Prince Edward Island National Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: September 2022

Prince Edward Island is one of the three Maritime provinces located in eastern Canada. It features several lighthouses, red sandy beaches and rugged sandstone cliffs. It also contains Prince Edward Island National Park, which is divided into three regions along the northern shore of the island. It offers camping and several outdoor activities to enjoy the dramatic coastline, sand dunes and salty ocean.

Day 1: Cavendish

We spent the previous four days exploring New Brunswick and it was time for us to head to Prince Edward Island. The weather forecast was calling for rain tomorrow, so we wanted to make the most of the day. After making some tea and coffee, we packed up and left Fundy National Park first thing in the morning.

To get to Prince Edward Island we drove along Confederation Bridge. It is 12.9 kilometers in length and connects Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick on the mainland. It is the longest bridge in Canada and the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water. After we crossed over into Prince Edward Island, we stopped at the Marine Rail Historical Park, which provides a great view of the iconic bridge.

We then drove to the Cape Tryon Lighthouse, located on a red sandstone cliff along the northern shore of Prince Edward Island. To get there required driving along some sketchy gravel road for a few kilometres. We hit a few too many potholes, which dislodged our rooftop cargo carrier. We had to get real crafty to get it back into place, which involved using extra bungee cords and some sticks.

We planned to spend the next two nights at the Cavendish Campground in Prince Edward Island National Park. We checked in and picked up the keys to our oTENTik, which is a mix of a tent and A-frame cabin. It consists of a single room, contains furniture and kitchen gear, and can sleep up to six people. After unpacking and eating a late lunch, we drove to Cavendish Beach, which is reputed to be one of the best beaches on the island. There’s a short boardwalk that leads through the dunes to the sandy shore.

There are a few trails that are located at Cavendish Beach. We first hiked part of the Cavendish Dunelands (2.4km one-way, rated easy), which connects Cavendish Beach with the Cavendish Campground and Oceanview Lookoff. We headed west towards the Cavendish Campground. The path is wide and gravel and passes through an open meadow filled with wildflowers. Along the way there are a few interpretive signs that provided more information about the importance of dunes and of the early settlers of the area.

We turned off to hike Clarks Lane (0.8km one-way, rated easy) to form a loop back to Cavendish Beach. The path continues to weave through an open field of wildflowers. It also passes the Chapel Hill Cavendish, a charming little church.

Once we looped back to Cavendish Beach, we headed east along the Cavendish Dunelands towards Oceanview Lookoff. The path leads through the sand dunes and crosses a floating boardwalk over a freshwater pond. At Oceanview Lookoff, there’s a nice view of the rugged red sandstone cliffs. We turned around and walked back to Cavendish Beach where we parked.

We hopped in the car and drove along the coastline towards North Rustico, stopping at a series of scenic viewpoints along the way. The most notable of which was the sea arch at MacKenzie’s Brook. The northern shore in Cavendish was once part of the Appalachian Mountains millions of years ago. Over time, these mountains eroded by wind, weather and the glaciers. The sediments created by this erosion were deposited here by rivers and streams and gradually compressed to form the sandstone bedrock of Prince Edward Island. This material was rich in iron. When the iron oxidized, it formed rust, which gives the appearance of a reddish colour.

The red sandstone coastline is fragile though. The north shore of Prince Edward Island erodes at an average rate of one metre per year. As the cliffs erode, there are more sand deposits along the beach and in the dunes. The abrasive action of this erosion removes the coating of rust from the grains of sand, which is why the beaches and dunes are a different colour in comparison to the red cliffs.

At this point we were getting hungry, so we drove back to the campground to have dinner.

Day 2: Anne of Green Gables, Sand Dunes and Lighthouses

We started our morning at the Green Gables Heritage Place to learn more about Lucy Maud Montgomery and her bestselling novel, Anne of Green Gables. To start, we went to the Green Gables Visitor Centre where there’s an exhibit that provides more information about Montgomery’s life and writings. While the Anne series is fictional, the setting was based on Montgomery’s experiences and memories in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

We then explored the grounds, which contains the Green Gables House, a barn, a few other buildings, and gardens. The original farmhouse once belonged to the Macneill family, which were cousins of Montgomery. She spent a lot of time at the property, which provided much inspiration for her writing. The inside of the house has been recreated and furnished to match the fictional home featured in Anne of Green Gables.

After passing through the gardens, we walked along the Haunted Woods Trail (0.9km loop, rated easy), which is also featured in Anne of Green Gables. There are a number of interpretive signs along the trail that tell the story of Montgomery’s early days as a writer growing up in Cavendish. We made a detour to the Cavendish Cemetery where Montgomery is buried before looping back to the trailhead.

We then drove to Charlottetown for a few hours, before heading back to Prince Edward Island National Park for the remainder of the afternoon. This time we explored the Greenwich area, which is reputed to have the biggest sand dunes in the province. There are three trails in this region, all of which can be accessed from the parking lot just west of the Greenwich Interpretation Centre. We ate a quick lunch in the car before hitting the trails.

We hiked the Greenwich Dunes Trail (4.6km round trip, rated moderate), which features a floating boardwalk across a pond and through the sand dunes. The first couple hundred metres overlaps with the Havre Saint Pierre Trail before branching off. We continued straight to follow the Greenwich Dunes Trail. The first stretch consists of a wide gravel path that meanders across an open field that was once a homestead.

The trail then heads into the forest before connecting with a boardwalk across Bowley Pond. There are a few interpretive signs that provide more information about the forest and how it has changed over time and about the sand dunes and how they were formed.

The boardwalk ends at the base of a giant sand dune where there’s a path that leads up and over it to a secluded red sandy beach. We took our shoes off to dip our feet into the ocean. The water was surprisingly quite warm. We climbed up the set of steps over the sand dune and headed back towards the floating boardwalk.

On the way back to the campground, we stopped at Brackley-Dalvay, the third region of Prince Edward Island National Park. We took the scenic drive along the coast, stopping at Covehead Lighthouse, the smallest lighthouse on the island. From the lighthouse there’s a small path through the sand dunes that leads down to the ocean.

We made one last detour to check out the North Rustico Lighthouse, which is located in a small harbour along the northern shore of Prince Edward Island.

Day 3: One Last Lighthouse

We didn’t get much sleep last night because of the wind, which caused the oTENTik to creak. Thank goodness we weren’t camping in a tent though. Little did we know that in about a week Hurricane Fiona would be making landfall here, bringing damaging winds and torrential rain.

After eating breakfast, we packed up the car and headed south towards Confederation Bridge. We stopped at Seacow Head Lighthouse, which is located on the red rock cliffs overlooking Confederation Bridge. It was super blustery outside, so we didn’t stay long.

It was an interesting drive across the bridge and we kept our fingers crossed that our rooftop cargo carrier stayed in place, which thankfully it did. This was just the start of a long day of driving as we were heading towards Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia.


92 thoughts on “Prince Edward Island National Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    One of our favourite destinations when the kids lived at home. So familiar and yet we have not been back for over 20 years. Maybe next year. You captured some stunning photos Linda. Well done. Thanks for sharing and have a great Thursday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. PEI was my favourite of the maritime provinces that we visited during our road trip out east. We were only there for two days, which wasn’t nearly enough time. I’d love to return to try to visit every single lighthouse on the island. I’d say you’re due for a return visit, perhaps even with the whole family! Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. I knew that the sea arch at MacKenzies Brook sustained damage from Hurricane Fiona, but I didn’t realize that it has now actually collapsed. I’m really glad we got to see it in its former glory. It’s too bad that our paths didn’t cross when we were in PEI! I felt the same way about wishing we could have stayed for longer.

  2. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    So fascinating National park ,Prince Edward Island 🌷🙏👍🏻 gorgeous nature park and beautiful destination
    in Canada , so beautiful oceans , light houses , lovely bridges and the whole sceneries amazing 😍 👏
    Thank you so much for sharing and grace wishes dear friend 🌷🙏♥️🌷

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Prince Edward Island is very picturesque with all those sand dunes, red cliffs and charming lighthouses. We had a wonderful time hitting the trails and seeing the sights.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There is so much to fall in love with in Prince Edward Island. It’s all very charming. It was extremely windy though, especially on the drive back to New Brunswick. I’m just glad that we weren’t sleeping in our tent.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Prince Edward Island was the highlight of our road trip through the Maritimes. I just couldn’t get enough of all those lighthouses and sand dunes. I was able to find the article you referenced about how a teacher found a rare 300-million-year-old fossil on the island while walking on the beach. It’s pretty wild.

  3. Little Miss Traveller says:

    What a wonderful couple of days. Adored everything about your roadtrip including the quaint lighthouse, chapel and of course the story behind Anne of Green Gables. I remember reading the book years ago but wasn’t aware of her Canadian connections.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite the wind, we were quite lucky with the weather while we were visiting Prince Edward Island. I’m such a fan of lighthouses so I was in my element. I read Anne of Green Gables when I was younger and recently picked up a copy so I can read it again. It’s a Canadian classic. It’ll be neat to read about the scenery in Cavendish and the Green Gables House now that we’ve been there.

  4. NortheastAllie says:

    This place looks so beautiful, and the Anne Of Green Gables Heritage Place looks so neat. She was definitely one of my favorites to read about as a youth, and if I ever visit, I will have to check this out. Also, the lighthouses look so amazing, and all of your photos as well. Thank you for sharing this!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Prince Edward Island is very charming, especially with all those lighthouses. I remember reading Anne of Green Gables when I was younger too. There was also a show based on the books that I used to watch. It was neat to visit Cavendish and see the property that provided much inspiration to the series.

  5. Ab says:

    I really want to revisit PEI again and see all the things we missed and that you got to enjoy when we first/last visited in 2007.

    What a beautiful island. The red sandstone cliffs and the sand dunes are beautiful. And the boardwalk and Sandy trails and beaches. You couldn’t have lucked out more with timing by avoiding Fiona. The post hurricane photos are so sad to look at.

    The pothole incident must’ve been irritating. Part of the joy of adventure! 😆 You must’ve racked up with the miles and points now for staying at the oTENtiks.

    Green Gables and the mythos built around it on the island is fascinating. Did you see a lot of Japanese tourists? It seems to attract a lot of them – we saw them during our visit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were here just a few months ago and I really want to revisit PEI again too. Two days wasn’t nearly enough time to see all the sights and visit every lighthouse. We were initially thinking about heading out east later in September, but I’m glad the timing worked out well and we managed to avoid Hurricane Fiona. It was very sad to hear about the aftermath, including how several natural formations, like Mackenzie’s Book sea arch, have collapsed.

      I must say, after spending a lot of time camping in an oTENik or yurt this year, it’ll be tough to transition back to our tent. I certainly got a lot of use out of our annual parks pass.

      Now that you mention it, we did see an insane amount of Japanese tourists in PEI, which we thought was a bit strange since we didn’t notice them in New Brunswick or Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Who knew Anne of Green Gables was so well known around the world?!

      • Ab says:

        Glad to hear tourism is alive and well. 🙂 We did some hotel trips during the pandemic and it was hard to transition back to tents after. 😆

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh I know. This is probably the least amount of tent camping that we’ve done in a year in a really long time. It’s all about being comfortable (and warm) these days and visiting during the offseason to avoid the crowds.

  6. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Wonderful place and photos! Sounds very inspiring and charming corner to go on vacations and have a relaxing time. Love red chairs! Looks amazing! Thank’s for share, Linda.
    Have a lovely day!

  7. Diana says:

    Yay, I love PEI! We were only there for one day, though, so you saw a lot more than we did. Looks like a great exploration of the island.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Out of all the places we visited during our road trip through the Maritimes, I wish we could have spent more time in PEI. I fell in love with all those charming lighthouses, sand dunes and red sandstone cliffs.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. We actually saw a mother and daughter who had dressed up as Anne of Green Gables. It was very sweet. I read the book and watched the tv show when I was younger, so it was neat to see the Green Gables House in person. I can see why Cavendish provided a lot of inspiration to L.M. Montgomery.

  8. Bama says:

    I love the look of the boardwalk across Bowley Pond with the wind-blown grass in the foreground and the blue skies in the background. This is the kind of nature’s beauty that never fails to make me go out and explore instead of staying at home (although I do enjoy the latter). If I ever set foot in PEI, I definitely won’t give this place a miss.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The floating boardwalk across Bowley Pond and through the sand dunes was one of my favourite hikes from our trip out east. The views just kept getting better and better. The best part was that the boardwalk leads down to a secluded sandy beach. We were the only ones there, which felt very special.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Prince Edward Island is gorgeous with all those sand dunes and red rock cliffs. Everything feels very laid back and relaxed. I can almost still smell the salty breeze from the ocean.

  9. wetanddustyroads says:

    A great photo of your longest bridge (wow, 12.9km is a long way to travel over ice-covered water). I love the charming little church and that’s such interesting info about the erosion and reddish colour on the beach. You walked some beautiful trails over these few days – I like the floating boardwalk. Great post, thanks for sharing Linda.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was really interesting to learn more about the Confederation Bridge. It was very expensive to build and its estimated lifespan is about 100 years. It was a bit nerve wracking to drive across it on our way back to New Brunswick as it was super duper windy outside. The floating boardwalk across the Greenwich Dunes was my favourite trail that we hiked in Prince Edward Island. The scenery was beautiful plus it leads down to a secret sandy beach, which is always a bonus. Thanks for reading. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That tiny chapel is very quaint and cute. It was an unexpected surprise as we were hiking through the dunelands. It’s technically not part of the national park, but the trail passes by it, so we couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. Out of all the places we visited in the Maritimes, I wish we had more time in Prince Edward Island, even if it was super crazy windy outside. I just couldn’t get enough of the scenery and all those charming looking lighthouses.

  10. leightontravels says:

    Having read your post and posts by other Canadian bloggers, all I can say is that Prince Edward Island is definitely a place to visit. Your Clarks Lane walk looks lovely with wildflowers and that charming little chapel. I would love to visit the Green Gables House with its cinematic vintage interior. Always glad to read a lighthouse-studded article. My favourite is the small Covehead Lighthouse situated among the sand dunes. Though Seacow Head Lighthouse looks very handsome and the cliff position adds to the attraction.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Out of the three Maritime provinces that we visited, I wish we could have spent more time in Prince Edward Island. Even though it’s relatively small, there’s so much to see (and there are so many lighthouses!). The trails through the dunes were especially scenic with all the wildflowers still in bloom.

  11. grandmisadventures says:

    I visited here a few years ago with my mom and daughter and absolutely loved it! I loved the red coastline of the national park and getting to see the green gabled house of Anne. Ever since we’ve been saying that we need to go back. What a delightful post to read through and beautiful pictures of this beautiful island. I sent it to my mom and she text me afterwards with ‘we need to go back!’ 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I felt such a strong connection with Prince Edward Island when we visited and I’m trying to convince my husband that we should retire there someday. Out of the three Maritime provinces that we visited, PEI was my favourite. We were only there for two days, which wasn’t nearly enough time to do it justice. We need to go back as well!

  12. Bernie says:

    So many of these sites we saw this summer and now so many are gone. The lighthouse at North Rustico was badly damaged, the beach at Cavendish and the coast line wrecked. It was hard to believe so much damage was done. Bernie

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s very sad to hear about the aftermath from Hurricane Fiona. I heard that some of the sand dunes sustained a lot of damage and were already vulnerable from when Hurricane Dorian hit the area a few years ago. It’s hard to believe that we were there just one week before the storm hit.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s such a relaxed vibe on Prince Edward Island and the scenery is beautiful with all those windswept sand dunes and rocky red cliffs. I also couldn’t get enough of all those charming lighthouses.

  13. rkrontheroad says:

    Lovely photos of beautiful places. Loved the backlit chapel photo, it looks spiritual. Fortunate that you just missed the hurricane. I hope the effects weren’t too destructive in that area.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Prince Edward Island is very charming and picturesque. I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful landscape and all those lighthouses. I just wish we could have stayed for longer. Hopefully you’re able to see it all for yourself someday.

      • Jeremy Golan says:

        You are so right. Toronto has endless things to explore. One lifetime is not enough. I cover Toronto and I always have too much material. I love this country.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We actually moved out of Toronto during the pandemic. There are definitely things about the city that I miss, like how there’s always something happening and there are so many different options in terms of food or activities. Plus it’s nice to be able to walk around instead of relying on a car to get you everywhere. Agreed, we are lucky to live in such an amazing country. It’s been fun to explore more of it these past few years.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Prince Edward Island is very photogenic with all those open fields, sandy beaches, red rocky cliffs and sand dunes. I’m such a fan of lighthouses so I was in my element. I love how each one is so unique.

  14. salsaworldtraveler says:

    I think this is the most scenic park yet, and you’ve been to many spectacular ones! Your photos really bring out the beauty of the place. I’d love to visit. The bridge, sea arch and Anne of Green Gables settings are worth seeing on their own. You saw many great things in two days.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      PEI National Park is so special and unique with all those beautiful beaches, open fields of wildflowers and sand dunes. The terrain is so different from back home in Ontario. Unfortunately the sea arch recently collapsed because of the hurricane that swept through here about a week after we visited. It was wild to also see how much the sand dunes were impacted by the storm as well. We definitely made the most of our two days in this province.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The trails through the sand dunes were among some of my favourites during our road trip through the Maritimes. I’m such a fan of all those floating boardwalks too. Hopefully you’re able to see it all for yourself someday. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Confederation Bridge is pretty massive. It was a bit sketchy driving across it with such high winds when we were leaving, but thankfully we made it with our rooftop cargo carrier still in place.

  15. Laura says:

    PEI looks SO incredibly charming! More evidence that I need to eventually book a first-time-ever trip out east. So many incredible sights to see. Reading this makes me ache for a road trip!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Out of all the places we visited during our road trip through the Maritimes, I wish we could have spent more time in PEI. For such a small island, there sure is a lot to see and explore, especially all those lighthouses along the coast. I could sure use a road trip too to escape from the cold!

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