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Wind, Beaches, And Lighthouses On PEI’s Scenic North Cape Drive

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Today begins my fifth day in Prince Edward Island and I am already starting to see a theme emerge for my adventures in Canada’s smallest Province. PEI has one hell of a lot of beaches and I am blown away. From what I’ve seen they are all made up of red sand and stretch for miles along the coastline. I’m saying goodbye to the Central Coast and I’ll be heading North on Route 14 to see what the North Cape Drive has to offer. I’m anticipating more beaches and hopefully a few lighthouses along the way. The province is postcard beautiful and I’m hoping for some “postcard” moments to capture on a leisurely day exploring the North Cape Drive of PEI.

Red Sand Beach PEI

Ganong Sunkist Blends

I’ll be sad to leave West Point Lighthouse behind as one night here just wasn’t enough. The adventure continues and with a coffee in my cup holder, it is time to hit the road.

The North Cape Drive of PEI

Route 14 hugs the coastline fairly tightly so if you are lucky enough to have a sunny day for your drive like I did you will see nothing but blue sky, the Gulf of St Lawrence, and farmland. Lupins and Goldenrod are the predominate wildflowers I see in the fields if they aren’t full of Potato plants.

It doesn’t take long for me to find my first beach. I spotted it from the highway and couldn’t resist pulling over and taking the short drive on the dirt road to the shore. Not a soul in sight on this beautiful stretch of red sand beach. I’m sure it has a name but I couldn’t find a sign anywhere to tell me what it is. Keep your eyes out for a Presbyterian Cemetery and this will be the beach I discovered.

Selfie on a Red Sand Beach of PEI

After a few quiet moments enjoying the beach I’m back in my rental car to continue my drive north. My next destination is the North Cape Wind Interpretive Centre, home of the Wind Energy Institute of Canada. I know I am on the right path because shortly after leaving the beach I start to see wind turbines dot the landscape.

Wind Turbines along the North Cape Drive of PEI

I have finally arrived and I feel like I am at the end of the Island. Oh, I am actually.

The North Cape Wind Energy Interpretive Centre PEI

This is the farthest Northwest tip of Prince Edward Island. With 300 degrees of exposure to the winds, this location is perfect for Canada’s wind power research centre. It is also home to North America’s longest rock reef that extends for two miles along the cape. The entire 30+ acre property is surrounded by the Black Marsh Nature Trails and even has a lighthouse

Black Marsh Nature Trails at North Cape PEI

It wouldn’t be PEI without a lighthouse, would it?

A lone lighthouse to warn off ships from the North Cape Rock Reef

So far this is the busiest spot in PEI outside of Charlottetown that I have been. The parking lot is half full with cars and tourists are out on the rocks and the beach exploring. Apparently, during low tide, you can walk out to the rock reef.

Tourists out exploring the water and beach at North Cape Interpretive Centre

This is a great place to stop and eat if you are hungry. At the Interpretive Centre on the second floor is the Wind and Reef Seafood Restaurant. A hearty New York Steak with Scallops seems like a good choice to me here. Surf and Turf.

New York Steak with all the fixings at Wind & Reef Restaurant

It is time to get back on the road, this time driving South along Route 12 of the North Cape Drive to Tignish Shores. This quaint village isn’t very big but it has a lovely stretch of beach and a boardwalk, a lighthouse and visitor’s centre that offers Ice Cream. A perfect place to stop for a few minutes if you ask me.

Tignish Shore red sand beach PEI

Boardwalk to the fishing village at Tignish Shore PEI

One of PEI's many lighthouses on the North Cape Drive

It was nearly deserted when I pulled it. If I had arrived an hour later the shop would have been closed as it was the day before “setting day”. The day when the Lobster fishermen head out and set their traps. Everyone in the village takes part as it’s an all hands on deck day.

A scoop of Ice Cream at Tignish Shore park

Back on the road, I turn west to head into Tignish to check into the Tignish Heritage Inn and Gardens. The building was built in 1868 and until 1991 it was home to Our Lady of the Angels Convent. Yes, I am sleeping in a former convent.

Tignish Heritage Inn & Gardens



Booking.com

There are seventeen rooms available in the Inn, each with gorgeous views of the surrounding gardens. The decor is quaint and in keeping with the history of the building. It has all the modern conveniences I need include pretty decent WiFi. I highly recommend a stroll through the gardens on the property. Grab your morning coffee and enjoy the view.

Simple bedroom at the Tignish Heritage Inn

There are not a lot of dining options in Tignish so when it comes time to start thinking about dinner I head South about 15 minutes to the town of Alberton. Before dinner, I explore the waterfront and take a little stroll on the boardwalk. Again, where are the people? I feel like I have PEI all to myself.

Wharf & Boardwalk in Alberton PEI

For dinner, I’ve found a pub called The Albert & Crown. It’s right on the main street and has plenty of live music performances scheduled throughout the season. What did I order? A Lobster Roll of course with a Beach Chair Lager. PEI all the way through.

Lobster Roll and a Beach Chair Lager at the Albert & Crown Pub PEI

Now that was a proper Lobster Roll. Stuffed with fresh Lobster meat and served with tangy coleslaw and french fries. A perfect way to end a perfect day on the North Cape Drive of PEI.

Ganong Sunkist Blends

How many beaches did I discover? Three if you count in North Cape Wind Interpretive Centre. Two lighthouses and more wind turbines than I can count on my hands and feet. The North Cape Drive is full of postcard moments and I think I’ve captured a few of them. What will tomorrow hold in store for me?

 

 

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Tourism PEI for supporting this travel series. My views and opinions are 100% my own.


About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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