Prince Edward Island is known for its abundance of water, sand, sun and seafood. But it also brims with natural wonders to explore and outdoor adventures to experience.

Red sand cliffsAlison Karlene Hodgins

During my recent trip to P.E.I., I went hiking, kayaking and biking. Here’s an overview of these three epic ways to get outside and explore P.E.I.:

Hiking

Prince Edward Island National Park is split into three sections: Cavendish-North Rustico, Brackley-Dalvay, and Greenwich.

HikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

Greenwich Dunelands boasts a lively ecosystem comprised of Acadian forest, freshwater habitats and red sand dunes. The 4.4 km-loop Dunes Trail draws hikers for these impressive piles of sand. Ferociously blowing winds rake through the sand, slowly moving the dunes one metre every ten years. These continuously changing dunes are the largest on the island.

Although it is rated “moderate,” the gravel pathway is flat, wide and well-maintained. As we walk, we spot web-spun caterpillar cocoons, red squirrels and nesting warblers.

HikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

The wooden boardwalk begins after a prominent fork in the road. It snakes through the forest until we reach the plastic floating boardwalk. We trek over Bowley Pond and soak in our first glance of the dunes.

hikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

We continue up a staircase to the top of the cliffs. The wind ricochets sand into our eyes and lodges grains between our teeth.

The Atlantic Ocean is furious. Wild waves roll onto hard-packed sand, frothing over seaweed. Our footsteps sink through the sand as we walk to the lookout, a roped off area with two red Parks Canada chairs and a good view of the dunes.

hikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

Seriously riddled with sand, we decide to head back to the sheltered interior. We complete the hike in little over an hour, leaving ample time for more exploring in the afternoon.

Keep reading: 25 of the Best Hiking Trails on Prince Edward Island

 

Sea kayaking

KayakingAlison Karlene Hodgins

Outside Expeditions operates out of a weathered cabin, built in the 1870s, on Rustico Bay. “We’ve been in operation for 25 years, and I’ve been guiding for ten,” Tim tells us as we sign liability waivers.

“Do you still enjoy it?” I ask.

“Depends,” he answers honestly. “On nice days, yeah. And I like guiding families with kids.”

Clouds, wind and unpredictable rain threaten to dampen our day, and we don’t have any kids to bring along, but Tim takes us out anyways. We slip on life-vests and kayak skirts. Tim runs through a quick paddling demo and safety talk before getting us comfortable in the tandem kayak.

KayakingAlison Karlene Hodgins

We start off strong: the blowing wind fights to keep us back on shore, but we paddle through harder. Soon, red cliffs topped by colourful summer homes block the incessant breeze. I put down my paddle and coast. “What’s that up ahead?” I call to Tim.

Following my gaze, he replies, “an oyster farm.”

Black buoys covered with white bird droppings bob in the water. Beneath, green wire cages hold growing oysters. “They’ll let them grow for a year or two, then harvest them,” he explains. “They used to harvest mussels up here, but oysters are worth more.”

KayakingAlison Karlene Hodgins

We turn and paddle towards the harbour. “All the fishing boats are in. I’m not surprised,” Tim says. “It’s a bad day to be out in the ocean, if you want to come back alive.”

I glance past the tattered buildings and out to the unruly white-capped waves. Two-to-three metre swells smash and tumble into tight rolls. Shivers rush my spine, and I paddle hard back to the beach.

Today, I’m happy we paddled in the sheltered bay. But if I’m back in Rustico Bay on a calm, sunny afternoon, I plan to kayak out into the open ocean.

 

Cycling

On our third day in P.E.I., we rent two bikes from Kindred Spirits in Cavendish and peddle out to the National Park.

bikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

The trail is paved, crushed gravel and red dirt in parts. We bike 1.1 km to Cavendish Beach and stop to savour the salty waves and soft beige sand.

Continuing on, the 2.3 km Cavendish Dunelands Trail crosses a floating boardwalk (note: cyclists must dismount) and winds to the Oceanview Lookoff. Up here, ocean waves break against high red cliffs. We climb over the layers of ruby rock, soaking in stunning views of the endless horizon.

bikingAlison Karlene Hodgins

A paved path continues alongside the ocean. We spot speckled black-and-yellow foxes and occasional ocean bathers. The highway loops back around and carries us back to our starting point at Kindred Spirits. With that, we hop in the outdoor hot tub to soothe our sore muscles, exhausted from our outdoor adventures around the island.

 

Staff writer and adventurer, Alison Karlene Hodgins' visit to Prince Edward Island was kindly hosted by Tourism PEI. All opinions are her own. 


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