With a population of 140,204 and an area of 2,190 square miles, Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province—but it sure has a lot to offer.
It’s relatively tiny size (smaller than the state of Delaware) means that you can get a lot of exploring done in a relatively short amount of time. That’s a good thing, since there is a lot to experience.
Nature lovers, literary devotees and cuisine aficionados alike (and just about everyone in between) will find that there is plenty to do and see on PEI. Here is but a small sampling of some of the province’s most enticing activities.
Explore the Confederation Trail
Stretching from one end of the Island to the other, the Confederation Trail is a 221-mile long trail, winding through picturesque villages, majestic hardwood groves and breathtaking wetlands.
The flat, groomed trail is perfect for cyclists of all levels. Seeing the Island from your bike offers a totally up-close-and-personal way to experience the sights, smells and sounds of PEI.
Hit the (Pink!) Beach
Allow me to let you in on a well-kept secret: PEI is home to several incredible beaches. The Atlantic is surprisingly warm in these areas: it is said to offer the warmest waters north of Virginia.
You need to check out the beaches along the Island’s south shore: these beautiful beaches feature unique red and pink sand, thanks to the area’s unique rusty soil. You need to see these beaches in person—or better yet, feel the sand between your toes—to really believe it.
Experience the Culture
It’s hard to describe the culture of PEI, because it’s actually an amalgamation of several different cultures.
The Celtic presence is impossible to ignore—from the music to the names of locals, Irish, Scottish and English influences are everywhere you’ll look. Check out a ceilidh, a community gathering featuring music, step dancing and storytelling.
Evidence of the Acadian culture is prevalent, too. Though Acadians are descendants of 17th century French colonists, the culture is totally distinct from the French Canadians in Quebec. Acadians settled largely in the Maritimes, including Prince Edward Island, and their rich history is well worth exploring.
The island’s Mi’kmaq heritage relates to the First Nations people who are indigenous to Prince Edward Island, and is evident throughout the island.
Live the Story of Anne of Green Gables
In 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote a children’s novel that would go on to sell more than 50 million copies. The book was Anne of Green Gables, and it told the story of an orphan sent to live in Prince Edward Island.
The story of Anne has been widely embraced by the island: entire tours are available based on the book, taking readers to familiar locations throughout the province, like the home that inspired Anne’s home in the story, as well as the author’s own home.
Eating and Drinking PEI
The best way to experience PEI is to eat your way through the province. Between the numerous farms and that enormous body of water surrounding the Island—that would be the Atlantic Ocean—fresh and simple ingredients reign supreme on PEI.
Shellfish lovers unite: oysters, mussels and, of course, lobster, are among the fresh delicacies that the Island is known for. Not only can you sample these treats, but you can learn about them by tagging along on a lobster boat, participating in a clam dig or attending the three-day PEI International Shellfish Festival.
Arguably, the Island’s most infamous product is the PEI potato. Many consider the local potatoes to be among the tastiest on the planet—there’s even a museum dedicated entirely to potatoes! Potato fudge, anyone? (Yes, that’s a real thing).
To the Lighthouse
Beautiful historic lighthouses dot the shores of Prince Edward Island. You’ll likely encounter lighthouses of varying shapes and sizes throughout your travels. Some even plan their route around the lighthouses—those who do are rewarded with spectacular scenery along the way.
With two airports, you can fly into PEI—or you can access it from Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick: the Confederate Bridge stretched over 8 miles and takes about 12 minutes to cross! Whatever way you access the Island, you’re sure to leave with memories that will last a lifetime.