For generations, Prince Edward Island has been the vacation destination of choice for many families. The rolling hills of green fields, cut through by red dirt roads, against a backdrop of blue water and sky is a visual delight.
But, of course, one of the main attractions for both visitors and locals alike are the beaches. Miles and miles of sandy beaches are easily accessible. Everything from out-of-the-way and nearly abandoned areas, to the popular and fully serviced and supervised beaches await.
In our view, here are five of the Island’s best beach areas.
1. Greenwich Beach. As part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, Greenwich beach has all the facilities to make a great day out at the beach. Change huts and showers are on-site, while the lifeguards make sure everyone stays safe. This beach is just one little part of one of the longest, uninterrupted stretches of sandy beach on the Island. If the area right next to the services is a little too busy for you, just walk a few minutes and you can easily find your own little plot. But, what makes Greenwich extra special is not just the beach, but the surrounding area. A visit to the interpretive centre really highlights the importance of this piece of land at the entrance to St Peters Bay, and the thousands of years of human interactions with the land. The series of trails, all easily accessible, make for a great afternoon activity. And don’t forget the sand dunes! The parabolic dunes in this area have some unique properties, rarely found anywhere else on earth. The trails through the woods lead to a long boardwalk over a pond and give you a great view. Or, you can wander down from the beach itself along the shore to meet up with the far end of the trails.
2. Cavendish Beach. Long a favourite on the Island, this is the area most people think of when they think of visiting Prince Edward Island. During the busy tourism season, get there early to pick out a prime spot, because this beach is a very popular destination, with a full range of facilities. The nearby town of Cavendish is the tourism centre of Prince Edward Island, with it multitude of shops and attractions, the annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival, and the home of Anne of Green Gables. But the beach is ground zero for most stays in Cavendish. Also a part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, this beach stretches for miles with plenty of access points. Wander down the beach to see the picturesque red cliffs meeting the sea and sand.
3. Cedar Dunes. Often referred to as the West Point Beach, this provincial park is at most western point of PEI, and provides a campground supervised beach area, nature trail and children’s activities. Also within this park is the iconic West Point Lighthouse, which has now been converted into an Inn (and is said to be haunted by Willie, the first keeper of the lighthouse).
4. Brackley Beach. Again a part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, Brackley Beach is probably the second most popular beach area on the Island after Cavendish. Miles of white sandy beach and full services welcome thousands of visitors each year. Although not quite as busy as Cavendish, it’s still a good idea to get there early and claim your spot before the afternoon rush on a nice day. After a day at the beach, take in a movie at Prince Edward Island’s only drive-in theatre.
5. Basin Head. This jewel has just been voted as Canada’s number one beach destination by travel website vacay.ca. It’s not to be missed on your visit. Home of the singing sands and the PEI fisheries museum, Basin Head has plenty of facilities, as well as a line of small shops just at the end of the beach. Despite all the signs warning against it, you’ll find many people diving into the water off the little bridge passing over the run linking the fishing harbour to the sea. Take a little trip to nearby East Point Lighthouse and the Elmira Railway Musuem. The nearby town of Souris has all the services you will need, as well as a great sea glass display in their lighthouse.