What to See and Do on Prince Edward Island
Tips and Guides, Canada,
For those looking for natural beauty and picturesque surroundings for their next holiday, a cruise voyage that stops at Prince Edward Island must certainly be in your plans. This historic and tranquil Canadian maritime province has something to offer for all involved; from beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, a fascinating history, and exciting activities. Prince Edward Island, also known as ‘Garden of the Gulf’, really does have it all, and with that in mind, we’ve assembled this very guide to help breakdown the particulars of what is on offer, helping you to plan a memorable adventure in the area.
Image credit: Katherine MacLaine
For those looking for fine food and delicious dining establishments, you won’t have to search very far as the in New Glasgow offers to visitors attractive dishes that encapsulate the best of Prince Edward Island. This friendly location is the perfect spot for relaxing, enjoying great breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with some rather stunning views of River Clyde.
We asked Preserve Company why they believe visitors to PEI should make sure to dine with them:
“They should dine here because of our focus on local dishes served at a reasonable price in a beautiful dining room overlooking the scenic River Clyde.”
Preserve Company isn’t just a restaurant, there is also a garden and a store where some fantastic goodies can be picked up:
“If visiting us, one can view artisan foods being prepared, one can also sample all the store has to offer in the way of food. We blend our teas and have done so since 1988. Our shop also has one of the largest displays of Dunoon Fine Bone China, and for sale of course.
Image credit: Katherine MacLaine
“Whilst on the property, one should take in our Gardens of Hope, a 12 acre garden with 2 kilometres of walkways, vistas, flower beds, and live butterfly emporium. They should try our homemade ice cream and our onsite bakery puts up desserts that are to ‘drive’ for.”
Preserve Company also spoke to us about the joys of Prince Edward Island and what visitors can expect to find when they arrive:
“If you like islands with scenic vistas at every turn, over 600 kilometres of accessible beaches, great food, great people, then Prince Edward Island is for you. Because of the close proximity of our communities, you can do so much here in a very short time. Whether that is deep sea fishing, world-class golfing, or biking on our island-wide trails. We are home to the Culinary Institute of Canada and our restaurants are the recipients of the graduating talent; we have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Canada. We have several theatres and art galleries including the Confederation Centre of the Arts. This island is filled with the creative class.”
Image credit: Pint Size Pilot
Wonderful beaches and Prince Edward Island go hand in hand. When travellers to the area conjure an image of PEI, its sandy shores and red cliffs will immediately spring to mind. Prince Edward Island contains eleven hundred kilometres of shoreline to enjoy and explore, with vast swaths presenting itself to visitors in the form of immaculate looking beaches.
No matter what you are in the mood for during your stay, there will be a beach for you in PEI. There’s clam digging at Pinette, touristy spots like Cavendish, and picture-perfect white sand at spots like Basin Head Provincial Park.
Tara Cannon, who runs the family adventure blog , recommends the beaches of PEI very highly, especially for children:
“Kids will also love PEI’s more than 1100km of beaches — for tide pooling, picnics, building sand castles and much more. In fact, in the summer months, kids can even learn some special sand sculpting skills while building a sandcastle alongside famed local artist .”
So if beaches are what you are looking for during your next Canadian holiday, Prince Edward Island is the place for you. More information can be found about PEI’s myriad beaches over at the island’s tourism website, .
Other suggestions from Pint Size Pilot
Tara also recommends Island Hill Farm as a top location to visit when in Prince Edward Island:
“Little animal lovers should definitely make a stop by , a pretty hilltop working dairy and petting farm, where the daily highlight for children is the running of the goats, as they head out to graze in the pasture.
“When only a sweet treat will do, families can choose from one of PEI’s many popular dairy bars, the unique flavours at home-grown Cows Creamery (Messie Bessie or Cowconut Cream Pie anyone?) or some handmade small batch ice cream form Holmans Ice Cream Parlour and Soda Fountain in Summerside.”
Readers can see what else Tara recommends by taking a look at her post .
Image credit: Louise Vessey
For those looking for some culture during their trip to Prince Edward Island, a visit to the is an absolute must. There is all sorts going on at this fascinating hub for culture and history, and to help break some of it down, we spoke to the Centre itself, who told us why visitors to PEI should make sure to stop by:
“From world-class theatre productions to amazing works of fine art, the Centre is a one-stop-shop for Canadian arts and culture. Confederation Centre is Canada’s memorial to the nation’s founders – visit ‘The Story of Confederation’ chamber replica to learn about how our country was formed. Enjoy a delicious meal at our restaurant before you take in a show in the theatre, or attend an exhibition in the art gallery, and end by finding that perfect gift in our Showcase gift shop.”
The story of Canada’s founding is fascinating, and the centre does a wonderful job in telling its tale in a fun and accessible way. Confederation Centre explain in detail what those interested in Canada’s birth can expect to find:
“The official memorial to Canada’s founding fathers, this massive complex fills a full city block in the heart of Charlottetown. Visitors will enjoy the daily rousing (and free) noontime show by a corps of young ‘triple threats’ in the amphitheatre, and culture buffs can study public works of art placed around the outer complex.
“Venture inside and the fun continues. Newly opened in 2015 is ‘The Story of Confederation’, a realistic replica (also free) of the original Confederation Chamber, where the 1864 Charlottetown Conference discussions led to the creation of a country. For more on Confederation, visitors take in a vignette or walking tour with the Confederation Players, easily recognized by their warm wool suits and charming gowns – really the only folks around town wearing top hats and carrying fluttering fans.
“Stepping across the pavilion and into Confederation Centre Art Gallery, you find yourself in a completely new setting, surrounded by exhibits of Canadian art.”
Image credit: Charles Hoffman
And for those wanting to take in a show while in PEI, Confederation Centre again have you covered:
“It’s not possible to leave Confederation Centre without taking in some live theatre. The Charlottetown Festival is noted for its first-class Canadian musicals, most famously for Guinness-record setting Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™, and in 2018 audiences can come and enjoy the critically acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
“With tickets in hand, fully inspired by visual art and historical anecdotes, it seems a perfect moment to settle at a table in Mavor’s courtyard – the finest outdoor dining in the city - with dinner and a drink before the show. Last stop before you leave is the Showcase gift shop that is full of treasured keepsakes to remind you of your adventures on Prince Edward Island.”
Finally, the Confederation Centre told us just what it is about Prince Edward Island that makes it so special to visit:
“Besides being Canada’s only island province with the most beautiful sandy beaches, PEI is truly a magical place. From a lively theatre community to the best seafood that you’ve ever tasted, PEI has it all. The island’s scale is perfect for day tours to the pastoral countryside and the home of Anne of Green Gables.”
Green Gables Heritage Place
Prince Edward Island is known across the globe as the majestic setting of the novel Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908. Today people travel to see the magical setting for themselves and one such stop for fans of L.M Montgomery’s book is the .
Visiting Green Gables is highly recommended by Vanessa of the inspirational travel blog . Vanessa advises travellers to seek it out upon their visit to PEI – a land she describes as a “beautiful” destination and one that she has travelled to many times before:
"Prince Edward Island has spectacular scenery and such diverse plant life - it is truly beautiful no matter what season you visit in. When you go, chances are a stop at Green Gables National Historic Site is on your list. Budget a little extra time when you're there to walk one of the many short, easy trails that originate on the edge of the property - it's a great way to get a feel for PEI's natural beauty."
Situated in Cavendish in the PEI National Park, this popular tourist destination is the site which inspired the setting for the novel. The Green Gables House really is a site to see and picturesque in its construction, but there are also a number of museums to visit where more can be learned about Montgomery and the novels titular character. Visitors to the site are also invited to walk among the very haunted woods described in the novel.
Green Gables Heritage place is certainly a treat for lovers of literature and those wanting to understand the novel’s national historical significance, and only adds to the virtues of booking that .
With PEI being an island, there are of course copious water activities to get the heart racing and available to those that desire. If you are keen on taking advantage of such features, kayaking is the perfect way to do so. Prince Edward Island’s warm and salty waters provide the perfect setting for those hoping to paddle solo off the coast, with a number of companies offering kayaking services.
is about a 45 minute drive from Charlottetown and offers guided kayak tours for all ages (having done so since 1993). They have trips of varying lengths available, including 90 minutes, two hours, three hours, and a full day. Outside Expeditions can also organise custom trips to help fit in with the time that you have.
We spoke to the team at Outside Expeditions about why Kayaking is such a great activity to participate in while in PEI:
“Kayaking is a must try so you can see the Island from the other side (ocean) - red cliffs, the beaches, marine and bird life, and the relaxing feeling of being on the ocean. There are also great views when kayaking in the bays and rivers - fishing villages, oyster/mussel farms, trees and farmland and lots of bird life.”
Outside Expeditions gave their thoughts on what makes Prince Edward Island such an attractive proposition for visitors:
“PEI is such a great place to visit because of the ocean, the beaches, the fresh air, the seafood and fresh produce, lots of outdoor activities (swimming, kayaking, biking, kite boarding, walking, camping, hiking, fishing, fly a kite....), friendly people, the rural culture, and for Anne of Green Gables. Basically everyone loves an Island and lots of people come here to escape their busy lives, the big city, and to get away from it all.”
There may be no better way of exploring Prince Edward Island, or appreciating its innate beauty, than by cycling along its many wonderful trails. The Confederation Trail is a must visit route, and is PEI’s section of the Trans Canada Trail. Here there can be found 435 kilometres of a perfect rolled stone dust surface that is tailor made for cyclists.
Along the path there are numerous amenities available, where you can pick up a bite to eat and enjoy the immediate environment. Luckily you don’t have to haul your bicycle all the way to PEI as the island has plenty of bike rental facilities available such as the aforementioned Outside Expeditions who also offer cycling tours which last from three hours to a full day.
For those fishing enthusiasts out there, you will be more than pleased by your decision to travel to Prince Edward Island. No matter your fishing desires or interests, PEI will have you covered with mackerel, giant Bluefin tuna, or even shark fishing.
Tranquillity Cove Adventures
Visitors won’t do any better than by teaming up with , who offers fishing trips for all ages and is Prince Edward Island’s leading Experiential Provider. Captain Perry Gotell of Tranquility Cove Adventures spoke to us about the joys of fishing in the Prince Edward Island area:
“I can speak as a local pro here as my grandfather was a man of the sea, fishing lobster, and my dad also a lobsterman, crabber, clammer, scalloper and more. Then I was also a fisherman, doing the same fisheries as my dad.
“When we say fishing on PEI it covers such a wide scope of fishing, from the mighty world record Bluefin tuna to brook trout, lobstering to eel fishing, snow crab to mackerel. And believe me, I’m not even scratching the surface here. It starts in the spring (April) and keeps going till mid-winter. Fishing is large on PEI.”
We asked Tranquility Cove Adventures to tell us a little more about the fishing packages they offer for visitors to PEI:
“Tranquility Cove Adventures offers different kind of adventures, most are a first of their kind in the world to guests who might never experience the real PEI – the PEI most local Islanders grew up in. We incorporate a lot of storytelling in our adventures; mainly our giant barclam dig with beach cook-out. These are booked months ahead, it's our number one adventure.
“We love taking people out to Boughton Island where my gramps and dad lived, now a deserted Island eight km off the coast of Georgetown, to dig for these giant clams. It’s jam packed with lots to see and do.
“Then we have PEI’s only deep sea fishing where we BBQ the fish right on board. Our starfish and pearl hunts are another first in the world adventure that takes you out on the rivers, hiking while looking for starfish and wild mussels which we break open later looking for wild pearls. We do walking, Georgetown Motor Coach Tours, and even some snowmobile guided tours in the winter. Honestly, we are just having fun.”
Finally, we asked Captain Perry why he believes Prince Edward Island is such a superb destination to visit for people around the world.
“PEI is a great place to visit for more reasons that I can say, really. Most people comment that it’s the people or the scenery of rolling farm land with fishing boats dotted on the sea in the background. For me it’s the truly laid back life of living in a peaceful part of this Earth. A slower pace of lifestyle seldom found, and where eye contact on the street still means a lot to us. So beyond the beaches, seafood and more, I see the lifestyle as number one here. Everything else is just icing on the cake.”
Tony’s Tuna Fishing
PEI is a verified hotspot for tuna, and as such, heading out with Bradley and Tony MacDonald of while in town is a wonderful idea. Krista MacDonald of Tony’s Tuna Fishing spoke to us about the business and why tuna fishing is so popular in PEI.
“PEI is part of the Bluefin tuna migration route. The tuna come up into our warm waters to await the arrival of the herring. The tuna are within a couple of miles of land. We can leave North Lake Harbour and be set up to fish within 30 minutes, and once the tuna arrive they are here until mid-October, when the weather starts to get colder.”
Tony’s Tuna Fishing’s Krista also told us that: “We offer authentic lobster suppers with homemade salads and desserts. You will not be hungry after this meal. Tony's Mom, Irene, is the cook and she loves to feed people.
“PEI is a great place to visit” Krista says. “The island is more rural than urban and the scenery is all natural beauty. Our beaches are awesome” she makes sure to stress and we can’t disagree. “We have popular beaches with amenities close by or you can find some quiet sandy beaches that are almost like your own private area. But I think the best part of visiting PEI is meeting the people. Tourists tell us how great it is to come here and how welcome they feel. We are a small town where everyone knows everyone else. Guests here get treated like family.”
Point Prim Lighthouse
was built in 1845 and is the oldest lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. The lighthouse is one of only three round brick lighthouses in Canada and was built to aid navigation along the Northumberland Strait, particularly into Charlottetown Harbour.
The Point Prim Lighthouse was designated a Provincial Heritage Site and also designated under the National Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The lighthouse was designed by architect Isaac Smith, who also designed Province House, PEI.
We spoke to Point Prim Lighthouse about what makes this historic attraction such a popular one for visitors:
“The Point Prim Lighthouse is an increasingly popular destination for tourists and tour ship passengers visiting Prince Edward Island. Upwards of 8000 people visited the lighthouse in 2016. Situated on the tip of Point Prim, the lighthouse provides a spectacular view of the Northumberland Strait. The new Keeper’s Cottage houses a gift shop (filled with locally-crafted lighthouse and nautical-themed merchandise), as well as historical exhibits and displays.”
Wyatt Historic House Museum in Summerside
Finally, for those looking to get a further sense of PEI’s history, the is the perfect place to learn a little about your surroundings between visits to the beach and enjoying the local seafood.
Located in , the second largest city on Prince Edward Island, and among many other fascinating historic buildings, the Wyatt House Museum is a must-visit attraction. Built to be a family residence in 1867, here you can explore the life and times of the Wyatt family and discover fascinating artefacts collected by them over the course of a century.
There is all sorts to see and do in Summerside, including cultural centres, exhibitions, and a number of other absorbing museums, which makes visiting the area during your trip to PEI no less than essential.