Last month, I visited Prince Edward Island, one of Canada’s maritime provinces and the country’s smallest at a mere 5,660 square km. I went in search of adventure but instead found solitude in a province with a population of only 145,000. As one of the oldest settlements with livelihoods still based on farming and fishing, PEI is more than just lobster and potatoes. It’s a province full of small villages with endless grassy fields. Its 1,100km of coastline is dotted with lighthouse-capped capes.

[Note: Rachel’s trip to PEI was sponsored by Prince Edward Island Tourism.]
1

Lighthouses

In the early 1800s, all of PEI travelled by sea. Lighthouses have become a defining characteristic of PEI with two generations of styles built. Not far from the famed Anne of Green Gables setting, a story that inspired musicals and movies, I found this lonely lighthouse at Cape Tryon. For over a hundred years this beacon has guided sailors passing the north coast.

2

Cavendish Dunes

Stretching over 8km, this red-gold sandy beach is the island's most popular. By day it is home to more sandcastle builders tearing up the earth making mock moats than any other sandy spot in PEI. It’s also home to restoration efforts: dead spruce trees are planted in the sand dunes in an effort to keep the shrinking of the spit at bay along New London Harbour. By night, restoration builders and sand bulldozers are gone and it is just the sunset strollers out to enjoy the serenity.

3

Regrowth (Greenwich National Park)

There are little to no mountains on PEI; the highest point on the island is a mere 142m (466ft). However, to some, the stairways above the dunes—like this one at Greenwich National Park—are the closest thing to a hill they’ll ever climb.

4

Kayak Red Cliffs (North Rustico)

Every morning except Sunday, at first light when the mist still hangs on the water, a line of lobster boats chug out of North Rustico Harbor. After the rush hour of boats pass, on the outskirts of Cavendish National Park, lone kayakers can be spotted far beneath the red sandstone cliffs paddling the buttery smooth Gulf of St. Lawrence.

5

Sand and skies (Unnamed beach)

Years ago, PEI didn’t take conservation very seriously. Despite the first national park opening in 1937, some key beaches like Greenwich Dunes allowed people to drive their cars and have campfires all over the sand until 1998. Thankfully, that is all but a memory of past generations. The national park’s area is growing, private landowners have also committed to protect their land, and the culture is shifting more toward environmentally friendly options, like bike lanes and ecotourism.

6

Boardwalk jaunts (Greenwich National Park)

From tip-to-tip you could bike or walk PEI in 254 miles (410km). To circle it, 528 miles (850km). And with long journeys come welcomed rest stops on boardwalks like this to listen to the shore birds chirp their way across the Greenwich ponds.

7

Sunset (Cavendish, PEI National Park)

Nearly every day, the consistent wind on the north and west capes of PEI have made a case for wind farms. Calm morning winds turn into violent gusts, and mixed in with the strong tides have shaped the island not only as a wind playground but into the dramatic coastline with soft sand shores it is today. At night the calm winds and seas return.

8

Kayak South Shore (Victoria-by-the-Sea)

The south shore of PEI is good for many reasons, like small seaside villages such as Victoria-on-the-Sea with a population of 200 friendly folks, a chocolate factory, and warm waters to kayak. Beyond the classic lighthouse and red sandstone cliff scenery are miles of sand bars that provide PEI’s most delicious treat: clams. Clam-filled sand bars are all over the island, but word with the locals is the south coast is the best coast when it comes to clams.

9

Lighthouse (West Point)

First lit in 1874, the square lighthouse at the West Point of PEI is in a sleepy community. Diners close before dark leaving sunset-watching as one of the only entertainment options left. Not quite the westernmost point in PEI, the deceivingly named lighthouse is one of the most historic with only five other lighthouses pre-dating it.

10

Windy Escapes (Cape Tryon)

Finding Cape Tryon isn’t the easiest of tasks. The rust colored mud road that runs parallel along the Cape gives no indication of a lonely lighthouse and spectacular view of the windswept north shore. With over a quarter of the land dedicated to agriculture, there’ll undoubtedly be times of crossing a farmer’s field.

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