Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada, located along the north shore of the island, extends approximately 40km from Cavendish to Dalvay and is home to sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, wetlands and forests as well as two important cultural sites.
Our family has vacationed on Prince Edward Island eight times and I don't think that I will ever grow tired of the incredible beauty of the National Park. These are my favourite photos from our most recent visit last month.
The National Park is one of the best places to see the scenic red sandstone cliffs and white sand beaches for which Prince Edward Island is known. These first few photos were taken on Cavendish Beach which is just a short walk from our rental cottage.
Sand dunes throughout the National Park were created from eroding sandstone and over time the growth of marram grass has stabilized the dunes and created a natural habitat for many different plants and animals. The dunes are a fragile environment though and it's important for visitors to keep to marked trails and refrain from walking on the easily-damaged grass. Sadly, I have observed people ignoring the posted warnings and walking on the dunes anyway every time that I have visited the park.
One of my favourite places to walk is the Cavendish Dunelands Trail which provides excellent views of the dunes and also of the wetlands from a floating boardwalk.
Green Gables Heritage Place
Each year fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, visit Prince Edward Island to see the setting that inspired her to write about the fictional village of Avonlea and a redheaded orphan. Montgomery was recognized as a person of historical significance after her death and in 2004 Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site was designated. The National Historic Site is located within PEI National Park and encompasses both Green Gables Heritage Place and the Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home. Green Gables Heritage Place, which was the home of one of her cousins, has been restored to the period of the late 1800s in order to reflect the time period of the novel. We are huge fans of Anne of Green Gables so this is a mandatory visit for us when we are on the island.
Cavendish Ocean Lookout
A bit further down the road from the Cavendish Beach area, there is an area where visitors can park and walk to the Cavendish Ocean Lookout for spectacular views of the ocean and the sandstone cliffs.
North Rustico Beach
The North Rustico beach, also located within the National Park, is just a few kilometres from Cavendish. North Rustico itself is a traditional fishing community and home to the world-famous Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers.
The Covehead Harbour Lighthouse, located beside the entrance to Covehead Bay within the National Park, was built in 1967. A plaque on the side of the lighthouse describes the Yankee Gale of 1851, considered to be one of the strongest and most destructive storms ever to hit Maritime Canada, and remembers the ninety ships and 160 men that were lost.
The ocean-front beach resort Dalvay-by-the-Sea is also a National Historic Site of Canada located within Prince Edward Island National Park. The house was built in 1895 by Alexander MacDonald who named it after his boyhood home in Scotland. Fans of the Anne of Green Gables movies and the Road to Avonlea television series may recognize it as the White Sands Hotel. Prince William and Duchess Kate also visited here on their Canadian royal honeymoon trip in 2011. Our family tradition is to dine in the MacMillan Dining Room here on our last night on the island.
What You Need to Know
- Directions to the park are available on the Parks Canada website.
- Most park facilities are open mid-May through mid-October. Full services in July and August, limited services in May-June and September-October.
- Entry fees, camping fees and fees for special programs are listed on the Parks Canada website.
- There are 7 supervised beaches within the park - facilities vary depending on location.
- Children aged 6 to 11 can participate in the Parks Canada Xplorers program (included with entry fee). Upon completion of an activity booklet they will receive a certificate and special souvenir.
- Activities available within the park include: bird watching; camping; cycling; fishing; geocaching; hiking; canoeing/kayaking; and more.
- The Green Gables property and the Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site are both located within the park.