Surrounded by beaches, Prince Edward Island is the ideal vacation spot for sunbathers, swimmers, sea-kyakers, sandcastle builders, seashell collectors and strollers.
The beaches with the warmest water and the least wind are located along the southern shore of PEI. It is said that PEI has the warmest ocean water north of South Carolina. Sometimes the sea on the southern beaches can be as warm as the Caribbean. This happens when the tide is coming in over sand that has been heated by the sun.
The public beaches along the Northumberland Straight include those in provincial parks at Cedar Dunes, Union Corner, Sandy Cove, Chelton Beach, Argyle Shore, Victoria, Northumberland and Wood Islands. Some of these have lifeguards on duty and others are unsupervised. For the more adventurous there are innumerable coves all around the island with beaches below the red rock bluffs. Most of these beaches are easily accessible on foot. On Prince Edward Island all beaches are open to the public.
The more popular beaches on PEI are in the National Parks on the north coast. They are a short drive from Charlottetown and near the attractions in Cavendish such as Green Gables House and Avonlea Village, essential sites for fans of Anne of Green Gables, and Shining Waters Family Fun Park.
Beaches at Cavendish, Rustico, Brackley and Stanhope on the north coast boast huge expanses of sand, excellent services and supervised swimming areas. They are so extensive that even on the hottest days of the summer they never seem crowded. For those who wish to learn about the ecology of the sand dunes there are interpretive centres and signs explaining the care with which the dunes are protected providing adequate nesting grounds for the threatened piping plover and undisturbed terrain for the growth the marum grass that anchors the dune.
The water on the beaches along the north coast of PEI is chilly for some. Further when there are strong winds the rip tides can be dangerous. On all beaches in the National Parks warnings are given if these conditions arise.
Some of the most attractive beaches on Prince Edward Island are along the eastern coast. They are not as busy as beaches on the northern coast but they should not be missed by travellers. In the provincial parks at Red Point, Basin Head and Panmure-Island there are miles of beach to explore and lifeguards are on patrol in selected areas.
At Basin Head visitors can visit the Fisheries Museum that tells the story of PEI’s fishery, then stroll down a boardwalk to a canal leading from the sea to an old harbour. Leaping into the canal is popular among the young and brave. Further on, Singing Sands Beach consists of miles of white sand that indeed do sing when the wind is up. This is a most curious natural phenomenon that visitors find both astonishing and eerie.
About twenty minutes south of the town of Montague on the east coast is Panmure Island Beach. Those who prefer a white sand beach will not be disappointed here. Sometimes the water is a bit chilly and now and then there are jellyfish that some swimmers find annoying but otherwise this is, in the opinion of many islanders, the best beach in the province. A small snack bar on the beach, changing and washrooms, plus the presence of lifeguards make this an ideal location for a family outing. Walk or drive over to the lighthouse on the north end of the beach and have a guide explain the life and work of a lighthouse keeper.