“In the end, I still prefer the sound of the winds in the firs across the brook more than the tinkling of crystal.”
-Anne of Green Gables-
Prince Edward Island is a place like no other. It’s not just a step back in time, but a place where time itself seems to linger, running a little more slowly than the rest of the world. PEI is one of three Canadian maritime provinces, destinations known for embracing a laid back lifestyle and a pure and simple happiness that revolves around family, friends, food and more often than not, a bonfire. From genuine smiles and laughter to that distinct east coast accent and how they embrace strong family values and relationships above all else, you won’t be able to help falling in love with the authenticity of the maritime locals. Trust me. I married one.
Consisting of just over 5600 square km, PEI may be Canada’s smallest province in size, but its coastline offers some of the grandest beaches and views a traveler can wish for. From the rich red tones of the soil and sandstone cliffs, the blues of the sky and Atlantic ocean to the earthly palettes of beaches and dunes, PEI is a place that will inspire and calm the spirit, as you experience the richness of an authentically simple moment.
CONFEDERATION BRIDGE TO PEI:
If you are flying direct, it will be into Charlottetown, PEI’s capital city. Otherwise, Pei is accessible by both bridge and ferry. The Confederation Bridge is a curved, 12.9 kilometer (8 mile) bridge that connects PEI to the mainland. Opened in May, 1997, it is considered to be one of Canada’s most impressive engineering feats of the 20th century, and is the longest bridge in the world to cross ice-covered water. The bridge sits 40 meters above sea level, and rises to 60 meters at its highest point. While you may not walk across, or stop your vehicle along its span, the bridge offers great views as you cross the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait.
Before departing New Brunswick on the mainland, there is a tourism center where you can purchase souvenirs, use the restroom and gather information before crossing. There is a path directly from the parking lot where you can take in sweeping views of the massive structure. At the opposite end you enter Borden-Carleton, PEI, where you will find the 29 Acre Gateway Village, offering food and retail services, a liquor store, visitor information center and a 3 acre park.
TOLL: While you don’t have to pay to cross from the mainland to PEI, coming back will cost you $46.00 per vehicle. (For up to date rates see here).
STAYING IN CAVENDISH:
Part of the magic of PEI are the accommodations. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting several times, including renting a house, enjoying a weekend in a cottage as well as camping on our honeymoon! Cottages that range from rustic to luxury, dotting the shores and offering spectacular views, are one of the best ways to fully enjoy the PEI experience. With a full kitchen, you can try your hand at cooking fresh seafood, many of them offer pools, and as they are often situated closely to one another, you will have the chance to converse with not only friendly maritime families, but travelers from all over the globe. You can usually find a great accommodation on sites such as Booking.com, PEI Cottages, Tourism PEI or VRBO.
This north shore beach is my favorite reason to visit. While the water is not the warmest we’ve enjoyed on our travels, it’s sheer size and beauty will capture your heart. Offering winding trails to sandstone cliffs, tide pools, protected sand dunes, wetlands and forest, Cavendish Beach is about so much more than it’s miles of sandy shore and ocean front.
The beach itself is part of Prince Edward Island National Park and offers an interpretive wetlands area, boardwalks, supervised beach area, change rooms and washroom facilities as well as a snack bar. Wonderfully shallow for children playing in the waves, the Atlantic Ocean offers stunning blue water that is warmed by the St Lawrence Gulf Stream. Due to it’s sheer size, it’s common to have a huge section entirely to yourself to build castles, do cartwheels and splash around, even in the height of summer!
Country Music Lover?? Each year Cavendish Beach hosts a massive 3 day event with huge names in country music such as Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and Emerson Drive. For more information, visit here.
When you promise the kids a day at Sandspit, you need to deliver….even when it’s pouring rain. (Or as locals would say: there’s dirt comin’) The benefit of delivering said promise during the wrath of Mother Nature? We enjoyed having the place almost to ourselves. As my best friend and I sat with water dripping from our noses and into our shoes, the kids squealed around corners, laughed hysterically as they smashed the bumper cars and screamed in terror as they rocketed down the first drop of the old wooden roller coaster. Would I change a thing? Absolutely not. We were drenched and deliriously happy.
Cavendish Boardwalk is a fantastic place to spend an evening. The Boardwalk offers free parking, plenty of unique shopping opportunities, a large grassy area to relax and fun activities like bungee jumping for the kids. You can feast on a local delicacy, the ‘lobster roll’ at Island Favorites or inhale a potato grown with PEI pride at Red Island Baked Potato. Follow this with an ice cream at Cows or a deep fried pastry at Beaver Tails and you won’t be able to imagine life before you discovered these amazing moments of cuisine heaven. If you’re staying for more than a night….bring stretchy pants. Fair warning.
While In Cavendish, you have the opportunity to engage your inner history and literature buff with a visit to Green Gables. This site is popular among families looking to enjoy a day of slipping back in time to learn about late author, L.M. Montgomery’s famous fictional character, Anne of Green Gables. First published in 1908, the popular tale has sold over 50 million copies around the world. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the site of literary inspiration and visit the Green Gables House, museums and sites. You can enjoy a drink of raspberry cordial, take part in an interpretive program or even walk the storybook trails of the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow.
A perfect indoor retreat to get out of a long day of sun (or a few hours of rain!) is to head to Black Magic, a fun blacklight mini golf course.
AND BIG GOLF:
Cavendish offers 18 holes of Championship Golf at the challenging Green Gables Golf Course . Offering views of Cavendish Beach, the Gulf of St Lawrence as well as the Anne of Green Gables house, the Par 72 course was originally designed in 1939 by Scottish Architect, Stanley Thompson. The course also offers a Golf Academy, where you can enjoy s lesson with trained PGA Canada professionals.
With over 40 wet and dry activities spread over 6 themed areas, Shining Waters is a popular summer attraction. From waterslides and a splash pool to a farm experience complete with petting farm and hayrides this is sure to be a win for the whole family.
Cavendish is a place where not only shore meets sea, but where the sands of history and future collide. It is a place of smiles and authenticity, with true maritime philosophies etched into every moment. With it’s unique and astonishingly beautiful landscape, combined with the laid back lifestyle of eastern island life, a trip to Cavendish is one that your family will never forget.
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