Approximately a 10 hour drive from Montreal lies a small island that offers up a barrel of fun and lots of rest and relaxation – from the spring to fall. The moment you cross the bridge off the mainland and the wheels of your car touch the red tinged asphalt, your shoulders drop and you feel the tensions melt away.
Prince Edward Island, known for its potatoes and a little red-haired girl named Anne (please note the ‘e’), is one of Canada’s treasures.
With so much to offer, gorgeous red sanded beaches with water so clear you can see your toes, small winding roads through lush, green hills contrasted sharply against the red earth along the side, tiny fishing villages (nothing is very big in P.E.I.) – nightly ceilidhs and for shopping, the larger cities of Summerside and Charlottetown – one questions why Montrealers would opt for any other vacation spot.
A drive anywhere on the Island not only offers up stunning vistas, but also farmer’s roadside stands with fresh corn, potatoes, berries and anything else grown in that iron rich soil. It is a cyclist’s dream, with its hills, valleys, nooks and crannies and frequent stop-offs at one of the many beaches along the way. Sunset on P.E.I. off the North Rustico coast is simply unparalleled.
Did I mention golf? P.E.I. has become Canada’s #1 Golf Destination. With 33 courses within a one hour drive of each other and 10 of Canada’s top 100 courses (Globe and Mail) all within a thirty minute drive of Charlottetown – could it be lauded as anything else? Golf champions have flocked to the Island; Fred Couples, V.J. Singh, Mark O’Meara, Mike Weir, Tom Watson, Lorie Kane, and Nancy Lopez have all praised the courses that have been designed by some of the world’s top golf course architects.
You’ll find river-golf, links-golf and rolling woodland courses – all to be reached in very short distances, making Prince Edward Island a golfer’s paradise. One of the most popular spots for families is the Cavendish area with the Green Gables course. While the parents are off playing golf, there is a plethora of play areas, game malls and the famous Cavendish Beach, all within walking distance of the course for the children.
Plan that golf vacation for September and it will coincide with one of the most popular festivals in Eastern Canada. The Shellfish Festival is described as a “four day foodies dream”, a must visit from September 12-15. Chef Michael Smith (The Food Network), also an Island boy, hosts Feast and Frolic on the 12th. Known as the “Shellfish Festival’s finest event, you can rub shoulders, break bread and crack shells with our celebrity chef”, also join in the ‘feastivities’ of The Island Kitchen Party, a casual affair that celebrates the Oyster Grower of the Year with a reception that includes a four course sit down shellfish dinner. (Dance, if you are able, after all that.)
Places to stay on the Island are as diverse as the activities. You’ll find wonderful Inns, Bed and Breakfasts, decently priced, along with some very high-end resorts (many golf related), such as the Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort, Inn at St. Peters and Dalvey by the Sea, an ocean front resort that was noted world wide when Prince William and Princess Katherine visited.
No, nothing is difficult to get to in P.E.I. – golf courses, beaches, ceilidhs are all close at hand. Nor is anything very large – except the hearts of the Islanders who welcome you. Once there you’ll want to return again and again.
As published in The Montrealer
by Sharman Yarnell