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Top 10 things to do in Prince Edward Island this spring

Cape Tryon Lighthouse, Cousins Shore, PEI

Top 10 things to do in Prince Edward Island this spring

When the blue skies coax swaths of bright flowers out of the earth and fresh grass carpets seaside bluffs in green, spring has sprung in the Maritimes. It's especially beautiful in laidback Prince Edward Island, known for its quiet, sandy beaches, succulent seafood, rolling farmland, and postcard-perfect lighthouses, not to mention friendly folk and seafaring culture. Get out and explore Canada's smallest province -- easy by bike and car, thanks to its modest size -- with this handy spring top 10 list.

1. Eat lobster

Charlottetown lobster fishing
Lobster fishing in Charlottetown with Top Notch Charters - Credit: Top Notch Charters

The two-month spring lobster season kicks off in May each year and sampling the fresh stuff during it is an island must. Family fishers have been pulling these high-quality crustaceans from the Gulf of St. Lawrence for generations and you can meet them in person and buy live lobstersExternal Link Title at the wharf for a true PEI experience. Look for the popular smaller varietyExternal Link Title, which is far more flavorful and delicate.

2. Listen to Celtic music

A concert in Charlottetown
A concert in Charlottetown - Credit: Asymetric/Jason Van Bruggen

Islanders adore their music, especially the foot tapping, fiddling kind. A seasonal favorite is the May Ceilidh at the Irish HallExternal Link Title in Charlottetown, PEI's longest running and a showcase of traditional, song, dance, and music including Irish and Scottish jigs and reels at the Hon. Edward Whelan Irish Cultural Centre. If you miss that one, don't fret: The lively ceilidhs continue on Friday nightsExternal Link Title throughout the year.

3. Tour a vintage island lighthouse

Panmure Island Provincial Park
Panmure Island Provincial Park - Credit: Tourism PEI/John Sylvester

PEI is filled with cheery lighthouses, most historic and still operating. But Panmure IslandExternal Link Title's is one of the oldest and most quaint. In spring, the island is warm and sunny, but not too crowded, so you can enjoy the scene in relative quiet. Just off PEI's east coast, today Panmure is accessible by a causeway, but in the past you could only reach the island at low tide. Its wooden lighthouse sits in a provincial park and campground, surrounded by one of the most beautiful beaches on an island known for them. Another popular attraction is the annual First Nations Pow Wow. Rent a cottage and step into Panmure's life in the slow lane.

4. Stroll the city

Peake’s Wharf in Charlottetown
Peake’s Wharf in Charlottetown - Credit: Tourism PEI/Brian McInnis

5. Play at the beach

Basin Head Provincial Park
Basin Head Provincial Park

Basin Head BeachExternal Link Title always appears at the top of "best" lists, thanks to its soft sugar-white sand and warm water --the warmest north of Florida, in fact. On PEI's most eastern tip near Souris, this spot is optimal for swimming and picnicking. The long shore is perfect for beachcombing and quiet strolls and also gets its nickname "Singing Sands" from the fine grains of silica that squeak when you walk on them. After a dip, you can visit the nearby Basin Head Fisheries MuseumExternal Link Title and cannery, on a bluff looking out over Northumberland Strait, to learn more about the island's fishery economy, history, and traditions.

6. Go fishing

Fishing in Victoria-by-the-Sea
Fishing in Victoria-by-the-Sea - Credit: Tourism PEI/Stephen Harris

Angle for the big one with Tuna ChartersExternal Link Title on a private or group excursion. You might just reel in a giant bluefin, some of which weigh up to 1,000 lbs! And while you've probably already sampled some lobster, try something different and catch it yourself. Longtime seaman Captain Mark of Top Notch Lobster ToursExternal Link Title will teach you how to pull in a feisty, live crustacean, carefully take it out of the trap, band a claw, and stash it in the holding tubs. Afterwards, you get to enjoy a traditional lobster boil onboard.

7. Eat oysters — and mussels and clams

Fresh caught mussels in Charlottetown
Enjoying local mussels in Charlottetown

PEI is famed for its celebrated Malpeque oysters -- big and bold with a clean finish -- that are best paired with crispy fries (made from local potatoes) and a cold beer. The North Cape is PEI's seafood dining zoneExternal Link Title, dubbed the Canadian Oyster Coast, and you can use this guideExternal Link Title to find where to stop. You'll also want to try clam chowder, seaweed pie, and steamed mussels while you're there. There are tons of places to check out, but the Malpeque Oyster BarnExternal Link Title is a locals' top pick. For dessert, get a cone of local COWS ice creamExternal Link Title. It's luscious, old fashioned, and nearly as popular as the oysters.

8. Celebrate Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site

You'll feel like you've stepped into a postcard in Anne countryExternal Link Title, the setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery's globally renowned Anne of Green Gables series starring the beloved red-haired heroine Anne. In spring, it's even more stunning with the green fields dotted with lupins and fragrant lilacs. Take a leisurely road trip stopping at the Birthplace of L.M. MontgomeryExternal Link Title in New London, the Anne of Green Gables Museum in KensingtonExternal Link Title, and Cavendish GroveExternal Link Title in PEI National Park. End with a sunset swim and picnic at one of the lovely beachesExternal Link Title.

9. Meet the farmers and learn to cook

Farm fields in Springbrook
Farm fields in Springbrook - Credit: Tourism PEI/Paul Baglole

Spring is when asparagus, rhubarb, fiddleheads, nettles, green onions, garlic scapes, peas, and lettuces are at their peak in PEI. Learn how and when to harvest these edibles at their prime, and how to craft them into spectacular dishes with contemporary style and island flair. The Table Culinary Studio introduces you to the island's leading farmers, fishers, cottage producers, and chefs, plus storytellers, artists, and local characters in an immersive and intimate cooking and culture program. A big part, of course, is sitting down all together at the close of each day for a festive feast in a handsomely restored former church near Cavendish.

10. Cycle and paddle

Cycling at Cape Wolfe
Cycling at Cape Wolfe - Credit: Tourism PEI/John Sylvester

You'll love the flat roads and the steady, fresh spring breeze off the ocean as you cycle along the green-carpeted red cliffs of the Argyle ShoreExternal Link Title, named by Scottish settlers for its resemblance to the drop-dead-gorgeous coast back home. There are plenty of quaint towns along the way where you can park your bike for a fresh seafood lunch, shopping, paddlingExternal Link Title, and golf. Don't miss fishing village Victoria-by-the-SeaExternal Link Title, a top stop. The best route is along the south coastExternal Link Title, including a trek over the Confederation Bridge, one of the world's longest at eight miles, with side trips to Argyle Shore Provincial ParkExternal Link Title and Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic SiteExternal Link Title, dating back to 1720.


Whatever you do, be sure to make lots of time for great food and relaxed beach time -- both island specialties.

Pack and prep at the Prince Edward Island Tourism website.