lighthouses: Covehead Harbour is the most photographed lighthouse on the island, which probably has something to do with its proximity to Cavendish, one of the most frequented areas in PEI, but there are so many others. My favourite is West Point Lighthouse while my daughter loves Victoria Seaport Lighthouse. Point Prim is also great to visit as it was the first and oldest lighthouse in PEI. It’s also one of the only round brick lighthouses remaining in Canada. You will find yourself snapping your camera a lot when near the lighthouses – there is something enchanting about them. You can even stay in a lighthouse if you book early enough at Baywatch Accommodations in Brackley, PEI. You can also book accommodations in West Point Lighthouse.
6) Arts & Crafts: Everyday we drove by this older woman selling handmade knitted hats, scarves and mittens roadside. And even though the temperatures were well over 30 degrees when we were there, her stand was always busy. In addition to these unique roadside stands, you can also buy some very unique art and crafts at The Dunes Studio Gallery & Cafe in Brackley, PEI and local pottery from Village Pottery in New London, PEI. When visiting Village Pottery don’t forget to check out the one-of-a-kind beautiful jewelry handmade by the Potter’s Daughter. Also, it’s good to know that a lot of local artist’s drawings and paintings are displayed and for sale in many of the restaurants and stores throughout the island, so if you see one you like, don’t be afraid to ask if it is for sale!
I never get bored visiting Prince Edward Island. I could go on writing about Prince Edward Island for at least 10,000 more words – I hadn’t even mentioned the potatoes yet! Every visit is a breath of fresh air and the more I go, the more I want to stay. My husband and I have made wonderful friends with people on the island and know quite a few people who have visited the island and eventually moved there – that will be us someday. My heart tells me so.
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