Explore The National Parks In PEI

Stanhope Beach, Cavendish Beach and Greenwich National Park On Prince Edward Island

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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.  

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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.

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Tracadie Harbour - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.

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Dalvay Stanhope Beach - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Cavendish Beach Walkway - PEI National Parks.jpg

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The ramp took us down to the beach.  Most people were settled on the beach close to the walkway.  

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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.

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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.

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Cavendish Beach Viewpoint Cliffs - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.

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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.

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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.

North Rustico Blue Mussel Cafe - PEI National Parks.jpg

North Rustico Blue Mussel Cafe.jpg

North Rustico Blue Mussel Cafe.jpg

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.

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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.

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Greenwich Meadow.jpg

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. 

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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.

Greenwich Dunes Floating Walkway - PEI National Parks.jpg

Greenwich Dunes Floating Walkway Dunes - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.

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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.

Greenwich Beach - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.   

Greenwich Beach Dunes Viewpoint.jpg

Greenwich Beach Dunes Viewpoint.jpg

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.

Greenwich Beach Dunes Viewpoint - PEI National Parks.jpg

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.

Greenwich Beach.jpg

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.

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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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66 Comments

  1. Looks like a fun road trip through the PEI and visiting all these beautiful national parks and the beaches there. Looks not so crowded and I love the wild flowers and exploring nature of doing this on a road trip, probably something I’m very attracted to doing on my own like this and eating a lot of yummy seafood from the area. Definitely want to put this on my bucket list of places to visit some day and enjoy the outdoors and nature in this region.

    • You absolutely should plan to visit Prince Edward Island (PEI) one day. The National Parks were such a treat and so very different from each other. We were glad we got to see three different areas. And find the great seafood too!

  2. What a fun trip. With so many options to do in National Parks of PEI, it is relatable that two days can be very less or hectic holiday to plan. It irritates me too when tourists ignore signs to stay away from delicate and vulnerable sights. Hope more sense will prevail. Loved the sights from Greenwich National Park.

  3. I would definitely go for Cavendish beach rather than Stanhope Beach. I am not a fan of crowds and I like to have space around me when I sunbathe. Covehead lighthouse looks so pretty, I would definitely stop to see it as well. I like the lunch you had in North Rustico at the Blue Mussles Cafe, those scallpos look so delicious.

    • The seafood was definitely worth a stop after our travel around the National Parks of PEI. We loved just walking down the beaches to the spots with no people. Lots of long beach stretches.

  4. Oh my – so many things to love in this post! I would love to try some of that fresh seafood and to take a trip to see those lighthouses, but I’m not sure I’d fancy a swim if the water is chilly, but I’d love to just wander along with the breeze in my hair – and so few people around. Sounds like a little slice of heaven!

    • The National Parks in PEI were definitely a little slice of heaven. It never took long before we found a beautiful stretch of empty sand. So many great sights and tasty food as we wandered for a few days.

  5. The red cliffs and red sand beaches of Cavendish Beach look gorgeous. I love mussels and your images of lunch at Blue Mussel Cafe made me hungry! The flowers and floating boardwalk at Greenwich National Park definitely got my attention. Such luck to find the red chairs to relax and enjoy the view

  6. Wow! What a great way to send the day by visiting all those beaches. Cool that you found two red chairs to rest. I can just imagine how tiring the walk was under the heat of the sun.

  7. This brought back some happy memories for me. We loved our visit to PEI. I feel like they have some of the best beaches in the world, just underrated how beautiful they are. We visited in September when all of the tourists were gone and felt like we had the beach all to our self! Cavendish Beach is popular for a reason, and it was one of our favourites. I loved the boardwalk they built to bring you from the parking down to the beach. The tall green grasses, red sand and blue skies are so quintessential PEI aren’t they?

    • I am glad this brought back some great memories of PEI. I am sure that September was great to enjoy things all to yourself. The red sand and rocks with the blue sky mesmerized us. And iconic sight for sure.

  8. From your photos it looks like a peaceful place to visit and the views are just stunning! Also, loved the food recommendation, it looks very good!

  9. This is such a beautiful beach – a bit like those beaches up here in northern Germany. What we do not have is this fantastic sea food. Obviously, there are fish and oysters, but for instance those scallops…and you got a whole heap of them 😉 I can imagine that just a weekend in this wonderful place ist just rejuvenating

    • We were glad to discover the parks and beaches of PEI. And were delighted with the variety in the seafood we found. Our hotel had some really great recommendations for local seafood that we often followed.

  10. Oooh lovely! I am really tempted by the Red Hills, visiting lighthouses and relaxing on those beautiful beaches! The scallops and well everything at Blue Mussel Cafe looks amaaaaazing too!

    p.s. I LOVE how happy you look 🙂

  11. It’s been years since I’ve been to PEI but I’ll never forget the first time I saw the red dirt! We did visit Cavendish Beach but didn’t swim. You’ve made me want to go back again!

    • I hope you do get to re-visit PEI and the great beaches. I remember that first view we got of the red sand. And then were excited when we kept finding large stretches of it.

  12. I cannot wait to visit PEI and all these beautiful national parks! I loved the shot of the lobster traps – my husband has family from the area, so he has a little pewter one on his desk to remind him of his heritage. And all the yummy seafood… mmm.

  13. Wow! This seems like a lovely holiday with so many things to do. I was particularly impressed with the flower fields at Greenwich National Park. It must have been an enjoyable walk there as well, especially when you could discover the empty Greenwich beach and the viewpoint in the end. Also, the seafood dishes you ordered at the Blue Mussel Café looked so yummy!

    • The Blue Mussel Cafe was a great hit with us. It was not hard to pick a great variety of tasty foods. A great break after exploring the different National Parks in PEI. We too were glad we made it to Greenwich National Park. It was quite different than the others.

  14. Honestly, I’ve never heard about these National Parks in Canada. They have their own beauty and the red sand feature in Dalvay looks gorgeous. It reminded me of Caprock Canyon State Park in Texas.

    • The red sand parks were certainly very distinctive when we visited the National Parks in PEI. Would be fun to visit the the Caprice Canyon State Park in Texas and see the similarity.

  15. I also do the same thing when I go to a certain beach and I make memories, I’d write down something on the sand even though I know it would be washed away after. I admire your stamina and gusto for this kind of wanderlust. It’s packed for two days so I agree on your plan to visit PEI on a longer time.

  16. The National Parks in PEI are really great way to explore beautiful nature and beautiful beaches of Dalway national park, Greenwich national park walking through the trails finally leading to the red cliffs of Cavendish beach is a lovely sight. The wooden trail amid the Greenwich national park is a pleasant view. The sea food is a bonus for sure!

  17. I learnt so much about Prince Edward Island, thanks for sharing! The nature and beaches look amazing, and your lunch seemed delicious too. What a great trip! 🙂

  18. I would love to explore the national parks on Prince Edward Island (PEI). Love the beaches, and sand dunes, and beautiful trails and views. And the seafood looks amazing! What a fun adventure!

  19. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Prince Edward Island yet! But this article was very inspiring to plan a trip! The red hills and the colorful lighthouse look so cute! Also, that seafood is so inviting! I would so love to explore this area! Thanks for sharing this!

    • I am delighted to have introduced you to Prince Edward Island. A charming spot to explore the outdoors and great seafood if you visit Canada’s East Coast.

  20. How delightful to see parts of the world that I know little about and PEI looks like a place I would love to explore! The rewards of great food and sweet treats makes it even more appealing! It looks like a lovely area in nature to explore with some great views.

  21. I’ve heard that PEI is a fantastic province to visit, and your photos definitely make it look that way! Can’t wait to visit as part of our road trip.

  22. PEI looks like such a beautiful place to visit. It’s at the top of my list of places to visit in Canada! I love how diverse the terrain appears to be. I would love to explore the Red Hills. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Sounds like fun! And now I’m also craving seafood..yum! I wonder, what do you think the ideal time would be to fully explore the National Parks here?

  24. Wow, Prince Edward Island is so beautiful! The red cliffs are gorgeous, I’d really enjoy going to Cavendish Beach to see them. With both national parks nearby and all of your tips for visiting, this would be a lovely place to spend a few days. Thanks!

  25. What a beautiful place & it certainly looks like you had a lot of fun. It’s always disappointing when you understand why there are the “Stay Out” signs but some people believe that doesn’t apply to them. Like you say, one day they will all be closed. I am heading to Canada next year…very tempted to check out PEI while I’m there.

    • I hope you do get to visit PEI when you come to Canada. It is very different from other parts of the country. But there are a lot of places for a Canada list.

  26. I haven’t been to PEI but would like to visit. I look forward to seeing the views for myself, enjoying a seafood lunch and walking on the beach!

    • We were glad we planned a visit to PEI and got to see the National Parks in PEI. A great way to get some exercise before trying all the great local seafood.

    • It was great to see all the different National Parks in PEI. Each was a bit of a different experience. A great way to spend a few days wandering around Prince Edward Island.

    • We were so glad we made it to the beaches in PEI – even if we did not stay as long as we should have to relax. But it was fun to get a quick view of the different National Parks in PEI.

  27. I’ve always really wanted to visit PEI! I love mussels and pretty much all seafood. Greenwich National Park also looks really beautiful, especially the boardwalks over the marshes. I do hate when people don’t follow rules in National Parks though!

    • We too love seafood and were in search of it in PEI – and found some great tasty treats. We loved the National Parks in PEI. And sure wished people showed the proper respect to protect the environment.

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