Experience Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island National Park is clustered into three segments on the north shore of the island: Greenwich, Cavendish, and Brackley-Dalvay. Driving to and from the part property it is easy to enjoy the rural beauty and rolling hills of PEI, if you’re lucky you will pass canola and potato fields in bloom.

The park boasts swimming beaches, paved trails for cyclists, campgrounds, history and hiking trails through a variety of ecosystems. Birds are abundant, along with coyote, foxes, beavers, and mink – but there are no deer or moose on the island.

+Greenwich Dunes

Unique in North America, take a hike through the crescent shaped mobile parabolic dunes on the three mile trail, round trip – out and back. Down the paved path from the parking lot summer paints an idyllic picture. Mussel farms dot the water in the near distance.

Wildflowers relentlessly coat the flanks of the path.

Enter the Acadian forest and look for the bright blue northern parula warbler under the shade of the white spruce. The vibrant painted leaf hopper also lives here, jumping through the lichen of the grey dunes.

An expansive boardwalk floats over the marsh where birds can be spotted with a keen eye.

The dunes are covered in Marram grass, a very important plant that spreads quickly with its specialized roots. They help hold the sand dune in place and provided a home to many animals. It is so important not to walk on the dunes because it only takes ten footsteps to kill the grass, and then the dunes lose their stability.

At the end of the boardwalk the trail turns to sand, watch where you step, for frogs sake.

Head out onto the beach where the water is surprisingly warm, head back the way you came.

+Cavendish Trails

From the parking lot stop first and admire red sand cliffs, so vividly contrasted by the sea.

Next stop the sign that points towards the trail head and make your way there. The Dunelands Trail is three miles round trip, out and back.

Queen Anne’s lace bounced and bobbed in the breeze lining the trail.

Admire the lush rolling hills of the dunes.

Take the boardwalk over to the beach as you reach the concession stand area equipped with restrooms – but note the trail continues quietly behind this area. Into the woods filled with quiet scenes.

A short herd path leads to an overlook coveted by cormorants.

A wasp attempts to penetrate a webbed nest filled with new caterpillars.

He almost gets trapped to become dinner himself, but makes it out safely with no meal.

Birds sing and wildflowers bloom – berries of all colors were plump in the happy summer season.


+Lucy Maud Montgomery the author of the popular book Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908 lived in Cavendish on her grandparents farm for the first 37 years of her life. The homestead is open to visitors seasonally for a minimal fee, along with the Green Gables with the Haunted Wood Trail, Balsam Hollow Trail and Lover’s Lane which inspired the book.

+Oil tycoon Alexander McDonald built his luxurious summer home Dalvay-by-the-Sea in 1896. The Queen Anne Revival style was popular during this time in Canada. The house is now a resort hotel.

Good to know:

+Free in 2017 during Canada Year

+Tours and wildlife walks are available

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Lunch at Handpie Company, Prince Edward Island

The perfect grab and go bite just as you cross of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island is without a doubt a savory pastry from The Handpie Company [105 Abegweit Blvd, Borden-Carleton, PE C0B 1X0, Canada].

You don’t have to grab and go, you’re more than welcome to sit out back and eat on one of the rainbow tables.

Or bring your meal across the street to the cheerful park.

Have a kitchen? You can even buy some frozen ones and cook them at home. No matter what you do, you want to try these. There are multiple flavors and I was lucky enough to sample three. The curried chickpea was my favorite, look at those gorgeous plump veggies!

The flavor was dead on, it was super warm, and the flaky pastry is just incredible. The organic chicken pot pie was phenomenal and Acadian pork tourtière tasted like Christmas. PEI is also known for its potato crop and this potato salad was as fresh as can be.

From ingredients like free-range meats and local organic flour, and service with a smile, this restaurant delivers good feelings inside and out.

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Hike to Tea Cup Rock, Prince Edward Island

The red sandstone cliffs eroded away leaving an odd and magical geological formation on the north shore of Prince Edward Island at Thunder Cove Beach. Well off the beaten path, but a must for tea lovers – the hike to Tea Cup Rock [226 Thunder Cove Rd, Kensington, PE C0B 1M0, Canada] is short and sweet. Park at the 90 degree bend in the road, quite obvious, but highlighted because other cars will likely be there as well. Find a heard path down to the sand and set out with the ocean is on your right and the cliffs are on your left.

When you get to the end of the beach where the water meets the cliffs, climb up the rocks.

You need to be relatively sure footed to complete this hike, it includes some scrambling and navigating some seriously sheer cliffs – but only for a few minutes!

Amble around the narrow rock ledge to reach a cove with some interesting eroded cliffs.

Just around the corner is that red hot tea cup!

Walk from the rock out onto the sand to get a closer look. The contrast between red rock and green ocean is stunning.

The tea cup is absolutely perfect, complete with saucer.

If the water is shallow enough, you just might be able to walk on out to the island.

Head back the way you came.

It is imperative to time your expedition with the tide low and use caution around eroded cliffs and formations.

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Grand Pre National Historic Site, Nova Scotia

If you’ve ever read the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, you will know the plight of the Acadian people. If you are not familiar or you are interested in learning deeper about the topic, Grand Pre National Historic Site [2205 Grand Pre Rd, Grand Pre, NS B0P 1M0, Canada] is a very informative site. Grand Pre is French for great meadow, the land is a UNESCO World Heritage site. First head inside the museum and consider reading through the panels, watching the film, or taking a guided tour.

You will quickly learn that the Acadians came from France and settled in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia in 1682. They dealt with geographic challenges, including the world’s highest tide, and created dyke systems that remained for hundreds of years. War broke out between Britain and France. The Acadians whose heritage was French, though they were living on British land, were caught in the middle unwilling to commit to one side or the other. In 1755 the British made the decision to deport the Acadians, neutralizing any military threats. Over 10,000 Acadians were forced from their homes, many dying from drowning, starvation, and exposure. Families torn apart, never to meet again. Villages were burned to the ground to ensure their inhabitants would never return. The Acadian Diaspora touched three continents and left three million descendants today. Some fled to Louisiana – where Acadian was shortened to Cadien, also known as Cajun. Outside notice the French williows, the Victorian gardens, the duck pond, and the statue of Evangeline.

Though fictitious, the poem follows the heroine who was a part of the deportation and the popular story spread the history around the world.

Good to know:

+Museum is seasonal

+Admission is free in 2017, for Canada Year


+Grand Pre View Park, Old Post Road, Grand Pre, NS, Canada

Take in the sprawling sight of the landscape which was home to the Acadian people. On a sunnier day this would be a perfect spot for a picnic!

+Grand Pre Winery, 11611 Hwy 1, Grand Pre, NS B0P 1M0, Canada

Oenophiles wont want to miss tasting the unique wine of Nova Scotia. This vineyard tailors its grapes to the local soil and oceanic climate. Tours are available, you can have a bite at the onsite restaurant, or go for a grapely ghost walk.

+Tangled Garden, 11827 Hwy 1, Grand Pre, Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley

Visit a gift shop with herb jellies and rose petal ice-cream alongside a garden with sculptures and a wildflower labyrinth.

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Eating Acadian at La Cuisine Robicheau, Nova Scotia

Undoubtedly my favorite meal in Nova Scotia, where every bite was an absolute pleasure. La Cuisine Robicheau [9651 Nova Scotia Trunk 1, Saulnierville, NS B0W 2Z0, Canada] is worth going out of your way for.

Before you sink your teeth into anything at all, it is just a delight to be in this establishment. The view of St. Mary’s Bay is calming.

The local art adorning the walls is all relevant and for sale, our dining neighbors purchased a piece right behind our heads.

On the menu is cuisine true to Acadian culture. When available try a Rappie Pie, made of grated potatoes with chicken or clams baked in the oven until golden brown. There is a variety of popular local seafood options such as seafood chowder, fish cakes, and scallops. I started with the traditional Acadian chicken soup and grated potato dumplings, it was perfection. The broth was endlessly light without lacking flavor, the chicken most succulent, and the potato dumplings had an excellent texture I’d never experienced before.

On special the haddock with hot creamed lobster was tremendously fresh and delicious.

It absolutely melts in your mouth. Paired with vibrant veggies this is such a flawlessly well rounded meal. Don’t you dare miss dessert. The homemade pie may look simple, but it was one of the most satisfying slices I have ever encountered.

Strawberry rhubarb had just the right balance of sweet and tart, the crust utterly buttery and holds sturdy. Make reservations, this restaurant fills up, and for good reason. If you want to experience Acadian culture through dining, you would be lucky to do it here.

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Exploring Digby, Nova Scotia

The town of Digby is a great jump off point to explore the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tidal range in the world. Located equidistant between the equator and north pole, Fundy can rise and fall over 50 feet in one tide cycle.

This natural phenomenon is not only amazing to explore, but useful to society as its power creatures a source of energy. Right from town you can walk around the Annapolis Basin, a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy. Don a pair of rain boots, or shoes you don’t mind getting mucky, and headed out to the nearest road that leads to the bay.

Walking the shore at low tide reveals a world that is normally covered by the sea.

Tide pools reveal activity underwater.

Clusters of barnacles are wait patiently to be covered again, in just a few hours.

Heron are happy to hunt in the shallows.

If you head out to Digby Neck try out one of the many beaches to explore the expansive bay. At the end of the road, Gulliver’s Cove [Delaps Cove Rd, Granville Ferry, NS B0S 1K0, Canada] is a beautiful place to wander, even on a rainy day.

Plus, the extra precipitation just makes the waterfalls flow more fantastically.

The rocks on the shore are a rainbow, filled with unique designs and colors I would have never imagined.

Keep your eyes peeled for tiny snails clinging to branches

and for birds off towards the shore.

Be sure to leave yourself enough time to get back to land as the tide comes in quickly. Returning to see the same area at high tide is a shock! The bay is well known for their succulent scallops, seafood lovers are in heaven when visiting Digby. At Shore Thing Seafood [40 Water St, Digby, NS B0V 1A0, Canada] order them pan fried, deep fried, or wrapped in bacon.

Their presentation is whimsical, and delicious home cut fries are generous. There are other seafood options offered, land options and even some poutine as well. Outdoor seating is available on a nice day, overlooking the bay.

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Balancing Rock Trail, Nova Scotia

A popular hike in the Digby area showcases a mystifying geological formation – the Balancing Rock. Will it still be there when you make your way to the end of the trail? Only one way to find out…

How to get there

The Balancing Rock Trail is located on Long Island, there is no bridge so you need to take a ferry – which adds to the adventure.

It is as simple as can be. At the tip of Digby Neck there is a town called East Ferry, a boat ride just a few minutes long lands passengers and their vehicles in Tiverton.

Line up along the side of the road, there is a little café that serves food and ice cream. Try to get there as early as you can to make sure you fit on the vessel, it leaves from East Ferry on the half hour, ex 12:30.

The scenery is lovely – there is a lighthouse across the way,

and you can watch for birds and wildlife while you wait.

Fare is only collected one way, the return the ferry leaves Tiverton the hour.

Hike the Balancing Rock Trail

Don’t trust the Google Maps location to get to the trailhead. It is well marked and comes up quickly after departing the ferry terminal on the left hand side of the main road, Route 217. From the parking lot the trail is one mile in length, so a total of two miles upon completion. Initially the trail is very flat, some rocks and roots, also areas with boardwalks.

Towards the end of the hike descend 235 stairs to stunning St. Mary’s Bay.

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And there you have it, the main attraction: balancing rock is four feet wide, twenty feet tall, comprised of basalt.

Local lore tells of fishermen who tied a rope around the rock and couldn’t tear it down into the sea. One cubic meter of the rock weighs three tons, this is a shockingly heavy column.

Bonus hike: Fundy View Trail

Park at the Island Historic Society [243 Highway 217 Freeport, Nova Scotia Canada B0V 1B0] which houses a neat seasonally opened history museum.

Check out the artifacts and play drop the clothespin in the milk bottle.

It’s a game we really enjoyed, soon to be a party hit at home! Entrance is free, donations accepted, and there are restrooms. The hike starts right behind the building, heading up hill. Almost instantly you are treated to views of the salt marshes and Freeport, a fishing village that makes its income from lobster.

A platform sits at the summit of the hill. Head down the other side to the Bay of Fundy – a whole other world.

Spy a lighthouse across the way, *fun fact* did you know that Nova Scotia has so many lighthouses, you can buy one? So long as you can take care of them, the excess structures are crumbling.

The landscape is beautiful.

Follow the shore in either direction searing tide pools, enjoying the geology, and the vibrant colors of the mossy rocks.

Good to know:

+Whale watching tours are popular activity available from the island

+An additional ferry on the opposite side of Long Island takes you to Brier Island

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