This article originally appeared in the second issue of Boundless Magazine in March 2021.

Writer | Shelley Cameron-McCarron

 

The first trips I took to Prince Edward Island (PEI) were with my parents and brothers during the late 1970s. The boys sported Fonzie T-shirts. I wore pigtails. We swam and laughed on sandy shores, met a redheaded orphan named Anne, and donned lobster bibs. I fell for the island, hard.

Basin Head Provincial Park | Photo: Tourism PEI / Sander Meurs

It’s undeniable that there’s something special about PEI, Canada’s smallest province, snug along the Atlantic Coast. I always come back to this place, ringed in soft white sands, and seashores tinged a rusty hue from the iron-rich soil and sandstone. I can’t get enough of nights being lulled to sleep by waves at seaside cottages and campgrounds, and of seeing the sun set at West Point Lighthouse. Like many, I come to play, now bringing my own kids to squish singing sands underfoot at Basin Head Provincial Park in Souris (where quartz and silica make the sand squeak) and building sandcastles at Brackley Beach in an almost meditative, artist-led Parks Canada program.

 

Tip-to-tip, it takes about three hours to drive this crescent-shaped island. Life feels unhurried. Easy. Gentle roads pass tidy farmhouses, fertile fields, and trim harbors. Time somehow slows and expands. Everything feels new again, as if washed by the flow that shapes these shores.

West Point Lighthouse

Prince Edward Island has a flavor that’s just a bit different. Here, people remember how to relax. They go for walks on the beach. With more than 90 to explore, choices abound to stroll through secluded coves, dip in the warm salt water of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait, settle in for a seaside read, and feel alive in friendly beach towns.

 

The island constantly surprises and delights. I remember the thrill of finding Teacup Rock and the sandstone formations at Thunder Cove Beach in Darnley, and watching my kids’ joy, meandering past mussel farms, forest groves, and a floating boardwalk over a freshwater pond, to reach the undulating Greenwich dunes in Prince Edward Island National Park.  

Sally's Beach Provincial Park | Photo: Tourism PEI / Sander Meurs

There is even a deserted island you can visit. Lobsterman Perry Gotell guides clamming trips and more from Georgetown Harbour to Shanty Beach, on uninhabited Boughton Island, where his father’s family once lived. With bald eagles and seabirds overhead, it’s an amazing place to watch great northern gannets dive for fish.

 

Me? I come with two goals: waking early for a serene sunrise over Stanhope Beach, and at least one evening parked on Cavendish Beach, marveling yet again at the beauty in this world as twilight’s glow echoes endlessly across sandstone cliffs and sand dunes. I always return home, restored. 

 

Discover the iconic spots and hidden gems of Prince Edward Island. 

 

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