Cavendish became famous in 1908 for its place in literature as the home of the Green Gables farmhouse in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books, which describe a town "Avonlea" based on Cavendish, PEI. The park was established in 1937 to protect the homestead and the ecologically-sensitive sandy beaches and dunes along the surrounding coastline.
PEI National Park exists to protect broad sand beaches, sand dunes and both freshwater wetlands and salt marshes; its 60 km (37 mi) length faces onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Most of the parkland is reachable as a discontinuous pair of segments of coastline; one of these long, narrow sandy beaches runs westward from North Rustico through Cavendish, while the other runs eastward from Brackley Beach through Stanhope to Dalvay. These two segments are separated by Rustico village and its bays. In Cavendish, the western segment of the park includes part of Cavendish village, with the Green Gables homestead and an adjacent 18-hole golf course.
While most of this beach and oceanfront land is open and public, portions are restricted to protect wildlife. There are no roads into the protected segments.
Flora and fauna
A portion of the park is a designated Canadian Important Bird Area as a beachfront nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover; these bird nesting areas are not accessible to the public.
In summer, an average daytime high is 23⁰C (73⁰F) with the water as a moderating influence on temperature; this drops to −7°C (19.4°F) in January, once the Gulf of St. Lawrence freezes over.
Provincial Highway 15 runs north from Charlottetown to Highway 6, the main east-west road which runs near the southern edge of the park.
Fees and permits
Daily park admission is $7.80/person (Senior $6.80, Youth $3.90); camp sites are an additional $25-35/night.
There is a drivable scenic road, the Gulf Shore Parkway West, on the Cavendish waterfront in the western half of the park. Route 15 meets the eastern Gulf Shore Parkway and follows the waterfront eastward through the eastern half of the park.
As much of the park is a narrow strip of waterfront, it is split in two by bays near Rustico. Route 6, as the main east-west road, joins the severed pieces of parkland.
There are an assortment of cycling and hiking trails, some of which provide a fine view of the ocean.
- Green Gables Heritage Centre, Cavendish, ☎ (park). A 19th-century farm house which was owned by the MacNeill family, cousins of author Lucy Maud Montgomery; the outer walls are white, except for the distinctive green gables. Montgomery visited the farm as a young girl, drawing inspiration from the house and surrounding area, including the "Haunted Woods", "Lovers Lane", and "Balsam Hollow." $7.80/person (senior $6.80, youth $3.90).
- Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish home, Route 6, 1/4 mile E of Green Gables, ☎ . 9AM-5PM (mid-May to mid-Oct), 9AM-6PM (summer). Homestead fields, lanes, gardens and old trees on the grounds where Montgomery's grandparents home once stood; no buildings remain. Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Kilmeny of the Orchard and The Story Girl were written here, as well as hundreds of short stories and poems. $3/person, $1 (age 16 and under).
- Cavendish Beach, Graham's Lane. Five miles (8 km) of natural sand beach extends from New London Bay in the west to Cavendish East. Wooden board walk, changing rooms, washrooms and a canteen.
- Green Gables Golf Club, 8727 Cavendish Road, Cavendish, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . 18-hole, par 72 course within the park, with views of Anne of Green Gables House, Cavendish Beach Dunes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. $60-100.
- Various interpretive programs, from guided hikes to sandcastle demos and campfire sing-alongs.
There's little or nothing in the park. A handful of tourist-oriented businesses operate seasonally outside the park limits along Route 6, the main road through Cavendish and Rustico Harbour, but selection is limited.
There are six picnic areas in the park; some are equipped with washrooms and kitchen shelters.
Stanhope Beach, Stanhope Cape, Cape Turner and Cavendish East picnic areas are open mid-June to mid-September. Cavendish Grove picnic area is open mid-May to end-September. Dalvay Trail House is open from mid-May to Thanksgiving. Information is available from the park office at +1 902-672-6350.
There is a liquor store in North Rustico; Sandbox Pub & Eatery (8812 Cavendish Rd, +1 902-963-3759) is just west of the park on Route 6.
Park management may restrict campers from bringing alcoholic beverages into park camp sites at certain times, such as during the music festival.
- These accommodations are part of PEI National Park. See Cavendish and Rustico Harbour for additional lodging outside the park.
- Dalvay-by-the-Sea, 16 Cottage Crescent, Dalvay, ☎ , toll-free: . Elaborate summer house in the Queen Anne Revival style. A historic Victorian era mansion operated as an inn with restaurant and event space, twenty-five bedrooms with four-piece ensuite bath, wi-fi but no TV or radio. Eight one or two-bedroom cottages are nearby.
There are two campgrounds in the park:
- 1 Cavendish Campground, 357 Graham's Lane, Cavendish, toll-free: . 200 camp sites, exclusive supervised white sand beach, showers, flush toilets, laundry, kitchen shelters. Campfires permitted on selected sites. On 8km (five mile) Homestead Trail for hiking and cycling. $25-35/night plus park admission.
- 2 Stanhope Campground, 983 Gulf Shore Parkway, Stanhope, toll-free: . Camp with over 100 sites on Gulf Shore Way, a 10km multi-use trail for cycling, inline skating or walking. Hot showers, flush toilets, laundry and kitchen shelters; within walking distance of Stanhope Beach. $25-35/night plus park admission.
Jumping from Covehead Bridge is prohibited and dangerous. The gulf is prone to rip currents or rip tides which can pull a swimmer away from shore. Swimmers are encouraged to use supervised swimming areas.