Given our planned three week stay in Canada and how far across the country we would have to drive to get to Michigan, we decided to forgo Newfoundland and Labrador and hit the much closer Prince Edward Island for our third province. Our decision to do Nova Scotia first worked out quite well, allowing us to take the ferry to PEI and the Confederation Bridge off it once we turned back west. Both involve a toll, but only for leaving the island, not going to it, and the bridge toll is significantly less than the ferry for our sized rig.
The only downside? You can make reservations for a round trip; but one way users have to take a chance on how many ferry runs they might have to wait through. We chose to spend the night at Harbour Lights Campground in the nearest town to the landing so that we could be ready for the second ferry run without having to get up at the crack of dawn. It worked out perfectly. Harbour Lights Check in process is a model of how parks should welcome visitors: they listened to what we wanted, showed us some site options, worked with us to make it as affordable as possible (agreeing to charge us a 2 way site price, $22 US all in, so long as we didn’t hook up the sewer at our assigned 3 way site) and informed us about the area and particulars of the camp. A far cry from the “money please, your site is over there” process we saw at Inverness. Anyway, the ferry: We arrived shortly before the the second run, were put in line with a few other RV’s, and were let on once the big rig trucks and most of the cars were boarded. It was a fun one hour journey across the bay in near perfect weather.
Out Serenity’s front window, loaded on the ferry.
I was unable to get reservations for more than a couple of days at the national park campgrounds unless we were willing to dry camp, but the nearby provincial park, Cabot Beach, had five days available at a powered spot, and the reviews suggested we would enjoy it a lot more than the private resorts. At $28 US all in a night, it did not disappoint.
Cabot Beach, one of the best we saw. This is a weekday, so less people n this beautiful stretch of sand, but still surprised at how few were here considering the island is such a summer tourist destination.
We generally find that US state parks have decent to huge sized sites compared to many private campgrounds, even those trying for “resort” status. They also tend to have a lot more greenery around them. Cabot Beach had reasonably spacious sites with some bushy trees, and our specific location at the end of a row meant we did not have a neighbor on our right side, allowing us to spread out even more.
One of our neighbors a few sites down had her crafting table set up in front of her site every day selling jewelry, mostly wire wrapped beach glass with some semiprecious gem stones added. We have often thought about dong the same, but never really tried, always concerned that park management might object. She assured us no one here minded, and we did sell a few items while there, adjusting our price signs to account for the Canadian exchange rate.
Rose made a lot of jewelry while here from the hoard of beach glass we found at Inverness Beach in Nova Scotia.
We took day trips to a couple of local beaches, but honestly the one at our park, which we barely visited, was probably nicer than most of those we went out of our way to see. Our various outings covered most of the west end of the island, enough to demonstrate that PEI is mostly rolling farm land surrounded by beaches, with very small towns and villages scattered about. We were surprised at how many country driveways had something for sale out front, such as potatoes, eggs, or local crafts.
Mustard field, we were told.
Kensington, the closest mid-sized town to our campground, provided supplies and some nice distraction at the various stores inside the artist market and a solid serving of fish and chips from the just opened Go Fish! Only two weeks old at the time of our visit, they didn’t even show up on google. It’s a little walk in shack that only serves fish and chips, and does so at a reasonable price.
On the advice of one of our fellow campers we attempted some beach glass hunting below the old fort (Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst, no really.) We found perhaps two small pieces, but enjoyed the walk along the shore. Being so close to Charlottetown we drove there intending to have a late lunch, but nothing really caught our eye and we headed back home and try the Oyster Barn right outside of the park.
It was fantastic. Both the Quahog Po-Boy and Haddock Taco were delicious, and they have a modest selection of local craft beers available to match. Located directly on an active fishing harbor, you can eat while watching the boats come in and offload their catch. We only wish we had the time and money to try their raw oysters; they looked great and came with an assortment of sauces beyond the usual lemon, horseradish, and cocktail option.
And so ends the affordable part of our Canada journey. After five days in PEI we loaded up and headed for the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge, beginning the long drive through New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario on the way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
And our ongoing Canada Lessons Learned:
- We found next to no sea glass in our exploration of the west half of PEI. Maybe the east is better, but our general feeling is that if you have been to Inverness, don’t worry about this place.
- I am down to this theory on current pricing in Canada based on the current very strong exchange rate (1 Canadian dollar = .77 USD): gas is expensive, booze of any sort is expensive, most goods and services are maybe a bit more expensive but not much, and campgrounds are cheaper.
- The whole ferry vs Confederation Bridge thing I discussed up post: Both have tolls, but only to leave PEI, you can only make reservations for a two way run on the ferry, and the bridge is cheaper than the ferry. So enter by ferry and leave by bridge if you can make that work for your itinerary!