Great Day Trips To Explore The National Parks In PEI
On our stay in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island (PEI), we did a few great day trips to explore the National Parks in PEI. We started at the Dalvay National Park and enjoyed some time on Stanhope Beach. From there we headed along the coast to Cavendish Beach. While the beach was a good draw, the stunning red cliffs were the big attraction for us.
On our second day trip, we headed to Greenwich National Park. We enjoyed a great walk through the park and on the boardwalk over the marshy Bowley Pond. And then we explored the massive sand dunes by Greenwich Beach.
The National Parks were on the other side of PEI from Charlottetown. So for every road trip we crossed the island. The routes we chose along the smaller roads were scenic but slower.
Explore the national parks in PEI and enjoy the amazing outdoor beauty.
Heading To The Dalvay National Park
We headed out of Charlottetown and meandered our way from the south to the north coast. As we often did, we followed small roads in search of water vistas. And were rewarded when we got a great view of the red sand that PEI was known for.
We followed the coast to the Tracadie Harbour. And saw fishing boats with lobster traps stacked high. Along the water, in the distance we got our first view of sand dunes.
From there it was a short distance until we saw the sign for the Dalvay National Park. When we went through the gate, we debated getting a season pass since we planned to visit more than one national park in PEI. But the season pass really only included the national parks on PEI. And would not help with park visits when we headed on our road trip to Western Canada.
The day pass gave us a full 24 hours. And since it was already early afternoon, we figured we might see parks two days in a row in the 24 hour period.
Stopping At Stanhope Beach
When we entered Dalvay National Park, we looked at the park map. There were several beach areas along the seashore. We found no parking at the first stop at Dalvay Beach. But we kept going and found parking at Stanhope Beach. But by the time we left, the parking spots were all full.
We headed down the wooden walkway. The beach was very crowded close the the walkway. But we wandered down the beach and soon found it quite deserted and quiet.
We settled our towels on the beach. Carefully timing our turns, we roasted in the sun for a little while. And then headed into the water. Locals prided themselves on the “warm” beaches of PEI. But we figured that warm was relative. We were after all on the St Lawrence River and were getting Atlantic Ocean waters.
On our visit to explore the National Parks of PEI we enjoyed the beaches.
Heading To Robinsons Island
When we got back to the car, we continued through the Dalvay National Park and past the Covehead Lighthouse. We considered stopping at the Brackley Beach but it too was packed.
The road took us onto Robinsons Island. As we drove we found high sand dunes close to the road. In several places people parked on the road and headed over the dunes to the beach on the ocean side. As we drove we saw long stretches of red sand beaches on the inner shore of Robinsons Island. The tide was out.
When we reached the end of Robinsons Island we came to a parking lot. It was a hike to everything and this lot required a parking permit which we did not have. So we decided to pass on this final stop in Dalvay National Park. There were still more beaches we wanted to visit on our day trip to explore the National Parks of PEI.
A Stop At Cavendish Beach
We backtracked out along Robinsons Island and followed the GPS route to Cavendish Beach. We found parking and headed out along the walkway to the beach. From the top of the walkway we saw the beach under the sand dunes.
The ramp took us down to the beach. Most people were settled on the beach close to the walkway.
When we looked off in the distance, we saw the sharp red cliffs we came to Cavendish Beach for. After a short stop at the beach, we returned to the car and headed for the red cliffs. On our day trip to explore the National Parks of PEI we could not miss the iconic sights that Cavendish Beach was known for.
Red Hills In The National Parks In PEI
From the beach we saw people up on the cliffs so we knew there was a viewpoint. We used the park map and figured out how to get to the top of the red cliffs at Cavendish Beach. When we finally found the park entrance we parked.
At first we saw a wooden path in the direction of Cavendish Beach. We walked that way and got a view down the cliffs and off to the beach. When we looked the other way we saw a second viewpoint over the red cliffs.
At the other end of the parking lot we found the path out to the second viewpoint. From there we got a stunning view of the cliffs. When we looked down we saw the eroding sides of the cliffs. It reminded us of our visit to Scarborough Bluffer’s Park close to home in Toronto.
Having found the stunning views we sought we were content to finish our first day trip to explore the National Parks of PEI.
A Lunch Stop In North Rustico
While we were finished with the National Parks on our first day trip, we were not done on the coast. We drove along and headed for North Rustico.
There were several restaurant choices in this area that were recommended on our stay in Charlottetown.
We finally decided on the Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico harbour. Blue Mussel Cafe was between lunch and dinner. This meant they had space for walk-ins but were warned about a delay in getting food. But the wait was not long at all.
The weather was great so we sat on the patio. Of course we started with mussels and then moved through the tasty seafood options we ordered.
After our late lunch we walked off our meal with a stroll. We saw the North Rustico Harbour Light and several of the the waterfront shops. At the end of the point we found the red sand beach.
When we went to explore the National Parks of PEI we were happy we found such great seafood in a quaint spot.
Another Day We Headed To Greenwich National Park
The next day we headed out again and visited Greenwich National Park while our 24 hour park pass was still valid. This was another drive across the island. But this time we took the less scenic route because we knew we had a time constraint.
Before we arrived at Greenwich we did our research in advance and even watched a video to know what to expect. We knew in advance that this was a very different beach experience than our visit to Stanhope or Cavendish Beach. This park was known for the sand dunes.
After we parked we checked the park map and then set off into the trees. The woods were cool and calming. The path emerged into wide open fields with flowers. Unfortunately some of the flowers were the dreaded ragweed I was allergic to.
After the open fields we entered the trees and the paths divided and went in different ways. The Havre Saint Pierre path was an easy trail to the shores of St Peters Bay. The Tlaqatik path was a longer 5 km route through the park and along the shores of St Peters Bay. We chose the Greenwich Dunes path towards the Greenwich Beach.
When we cleared the trees we saw a long floating boardwalk over the marshy Bowley Pond. On one side we got our first glimpse of large sand dunes.
At the end of the boardwalk, we found a sand path. At the benches many people left their shoes. But we kept our sandals on and started the climb up the stairs on the dune.
On our day to explore the National Parks of PEI, the first part of our visit to Greenwich National Park was an adventure.
Walking The Beach At Greenwich Beach
When we got to the top of the sand dune, we got our first view of the beach and saw sand dunes that ran along the beach. We slowly made our way down the steep stairs onto the beach. Unlike our visit to Stanhope or Cavendish Beach, this beach was mostly empty. We saw many people look at the beach after they climbed down and then they quickly headed back up the stairs.
Being over-ambitious, we began a long walk along the beach. The point in the far distance we headed to never seemed to get closer. We finally stopped and played in the water.
When we walked back we stopped at the spot marked as the viewpoint on the dunes. We took the pathway up the dunes and found two red chairs. It was a great spot to sit and we enjoyed a break after the climb.
The viewpoint looked out over the dunes. There were signs everywhere about not climbing the dunes. But even with signs saying “Stay Out”, we were disappointed when we found that people ignored this. Sadly, one day viewpoints like this will be totally closed.
As we walked back along the sand, we could not resist carving “East 2021” in the sand for our Eastern Canada road trip. Although we knew it would be washed away when the tides came in.
We re-traced our path. Exhausted and sunburned we made it back to the car. Our last visit to Greenwich National Park provided us with a very different adventure to explore the National Parks of PEI.
A Workout Reward In The National Parks In PEI
We were in desperate need of refreshment after our long walk at Greenwich Beach.
So when we saw the sign for DJ’s Ice cream, we pulled in. There were caramel and chocolate flavours that satisfied us both. A short stop in the shade cooled us down and filled us up.
We definitely deserved a treat on our day trips to explore the National Parks of PEI.
So Many Great Ways To Explore The National Parks Of PEI.
We had two very busy days to explore the National Parks of PEI. It was wonderful that we visited Stanhope Beach, Cavendish Beach and Greenwich National Park on our day trips from Charlottetown.
We got a great glimpse of the beauty of the beaches. And got a small sample of what the National Parks offered. But on a return visit we would plan longer visits with enough time to just relax and enjoy the awesome outdoors in PEI.
Did you explore the National Parks of PEI? Was there a favourite park for you?
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