Fall to the Rising Sun Trip • Prince Edward Island • October 3-7, 2016
After one last hike in Cape Breton Highlands, we hit the road and began heading West. We still had over a week of traveling planned, and while we were enjoying seeing new places and adventuring together, we were in need of a little more rest and relaxation. This isn’t something we’re good at doing when we’re traveling. We tend to cram every day full of exploring new places. If we’re not camping, we’ll find the cheapest lodging possible because a hotel is just a place to sleep, shower, and use wifi before packing up and going to the next location.
Knowing this about ourselves, we planned a few days of “forced relaxation”. I booked an AirBnB apartment for 4 nights on Prince Edward Island. This was actually the only reservation we made for the entire trip, besides the first night. The island isn’t exactly known for any extreme hikes or strenuous activities, and while we still planned to go do something every day, this week of vacation would be more laid back. Because of this, I don’t have a ton to say about our time here, but I’ll share how we filled our week and give some recommendations for anyone planning to visit Prince Edward Island!
After spending a night in a hotel in New Glasgow, NS, we got on the road and drove to the ferry service just North of Pictou, NS. There are only a few ways to reach the island: the ferry service that goes from Pictou to Wood Islands, the Confederation Bridge which goes from East of Moncton, NB to Borden-Carleton, or by plane from just a handful of flights. We took the ferry to the island and drove back via the bridge. If you’re visiting by ferry or the bridge, it’s actually free to go to the island, but it costs a lot to leave. That’s where they get you! Thankfully we knew to expect that $46 CA bridge toll in advance, and now you will too! The ferry ride was about 1 hour long. The hardest part was having to leave Charlotte in the car while we had to go upstairs. It was a pretty nice boat, with a restaurant, concierge, and lots of seating, as well as the option to stand outside on the deck. We picked up a nice road map that was very helpful for planning out different day trips.
A few of the sights around Prince Edward Island.
When we arrived on the island, our first stop was to see the Woods Island lighthouse and let Charlotte run around for a while. It was windy and cold that day, but it warmed up over the course of the week. We started our drive around the island, and right away were attracted to the quiet countryside. No traffic, just windy roads with picturesque farmhouses and fields. It really reminded me of the Midwest, except for the red dirt, and the fact that you are never more than 11 kilometers away from the coast! There are only a handful of bigger cities, and even they weren’t too difficult to get around.
I must say though that we were visiting in the off season — I’m sure that it gets much busier over the summer. There were many places that were already closed for the winter, including an amusement park, parts of the island’s national park, and all of the provincial parks. Even restaurants and hotels were closing for the season! All this definitely accounted for how quiet it was. Here, we also began to see the first signs of fall. The trees were beginning to change colors, which made the drive even more enjoyable. If you want to visit the island at the peak of fall, I’d recommend maybe waiting one week longer than we did, and go in the second week of October.
One thing the island is not lacking in is lighthouses. We saw at least one every day! We never got tired of seeing them, as well as looking at the beautiful contrast between the red sand and dirt and the blue sea. My favorite lighthouse was the Cape Egmont Lighthouse — it was out of the way and off a dirt road, but it stands on the plateau with a small cliffs dropping off to the water (see the picture at the top of this post for my favorite view!).
Just as a fun fact, there are 2 things that Prince Edward Island is known for: Anne of Green Gables is the first, more obvious one, and its potatoes is the second. Apparently the red dirt is very good for producing potatoes, and with that claim to fame, they also say that they make the best french fries as well. We did have french fries once to see if we agreed, and after one bite Curtis declared they were the best fries ever. So there you have it folks!
As I said earlier, we stayed in a little AirBnB apartment, and while it wasn’t our favorite rental we’ve found, it was cute and clean and worked for the week. Most importantly, it kept us warm and provided us with a comfy bed, something we’d been missing while camping! We went grocery shopping the first night and ate all but one meal in the apartment. Curtis had been wanting to try mussels on this trip, but they’re always expensive if you get them at a restaurant. Instead, we purchased some at the grocery store and Curtis made them himself that first night — and I must say they were great!
A few of the Anne of Green Gables-themed locations.
On our first full day on the island, we focused on checking out all things Anne of Green Gables. Most of the locations related to the books or the author are located in the Green Gables district of Prince Edward Island National Park. We were able to tour a house that was inspired by the movie/books, walk through the “Haunted Woods” and “Lover’s Lane”, see the remains of the house L.M. Montgomery grew up in, and visit her grave, all in one walk. As we wandered around the area, it was so easy to see how a place as charming as the countryside of Prince Edward Island would inspire such a literary work of art. The stroll to the base of where L.M. Montgomery’s house once stood had quotes from the author on signs along the way, with her words of how much she loved where she was raised and how it shaped her whole life.
After that, we went on a little road trip in an attempt to cross off some bucket list items. If you’re a regular reader, you know that we like to try to hike to the highest point of every state, and we are “county counters” — meaning we try to visit as many counties as possible. I’m happy to report that not only were we able to walk to the highest point of the island this week, but we also visited all of the counties!! Okay, there were only 3, but still, we did it!
Finding the high point was actually pretty interesting. We knew it wasn’t anything prominent or even obvious, but a goal is a goal. Curtis did a significant amount of research online to find out exactly where it was. If you’re interested in finding it as well, just ask us — I would have to have Curtis explain haha. While there are no real trails leading to the spot, there’s a golden mailbox with a logbook there which we found and proudly signed. There’s also a geocache nearby that helped in finding the spot. So now, we have our first Canadian province high point. I guess we have to do them all now! 😉
A highlight of downtown Charlottetown
The next day, we left Charlotte back at the AirBnB for a couple hours while Curtis and I had a little date in Charlottetown, the capitol of the province. (I know, I know, how could we not take Charlotte to Charlottetown?? Haha! We made up for it later by taking her to a dog beach!) Because it was the “off season”, we were able to score free parking; however, some of the main attractions downtown weren’t open. During the summer, you can attend “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical” — a lot of sites I read said it was a must. We also weren’t able to visit the museum/historic site because it was closed for renovations. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. We did, however, eat at a little roadside restaurant that we can highly recommend: the Chip Shack, which is on Prince Street near the water. It has great seafood and other original dishes, all very reasonably priced. The owner of the place was very kind and it was clear that she was very passionate about serving great food to the Charlottetown area visitors. However, like many other restaurants and attractions, she closes up shop for the winter. Thankfully she’s open a little later than most though, as her doors are open until mid-October!
On our third and last full day here, we ventured East to the Greenwich district of Prince Edward Island National Park. The park is spread across the Northern part of the island, with different attractions in each one. This one was centered around sand dunes and offered some pleasant hikes along the coast and Saint Peter’s Harbour. We weren’t allowed on the dunes with Charlotte, but we enjoyed our hike nonetheless. As we were driving away, we saw our first — and only — wildlife on the entire trip: a fox! We were so excited!
On our last day here, we made our way to the Confederation Bridge, but first stopped at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company for a letterbox and to check out the gift shop. There were free samples of many preserves, salsas, and teas, which we shamelessly snacked on while a huge tour group crowded the entire shop. Oh my goodness, they were SO GOOD and we totally recommend stopping here! After that, we said farewell to the island as we paid $46 to leave. The bridge itself doesn’t look interesting, it’s the history that is the most fascinating. It was built in the 1990’s after many years of heated debates by those on the island on whether or not they wanted the island to be accessible year-round. It was completed in 1997 after 4 years of construction. Coming in at 8 miles long (12.9 km), it doesn’t hold the record for the longest bridge; however, in the winter, it is the longest bridge in the world to cross over ice.
We left the island feeling content with what we had accomplished: we had gotten to know Prince Edward Island better, and we felt relaxed and ready to take on our last few days of vacation, whatever they might hold!
Oh, and one last thing before you go…here is a little photo diary of Charlotte’s time on the island. As you can see, she had a blast. 🙂