Prince Edward Island was a place that I, like so many others, fell in love with through the pages of Anne of Green Gables. The lanes of red clay, the shining lakes - her love of the island and the beauty she found there, made it somewhere you wanted to explore yourself.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with the beloved series, and maybe didn't know, Green Gables is actually a farmhouse in the town of Cavendish, that belonged to Lucy Maud Montgomery's aunt and uncle. I will share the tour of that separately, but I just wanted to make a couple comments on that aspect of the island. When you go to PEI, Anne is everywhere. It's very obviously a huge draw for visitors. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure if L M Montgomery would be thrilled to see the area now! It's taken on a very touristy feel - with fun parks and miniature golf and touristy boardwalks. The village of Avonlea, the fictional town from her books, is a small town-like attraction you can walk through, built in honor of the author. You used to be able to see live reenactments of famous scenes and the town in period-style. Now, save one smaller local artisan shop, it's all restaurants and souvenir shops. Basically, it all leaves you feeling a bit disappointed.
But, having pretty much ruined the island for you, I'll say this: Anne's beloved island, and in turn, L M Montgomery's, is still there. You may have to loose yourself a little, and wind your way down some unknown red lanes, but it's there. The beaches are breathtaking and there are some lovely farming towns, but you have to explore. And even when it comes to the touristy things, we have young boys. At the end of the day, no matter how enticing I try to make it sound, they simply would prefer to play bazooka ball than walk through Green Gables. So when it came to planning our few days on this part of the island, while it was a little touristy, it did provide a decent selection of things to do for all members of our family. While I walked through the museum, the boys played in the waves at Cavendish Beach. And when they wanted to play bazooka ball, I walked with the little ones around Avonlea. Having a little cottage smack in the middle of the tourist section seemed completely unappealing, but being last minute, there weren't many options when it came to accommodations. Once there, it was fine because our children loved it. There were so many other children, and a pool and a whole playground area in the middle. They had so much fun! And that's important.
So, what I'm trying to say is this: Don't go to Cavendish to discover the beauty of the island and expect to find it like it is in the pages of those beloved books. Go to the island and discover that beauty in other places.
We first stayed in town for a couple nights (one full day), and then we took a few days to wander along the coast. It's a fairly small island, so you can do the whole loop comfortably in a couple days. Our time in the city was relaxed. The boys loved Victoria park, and while they played, I was able to pop out and visit a couple shops I had wanted to see in town. Then, during nap time later in the afternoon, I went out and walked around the historic district, which was conveniently only blocks away.
There were lots of lovely old houses in town to admire, a good selection of restaurants and cafes, and a very vibrant art scene.
The second evening we were there, we surprised the boys and took them outside of town, to the drive in. They happened to be playing the first Harry Potter movie - perfect for a cooler summer evening before school begins. Originally I had planned to stay home with the littler ones, but at the last minute decided to tag along. I'm glad we did because the littler ones ended up falling asleep anyway, and it was fun to enjoyed it with the older boys.
We made our way up one side of the island, stopping by one of the many shallow inlets to get out and explore. The red clay along the edge of the lake was so unusually spongy. It was so shallow you couldn't really swim, but pretty to walk around.
And yes, the roads really are red.
We discovered West Point Lighthouse and in turn, found the beach we had been looking for. The boys were thankful to finally get in and swim. I loved this lighthouse! I couldn't think of any other way to describe it, except that it's chic. It really is. With it's bold black and white stripes, and it's perfect green benches overlooking the dunes.
It was the best beachcombing on the island. I found so many shells with those hints of blue I love so much.
The next morning, on our way out to Cavendish, we stopped at Thunder Cove. It was a little unnerving trying to get down the steep dunes to the beach, but once down there, it was beautiful.
As mentioned, we stayed right in Cavendish, right in the middle of everything. (You could literally hear the roller coaster beside us!) The cabin, while small, was perfect for is. The kids were so entertained and really enjoyed being there. It may not have been our thing, but there was a hot tub at least, and a porch to sit on with a glass of wine in the evening, so we couldn't really complain.
Cavendish Beach was like a post card. It's a gorgeous beach. And what's more, it seems to have been recently renovated (it's a Canadian National Park), and had a beautiful board walk and stairs down to the water, with showers for cleaning off and even candy cane striped beach huts that we're so charming! Just the picture perfect beach.
Then, after popping back to the cottage to make lunch, we spent the afternoon at the water park next door to us. It really wasn't terrible. The boys loved it. And what's more, it was fairly quiet! They didn't have to wait in line if they wanted to ride the small roller coaster or spinning pumpkins. And the water slides were all in one small section, so we could see them at all times without having to actually stand with the older ones. There was even a small section for the little ones, complete with tiny water slides.
We went home tired and the boys crashed early. The next morning we got up and made our way home, driving the coastal route down on the other side to catch the ferry. I discovered a charming shop in Saint Peters Bay called Freckles & Porcelain, and come home with a few beautiful items. It was grey and raining, so we didn't make many stops, just for a quick lunch before catching the afternoon ferry home. I should also note, if you enjoy biking, the island has some beautiful trails.
The next time we visit, I want to try a couple places for dinner that we weren't able to get reservations to. One being the picnic basket dinner at Chef Michael Smith's beautiful Inn at Bay Fortune, and second, The Blue Mussel. I also have a very quaint little tree house flagged that looks like the perfect secluded place to spend the night, so I'm thinking maybe a romantic weekend away just the two of us next time.