Whether you drive to Prince Edward Island or rent a car at the airport you are in for some pleasant surprises. Driving around the island is simple and hassle free. This goes a long way to making your vacation completely stress free.
The first surprise is to be found on the road map that you pick up at one of the tourist information centers located at the entrances to the island. At Wood Islands where the ferry from Nova Scotia arrives and at the end of the Confederation Bridge your adventure will begin with a quick study of a map of Prince Edward Island. Don’t be deceived. The map is in a much larger scale than are maps of other Canadian provinces. What you might think will be a drive of a couple of hours will involve much less time.
One is hard pressed to find destinations that are more than an hour away from wherever you are based. Just about everything you might want to see can be reached in less than 30 minutes. The drive from Charlottetown, the provincial capital, to the popular Anne of Green Gables House at Cavendish or to the endless sands of Brackley Beach takes less than an hour.
The Island’s second city, Summerside, with a population of around 16,000 is minutes away from the Confederation Bridge and a brief drive from the popular picturesque town of Victoria-by-the-Sea. It is also just a short jaunt to Malpeque Bay, home of the justly famous, Malpeque oysters.
You will get used to measuring distances in terms of driving time because the question of traffic does not apply here. Except for the odd hold-up due to road construction or occasional slow moving farm equipment, you will zip along at a good rate. Most of the roads are straight, well marked and meticulously maintained with brilliant green grass shoulders and uniform signs indicating sites and accommodation.
Driving on Prince Edward Island is a pleasure indeed. Depending on the time of year, you will find yourself surrounded by rolling green hills and red earth potato fields. In late June and early July unfarmed fields sport masses of purple, white and pink lupines. You will be surprised to pass through large forested areas that give way to views of the sea and small harbours surrounded by rustic sheds used by fishermen to store their gear.
Driving without a destination is the ideal way to discover Prince Edward Island. You are unlikely to get lost, but if you do, asking for directions might turn out to be more than you bargained for. More often than not, simple questions lead to long conversations as islanders love to chat. If you want to find out where to see seals, dig clams, eat lobster, attend a ceilidh (pronounced kaylee) or understand the intricacies of mussel farming and oyster tonging, just ask.
The best part of driving on Prince Edward Island is that when you get to your destination, if you have one, you will be as relaxed as when you started out. It is rare these days to find a place where driving does not give rise to tension. Here drivers and as well as passengers really do get to enjoy the scenery. The ease of getting around on your vacation will make your time on Prince Edward Island a real holiday.
Make sure to get a map and a PEI Visitor’s Guide.