A rich farmland, the island was one of the first parts of Canada to be settled by Europeans.
PEI has three counties:
- Prince, the western third of the province
- Queens, the central third of the province
- Kings, the eastern third of the province
- Charlottetown - capital city of province and county seat of Queens County
- Summerside - county seat of Prince County
- Prince Edward Island National Park covers much of the central north coast and tourist destinations.
"The island", as locals call it, is well-known for its beautiful sandy beaches, dunes and potato fields. It is also the home of the gregarious Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables. It became the "Cradle of Confederation" after the Fathers of Confederation met there in 1864 to discuss the possible union of four British North American colonies. The Dominion of Canada was formed three years later in 1867.
PEI is recognised for its red soil and sand that emerges from the break down of red sandstone. The high iron content of the sand gives it its rusty colouring and prominence. As the islanders say, "There are no white dogs in PEI."
Being an island, PEI has limited access by car.
- The monumental Confederation Bridge, almost a visitor attraction in and of itself (viewing stations on the New Brunswick side offer good photo opportunities), crosses the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and PEI. It's reached from the mainland on TCH Route 16 near Aulac, and stretches 13 km across open water to the island. The toll of $47.00 toll for a car, $18.75 for a motorcycle (2018 rates, 2-axle vehicle), is collected on the PEI side when returning to the mainland.
- PEI Express Shuttle, +1-877-877-1771, offers van service between PEI and Halifax. 3 days advance reservation is recommended.
There are a number of car ferries to PEI:
- Northumberland Ferries Limited, +1-888-249-7245, crosses from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Woods Islands about once every hour and a half, from 6:30AM to 7:00PM (a return trip is $19 per passenger or $72 per car or camper up to 20 ft (6.1 m), in fact, similarly to the toll bridge, only the way out from PEI is charged). The ferries do not operate during the winter months.
- CTMA, +1-418-986-3278, runs ferries from Cap-aux-Meules on Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, to Souris about once a day ($40 per passenger or $75 per car).
Throughout the summer months, cruise liners stop in Charlottetown for one-day visits.
- Air Canada/Air Canada Express (Halifax (Nova Scotia), Montreal, Toronto)
- WestJet (Toronto)
- Sunwing Vacations (Toronto)
- Delta Air Lines (New York City)
Non-metered taxi service is available within the city limits of Charlottetown and Summerside, as well as in most large communities. Most taxi companies are willing to provide transportation to rural areas of the island as well, but be prepared to pay a higher rate for this service.
The city of Charlottetown operates a public transit system that provides bus transportation at a cost of $2.25 to various locations around the city. Although the service does not extend very far beyond city limits, it does provide fast, reliable transportation to most locations within them. There is little intercity public transport: T3 on line Charlottetown-Kensigton-Hunter River-Charlottetown
In the summer cycling is popular. Although most roads do not have wide shoulders or designated bike lanes, drivers tend to be quite courteous to cyclists. The landscape consists mostly of rolling hills; there are few steep hills to climb. Additionally, the Confederation Trail stretches from one end of the island to the other. Built on a disused rail bed, the trail has low grades and is reserved for cyclists and pedestrians. Cycling maps, sample itineraries and other cycling resources are available from Tourism PEI, MacQueen's Island Tours (based in Charlottetown), and Atlantic Canada Cycling.
Outside of walking, hitchhiking or cycling, a vehicle is almost mandatory to travel the island, especially in winter.
Tourism in PEI often focuses on beach, seafood, music and the Anne of Green Gables House, which seems especially to appeal to visitors from Japan, for whom this is the third or fourth most popular destination in North America (after the Grand Canyon and Banff, Alberta and often ahead even of Niagara Falls).
- Cape Bear. Formed from high cliffs that offer a good location for photography and viewing seals. During World War II, the lighthouse at Cape Bear was used to spot German U-Boats. Cape Bear was also the first land station in Canada to receive an SOS from the Titanic in 1912.
- The Ghost Ship of the Northumberland Strait. A legendary ghost ship believed to sail the Northumberland Strait by nightfall engulfed in flames. Many ships ventured out on rescue missions to this burning ship. Reportedly, the ship always receded from view. Witnesses across the island will testify to sightings of this phantom ship.
- High Bank (In Kings County in eastern PEI). The cliffs surrounding High Bank provide sweeping views along the Northumberland Strait of Nova Scotia and Pictou Island.
- Malpeque Harbour. A bay in Prince County. It is the source of not just the famous oysters but many postcards and posters of the picturesque fishing boats, colourful barn-shaped boat houses, and neatly stacked lobster traps. Arrive in late afternoon or early morning for the best light on the water.
- Murray Harbour (In southern Kings County). In the 1700s the harbour became an important Canadian port for the fishing trade. Today, Murray Harbour is still a fishing community. Local fishermen cast around the harbour for lobsters and scallops.
- St Peter's Bay. Bordered by the 360 ha (900 acre) Greenwich Dunes on one side, and is full of row upon row of buoys used for mussel farming.
- Victoria Playhouse. In picturesque Victoria by the Sea presents up to 85 live theatre and performance events each season. The playbill includes a mix of established classics and new plays by young playwrights.
- Prince Edward Island bike tours The tour starts in Cape North and winds its way through Malpeque Bay, along the Bay of St. Lawrence, to the most easterly point of the island, passing through many lovely villages, including Cavendish, North Rustico, Brackley Beach,and Stanhope.
- Basin Head is a popular beach which also has a bridge that you can go and have some fun jumping off of.
- The Dunes Gallery & Cafe, RR9 Brackley Beach, ☎ . 11:30AM-10:00PM. Cafe (open from the beginning of June) and gallery (open 9AM-6PM from the beginning of May) that features a number of local artists, furniture, and some imported crafts. There are also water gardens on the grounds.
- PEI Scenic Drives, Covers the Island. Anytime. One of the best ways to experience island life is to meander along the various back roads and highways, adding your own diversions here and there. Tourism PEI promotes three scenic drives: North Cape Coastal Drive, Blue Heron, and Points East Coastal Drive. All are unique and shed a glimpse of different aspects of Island life. Cycling is also a great way to see PEI and the areas covered by the scenic drives. A good first stop for cycling information and resources is Tourism PEI.
- Experience PEI, 274 Salutation Cove Rd, ☎ . M-Su 8AM-5PM. Experience PEI provides exciting and unique experiential tourist activities for visitors to the island. They take you and your group on these activities so you can get a real sense of what it's like to be an islander and a taste of the Island culture. $30-200.
- PEI Confederation Trail. Prince Edward Island's Confederation Trail is 470 km, travelling almost all the island. It is part of the Trans Canada Trail.
The PEI Rocket are a major junior hockey team. They have had a few players play in the NHL or AHL. Former Rocket Maxime Lapierre plays full time for the Vancouver Canucks.
Churchill Arms FC is an amateur men’s soccer club out of Charlottetown. They stand-ins for PEI at the BMO Canadian National Soccer Championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) have teams in Atlantic University Sport division, and the Canadian Inter-university Sport division. Teams involved in UPEI include Men and Women’s soccer, Women’s Rugby, Field Hockey, Men and Women’s Basketball, Men and Women’s Hockey, and Swimming.
During winter and early spring (January-May) most stores remain closed on Sundays although all essential services are available. Between the end of May and December, stores are open on Sunday. Given the island's large tourism industry, there are many, varied souvenir shops all over. Some of the more impressive are Prince Edwards Island Preserves in New Glasgow, Vessy's Seeds in York and The Dunes in Brackley. These shops carry locally produced art work, food and clothing items.
- The Magik Dragon, 9389 N Murray River, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Sells an abundance of unique and colourful gifts including shark tooth necklaces, crystals, stones, and wooden carvings. The Magik Dragon is a one-of-a-kind store with gifts for the curious and mystical person.
Prince Edward Island has seen a tremendous improvement in the quality of its restaurants. The traditional tourist restaurants serving boiled lobsters with all-you-can-eat coleslaw still exist, and can be a lot of fun, but those looking for a more refined or exotic meal now have several options.
- Malpeque oysters are known around the world for their large size, soft flesh and sweet, mild flavour. Eat the freshest possible Malpeque oysters at the Malpeque Oyster Barn, Malpeque Harbour, +1 902 836-3999. Oysters are a bargain at $18/dozen. They also serve chowder, mussels, beer and sodas. Open until 8PM.
- Brehauts Restaurant, Murray Harbour, ☎ . A modest family-owned restaurant since 1976. A must-visit in Murray Harbour, well-known for their fresh and local seafood. A restaurant for all ages, customers can dine inside or outside on picnic tables.
- The Café on the Clyde (located in the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company store, in New Glasgow at the junction of routes 224 and 258), toll-free: . Has a selection of breakfast items served until 11AM, and lunch and dinner items served after that. The potato and bacon pie is excellent, as is the lobster croissant. The fish cakes are made the traditional way with salt cod and potatoes; an authentic Maritime experience, but most customers don't order them twice. A wide selection of black and herbal teas are available either hot or iced. The dining room has a beautiful view over the idyllic Clyde River. It's a great place to stop for breakfast, lunch, a light dinner, or just a cup of tea and a piece of home-made cake.
- Lobster suppers are a highly popular dining experience and ubiquitous on the island. These meals are built around a main course of locally-caught lobster and usually include appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. Look for a large, red lobster claw on the front lawn of a church or social club, or a hand painted sign at a crossroad.
- New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, Rte 258 (off Hwy 13). One of the most widely advertised restaurants for the lobster dining experience. In the village of New Glasgow near the heart of Anne of Green Gables country. You can choose from 1, 1½ and 2 lb lobsters. Prices, though high for the island, are very reasonable compared to elsewhere.
- St. Ann's Parish (Off Route 224 in New Hope), ☎ . Offers a huge amount of food — all home cooked — for a reasonable price. The traditional lobster dinner includes soup, a heaping bowl of local mussels, salad, cole slaw, au gratin potatoes, vegetables, lobster, and homemade dessert. They also serve other entrees, as well as wine and beer. Children's menu available. Be sure to arrive hungry.
- Widely recognized as the best dining on PEI is the Inn at Bay Fortune, Bay Fortune, +1 902 687-3745 (winter +1 860 563-6090). The menu was developed by chef Michael Smith, and his Food Network series The Inn Chef was filmed at the Inn. Smith has left to focus on his television programme, but the quality of the food has not decreased. Chef Warren Barr offers a daily tasting menu. The restaurant has been awarded three stars (the maximum) by the Where to Eat in Canada dining guide.
If you choose to cook your own meals at a rental cottage or a camp site there are a number of large grocery stores located around the island. Atlantic Superstore (locations in Charlottetown, Summerside, and Montague) and Sobeys (locations in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, Stratford, and West Royalty) are the largest grocery stores in the province, and both carry a wide selection of staples as well as international imports. Sunday shopping is permitted during the summer season. Also, there are two Walmarts in the province, in Charlottetown and Summerside.
The legal drinking age in Prince Edward Island is 19. Bars, clubs and liquor stores will typically ask for a government-issued ID from anyone who looks under 25. Retail alcohol sale on the island is restricted to the government-controlled PEI Liquor Commission. Their stores carry a reasonable selection of wine, beer and liquor.
- Briarcliffe Inn, 274 Salutation Cove Rd, ☎ . The Briarcliffe Inn is a bed and breakfast in Salutation Cove with a beautiful view overlooking the Confederation Bridge. $130-200.
- Northumberland Provincial Park Campground, 12547 Shore Rd, Rte 4 (3 km from the Wood Islands Ferry), ☎ . Open from 27 May-17 Sep. The Northumberland Provincial Campground provides a gentle camping experience. The park has a lovely view of a family friendly island beach with lifeguards on duty through the summer. $25-45.
- The ferries to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Nova Scotia: the one to Nova Scotia could be a shorter route if you go to Cape Breton Island. However, Confederation Bridge remains open year-round and is the fastest, cheapest and most convenient way back to the mainland.
- There are daily flights between Charlottetown and Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax.