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Kayaking In Prince Edward Island

by Cori Ryan

ALL IMAGES ©CORI RYAN - www.billandcori.com

Lennox Shoreline ~ ©CORI RYANPrince Edward Island (P.E.I) has become easily accessible by way of the Confederation Bridge. This is nice in that you no longer have to take a ferry, but with easy access comes larger tourism evident by tourist sites like a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum near the Anne of Green Gables sites. Finding quiet seclusion is not as easy as it was before. Despite the buildup, the island has miles and miles of beautiful coastline and open fields bloom with lupine in the early summer.

We chose this place because our Fundy National Park vacation was being rained on excessively. We needed a dry escape to enjoy some casual off road biking and some easy kayaking. P.E.I., or "The Island" by name that the kayakers at Fundy refereed to it as, had a lot of promise and despite the drive, it was worth the effort.

We had done some research before we went - we always have a "Plan B", so we had a few maps and a few pamphlets. The best help came from the friendly man at the Visitor Center at the end of the Confederation Bridge who recommended Twin Shores Campground as it is a place his family always camped at. He was spot on. It was perfect for us, and in June there is still availability at most camping places.

The four days we spent on "The Island" was wonderful and we expect to return in the near future. What we visited is only a small sampling of the kayaking and biking available in this Province.

Beach At St Lawrence ~ ©CORI RYANGeneral Information

Despite the fact that we had two days of low tide that resulted in walking the boats back to the launching point and a third day where we were almost swept to the north pole while accompanied by a billion arctic red jellyfish, we can't wait to go back. P.E.I. is a beautiful island with scenic coastlines that have open beaches in many areas instead of rows of condos, which make you feel like you are alone on the planet. We were only granted three days between rain storms during our visit, and the following sections describe the places we paddled.

Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is (in our opinion) for experienced kayakers. This was not the same opinion of the couple we met who rented a canoe for the first time and decided to paddle along the coastline.

This was our most difficult, yet shortest paddle. There was a strong wind which we battled to stay close to the shore. It was a day that we prayed that if we got swept out we would be fortunate enough to hit a lighthouse before we hit the north pole.

After every warning in every guidebook and website we consulted, the first thing we did when we arrived at camp was to unleash the kayaks from the top of our car and head down the beach to the seaway. The day was warm and breezy, the water was gently breaking in petite intervals, and the sun was smiling. Temptation won.

Arctic Red Jelly Fish ~ ©CORI RYANWe got into the cool water, protected by the temperature in our wet suits and started to climb in when we noticed a jellyfish. Then another. The another. we were surrounded by them. Some the size of quarters, some the size of flowerpots. I thought it best to step out for a minute to gather a bit more information.

I pulled my bike off the top of the car and peddled to the campground headquarters (sans wet suit) and enquired as to what the species of jellyfish was that was so prevalent that day. When the woman asked me "Why, did you get stung already?", two of my questions had just been answered. Yes to the "do they sting" question, and No to the "will I die from the sting" question. Upon further queries, I learned that he Arctic Red jellyfish will sting parts of the body that have hair, so not the palms of your hands (I did not touch one to find out if this is true), and if they do, put wet sand on the sting. Time to peddle back to camp and report.

Now donned in full farmer john wet suit with long sleeve nylon shirt, paddling gloves, booties, and stupid hat, I returned to the water with only my face at risk of getting stung. Reminder: ski mask and goggles next time.

Beach At St Lawrence ~ ©CORI RYANOn board about 10 feet off shore, I start getting my skirt tucked in and paddle at the ready and I then notice I am already 100 yards out. Shoot! I start to paddle back to shore and notice that every time I put the paddle in, there is a jelly fish. Can they get hung up on my paddle so that when I pull it out of the water they will slide down the shaft and land on me? Shoot! Now about 150 yards out. Shoot! OK, lost at sea, or returning to work with face swollen by jelly fish. Hmmm. Ok, sting will not make the news, helicopter rescue will. Must paddle. Shoot!

Now Bill is a tiny dot at shore and I am on my way to the north pole via Mother Nature. I start paddling with all my might. Not getting closer. Maybe if I angle towards that arch a mile down. Yeah, good idea.

Good idea until I am still too far out and will overshoot the arch and I can't see what is behind it. Shoot! I wave to Bill. Takes about 20 seconds for him to reach me. Takes us 20 minutes paddling together to get back to shore right before the arch. Serves us right for not taking the warning.

The initial goal was to see if we could paddle through the arch. The short answer to that is No. When we got to the arch it was (a) smaller than we thought, and (b) had rock exposed on the other side of the opening. During swells: looked good, when the water fell again: waterfall on to rock.

We beached and walked around a bit to inspect the arch and watch birds. This is vacation and we have no where else we need to be. Life is good.

Delaying the return trip long enough, we decide to do the walk of shame along the shoreline while towing the kayaks behind us. Not a bad day!

Getting There

All along the north shore of Prince Edward Island there are places to put in to the Gulf. Two places we know of that make launching fairly simple are from the campground at Prince Edward Island National Park and from Twin Shores Campground. If you are asking...."How do I get to Prince Edward Island?"...we did it via the 9 mile Confederation Bridge that connects New Brunswick with the island. Save $40.50 for the return trip toll.

Lennox Island

Lennox ~ ©CORI RYANThis was a beautiful and sheltered paddle. During low tide, the area is very very shallow. This accommodates those who like to hike in the water and pull their kayaks behind them (not mentioning any names), which seemed to be the only way to get back into the harbor as it is too hard to paddle when the water is 4" deep.

Lennox Island ~ ©CORI RYANThis paddle started from the Mic Mac visitor's center for us and allowed us access to Bird Island and the beautiful sand bar across from the north side of the island.

We launched behind the new visitor's center and headed east around the island. The plan was to circumnavigate the tiny island.

It was a good plan. On a map it even looked like a doable plan. If we could read a map better. Which we couldn't. So when we got half way around, we thought we were only a quarter of the way around; because when tiny islands are to your back and you go around a corner, one disappears behind the trees on the nearby shore, etc. etc.

So you can see where this is going (or not going).

Getting There

Getting there was not too difficult. We took 2 to 12 to 122 to 131 to 167 to 169 to 163 which crosses over the bridge on to the Island. At which point we went right and then turned right into the Visitor's Center. Sounds complicated, but actually on the map it is pretty straight until you get to 163. Our recommendation is to buy a map and figure it out.

Prince Edward Island National Park

P.E.I. National Park ~ ©CORI RYANPaddling on the bay side of the National Park sand bar is best done with high tide. We chose low tide. Nevertheless, the bird sightings were phenomenal, the east shore protected, and the sand bar beautiful. A perfect paddle to bring a picnic lunch and binoculars.

Low tide is really low tide. We were finally getting the picture. A few inches of water and wind in our face seemed to be the theme of the trip. But for some reason, none of that mattered. This place was beautiful. The quiet bay was a dark shade of sky. Herons were fishing along the way. The sand was a deep red. The grass stood out in the sunshine.

We stayed on the calm side of the bay, and took a side path under the bike path bridge for the National Park. The water was pretty shallow and we had to return on foot with kayaks in tow. Note that every family with bikes on the island crossed that bridge while we hid our faces under the brims of our ridiculous hats.

The paddle to the sandbar was lovely and we were glad to have brought a picnic lunch. Very few people had wandered from the park over to the sandbar (you can walk to this as well) so we had plenty of room to spread out and relax.

Heron ~ ©CORI RYANWe watched a couple paddle along the coast in a canoe for a while until they came ashore. It was nice to meet fellow paddlers - and we helped them carry their canoe over to the other side of the sandbar to the bay. Together we waited for the wind to die down, and after a while the canoe made its way back to the ocean side and we continued to wait for the wind to die down.

After a while one realizes that Mother Earth has won and that we would have to paddle back in the wind. It was still a lovely trip, albeit slow, and with the shallow water we were able to watch many little sea creatures scuttle around just below the surface, and we were also able to step out at any point to take photographs of the wildlife. Maybe in the end, we won too.

Getting There:

Prince Edward Island National Park is in the Northern part of P.E.I. along the center of the island. It runs along the coastline, tucked behind roadside attractions like a wax museum of Hollywood celebrities and a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. Perhaps due to this place being the fictional "home" of Anne of Green Gables, we found tourism to be heavier here than on the west side of the island.

Route 6 zigzags along the coast where there are several entrances to the park. We put our kayaks in by the Bayview bridge, but cannot recommend this as we had to ask permission to use private property. However, from the Cavendish Campground at P.E.I. NP, there seems to be an access point to the New London Bay at the sandbar where we saw people park and walk around along the Bay side around a dune to the St. Lawrence side of the sandbar. Another possibility is to put in at the campground, go west along the St. Lawrence, then carry your boat over the sand bar to the bay. This is the most likely scenario to result in death or being lost at sea. One loves a challenge!

  • More stories & photos: Visit www.billandcori.com to read more and see many more beautiful photos about Cori and Bill's adventures in Prince Edward Island.

Cori Ryan ~ ©CORI RYANCori Ryan is an outdoor enthusiast and amateur photographer who enjoys hiking and paddling in unique places around the world. Her photography has been used in a documentary for the Travel Channel and published in climbing guidebooks and publications around the world. Cori and her husband are often seen paddling around Cape Cod with their two cairn terriers riding in the front hatches.

 

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