Friday, October 7, 2011

Prince Edward Island full of hidden charms

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, Canada ― It’s as if the imaginative, red-haired orphan girl from “Anne of Green Gables” would pop out at any moment and cheerfully say “hello” to anyone who travels here.

The setting of the famous book by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, the island preserves its picturesque environment as many would have imagined while reading the book.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) may not be a popular destination for Korean travelers and many may not even know where it is. Some may even think it is an imaginary place only existing in the book.

Tucked away in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and nestled between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the smallest island province spans just 280 kilometer from tip to tip with a population of only 141,000 residents. PEI attracts millions of domestic and foreign travelers with scenic coastal and pastoral landscapes and also offers outdoor adventures, culinary delights and a taste of island culture and heritage for visitors to enjoy year round.

It also conveys historical importance as it is the birthplace of Confederation and the current Legislative Assembly.

The journey begins

Whether you are a big fan of Anne or not, it is worth it to visit the related attractions of the book.

Travelers can visit the Green Gables house, located in Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site, where the author had the inspiration for her classic tale.

They can also enjoy the musical version of the book, which has been running every year at the Charlottetown Confederation Centre of the Arts since 1965.

Along with the red-haired frenzy, however, the island also offers travelers plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy this beautiful province.

For those who want to explore the scenic views, it can be ideal to rent a car or bicycle. On your way, you will have no choice but to stop for a while to enjoy the unspoiled wildlife, stunning mountain and ocean scenery.

One of the interesting observations would be the island’s red soil, sand and cliffs. The high iron content of the soil and sand gives it a rusty coloring and prominence.

Especially, cycling is a popular activity as the island has gentle slopes and the Confederation Trail offers cyclists and hikers plenty of opportunities to experience different communities and landscapes through a 357-kilometer course.

Thanks to warm summer waters, travelers can also enjoy various water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, deep-sea fishing, and sailing or simply swimming in notable red beaches.

A number of fishing charters are also available, offering fishing trips for mackerel, cod, herring, tuna, crab and even lobster.

Of course, the island is also a paradise for golfers with more than 30 golf courses and multiple vendors offering all types of golf packages.

Culinary delights

Hours of outdoor activities will surely make you hungry, and the good thing about PEI is it is famous for the abundance of fresh seafood such as crabs, oysters, mussels and most importantly lobsters.

Especially during the two main food festivals in the province ― PEI Fall Flavors Festival and the International Shellfish Festival held in the month of September every year, travelers can enjoy a range of local cuisine while celebrating this harvest season with locals.

If you missed those events this fall, it won’t be a problem as the island has various other culinary festivals and there are a range of chances to sample the bounty of fresh seafood and farmland products all year round.

If you join a crab digging or fishing boat tour, you can enjoy catching crabs or mackerel and have them freshly cooked on board by crew members.

As PEI is also famous for lobsters and has numerous fishing harbors, travelers can experience a traditional lobster dinner.

Travelers can enjoy lobster on menus all year around, although the best season is from April to June when the spring season opens. Even at MacDonald’s, you can enjoy a McLobster sandwich with 100 percent Atlantic lobster meat during the summer.

Eating PEI's famous potatoes is also something that you shouldn’t miss. People believe PEI potatoes have a unique flavor thanks to the Island's rich red soil.

Winter in PEI

Autumn is always a great season for travelling, and it seems especially true when it comes to PEI. Wherever you will go, you can enjoy breathtaking landscape and exploring the beauty of the island as the fall foliage borders red clay roads in a thousand shades of red and gold.

Fall is also a great season for traveling in PEI as hotels and cottages offer special rates and vacation packages.

But the upcoming new season is also perfect for those who enjoy snowy adventures. You can enjoy skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and skating and PEI also offers over 700 kilometers of snowmobile trails as well as typical winter outdoor activities.

During the snow season, travelers can also enjoy Winter Carnivals, art exhibits, hockey tournaments and other community events.

How to get here

There are various ways to arrive. But most international travelers will come via Charlottetown Airport, which places you in the central part of the Island, an ideal starting point for your tour.

But be prepared for a long journey if you leave from Asia as there is no direct route. You may have to transfer at Vancouver International Airport or Toronto Pearson International Airport.

When you get here, it’s always good to take advantage of the Welcome Centers. They are located across the island and staff there is ready to help you plan your itinerary, or give you other necessary information on the latest local activities.

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