It’s the smallest province in the country and the only one to have no land boundary – making it the perfect beach destination. With rolling hills, wooded areas and beautiful red soil, the interior of Prince Edward Island is as delightful as the sandy beaches and coves that circle the land. The high iron content of the soil gives rise to red sandstone cliffs and tints the sand a rosy colour on many of the beaches. The dunes and marshes are just begging to be explored as are the bays and inlets that are home to many seabirds.
Singing Sands, Basin Head Provincial Park
Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris
One of the most popular beaches in Canada, the sands are composed of silica and produce a rustling, singing noise when trodden upon. The sand is unique to this area and is pure white in contrast to many of the other sandy beaches that are tinted with iron.
The tidal lagoon here is the only place in the world to find a variety of Giant Irish Moss. To protect the moss, the watershed has a Marine Protected Area designation and other marine creatures can be seen in the lagoon as well.
The Basin Head Fisheries Museum is a pleasant place to take a break from the beach and tells the history of dredging the basin to create a harbour – and also creating the dunes. A boardwalk takes visitors over the beach to the shops and children’s play area.
Jacques Cartier Provincial Park
Set your tent up on the edge of the beach and wake up each morning to a lovely view of the water. The beach has a wilder feel here and is wonderful for walking while listening to the waves break on the shore. A boardwalk takes visitors to the water and during the summer the area is popular for swimming.
The park is named for Prince Edward Island's first European visitor and every July there is a celebration here to commemorate the event. Nearby attractions at North Cape provide entertainment when the weather is just too chilly to enjoy the beach.
Cap-Egmont to Mont Carmel
The sections of beach along Route 11 are not supervised, but have large areas of shallow waters that are relatively safe for young swimmers. This section of water seems to warm up first when summer arrives and is a good choice for early-season visitors wanting to swim. The drive is quite scenic and many tourists will want to start their day at the curious bottle houses near Cap-Egmont.
There are no services and access to the beaches is a matter of choosing a side road and finding a place to leave the car. Beach-users tend to be locals only as visitors drive right by the beautiful area on their way to the next marked attraction. Union Corner Provincial Park is the nearest area with facilities and is very picturesque despite being a bit colder for swimming.
Stanhope Beach and Cavendish Beach, P.E.I. National Park
A cottage community on the north shore, Stanhope provides access to the beach and the park – and not much else off season. The park provides protection for the beaches and dunes along the shore and lucky visitors might spot the Piping Plover, an endangered bird that nests in the area.
Tourism PEI / Carrie Gregory
Cavendish is a natural sand beach that stretches from New London Bay to the red sandstone cliffs of Cavendish East. The Main Beach is the most accessible section with parking, changing rooms, a canteen and other amenities. A boardwalk protects the fragile areas.
In July a music festival takes place on Cavendish Beach, filling the cottages and campgrounds. Plan ahead if visiting during this time and expect crowds.
A very popular attraction here is Green Gables, the farm made famous by author Lucy Maud Montgomery and her popular Anne of Green Gables novels. It is a real place, a National Historic Site of Canada and located entirely within the park.
Sadly the entire park is somewhat endangered due to both human activity and severe storms that cause coastal erosion. Be gentle and respectful when visiting.
Off Cousins Shore Road
Tourism PEI / Paul Baglole.
Just north of the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush is a road that turns off towards the sea. At the end of this road is a small beach known only to locals that is perfect for getting away from the crowds at Cavendish. Enjoy a swath of sandy beach with nearby Cousins and Campbells ponds to explore before leaving your private beach to take in more of the island.
Greenwich, P.E.I National Park
Tourism PEI / Stephen Harris
Much of the peninsula is within the park and it includes a huge sand dune field that covers many hectares of land. A boardwalk takes visitors out to the parabolic dunes creating easy access to this incredible sight. A swimming area has a shallower sandbar and is supervised in the summer.
The park has numerous trails for hiking and biking, or visit the learning centre with its 3D model of the peninsula and presentation that describes how the region was created.
Despite the beauty of the region, Greenwich is less accessible than many other areas and is rarely crowded. Bring a picnic lunch along on your walk and spend the day wandering the beaches and dunes, enjoying the peaceful shore and amazing nature.
Cedar Dunes Provincial Park
Tourism PEI / Heather Ogg
Located in the West Point area along the North Cape Coastal Drive, Cedar Dunes is known for having miles of beaches that are perfect for walking as well as supervised beaches for swimming. It’s beautiful and a bit remote making it a perfectly romantic spot to snuggle together and watch the sunset. There are plenty of activities to do in the campgrounds but one of the best is to take a long walk to the lighthouse and tour the only inn in the country that is in a working lighthouse. The building also has a museum that uses artefacts and photographs to document the history of lighthouses on the island.