Anyone who has ever seen or read the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery has heard of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Growing up on the movies it was a magical place to me- a place of outrageous natural beauty, humble people and farming. It was my dream vacation so when it came to planning a honeymoon, that was the first (and only) place that came to mind.
10 Ways to Enjoy the “Anne-of-Green-Gables” Cavendish
Cavendish is located in the north central part of the province of Prince Edward Island. While it still holds its beauty of the books it was disappointing to see how grossly over-developed and touristy it has become- complete with mini-golf, tourist trap businesses and even a small theme park. If you’re traveling with small children with the express purpose of doing some of these things then that’s perfect. But if you’re like me and traveling for the rural scene and landscapes then you’ll need to work a bit harder to discover the “real” Cavendish. This list will help guide your experience towards the beauty of Anne of Green Gables and the surrounding Cavendish area.
Note: While it’s easy to get around PEI, the roads can be narrow and sometimes confusing in their simplicity. Driving directions from one locale to the next are in italics.
Cavendish National Park is more than just beaches. Here you can learn about the ecosystem and explore the dunes. The Canadian government is working hard to preserve this lovely place for your enjoyment and for that of years to come. Enjoy the dunes, but please mind the signs and don’t walk on the dunes.
From the Cavendish dunes head west on PE-6 E until you come to New London, where you will find the Lucy Maud Montgomery house and parking lot on your right.
While not much to look at- just a small, ordinary home, it is the home where the author of one of the greatest stories was born. A proud slice of history for PEI, and one that most assuredly should be recognized.
Continue on your way from LM Montgomery’s house and turning left onto PE-20S headed for French River.
3. French River.
Take in the beauty of French River from the Hostetter’s Viewscape, one of the most photographed spots on all of Prince Edward Island.
A beautiful fishing village that stands as a colorful reminder that this is a rural community where, in the off-tourist season, fishing and agriculture are the main sources of income.
You will have to backtrack from the Hostetter’s Viewscape of French River (and past LM Montgomery’s birthplace) to get to Carr’s. It is located just off of PE-6 at Stanley Bridge.
Enjoy fresh seafood in the pleasant atmosphere of Carr’s. The waitstaff is friendly and happy to offer suggestions. If it’s warm enough, sit outside on the outdoor patio, if you’re lucky a few fishing vessels will come into Stanley Bridge while you eat, which makes the meal feel about as fresh of seafood as you can get!
Address: 32 Campbellton Road, Stanley Bridge, PE, Canada.
To get to the red sands, lighthouses and cemeteries you will need to return in the direction of French River. At French River turn right onto River Road. Turn right onto Cape Road and follow until it dead ends (don’t drive up someone’s driveway). Find a place where you can safely pull off the road and leave your car. You will be walking for the next three stops.
5. Red Rocks of New London Bay.
On the opposite side of the New London Bay from Cavendish you will find a beach and ecosystem completely different from that of the National Park. Here there are deep red rocks that have been lined by the ocean’s slow by consistent erosion. Venture out and explore them when the tide is low. When the tide starts to come back in you can scramble up the red sand cliff and follow the path to one of the two off-the-beaten-track lighthouses.
The New London Lighthouse and the Cape Tryon Lighthouse are both within walking distance. The Cape Tryon Lighthouse will be at least an hour’s walk to see, but you will get the full affect of walking in “Anne’s” land if you go. You’ll want to walk along a slightly beaten path along the cliff line, heading west. It is not visible from the road, nor will you be able to see it for some time. Perseverance is key to seeing this lighthouse.
The New London Lighthouse (pictured above) is easily accessible (and visible) off the road and nestled amongst the sea grasses and rolling dunes it is a picturesque spot.
A nearby plaque reads: “”The Yankee Gale” One of the worst natural disasters of the province’s history, this vicious storm claimed up to 120 vessels and 250 sailors. Many of those lost were American fishermen, hence the name Yankee Gale. Although there is very little information on identities, at least twenty-five American sailors are said to have been buried in the Yankee Hill Cemetery.”
Venturing back to your car take the path back to French River and then turn right, staying on PE-20. The road will curve, but stay on PE-20 until you see the Anne of Green Gables Museum on your left hand side.
While perhaps a bit more touristy than the other locations listed, I love this place. Guided in by the sign on the front of the big white barn that read Anne of Green Gables Museum and horses frolicking in the meadow, I knew it couldn’t be all that touristy.
Owned by the Campbell family for over 230 years it used to be the home of LM Montgomery’s aunt and uncle, John and Annie Campbell. LM Montgomery described the home as the “wonder castle of my childhood” and is the place from which much of the beauty in her stories originated.
Address: 4542 Route 20, Park Corner, PEI
Being an island, Prince Edward Island has plenty of beaches to enjoy and explore. Just be wary of the undercurrent, as it can get pretty strong in most areas.
Check out the beaches at the Cavendish National Park for soft sand. In the warmer month’s you’ll be sharing the sand with plenty of others, but it’s worth it for the views.
10. Bed and Breakfast.
There are numerous inns and bed and breakfasts near and around Cavendish, but get off the beaten path and enjoy those that are more removed, like the Beach House Inn by the Sea. A sunny little spot, located just past French River as you head towards the red rocks, lighthouses and cemeteries. The breakfasts are delicious and served with love. From the second floor rooms you can see the New London Lighthouse and if you’re an early riser, the St. Lawrence room is a fantastic spot for watching the sun rise over the ocean (depending on time of year). Make a reservation plenty of time before your trip as it’s a popular spot.