Garden of the Gulf – Prince Edward Island

We had finally made it to our last island stop on this portion of the trip, Prince Edward Island (or how it is more commonly referred to – PEI). The island has many nicknames, “The Gentle Island”, “Garden of the Gulf”, “Spud Island” or simply just “The Island” to name a few. We arrived on a sun soaked afternoon after crossing the largest bridge that we had crossed yet (Confederation Bridge – 8 miles long!) and could almost immediately see why people love coming here. The island is small, only 31 miles wide and 86 miles long. It is roughly the size of the state of Delaware but ask any Canadian (or anyone in general) who has been there and they will without a doubt only have great things to say. After stopping at the info center we drove to our campsite, which was in north central PEI about 20 minutes outside the capital of Charlottetown. You might think “Why did it take so long to get to the campsite, the island is so small”? While the island is so small it also does not have a single highway. It has one designated highway on the island but like most of rural Canada before it the “Highway” is just a slightly larger 2-lane road. Every other non-highway on the island is also a 2-lane road as well. After arriving shortly before 4pm and checking into the campsite we decided to call it a night and rest and relax before exploring the island for the next few days.

The next morning it was another beautiful island day. Julie and I were very excited as we had booked a tee time and were set to play golf this morning. A few days back as we were enjoying an adult beverage at the Keltic Lodge in Cape Breton National Park, we had met a couple from the Toronto suburbs who were on a Maritime trip of their own. They had suggested to play golf in PEI at Stanhope Golf & Country Club. So that is just what we did. After a short 10-minute drive from our campsite we were at the course. The course itself was beautiful. It was located in north central PEI right on the shores of Covehead Bay, which filters out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We checked in, rented our clubs and cart and we were off. For it being the first time either of us had played for the season it really didn’t go too badly. The sun was shining, the birds chirping and the smell of the salty ocean was in the air. It was a great start to the day. Since the course backed almost up to PEI National Park we went there for our lunch. PEI National Park is beautiful. It’s small (as everything else on the island) and consists of a spectacular beach along the northern shore of the island. After stopping and walking on the beach for a while we stopped and had our lunch picnic style outside. While a bit buggy it was still a beautiful place.

Next up for the fun day was visiting the capitol, Charlottetown. Charlottetown, is a small, easily walk able city. We parked along the marina front and set out. First up on our tour was the main church of the city, St. Dunstan. We had not yet been in a church and had not really even seen one since we had been in Halifax so we decided to go in. It was a beautiful church with the edition that we were standing in being built in 1916. Next up we walked around the downtown area of Charlottetown. While being small Charlottetown is very vibrant, as there is a large university located mere blocks away from the downtown core. We wandered in and out of numerous shops buying a few trinkets to remember our time there. We stopped at a small brewery for a beer before staying downtown at a local fish & chips restaurant for dinner before returning to the campground. All in all this was a great day.

The next day we woke up eager and ready to go again. Today we would be exploring the west side of the island. As we started our drive to the south shore the island nicknames “Garden of the Gulf” and “Spud Island” really started to show themselves. Not only were there flowers everywhere but also there were potato fields every corner that we turned. It was especially interesting as the soil on the island is a rust red color so for miles and miles you would see rows of small bright green leaves in bright rust red soil, perfect for picture taking. As we drove up the south coast heading west we drove through some of the Acadian communities on PEI. Almost every house had the traditional Acadian flag (Tri-Color French flag with a gold star in the top left corner) flying from its house. We stopped for lunch in Bubbles in a church parking lot, which overlooked some of the farms in the area. It really was quite the picturesque spot. Soon enough the potato fields transitioned to cow pastures and instead of small farmhouses there were now gigantic power company windmills. We made it to the far west side of the island where a small windmill museum stood alongside a lighthouse. We went into the museum as well as took pictures along one of the windmill blades that was on the ground so that you could get a sense of how big it was (it was huge!).

That afternoon we drove down the north coast towards the center of the island stopping at Moth Lane Brewery for the night. It was our first time using Harvest Hosts, which is a membership website that has breweries/wineries/farms that will let RV’s stay the night for free. Moth Lane is a very small brewery down a red dirt lane overlooking a bay that was full of multi-colored lobster buoys. It was really beautiful. After checking in with the owner, setting up camp and having dinner we walked into the brewery for a few beers. After our first beer the owner said that we should check out the upstairs, which overlooks the bay and is full of chalkboards that you are able to write or draw on. We took him up on this and ventured upstairs to find chalk art and peoples names everywhere. After writing our website name on one of the walls we heard a bunch of commotion downstairs and before we knew it we were in the midst of a bachelor party. The group was 15 strong and before we knew it we were talking and sharing beers with the guys. They were a diverse group with some being potato farmers (it is PEI after all) to carpenters to airplane mechanics. We had a great time talking with them and in no time at all it was last call. We said goodnight to the guys and headed back to Bubbles to sleep away the beer.

The next day was the last on the island for us. In the morning we drove from Moth Lane through potato fields and back to Charlottetown for lunch. From the recommendation from the Toronto couple who also told us to golf at Stanhope we ate at a restaurant named “The Merchant Man”. It was excellent. As PEI is known for their oysters Julie and I thought that we might as well try a few even though oysters are not our favorite food. From the recommendation of the waitress we tried a few of the “Raspberry Point” variety. While we did think they were excellent (and very well presented) it still did not turn us into oyster lovers. They did however have excellent fish tacos that we both enjoyed. After lunch we stumbled onto a diversity festival a few blocks away. This festival celebrated the diverse cultures and people that could be found in Charlottetown. From monks ringing huge gongs to Mexican and Indian food to ways to immigrate to Canada the festival had it all. It was a lot of fun walking around and checking out all the different stalls.

Departing from the festival we wanted to see the eastern side of the island for the 2nd half of the day. Leaving Charlottetown we took Bubbles on a half circle loop around that side of the island. We didn’t have any destination in particular except for a small town on the southeast side of the island named Murray Harbour. I especially wanted to go to this small town, as it is the hometown for one of my favorite hockey players by the name of Brad Richards. Brad was a big part of my favorite hockey team the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup back in 2004. I was hoping that the town had some sort of sign for him as most small towns in Canada do for hockey players that have made it to the NHL. Luckily enough for me (Julie wasn’t too interested in this) they did and had is name in big bold letters under the entrance sign for the town. I was able to hop out of the van and take a few pictures before moving on. It was pretty awesome.

From Murray Harbour we drove back towards the Confederation Bridge, stopping at a park on the south shore overlooking the ocean before arriving at our last campground (Jellystone Park – don’t judge, it was close to the bridge ☺. They also had an amazing trampoline for the kids and kids at heart) for the night. We had an amazing time on PEI and really could see why this was a summer vacation destination. The people were friendly, the scenery spectacular and the food was out of this world. We will be back again.

Up next – Bienvenue au Quebec!

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