True, crescent-shaped Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province. But PEI, as it’s known, is big on adventures of any kind: Culinary, outdoor, water, sports, and historical, to name a few. This Atlantic Ocean island is also ideal for relaxed road trips, paddling or cycling vacations, and outdoor adventures on land or water, thanks to its size — just a tad larger than Delaware.
Drive coast to coast
In PEI, you can actually see the whole province in one trip. Hit the highway and travel the 174 miles tip to tip in about five days or a week, starting at North Cape in the west. Begin with a seafood dining spree there, then swim at the beach and take in a Celtic concert in Summerside. Stop at the North Cape Wind Energy Interpretive Centre to learn about PEI’s renewable energy and about traditional Acadian culture at Village Musical Acadien.
Hike, golf, and picnic at the beautiful beaches along the north Central Coast, in particular the Green Gables Shore, which many say is the island’s most spectacular. Finish it all off with a cycle or kayak in the east, and tour classic lighthouses in six historic sites. The road trip ends at the 1866 East Point Lighthouse, ideal for a shore lunch. For fun, before you start, get a North Cape ribbon that you turn in at the end to earn a Tip-to-Tip Certificate — a fun and quirky souvenir.
Play 18 holes
PEI is a golfer’s paradise with so many rolling greens perched along pretty red-cliff beaches and the most courses per capita in Canada. There are 25 courses in all and 400 fairways to choose from, with 27 offering all-level play, and none further than 40 minutes away from the other for easy course hopping. The top three are gorgeous garden and waterside Brudenell River, the island’s most popular, Dundarave, a red sandstone championship 18-hole course, and The Links at Crowbush Cove, a Golf Digest five-star course overlooking the north shore dunes.
Be a fisher for a day
It’s one thing to eat a lobster. But why not catch it, too? These delectable crustaceans are feisty, but experienced seaman Captain Mark will help you get ‘er done. The captain’s Top Notch Lobster Tours launch three times a day and show visitors how his family’s been doing it for four generations. Guests get a chance to snag a buoy, haul it in, band a claw, and pull live lobsters out of the traps. Then the group enjoys a traditional lobster boil onboard.
Hike, run and camp
Running or sightseeing on foot anywhere in PEI is wonderful because the island is mostly flat with easy-going rolling hills, and the coast is never far away. Cape Tryon in the northwest near New London Harbour is a gorgeous spot with its dramatic red sandstone cliffs and historic red-trimmed white lighthouse perched 110 feet up. Time your jog to end at sunset for a spectacular show. It’s also not too far from the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace where you can stop in beforehand.
Coastal camping is superb as well — especially at white-sand Panmure Island or Jacques Cartier for swimming on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Combine a trip with some of the island’s best hiking, too. The cross-island tip-to-tip Confederation Trail, part of Canada’s Great Trail, the one-hour Bubbling Springs loop for birdwatching and an unusual ground spring, and 90-minute Greenwich Dunes Trail through farmland and forest to the tip of the Atlantic consistently rank among the top three hikes.
Sightsee on two wheels
The Argyle Shore is as delightful as the place in Scotland it’s named for: Vast red-sand beaches flanked by craggy cliffs and green meadows dotted with purple and pink lupins. It’s quaint and charming, with no big hills to climb and lots of cute villages along the route. Cycle the south coast, crossing the eight-mile Confederation Bridge, one of the world’s longest. Consider exploring or overnighting at historic fishing village Victoria-by-the-Sea, Argyle Shore Provincial Park, and Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site, a 1720 harbor settlement and site of a pivotal French-British battle. There are five golf courses in the area, too, plus Matos Winery & Distillery in St. Catherines.
Paddle by the shore
Getting out on the water is a must, and you can sightsee the active way by paddling through the warm Atlantic waters or on rivers and lakes. In fact, you can sea kayak or standup paddleboard right near Charlottetown by the hour or all day, gliding past parks and heritage homes along the Hillsborough River. Ocean kayaking is also a top activity along PEI’s 6,900 miles of coastline. Try paddling from Cascumpec Bay on PEI’s northeast shore to and around the still waters of 211-acre Oulton’s Island, once inhabited by Mi’kmaq people, looking out for silver foxes and blue herons. Another great excursion is the long seaside lake, North Lake, on the island’s easternmost point which connects to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is teeming with giant bluefin tuna. Not surprisingly, it’s a global fishing hotspot.
If you just want to grab a towel and nap on the sand, perhaps dig a few clams to cook for dinner at your beach house, that’s OK, too.