I have spent a lot of time on beaches; I even got married on a beach. In fact, there is nothing I enjoy more than the sound of the surf, the smell of the salty air, and the feeling of the sun soaking into my skin - picking my way along the pebbled beaches of Nice in the South of France, strolling on the pristine white sand shores of Negril in Jamaica, lounging on the black sand of volcanic Perissa in Santorini, Greece, and exploring the variegated shores of the Pacific in Vancouver Island.
They are all beautiful, but here in tiny Prince Edward Island, Canada, I am spoiled. I can visit a different beach every day of the summer and still know that the following summer I could probably do the same again and not duplicate any one of those visits.
This tiny Island is only 175 miles long and 40 miles wide, but it is blessed with a stunning shoreline that, in my opinion, is one of the best. It is uniquely diverse, offering the red-cliffed expanses of the South Shore, the golden dunes of the North Shore, and the pristine white sands of "down East."
When I am feeling introspective and in need of some peace, I head for
Canoe Cove or Argyle Shore on the Island's South Shore. There I can either sit with a book on the grassy cliff tops, or take a walk on the firm red sand, dipping my toes in the tranquil tide pools as I go. The water is warmer here than the North Shore, but I won't be swimming, because when the tide is out, it's out. The charm of these beaches is their gentleness; even the patterns of the sand are soothing. This is the perfect oasis after a day's work. The South Shore also boasts some rocky areas perfect for collecting sea glass and other treasures.
On a hot, sticky, August afternoon, when I need a swim, the North Shore is my favourite. A short walk on the boardwalk over the dunes provides one with vast expanses of golden sand, and an ocean that has a little more life to it! Here, I can lie on the soft sand, listening to the sound of the waves, or go for a bracing swim. The water is not warm by tropical standards (Islanders are famous for saying "It's great once you're in"), but it is just what I need on a hot summers day.
Cavendish is the better-known touristy beach of this shore, but there are so many lesser-visited gems. Try
Blooming Point or
Dalvay for the same stunning experience, but with less people!
When I really want that feeling of "being away," I'll make the trip "down East" to
Red Point or the famous singing sands of
Basin Head. These beaches are a marvel to me; they are, technically, on the South Shore of the Island, so they have the rugged red cliffs, but their sands are whiter and even more immaculate than those of the North Shore. The juxtaposition of the white and red provides the best of both, and it is worth the hour drive from Charlottetown. The surf is loud and raucous, and swimming in it is exhilarating. The scenery is stunning. Here, I feel like I am in a true tropical paradise.
PEI beaches are clean, quiet, and dazzlingly beautiful, and unlike many other worldwide beaches I have visited, their allure is unmarred by surrounding development. This is pure, unaffected nature at its best.
And yes, I got married, not in an overpriced, bustling resort, but on the romantic, unassuming shores of Prince Edward Island.
Jane Hastelow is a former high school English teacher currently working as a Secondary Curriculum Coach in PEI, Canada. She has a Masters in Communication Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, and loves to combine her love of writing with her love of travel.