If the fictional Anne of Green Gables were to visit her hometown of Cavendish on Prince Edward Island (PEI), today, she might turn her freckled nose up at the mini amusement parks, go-kart tracks, and other typical roadside attractions that have sprouted up since the area became a tourist magnet for Anne-fans. She'd probably feel more at home on the underdeveloped eastern side of the island, Points East Coastal Drive, an area of rolling farmland, pine forests, tiny towns with white gabled country houses, and quiet red- and white-sand beaches.
"Nature has sculpted eastern PEI's coastline with an abundance of points of land that frame the bays and shelter the beaches," says Joan Perrin, owner of Stonehedge by the Sea, a vacation rental near the town of Montague. "Going for a drive along the coastal touring route is the best activity. Each day, one can head out for an excursion in a different direction—go to a beach or two, stop at a craft shop, buy an ice cream, walk around a few wharves, talk to the fishermen, visit a lighthouse."
If you want to be more active, you can bike the Confederation Trail, which passes across the top of Points East Coastal Drive and runs all the way to the other side of the island. For not much money, you can also camp in one of the area's five Provincial Parks, go on a seal-watching tour, golf, or kayak. For example, Marine Adventures in Murray River offers an activities package that includes a 30-minute seaplane flight, a seal-watching cruise, and nine holes of golf for about $82 CAD (about $74; see XE.com for current exchange rates).
Scottish and Irish roots run deep for many area residents, and, according to Perrin, ceilidhs, or gatherings with traditional music, happen in different towns almost every night in the summertime. Perrin says outsiders can usually attend for a fee of $6 to $10.
Where to stay: To get a better feel for the countryside, rent a vacation cottage or stay in a B&B. The official PEI visitor's website has extensive listings of all the various accommodations in Points East Coastal Drive, including individual rental homes. You can search by weekly or daily rental rate, which makes it easy to find something in your price range. You'll also find listings for cheap B&Bs, such as the Elms at Brudenell near Montague, where nightly rates start at $90 CAD.
Getting there: Set above Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, PEI is a good 630-mile drive from Boston, so you might consider flying into the airport at Charlottetown. Delta will begin daily nonstop flights from Boston starting June 29. To check prices from your area, use SmarterTravel's price-comparison tool.