Fresh seafood is one of the main reasons people visit PEI and the North Cape Coastal Drive certainly does its part to fulfill their desire. Western PEI is rich with ocean-fresh delicacies... Island mussels, snow crab, lobster and our celebrated Malpeque Oysters. In fact, producing a harvest of oysters served in restaurants from PEI to Europe, the North Cape Coastal Drive is nicknamed The Canadian Oyster Coast. And there are dozens of entertaining lures for your cultural palette too: The Canadian Potato Museum’s Potato Country Kitchen, where everything served up, like fudge you can help make yourself, involves world-famous PEI potatoes; a church whose rare 1882 organ produces a symphony of sound through a sequence of 1,118 pipes; and an eclectic combination of live entertainment, from Acadian and Scottish fiddlers, to Aboriginal Mi’kmaq drummers, to pipe and drum Celtic pageants, to Summerside’s burgeoning concert scene.
The North Cape Coastal Drive is a smorgasbord of classic Island scenery: naturally sifted white and red sand beaches, towering red sandstone capes and a necklace of essential coastal stops like the tour’s mid-point and namesake at North Cape. The natural phenomena of North Cape–its age-old patterns of winds and tides–are what actually caused the formation of PEI’s famed north shore beaches over the millennia. Visitors can see where tides from the Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence mesh; and the wind can be seen too, thanks to the presence of towering, churning turbines–found at the resident Wind Energy Institute. This contrast of nature and modernity is a constant throughout the tour: men toiling with work horses to harvest Irish Moss (when in season); oyster-farming set against the backdrop of the oyster’s natural tidal habitat; and ocean panoramas which are our celebrities–so photogenic and beautiful that you can’t help but stare.
Life along the North Cape Coastal Drive is sea-centric, evoked in the names of events like The Tyne Valley Oyster Festival, the Tignish Irish Moss Festival, the Clammin’ N’ Jammin’ culinary and music festival in Abram-Village and the Summerside Lobster Carnival. Or in the brands of attractions like Northport’s Sea Rescue Interpretive Centre, Green Park Shipbuilding Museum and the PEI Shellfish Museum. This is a coast you can be intimate with: red-clay roads that lead to secret coves; boats emblazoned with fun names like Water Tight Alibi; the boardwalk that traces the city of Summerside’s shoreline; and people who share with their ancestors a love for the sea and a deep appreciation for the sustenance that it provides.
Check out Coastal Stories - A documentary series consisting of eight short documentaries about the people, places and themes that make Western PEI unique. Visit the coastalstories.ca website to watch these authentic Islander videos!