The island was historically divided into three regally-named counties – Prince to the west, Queens in the middle and Kings to the east. Queens County is home to the island’s oldest and largest city, Charlottetown, which still retains a small-town feel with a population of just under 70,000. Best explored on foot, the city is full of well-preserved architecture and pretty parks. It was here in 1864 that representatives from British colonies first met to discuss the formation of a new nation, Canada – visit the grand Provincial House to discover more about this important piece of North American history. Charlottetown’s past meets the 21st Century along downtown Victoria Row, where historic red-bricked buildings are now home to restaurants, bars and cafés.
Step into the world of Anne of Green Gables along the county’s north coast, where you can visit L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site (open seasonally) to see the house with the green gables. The nearby town of Cavendish is a fantastic base from which to explore Prince Edward Island National Park’s natural beauty. Stretching for 37 miles along the Gulf of Lawrence Coast, the park protects a number of coastal landscapes such as sandstone cliffs, red-sand beaches, wind-swept sand dunes, salt marshes and freshwater wetlands. Popular spots include Brackley Beach and North Rustico, the latter of which has a strong fishing heritage and is a great place to dine on oh-so-fresh lobster.
The western third of the island, known as Prince County, is a more rural, ‘working’ region. Follow the popular North Cape Coastal Drive through agricultural lands, along a coastline dotted with oyster and Irish moss farms and past quirky attractions like The Canadian Potato Museum. Prince Edward Island’s second-largest settlement, Summerside, is located in the east of the county. Another enchanting destination, this small city features a harbour-front theatre and historic weatherboard-clad buildings. While here, soak up the province’s Celtic cultural influences at one of the Ceilidhs and concerts that take place throughout the summer.
The third and final county, Kings, covers the eastern section of the island, a region of coastal hamlets and empty beaches. The beautiful East Coastal Drive boasts 295 miles of roads following the coastline and passing through remote farmlands. Lighthouses punctuate the drive, some of which are seasonally open to the public – including Cape Bear Lighthouse, the site of the Marconi Station which received the first distress call from the Titanic. Between the lighthouses, capes and points, stop at one of the many beaches to try watersports kayaking and paddle-boarding. Back on the county’s northern shore, explore the towering sand dunes and untouched beaches of the Greenwich Peninsula section of Prince Edward Island National Park, which boasts many hiking and biking trails.
Talking of hiking and biking, the cross-island Confederation Trail is a hugely popular shared-use trail that follows the path of an abandoned railway. It stretches for 255 miles from Tignish in the far north-west to Elmira in the northeast; there is also a leg that branches out to Murray Harbour in the island’s south-east corner. In the summer it’s used by walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders, while in the winter it’s set aside as a snowmobile trail.
As you might expect from one of Canada’s maritime provinces, the accommodation here is full of character. Expect boutique inns and bed-and-breakfasts, all of which have that local charm. There are also cottages and lodges to rent and golf and spa resorts that embrace the island’s natural beauty when it comes to settings.
As it’s a small province there are only a couple of airports, however due to its size, it’s relatively quick and easy to get around the island by road. The main airport is in Charlottetown and there is also a small airfield in Summerside. Simply Contact one of our team and we can arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Prince Edward Island.