05/20/2020
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Editor’s Note: This is a belated post from the Summer of 2019. We’ve been to many places that we are only just now getting around to writing about.

WHERE IS CABOT BEACH

Cabot Beach Provincial Park is a public beach and campground located in the western half of Prince Edward Island (PEI) Canada near Malpeque Bay. It’s known as the largest park in western PEI and it’s one of our favorite places we have been with its stunning scenery, peaceful camping, and wonderful beach with calm surf. The word beauty is an understatement. If you are into photography, this is the place for you.

The park is located on a peninsula, North-West of Kensington just beyond Malpeque

HOW WE GOT THERE

We didn’t have much of a plan when we arrived on Prince Edward Island. We just knew we wanted to get there. I have family history linked to PEI and long-lost relatives throughout the island. Our ultimate goal was to find some of those relatives, make some connections and see the beautiful ancestral homeland. Other than that, we weren’t sure what to expect.

While talking to people at Parlee Beach in New Brunswick, on the other side of the Northumberland Strait from PEI, we learned about a huge music festival that was going on right then in PEI. The annual Cavendish Music Festival was going on with Carrie Underwood performing and we were told that there was no way we could find a campsite on Prince Edward Island last minute. That’s not really what you want to hear when you aren’t big planners (like us) and prefer to fly by the seat of our pants and therefore don’t have reservations. This news made us nervous that everything would be full – and maybe it was … at Cavendish. We looked at the map and thought we should try Cabot Beach Provincial Park and lucky for us they had availability.

The drive to the park was very unique. First, just getting on the island involves traversing the Confederation Bridge. It is a very long bridge (that was the longest in the world at one point) over the Northumberland Strait. Driving on the island is … compared to many places, peaceful. People don’t drive too fast or tailgate like in so many other places. But – the biggest oddity we encountered while driving to Cabot Beach is that the highway we took – though it looked normal on the map – was in fact, a red dirt road/highway. We were towing our 5th wheel and all of the sudden, the pavement stopped and we were on dirt. It was very unexpected and very cool. Most of the island is paved, but I hope they leave a few highways like this unpaved.

Confederation Bridge.
The Confederation Bridge is 8 miles long and spans the Northumberland Strait.

Quick Note About PEI

Photographers travel to PEI from all over the world to capture the stunning scenery. It’s beaches, lighthouses, and red cliffs create the perfect backdrop for stunning photography. Throw in some Anne of Green Gables and it has everything needed to have a dream vacation. The Islanders are among the nicest people we have ever met. The water at the beach during summer is the perfect temperature to spend all day swimming and wading. The local food is great where both the seafood and agriculture industries give their own flare. There is a wide variety of historical, nature, and even amusement attractions to keep most people busy. In truth, we all fell in love with Prince Edward Island and it all started at Cabot Beach Provincial Park.

You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island in a summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old stars are peeping out and the sea keeps its mighty tryst with the little land it loves. You find your soul then. You realize that youth is not a vanished thing but something that dwells forever in the heart.Lucy Maud Montgomery

ABOUT THE CAMPSITE

Cabot Beach Provincial Park was the perfect way to start our trip to the island. Our reservation at the campground there started out as just filling the need of having a place to stay. Little did we know when we booked it that it would wind up being on the short list of most beautiful places we’ve stayed. We didn’t know what to expect and further didn’t know that for all the many amazing places we would see on the island, that this place would be our favorite.

We called ahead to the provincial park campground and, even though it was the beginning of their busy season, we were able to make camping reservations only a few days in advance. The campground is sectioned off into full hookup and non-full hookup sites. The full hookup sites are in a beautiful setting, but not too different from any other provincial park.

The area was (probably long ago) cleared of trees where the camping is (don’t quote me on that). So, with a few exceptions, most sites don’t have any trees (though ours had one). But, even without many trees in the sites, the breeze off the sea gives the whole place a coastal feel (even if you are smack dab in the middle of the full hookup sites) and that makes even the less amazing sites pretty good too.

However, by far, the best campsites are the non-full-hookup sites (with only power and water) and are campsites A-D. These should be the most coveted sites at the whole place, but I think that with them not having full hookups they are overlooked by many RVers – their loss (and there is a dump station for those who need it). If ever you think about camping somewhere majestic, these sites are what you are thinking of as they are right at the top of an amazing red cliff. We were camped in site C, and our view overlooked the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Malpeque Bay. It was an incredible view – and would have been even better for someone in a class A with a big window in the front to see the water from inside their RV. Sunsets from here were phenomenal and we would sometimes climb up onto our roof to get an even better view of how amazing the sky and the sea were.

Man in shorts and black shirt stainding on roof of RV overlooking the sea with sunset and sweeping clouds.
The view of the horizon from the roof of the RV while camped at site C. This campsite was incredible!

A short walk just beyond site A, away from the campground, took us along a trail through a meadow of tall grass and wildflowers – the type you could imagine being in a movie. Beyond the meadow and down the cliff you will find a secluded rocky coast area where we could climb on red rocks, walk along the beach at low tide, and wade through the water looking for crabs.

Woman wearing a hat standing on a red sand beach.
Tabitha and the red sand beach. This is a small cove accessed by walking through a field and then down the red cliffs.

Behind our campsite was a very large field of grass which was perfect for running around and flying kites. It’s possible that on holidays that this fills up with overflow camping so it might not always be the enormous field that we enjoyed, but if you go hopefully it will be for you.

A trip to the activity Center

On our last day at this campground, Tabitha took the kids to the activity center while I was dumping the tanks. It was raining, so it was nice to have a place to be indoors. There were all sorts of activities for the kids – art supplies, games, puzzles, and outdoor equipment to rent. During the busy summer months, they offer many planned activities throughout the week like beach games and learning how to make awesome sand castles

People & Wildlife

We met fellow camping neighbors from all over the world, including Germany, Croatia, Brazil, Cameroon and from all over Canada and the United States. People get to this place in many different ways. Some fly into Charlottetown, PEI, but some fly into Halifax, NS or Moncton, NB and rent RVs or cars and make their way to PEI and eventually to Cabot Beach (as did the Germans and Croatians we met). The most adventurous people we met are part of a subset of campers that camp the island in a tent with their whole mode of travel (including traveling between campsites with all their gear) by bicycle. They often traverse the island on the Confederation Trail. Every now and again you will see people with full camping gear riding a bike on a red dirt road.

We loved the wildlife at Cabot Beach too. In the evenings, foxes would come out of their holes in the cliffs and could also be seen among the pine trees which surrounded the campground. Birds fly along the shore and in the water you can find crabs, mostly harmless jellyfish, lobster and clams.

Man in black shirt with ocean behind while holding a crab.
If you are careful and pick them up from the back, you can catch crabs on Cabot Beach! We never kept them, just got good at catching them.

Not all wildlife at Cabot Beach is amazing though. It needs to be said that the mosquitos are relentless! They were so bad that you had to constantly be thinking about how you will avoid them. Their bites seemed to be particularly painful … while being bit. But, one nice thing was that it seemed that their effect on your skin (like red bumps) didn’t last long. Without being an expert on these pests, I’d say that their short-term effect on your skin is worse than lots of mosquitos, but their long-term effect on your skin heals quicker. The solution? Try not to get bit, or use Cedarcide bug spray – good luck.

The Beach

On the other side of the provincial park, is the main area for beach access which you can walk to from the campground where you will pass a gazebo where couples will get married at certain times of the year. However, in the summer, because of mosquitos it’s usually better to just drive from the campground to go to the beach. To get to the beach from the day use parking lot, walk past the playground and head to the small lighthouse. Next to the lighthouse are small showers for washing off sand when you are done at the beach. Head down the boardwalk and eventually you will hit a blue mat that goes out onto the soft sand.

One cool thing about this beach and several other beaches on Prince Edward Island is that it has a couple of beach wheelchairs for those who need it! Two different styles of wheelchairs get transported between the parks – one that’s good for sand only, and one that has floaty things on it for wading in the water.

Boys enjoying playing in the sand and water on a red sand beach.
Boys enjoying playing in the red sand and water.

As you arrive on the beach you are met with the picturesque views that Prince Edward Island is known for. It’s just a short walk out to the water at high tide, but a much farther walk at low tide. From there you can turn right and walk towards the bay, or you can turn left around the cliff and find the cove. This is the area we usually played at. We loved being surrounded by the red cliff and the blue water. There is a trail that leads to the top of the cliff where you can walk through the pine trees and head to either the campground or the day-use parking lot.

Not only is the scenery stunning with red cliffs topped with pine trees and shimmering blue water, but the waves are gentle which is great for kids. The warm water is the perfect temperature (at least it was in July and August) and they say that because of the currents, it’s the warmest water north of Florida. I can’t even count the number of afternoons we spent at this beach. We packed food, sand toys and umbrellas and prepared to spend most of the day at the beach. We made so many memories right on Cabot Beach and it was where our youngest child took his first steps. We returned again and again for day trips with friends to spend time playing and swimming.

Red cliffs with pine trees above them tower over a red sand beach
These beautiful red cliffs surround one section of the beach.

A Surprise During a Visit

After several visits to the beach we returned one afternoon to find that they were dredging the bay to give deeper channels for the lobster boats so that they don’t get stuck in the sand. From a boat with an excavating shovel attached to it, they reached it down into the water and scooped up sand and dumped it off shore near the section of the beach where we often played.

This created a sand bar island that was above water by several feet at low tide not far from the shore. Its presence created a barrier which made the waves even more gentle which was perfect for the younger kids. The water is warm bathtub temperature and this lack of waves made it like a pool. And, not being too far away, the older kids (and adults) now had an island to swim to. We had so much fun jumping off the edge of the island into the calm deeper water.

Small children playing in red sand on a flat beach.
Kids playing on the beach. If you look close you can see the sand bar out in the water that the older kids loved jumping off.

The sand on the beach is perfect for making sand castles. We made some pretty amazing sand creations on multiple occasions. During one visit, the kids made cups, plates and bowls out of clay and set them out to dry in the sun.

So – if you love beauty, peace and warm water beaches, go to Cabot Beach. You won’t regret it!

– Matt

Small boy walking on beach with red cliffs and pine trees.
Elliot loved playing at the beach.
Children playing on a wet beach at dusk.
We would spend all day at the beach. Here are the kids in the early evening.

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