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7 days on Prince Edward Island: best beaches, running and walking routes (in photos)

7 days on Prince Edward Island: best beaches, running and walking routes (in photos)
7 days on Prince Edward Island: best beaches, running and walking routes (in photos)

Earlier this August, I returned to Prince Edward Island for the first time in 5 years. It was 7 glorious days of eating, beach walking, running, and island exploring.  

Read part one of my adventures: the best food and places to eat on the island

Today I am sharing some of my family’s favourite beaches, scenic running routes, and beautiful places to go for a stroll on the island. 

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Running and Walking 

Prince Edward Island National Park: North Rustico to Cavendish

There are 3 main areas to Prince Edward Island National Park spread across the island: North Rustico and Cavendish, Brackley and Dalvay, and Greenwich. Unless you are entering the park on foot, you will have to pay an entry fee. You can purchase a daily, weekly, or seasonal pass. Full details can be found here.

The first weekend I was in PEI, I had 18 miles (29 km) on my marathon training schedule. I ran along the coastal bike and pedestrian path from North Rustico to Cavendish Beach and back (10 km one-way).

While hilly, the route is beautiful, well-paved, and with constant ocean views. There is one bathroom stop along the way and several bathrooms at Cavendish Beach. There are also many viewpoints along the route, where I encourage you to stop, walk down to the red rocks and sand dunes, and take some pictures (at least that’s what I did). To add an additional 9 km, I explored the dunelands trail system at Cavendish Beach. I loved this route so much, I ran segments of it again several times later in the week.

Download a map of the full route here

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Prince Edward Island National Park: Dalvay-by-the-Sea to Brackley Beach 

My friend Alan from Vancouver happened to be in the Maritimes at the same time as me and was in PEI for a day. We wanted to spend the day outside and settled on exploring another area of the national park: Dalvay and Brackley Beach. We parked the car at Brackley Beach and ended up walking 12 km one-way to Dalvay-by-the-Sea: the filming location for CBC’s Road to Avonlea and the Anne of Green Gables movies.

The historic hotel is a great place to stop for a snack and take a look around before returning to Brackley Beach. If you’re looking for a faster mode of transportation, you could also rent or bring a bike. The road between Brackley and Dalvay is very flat and there’s a newly paved bike lane.

Along our walk, we stopped at Richard’s in Covehead for tasty french fries and drinks. We also grabbed some snacks off the lounge menu at Dalvay to enjoy on the hotel veranda. Read more about my favourite PEI food here.

Confederation Trail

The Confederation Trail is a 435 km rolled stone dust trail spanning Prince Edward Island from tip-to-tip. It is the island’s portion of the Trans Canada Trail and is built on abandoned railway beds. The Main Trail starts in Tignish and ends in Elmira (273 km). Branch trails extend into Charlottetown and to the waterside communities of Souris, Georgetown, Montague, Wood Islands, Murray River and Murray Harbour, plus the link to the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton. Many make a vacation out of cycling the entire trail, but it’s also a great place to walk or run.

Download a map of the Confederation Trail here

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Victoria Park Boardwalk 

After grabbing cappuccinos at Receiver Coffee in downtown Charlottetown, my family and I made the quick drive to Victoria Park for a walk on the boardwalk. It reminded me of Vancouver’s seawall only shorter, complete with ocean views, runners, and dog walkers. If you’re looking for a longer walk, explore the trails in Victoria Park. More importantly, if you’re hungry grab an ice cream from the highly rated Kiwanis Dairy Bar.

Download a map of Victoria Park here

North Rustico Boardwalk

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve walked on the boardwalk in the picturesque fishing village of North Rustico. The boardwalk takes you from the ocean and beach to the harbour, past the fishing boats, and into town. I feel instantly relaxed the moment I step foot on that boardwalk! If you’re lucky, you may even spot the fishermen bringing in a giant tuna from the ocean. Ok, this only happened once but it was pretty cool to see.

The Beaches 

Prince Edward Island National Park: Cavendish Beach 

One of the most popular and touristy beaches on PEI but still worth a visit. From the red sandstone cliffs to the white sand beaches and dunes, it is a great place to catch the sunset.

Moon Snail Beach (Rustico Beach) 

My Mom has affectionately named this beach Moon Snail Beach because of all the moon snail shells you can find. Few tourists know about it so it’s a great spot to go for a quieter beach walk or day. When the tide is out, you can almost walk across to North Rustico harbour.

Prince Edward Island National Park: North Rustico Beach

At the opposite end of the park from Cavendish Beach is North Rustico Beach. It’s a little quieter than Cavendish, but smaller and less imposing sand dunes and cliffs. One of my favourite restaurants, Blue Mussel Cafe is only a few minutes away.

Prince Edward Island National Park: Greenwich 

Greenwich Beach is one of my favourite places to go. The white sand beach goes on for miles and it is rarely busy, making it an incredibly peaceful place. Greenwich is home to the largest sand dunes on the island and has an extensive trail system.

Thunder Cove Beach

Another beach that locals love, Thunder Cove Beach is super cool! If you walk further down the beach to the left, around a corner you will find these red cliffs and rocks including the infamous teapot rock. You can climb over, under, and through the rocks and caves. It’s a fun place to explore!

Lakeside Beach

My Mom read about Lakeside Beach as one of the top “secret” beaches in PEI (i.e. not over-populated by tourists). We stopped by it on our way home from Greenwich and weren’t disappointed. Similar to Greenwich, the dunes and white sand beach are impressive! If you don’t want to pay the park entrance fee at Greenwich, go here. Watch out for flying golf balls as the beach backs onto Crowbush Cove Golf Course and Resort.

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Coming up on Friday: some final adventures and places to explore in Prince Edward Island 

Have you hit the beach this summer? Where is your favourite place to run? 

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