March 22, 2011
Located on the east coast of Canada, Prince Edward Island (PEI) produces about 80% of North America’s mussels, but that’s far from all.
Aswell as being Canada’s greenest provice, PEI, also known as the Island,is Canada’s smallest, with a population of 142,000. The island’s fresh air, clean Atlantic waters and all-around natural beauty give a whole new meaning to unspoilt.
For British visitors, the charms of PEI are not hard to discover – as William and Kate found on their summer 2011 post-wedding tour. First of all, the flight is a short one and as it’s about a quarter of the size of Wales, it’s easy to get around. The food is fresh and fabulous, plus there are endless outdoor pursuits, museums, spas and opportunities for family fun. And when it comes to souvenirs and presents, the island abounds in unique arts and craft outlets.
Moreover, the island makes great sense as part of a wider tour of Atlantic Canada and/or New England. PEI is connected to the mainland by the Confederation Bridge, and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia(75 minutes by ferry), Quebec and Maine are all within easy driving distance.
Tourism PEI reports that in terms of room nights sold, the British market was up 3% at the end of August. That’s not to suggest, however, that it’s all plain sailing. Frontier Canada, while noting strong requests for 2012, blames the weak pound and high air fares for a difficult market.
On the other hand, Bridge & Wickers reports that the Maritimes (that’s PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) accounts for a growing proportion of its business to Canada. This is particularly true of second-time Canada visitors who have already been to British Columbia and Alberta. Operators agree that PEI’sgeneral appeal is to the 50-plus market, and families during the summerholidays – especially those who don’t do well under Caribbean conditions. The season runs from May to the middle of October, and the island’s spectacular fall foliage is an increasing draw.
PEIwas named the ‘Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year 2011’ by the International Association of Golf Operators (IAGTO), and the myriad opportunities to tee-off play a major part in the island’s appeal. Despite its modest size, one in 20 of North America’s top golf courses is on the island. Each of the 34 courses, several of which are newly opened, has their own distinctive character, layout and design. And they’re all within 30 minutes’ drive of Charlottetown.
PrinceEdward Island is one of the best places in the world to enjoy lobster, oysters, clams and mussels. Lobster fishing trips, learning to shuck (open) oysters and digging for clams are all popular pastimes. In September there’s a three-day international shellfish festival packed with mussels, oysters, music and shucking competitions.
Later in the month, more than 100 events make up the Fall Flavours festival wherefoodies can go from smoking and pickling workshops to oyster gathering and potato picking, before finishing the day with a nine-course fine-dining extravaganza. What’s more, PEI’s Culinary Institute of Canada, arguably the nation’s leading cookery school, offers cookery courses lasting anything from a half a day to four days. And last but not least, The Culinary Trail is a series of itineraries, complete with guidebook and map, that’s designed around PEI’s many food-related highlights. For more info see peiflavours.ca
The island has a wide range of activities for theoutdoor family. Cycling is a popular pastime – the island is relativelyflat with a maximum elevation of 142 metres. Cycle routes like the 221-mile Confederation Trail criss-cross the island, and the coastal boardwalks with their spectacular seascapes also make for happy pedalling. All of which explains PEI’s 25 bike rental shops. And the walking isn’t bad either.
In terms of beaches, the island’s northshore has miles of unspoiled sand as well as PEI’s own national park. In the water, options include canoeing, kayaking, fishing, snorkelling, seal-watching, parasailing and good old floating on your back. Lovers ofLucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will find related attractions all over the island.