Playing in P.E.I.

Now that I am an adult with limited amounts of vacation, my travel addiction has been curbed…slightly. In reality, it has simply forced me to be more strategic. I am taking a week off for my rugby National Championships this week, so I decided to piggyback a quick long-weekend getaway on the front-end to maximize my time off.

Nick and I flew into Charlottetown late Wednesday night; our ignorance about the size of the island was highlighted the second we walked out of the airport to find not a cab in sight. Unsurprisingly, Uber also turned up no results. The cab driver that arrived after a few phone calls informed us that the entire island is home to only 150K people, with Charlottetown itself having only 35,000 residents. The first stop of Day 1 the next morning was the Wood Islands lighthouse, where we stopped for a quick tour of one of the last lighthouses open to the public. After that, we headed to Red Point Provincial Park. The sun graced us with its presence, so we took advantage and chilled out on the beach before hitting the cliffs for a little free form rock climbing.

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Our last stop of Day 1 was Basin Head Provincial Park. Unlike most PEI beaches, Basin Head is a white sand beach and it is famous for its “singing sands,” that squeak as you walk on it. It’s also a popular stop for adrenaline junkies looking for a quick rush jumping off the bridge that links the two areas of the beach. Our visit was cut short by some light rain, and we made moves towards our airbnb for the next two nights. Luckily, it was every bit as cute as it looked online–an adorable bunkie situated on the shoreline of Campbell’s Cove.

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The next morning we were up bright and early for Deep Sea Fishing with Captain Jeff–a minor celebrity in the world of tuna fishing. The outing started with a nice cruise along the north shore and past the East Point Lighthouse to check out the local porpoises! After that we were able to try our luck at fishing; I narrowly avoided being the ninth person in 15 years of his business to catch nothing on a trip. Eventually I was successful at reeling in a small fish, only to realize this meant I had to take it off the hook..with my bare hands–bitter-sweet victory.

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We made an impromptu decision to scrap one of our beach stops in favour of a local distillery (it was raining, don’t judge). The distillery is the only retailer in Canada licensed to make and sell moonshine, which we got a taste of! P.E.I. had the longest period of prohibition in Canada by far (1901-48), so making moonshine was a family affair for generations. We got a really informative little tour from the owner, who explained the process for making moonshine and other hard liquors.

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We stopped at Rick’s Fish & Chips in Saint Peter’s Bay for their Food Network famous fish & chips. I also had my own agenda on the trip: eat as many variations of seafood possible in four days. Our final stop of the day was Greenwich National Park, where we pulled out our raincoats and umbrella to braved the elements. We went on a really nice nature walk along the bay that was filled with a grid of buoys; we later learned each buoy was tied to a mussel trap. Inspired, I ordered mussels for dinner at a favourite local restaurant in Souris–21 Breakwater–and boy were they delicious!

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The next morning we departed our beautiful spot on the beach and headed west along the north coast for a day of beach-hopping with our best weather yet! After our first walk on the beach, we headed to Dalvay by the Sea–a National Historic Site of Canada. The beautiful mansion currently operates as a 5-star hotel and restaurant under a public-private partnership. The 120-year-old home is fit for a queen, making it unsurprising that the property was a stop on the Royal Family’s tour of Canada in 2011. We couldn’t help but stay for lunch at this scenic spot.

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After lunch, we made our way to Brackley beach and eventually to Cavendish Beach. Cavendish gets a bit of a bad rap from locals since it has become quite touristy over the years. Once we arrived, it was easy to see why it was so popular; despite having the most people, it was definitely the most beautiful beach we visited. We hung out on the beach for a bit before putting on our runners and hitting the trails. First we did a short walk through “duneland” that ended at the beautiful red cliffs P.E.I. is famous for. Our second walk was through the forest to a peaceful open field that surrounded a small lake not far inland from the shoreline.

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After working up quite an appetite, we headed to the famous New Glasgow Lobster Suppers–a family business since 1958. Patrons can choose 1lb, 1.5lb, or 2lb lobster servings that come accompanied with essentially all you can eat soup, salad, rolls, mussels (served in a bucket), and dessert. Needless to say, we were in paradise.

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We headed for Charlottetown for our final day on the island. It was quite rainy all day so we spent most of the day indoors (eating). We stopped in at the COWs factory location for a self-guided tour and to browse their famous t-shirt selection. We headed to lunch at the Gahan House–inside one of many historic buildings that make up downtown Charlottetown. This bar/restaurant doubled as a micro-brewery for the PEI Brewing Company. Inspired, we decided to head to their large-scale brewery for a very informative tour in the afternoon. The tour covered the history of the brewery as well as a detailed explanation of the beer-making process and, of course, a few sneaky samples. We enjoyed a delicious final meal downtown before calling it a night at our beautiful 19th Century Victorian B&B.

P.E.I(‘ll be back).

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