An Islander’s Guide to Eastern PEI
While growing up in western PEI, traveling ‘down east’ was always a fun adventure, but one that typically only happened if family was visiting. These trips would be my favourite memory of the summer. Now that I live in Charlottetown, I take advantage of the Points East Coastal Drive more often, especially when friends come to visit. Every time I explore the area, I come across something different. Here are some awesome discoveries I’ve made in my eastern PEI travels.
I love a good antique shop and couldn’t resist stopping in at The Phoenix: Antiques & Oddities on my latest road trip east. The shop is connected to a boardwalk of several delightful shops, overlooking the gorgeous St. Peter’s Bay. I was drawn in immediately by their old maps of Canada and PEI, and swooned over their local vintage crates. Before continuing on for the day’s adventure, I ended up walking away with a set of vintage nautical inspired glasses!
When it’s strawberry season in PEI, it’s of critical importance that you get your hands on their magical sweetness before the season is over. I love going to U-picks and choosing the best berries myself (and maybe sampling a couple along the way), but if you’re a little more strapped for time, most U-picks sell berries that are pre-picked. Grab a few of these boxes in eastern PEI for the perfect road trip snack. No matter how juicy and messy they can be, they will be totally worth it!
PEI’s portion of the Trans Canada Trail is quite special. There are 435 km of groomed, well marked trails that are formerly PEI’s railway system. Since the conversion from trains to trails in the late 80’s, people have been enjoying the Confederation Trail for walking, running and cycling. The trail spans tip-to-tip across the Island, but my favourite section is the ride from Mount Stewart to St. Peters. You can’t top biking next to the water!
Greenwich National Park
When people ask me for advice on what to do on PEI, a visit to Greenwich in the PEI National Park is always at the top of my list. Right off the bat, it’s a National Park, so you know it’s going to be unreal. I remember the first time I walked the floating boardwalk through the dunes, I couldn’t believe that I was still in PEI. I felt like I had been transported to some magical land. The hiking trail to the beach is just the right amount of effort and exercise to get you ready for a dip when you hit the St. Lawrence.
Imagine you’re on a boat just off the shores of PEI. There’s lobster boiling in fresh seawater, the captain is playing an Irish jig on the fiddle and the crew is step dancing. Sounds like something out your wildest Island dreams, right?! You don’t have to dream. This is exactly what goes down on the Fiddling Fisherman’s Lobster Lovers sail, based out of Souris. Eating lobster while listening to traditional music as the sun sets is oozing all things PEI. I have even gotten to dust off my step dancing shoes and dance with other passengers! If you love lobster and PEI, there’s no doubt that this adventure is for you!
The Points East Coastal Drive is home to some of my favourite Island lighthouses. Grab a map and see how many you can get to during your eastern PEI travels. However, if you find yourself at the lighthouse in St. Peter’s Harbour, you may not make it any further because you are going to want to stay on this incredible beach for the rest of the day. If you manage to tear yourself away from St. Peter’s, head to Point Prim. It is home to PEI’s oldest lighthouse!
The FireWorks Feast at the Inn at Bay Fortune is an absolute must for any foodie exploring PEI. It’s a 5-course meal hosted by the renowned Chef Michael Smith. An evening spent here is not just a meal, it’s a full-blown event. The evening begins with a tour of the farm, where a significant portion of the ingredients for the night’s meal are grown. Next, there are four stations around the property with mouth-watering appetizers (including an oyster bar!). It will be difficult, but it’s important not to fill up on appetizers before you head inside for the full meal.
Watching Chef Michael Smith and his team prepare your meal in the 25 foot brick lined live fire oven is really a show in itself. There is such a strong sense of PEI pride in all of the dishes – right down to the tiny PEI flag in the seafood chowder! It made this Island girl eager to brag to her table mates that she was a true Islander. The night ends with roasting homemade strawberry marshmallows over a campfire while looking at the stars. It is a perfect evening and a dining experience that I won’t soon forget.
Sunset at Blooming Point
The beaches along the Points East Coastal Drive will knock your socks off, there’s no doubt about it. They are simply stunning and will leave you wishing everyday was a beach day. Islanders will give you their passionate opinion as to which beach is the best, but truly, every beach has something special to offer. Blooming Point has become a new favourite of mine because of its proximity to Charlottetown. I love going out after a workday to take my dog for a walk, go for an evening dip, and to watch the sunset.