Prince Edward Island doesn't have any wilderness, nor even much wildness, to speak of. It's all about cultivated landscapes that have long ago been tamed by farmers. That doesn't mean you can't find a few outdoor adventures, though. Here are some places to start.
There's no finer destination in Atlantic Canada for relaxed cycling than Prince Edward Island. The modest size of this island, the gentleness of the hills (the island's highest point is just 142m/466 ft. above sea level), and the loveliness of the landscapes all make for memorable biking trips. Although you won't find much (or any) rugged mountain biking here, you can find plenty of idyllic excursions, especially in the northern and eastern portions of the island. Just be sure to avoid the Trans-Canada Highway on the south coast, and busy main roads like Route 2, and you'll find superb backroads biking throughout the network of secondary routes.
There's also a very significant off-road bike trail here: the Confederation Trail, an impressive system of several hundred miles of pathway built along the ripped-up trackbed of an ill-fated provincial railway that could serve as a model for any state in the U.S. The main trail runs from Tignish (on the island's far northwestern shore) to Elmira (up in the northeastern corner), while good branch trails stretch right into downtown Charlottetown and touch on a number of villages mentioned in this guide, such as Souris, Montague, and Georgetown. One spur even reaches all the way to the Confederation Bridge.
The pathway is mostly covered in rolled stone dust, which makes for good traveling with either a mountain bike or hybrid. Services are slowly developing along this route, with more rental services and inns cropping up every year. Ask at tourist bureaus for updated information.
One excellent place to base for exploring the trail is the Trailside Inn & Café in Mount Stewart, where several spurs of the trail converge; it was a pioneer establishment when this trail system was still yet young. The cafe can even arrange for return shuttles if you'd prefer a one-way cycling tour.
The experts at MacQueen's Island Tours & Bike Shop, 430 Queen St. in Charlottetown (tel. 800/969-2822 or 902/368-2453; www.macqueens.com), also organize a range of bicycle tour packages with all-inclusive prices covering bike rentals, accommodations, route cards, maps, luggage transfers, and emergency road repair service. They also run shuttle vans out to the Trail. A customized 5- to 7-night tour of a section of the island for two might run C$1,000 to C$1,360 per person, double occupancy; a custom group tour would be cheaper per person. Bikes can be rented at the shop for C$25 per day and C$125 per week (kids' bikes are cheaper, touring bikes a bit more expensive). And, of course, they do all repairs.
Another pure cycle shop in Charlottetown doing rentals, repairs, bike tune-ups, and shuttle runs out to either end of the trail (no tours) is Smooth Cycle, at 330 University Ave. (tel. 800/310-6550 from eastern Canada or 902/566-5530). Rentals here including helmet, water bottle, and a lock cost C$17 per half-day, C$25 per day, or C$110 per week. Note that the shop is closed Sundays.
If you're interested in deep-sea fishing, head to the north coast, where you'll find plenty of fishing captains and outfitters happy to take you out on the big waves. The greatest concentrations of services are at the harbors of North Rustico and Covehead Bay. Rates are quite reasonable, generally about C$20 for 3 hours or so.
Trout fishing holes on the island attract inland anglers, although, as always, the very best spots are a matter of local knowledge. A good place to start your inquiries is at Going Fishing in the Sherwood Shopping Centre at 161 St. Peters Rd. in Charlottetown (tel. 902/367-3444). The store specializes in fly-fishing equipment, but also stocks conventional rods and reels as well. They've newly expanded their showroom.
Information on required fishing licenses can be obtained from any visitor information center, or by contacting the province's Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture & Rural Development, P.O. Box 2000, Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8 (tel. 902/368-6330).
While it can never possess the scenic grandeur of Nova Scotia's top courses, PEI's reputation for golf has soared in recent years thanks largely to a slew of new, renovated, and expanded courses -- and the LPGA success of Charlottetown native Lorie Kane. (The island now possesses ten of Canada's top 100 courses, according to the Toronto Globe & Mail.) You can golf beside the ocean in a setting similar to that of Cape Cod (a red Cape Cod, but still).
One of the best-regarded courses on the island is the Links at Crowbush Cove (tel. 800/235-8909 or 902/368-5761). Sand dunes and persistent winds off the gulf add to the challenge at this relatively young course, which is on the northeastern coast; greens fees run C$79 to C$99 per person.
Another perennial favorite is the Brudenell River Golf Course (tel. 800/235-8909 or 902/652-8965), near Montague along the eastern shore at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort; in the late 1990s the course added a second 18-holer, designed by Michael Hurdzan, and a double-ended driving range. Greens fees are C$59 to C$79 per person.
Golf PEI (tel. 866/465-3734), a trade association, publishes a booklet and website outlining the essentials of 21 member island courses. Request a copy from island information centers or from the provincial tourist information office, or check the website at www.golfpei.com; the organization's mailing address is 565 N. River Rd., Charlottetown, PEI C1E 1J7.
Little PEI packs in more than 1,200km (800 miles) of attractive coastline, most of it touched by relatively warm seawater, making for some excellent sea kayaking.
Paddlers can vary the scene from broad tidal inlets ringed with marsh to rusty-red coastline topped with swaying waves of marram grass. Outside Expeditions (tel. 800/207-3899 or 902/963-3366; www.getoutside.com) in North Rustico hosts half- and full-day excursions and clinics daily at the national park and nearby (including one that takes in a drop-in to the PEI Preserve Co.). Rates vary, but you can usually figure on C$50 to C$100 per person. More ambitious paddlers can sign up for 1- to 7-day kayak trips departing throughout the summer. Excursions are also available from Brudenell River Provincial Park in eastern PEI, a more sheltered environment with calmer waters than the north shore. They'll also rent you a kayak if you want to plan your own itinerary.
PEI's chief attraction is its red sand beaches, which are generally excellent for swimming. You'll find them ringing the island, tucked in between dunes and crumbling cliffs. Thanks to the moderating influence of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the water temperature is more humane here than elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. The most popular beaches (by far) are at Prince Edward Island National Park along the north coast, but you can easily find other local or provincial beaches with great swimming by asking anywhere locally.
Good choices include Cedar Dunes Provincial Park (on the island's southwestern coast), Red Point Provincial Park (on its northeastern shore), and Panmure Island Provincial Park on the southeastern coast.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.