Even after reading about “PEI” online, we weren’t sure what to expect on our visit to Prince Edward Island. Before this trip, I only knew about PEI for their famous mussels. (If you were wondering, we do have a recipe for classic PEI steamed mussels!) When we arrived at PEI, though, we found a lot more than tasty bivalves. The island was beautifully rural, peaceful, and pretty majestic.
Prince Edward Island National Park’s red cliffs, quiet sandy beaches, and pristine oceanfront campgrounds were definitely a standout. Then, it sounds weird, but potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes. Who’d know PEI produces 25% of Canada’s yearly potato crop? Just imagine vast farmlands that meet the ocean and soft coastlines that hug the wide open fields. Apparently PEI potatoes are just as well known as PEI mussels!
So how did we get to Prince Edward Island? Our trusty camper! We’ve been tent camping for years, and Sarah and Kaitlin have carried on the tradition in their trips to California, the Grand Canyon, and The Pacific Northwest. As for me and Judy, we decided to invest in a Winnebago motorhome for our travels in the US and Canada. Call it glamping, but we love that it’s our little mobile apartment with all the amenities of a home built in!
We crossed over to Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick, CA over the Confederation Bridge which is over 10 km (6 miles) long––the longest bridge we’ve ever driven over! Here’s a photo sourced from Wikipedia that we found, and props to the photographer who managed to get a great shot of it (we just drove over it). Sitting high up in our motorhome while driving on this bridge was nerve-wracking for Judy, but let’s just say it was a good time to turn off your imagination.
For any interested travelers, there is no toll to get onto the Island, but we did see toll signs for $47 Canadian when leaving the island on the bridge. There are other ways to get off the island, but more on that later.
After crossing the long Confederation Bridge, we realized along the highway just how much Prince Edward Island relies on agriculture. What’s a road trip without some bucolic views of cows, hayfields, and fields and fields of PEI potatoes?
When we arrived at the national park, we navigated to Cavendish Campground, where we planned to spend the night, but we were over-flowed to Stanhope Campground given the Labor Day weekend rush. We had to drive another 30 minutes to Stanhope Campground, so make a footnote for yourself to make campground reservations for your visit!
But we enjoyed our stay all the same. Both Judy and I were pretty amazed with this magical bus camper conversion that pulled in next to us. What a great project!
The next day, we woke up refreshed and ready to see some of the sights!
Charlottetown, PEI – Farmer’s Market and Island City Life
When we travel, we always like to look for local farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are a great way to get fresh produce if you’re camping or RVing, but it also gives you insight into the local produce and favorite foods.
Our camping neighbors next to us, who were from Nova Scotia and have been coming to PEI for years, told us we should visit the Charlottetown farm market located at the traffic circle at Belvedere and University Avenue. Like all farmers’ markets, it has seasonal hours, so best to ask the locals when you’re in town.
I suggest you get there early, because they have limited hours and the best baked goods and produce go really fast. The Charlottetown farmer’s market had a good local butcher counter, gourmet local cheese producers, fresh breads, and many fresh produce stands. There were also many prepared food stands, so it made for a good place to get a bite to eat.
Kombucha anyone? I’d never tried it, but Kaitlin seems to swear by it these days. Judy and I enjoyed the “blue jazz,” my first kombucha!
The fresh bread stand was popular and all the artisan breads sold out quickly!
We also paused for some fresh PEI oysters on the half shell––well I did. And Judy and I shared a locally made pork sausage roll that was ace! This farmer’s market is totally worth the stop if it’s open during your visit.
This was our loot from Charlottetown market. There’s nothing better than having farm fresh produce on the road. That night, we dug into a light vegetarian meal of sautéed chanterelles, fresh onion, asparagus, and carrots with olive oil garlic toast and yes, PEI potatoes!
Next, we drove into the Charlottetown city center where there are shops and restaurants and the Confederation Arts center––home to a smaller gallery, gift shop and theater performances.
After the arts center, we walked over to the pier and saw quite a few people fishing and catching mackerel right from there (near the PEI convention center). Yes, people actually had small mackerel in their buckets and some were pulling small mackerel out of the water as we were passing by. All that fishing got us excited and we looked forward to a deep sea fishing trip that we had planned for the next day.
As we strolled along the pier, we came face to face with a sign that said “Cow’s” ice cream. Unbeknownst to us, they’re rated #1 of 10 top places in the world to get ice cream by Tauck World Discovery. Judy got an large mint dark chocolate ice cream cone. I think ice cream lovers all have their own collection of places depending upon the flavor they try and their mood that day. Though I will say, we can add Cow’s to our list!
Rustico PEI – Deep Sea Fishing
The next morning, we got up early and drove to Joey’s deep sea fishing in Rustico––about a 15-minute drive from Cavendish campground. The trip was 3 hours total and we would be targeting mackerel for 1 hour and then cod for another hour. The boat ride would take us 30 minutes to go out and another 30 minutes for the return trip, so for us, it was a scenic tour with some great views.
There were 18 people on board the small vessel, but it didn’t seem crowded at all. Captain Dave and his mate were very helpful and friendly, making the whole trip a great experience. Here, I was talking to the captain about how to read the fish finder.
We passed by huge mussel farming buoys and large oyster cages. I was told that the wider buoys with cages were oysters.
The smaller single round buoys were harder to see and were strings of the famous PEI mussels. We had quite a few meals of PEI mussels and even cooked our own steamed PEI mussels out of our camper!
The first stop was mackerel fishing or “catching,” since they are so plentiful and so easy to catch. Everyone threw the fish into a common bin, and the fish were shared among anyone who wanted them so everyone was rooting for everyone for the catch. So perfect and communal. As our lines were in the water, the first mate was filleting the mackerel––for us and also to prepare them as bait for cod fishing!
Naturally, the seagulls got very excited by this.
After an hour of great mackerel action, the captain announced we were moving on to cod “fishing” since cod fish were much harder to locate and catch. I managed to boat 2 keepers (20” and 22”) so it was a fun day for me!
Judy caught 3 cod––2 that had to be thrown back because they were under 19” and one huge 27” keeper. It was a doozy, and everyone on the boat cheered when it came over the rail! Judy definitely held onto bragging rights for the largest cod caught that day! For more of our deep sea fishing adventures, check out our Chinese Pan fried fish recipe and scroll down to the end of the post.
Our boat had a good sized catch of cod that day, expertly filleted by Captain Dave.
Joey’s Deep Sea Fishing was a great experience and we would definitely go again the next time we visit PEI!
Lucky for us, our camper has a refrigerator with a freezer, so we had room to store our fish, but we wasted no time in having a fresh fish meal! Here is a picture of the pan fried mackerel with soy sauce fried brown rice lunch we cooked up in our camper while parked at the marina. Not too shabby, huh?
Later that night, we cooked our fresh caught cod for dinner using a frying pan variation of our recipe for Hunan Steamed Fish with Salted Chilies. Judy did a nice job of stocking our camper pantry, and our fresh cod with Hunan salted chilies was really GOOD!
We had a vegetarian side dish of wood ears, zucchini and green onions from the farmers’ market which was similar to Judy’s Authentic Moo Shu Pork. Add some jasmine rice cooked in a camping pot and it was a perfect meal.
It was a great day of fishing and eating on Prince Edward Island!
Prince Edward Island National Park – Cavendish
We stayed at Cavendish campground for a second night and took a long walk on the beach in the morning.
After breakfast, we drove over to the main part of Cavendish Beach, where beachgoers where few and far between as the season was beginning to wind down.
The nearby Dunelands and the freshwater lake also made for a great scenic stroll.
Judy marveled at how cool the beach campsites were. This was a tent-only campsite at Cavendish beach. It was a shame that we weren’t able to stay there!
The tide was low, and we saw periwinkles on flat rocks in one section of the beach!
I remember periwinkles in garlic black bean sauce was a favorite family dish when I was young. We would use toothpicks to pluck the snail out of their shells which sounds kinda gruesome, but trust me, they were delicious!
All along the ocean, were red rocks and cliffs, making for pretty spectacular views along the shoreline.
The scenery was so great that when we saw an excellent picnic area, we couldn’t resist throwing together a little lunch. The wind was just strong enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
We would have stayed there all afternoon relaxing, but we had to press on to Greenwich.
Prince Edward Island National Park – Greenwich Floating Bridge
The Greenwich portion of PEI National Park is famous for its sand dunes and the floating boardwalk. The drive was a little over an hour, and while it seemed like a long time, we retraced some roads and Prince Edward Island seemed smaller and more manageable as we became better acquainted with getting around. Once we arrived at Greenwich, we went directly to the trailhead, since it was getting a bit late. It was was a short 4.8 km round trip hike that was totally worth it.
The sandy beach at the end of the floating bridge was really beautiful and secluded. The secluded beach was spacious and had plenty of soft, fine sand. Perfect for a mid-hike rest.
After staying on the beach for a while, we headed back to the parking area, since we had an hour-long drive ahead of us. This time, to a provincial campsite on the beach near the Wood Island ferry. We had an awesome stay at Prince Edward Island, and we settled in for our final evening! We had to get up early for the Wood Island ferry, which is on the east side of the Island and a quick way to cross back over to Nova Scotia.
Stay tuned for the rest of our Canada trip in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland!