White sand beach at sunset

Oh Those PEI Beaches….

Some of the most iconic images of PEI are the red dirt roads that crisscross the island and red sand beaches that circle its shores. I read somewhere that PEI is actually a sand bar which totally makes sense to me. It is so completely different from the geography of its closest neighbours, northern Nova Scotia and the eastern coast of New Brunswick. And so, you can easily imagine it was never part of either but just developed out in the ocean, well, like a sand bar does.

So what makes PEI’s sand and dirt red? It’s the iron in the soil and sandstone that oxidizes (rusts) when exposed to the air. While there are other places in the world with red sand beaches, no where are as many as on Prince Edward Island.

Two women walking along red sand beach with red cliffss in the distance.
Thunder Cove Beach, Darnley. Credit: TPEI – Paul Baglole

Red and white sand beaches:

Not only does PEI have beautiful red sand beaches, it also has stunning white sand beaches, too. Maybe it’s not surprising that Prince Edward Island, with its red and white sand beaches, is the place Canada was born!

Greenwich Beach entrance. Credit: TPEI – Carrie Gregory

Entry for provincial park beaches is free, although those with campgrounds have nightly fees. Like most of Canada’s national parks, entry fees are charged at PEI’s National Park. These help support visitor services, such as the lifeguards at beaches, Explorer programs, and special event programming.. Fees also pay for facilities like change houses, washrooms, interpretive centres, and cycling/hiking paths).

woman walking in waves past lifeguard sitting on raised chair monitoring beach.
Brackley Beach. Credit: TPEI Paul Baglole

Beaches shared by everyone:

In many places you can buy stunning beachfront property. However, in PEI most of the best beaches are part of either the National Park or a Provincial Park. This allows visitors and residents alike to enjoy it all – the sand, the waves, the sun.

Fun at Brackley Beach. Credit: TPEI – Stephen Harri

You can purchase passes for a single day, a week or season long passes. Prices vary based on time of year and age of visitor with kids up to age 18 getting in free!) Because passes can be purchased for just the PEI National Park they are cheaper than buying a pass to the full National Park system. Click here for more info. However, if you already own a Discovery Pass you won’t need to pay for entrance to PEI National Park. Also, some cottages include a pass to the PEI National Park in their rental fee. Just remember to leave it behind when you check out or you’ll likely be required to pay for its replacement.

My favourite beach is Stanhope beach in the National park. But there are a lot of beaches in PEI I haven’t been to yet and I plan to change that in 2019. What’s your favourite PEI beach?

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