Winter in Ibiza is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to escape the cold of other Euro destinations. We visited from the UK for Christmas in Ibiza, and the average weather in Ibiza at this time was about 18 degrees and sunny during the day! Spain in general is pretty great at this time of year, especially around the Barcelona region or Mallorca, but there is indeed something very special about the islands.
Winter in Ibiza was basically a perfect experience for us. Read our travel guide and tips on things to do…
Average weather in Ibiza in winter is warm – get your dose of winter-sun
This year’s winter in the UK has already been particularly long, grey and cold – worse than last year in my view.
That said, I’d prefer it to sweating (southern hemisphere Christmas!), but this December it was time for a break, which is why we ended up in Ibiza for winter.
Last year we visited Copenhagen in Denmark and had some lovely family for Christmas company along for the ride. It was fantastic – a cool city and Tivoli Gardens, the world’s oldest operating amusement park, was a magical highlight.
However this year I wanted to change a couple of things with regards to an end-of-year break:
− it needed to be less expensive
− it needed to offer more of a mix of options to explore (travel), as well as options to rest
− it needed to be warmer!
Recalling that the Mediterranean seemed to be at least sunny when we cruised through back in January 2013, my research began ….
Sunny climates in Europe during winter
And it started in August because previously I’ve left plans really late by which time flights everywhere are expensive.
Long story short, I found a good deal through British Airways holidays which included flights from London City airport (tick, that’s our closest);
–>to Ibiza in Spain (double tick, always wanted to go!);
–>staying at a central resort by the beach with American half board (so breakfast and dinners, including seven courses for our special Christmas meal were included in the package).
Yes, yes and yes.
But like many of even the world’s biggest destinations, much is shut over Christmas, and in Ibiza even more so outside of its popular summer season.
Ibiza’s small local population swells about five times in summer, with the island boasting the usual beautiful delights of this part of Europe as well as allegedly ‘the best clubs in the universe’ (Ibiza is known as the home of dance music).
What to do in Ibiza in winter then? Travel guide suggestions:
Walking or hiking
We were based along Figueretas beach which is situated about 15 to 20 minutes (easy) walk from the main island ‘city centre’, cruise marina, shopping strips and the ‘old town’.
Cooper and I enjoy being able to walk everywhere in a town, and it is an activity that is free, can be done in most weather conditions (although we got lucky with sunny days), and regardless of what’s open.
In Ibiza the walking or hiking options are endless, with beachfront, villages, cliffs and green hills to explore.
Only thing to be mindful of in our experience, is while it was warm throughout the day, temperatures dropped quickly around 4pm which could be a problem if you are far from home and all of a sudden not dressed appropriately.
It’s not a big stretch to imagine that a sun drenched Spanish island is pretty, and Ibiza certainly is.
From ocean to mountains, vineyards, cool street art, contemporary and old architecture blending as one, it’s a great destination for the modern content creator.
Photographers, videographers, writers and artists will find much inspiration, particularly as the light changes across the course of a day.
Boat rides and beaches
Unfortunately we just missed this option because of much being closed over Christmas, but there’s a number of day trips you can enjoy around Ibiza even in the winter.
That said, try to book in advance online as there is far less operating than between April and October.
A ferry to Formentera (the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea) for a chilled out day by the crystal clear blue is something that was recommended and I’ll make it happen next time!
Sant Antoni is the main clubbing area and includes the famous sunset strip where summertime ravers enjoy shows by the world’s coolest DJs as the sun sets over the Med.
Pretty much everything is closed in winter with only a few cafes and restaurants operating to cater for the boating crowd. But for the curious (like me), for €2 bus no. 3 from Avenue d’Isidor Macabich (a main street in Eivissa’s city centre) will get you to where all the action takes place.
In about 25 minutes you’ll be on the other side of the island and can spot locations of some of the famous dance music fun-hubs like Cafe del Mar and Cafe Mambo.
While most up this way in the world are rugged-up at Christmastime, we enjoyed still, warm and sunny 18 degree days. Best to make the most of it then!
We thought the Chinese cuisine was delicious and well priced at Restaurant Taiwan along Figueretas beachfront. Just up a bit from there is Oferta, a little family-run hole-in-the-wall (almost) business that was actually open when nothing else was.
Their food was good, but don’t accidentally order the cheap local beer that turns out to be non-alcoholic – oops.
Next door to Oferta is a larger pub-like establishment, Bistro Magnus; and for a classy meal and cocktail with a view look up Cotton lounge bar, also positioned on the Figueretas waterfront.
Bondi at Sant Antoni is a cafe/bar/restaurant opposite the port, not too far from the bus station where we got off the no. 3 from the city centre.
The food was delicious with many nice vege options on the menu. Friendly service too. Finally, back over on the Sant Antoni side is a beachfront restaurant called Hostal la Torre – sadly we didn’t get to it but it was recommended for sunset gatherings and if it’s as pretty as its pictures it wouldn’t disappoint.
We also frequently bought some nice cheese, salami and inexpensive wine from local Spar supermarkets for beach picnics.
Along the main road Av D’Espanya there’s a few lovely bakeries where you can buy fresh baguettes and coffee to complete your DIY lazy long lunch experience.
Meditation, yoga, mindfulness under the sun or even sun bathing – it’s all possible here in winter.
During the day when there’s no breeze it’s really warm; perfect conditions to ‘just be’.
In fact, along the promenade where we were staying I noticed many individuals happily spending quiet time bathed in sunlight; no phones, relaxing, tuning into the sound of the waves, no distractions (except for the odd dog, but even they seemed blissfully content).
When a little more is operating (April to October), I’d like to:
Visit the hip and happy Hippy market
Book a four hour party boat ferry that cruises around the island
Indulge in a winery tour
Hike over to the mystical rocky island of Es Vedra in the north west, reputedly the island’s most magnetic point and with an energy similar to that of the Pyramids. I’m actually sure I spotted this when we were flying out at the end of our trip, but we’ll be back…
Explore Sant Josep some more – I wanted to make my way over to a little village called Es Cubells which promises a quaint church on a cliff top and a couple of authentic local bars, but the bus wasn’t heading there during our festive stay.
Organise hire of a bike, car or moped for an easier and independent look around the island’s main regions of Eivissa (central), Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Sant Joan de Labritja and Santa Eularia des Riu.
There is an inexpensive bus service which you’ll need to study the map and website to navigate, and you need change to buy a ticket when boarding, but the service is clean and efficient. The no. 10 gets you to and from the airport to the city centre for €3.50 (single), otherwise a cab is about €15. There are many airport shuttle and pick-up services advertised online but they are totally overpriced so be careful not to be ripped off.
Other useful online Ibiza resources:
Ibiza Spotlight features lots of stories and tips for first time visitors on where to eat, travel, club, stay and spend your money.
Ibiza bus includes maps and timetables for the local service around the island.
If you prefer to escape the cold and holiday somewhere hot, then ditch the winter blues and pack for the sunny Whitsundays. When it comes to choosing whether to freeze or fry over winter, Aussies love a hot getaway, with 72.5 per cent preferring to head to a hot destination, according to a winter survey by travel website Wotif.com.
5 reasons to escape to the Whitsundays this winter
Soak up the Vitamin D: In the recent Wotif.com survey, 34.8 per cent of holidaymakers revealed going to the beach was their top hot activity in winter, followed by 29.2 per cent favouring to explore new cultures, 24.7 per cent relaxing by the pool, 9.3 per cent drinking cold cocktails. You can escape the cold winter days and swap them for 22 degree days relaxing on the beaches at the Whitsundays. It’s the perfect weather to go on a GoDo Whitehaven Beach sailing adventure with time to relax and roll out your beach towel on the powdery, white sand.
Swap hot chocolates for tropical cocktails: Relax on Hamilton Island and re-live your summer with refreshing cocktails by the pool or at one of the bars. The Hamilton Island Reef View Hotel has a range of refreshing cocktails on offer at the poolside Reef Terrace Restaurant.You can finish the evening with stunning sunset views sipping on a strawberry and orange ‘Summer Love’ cocktail at One Tree Hill, the Island’s hill-top lookout.
Indulge and get pampered: Relax at Airlie Beach’s Pinnacles Resort & Spa and get pampered with Endota’s weekday June spa special. After your pampering, relax on the private verandah with views over the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Islands.
See the underwater world: With the water temperature rarely dropping below 23 degrees, it’s just the right temperature to get up close with tropical fish and colourful coral species snorkelling or scuba diving along the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Did you know you can even spend the night out under the stars of the Reef?
Spot a whale: From July to October, whales are a common sight frolicking among the Whitsunday Islands and even occasionally out on the Great Barrier Reef. Those out on the water, the islands, or even just sitting in a café by the beach are regularly indulged by excited young calves and their mothers breaching out of the water, playing with boats and each other, and majestically gliding through the waters of the Whitsundays.
“I hate that noise”, cried the 7-year-old in front of me, as another tree branch scraped past the vehicle’s long glass window; a sound akin to that of nails along a blackboard. The five Poms perched on the back seat were launched into the air again while the rest of us fastened our seatbelts and gripped whatever we could for balance. The ride through soft sand − surrounded by lush rainforest on either side − was surprisingly wild and bouncy, and we all giggled gleefully as we hit another curve in the road with speed. Our guide, Peter, had explained that in order to get through the sand, at various points, he had to take the track with some pace, but on a guarantee he is a very good driver (which indeed proved to be true) we put our faith in his expertise, sat back and indulged in the Fraser Explorer experience.
-TravelLiveLearn.com on YouTube with Sarah Blinco & Cooper Dawson
Fraser Island − situated about 300 kilometres from Brisbane; 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point − was to me, that place I’d seen videos of, where 4WD vehicles race along sandy white beaches, fisherman rejoice in pristine conditions and dingoes roam through the tall old trees. It is also a location synonymous with whale watching in Spring, when mums and their new calves frolic for a while following their venture to − or birth amongst − the Great Barrier Reef and subsequent journey back down the eastern coast of Queensland towards Antarctica. Of course, I discovered on our brief sojourn in the area that all my preconceived notions were correct, but thanks to personal experience, I’ve gained a renewed interest in our local wildlife, intriguing plants and naturally beautiful landscapes.
For a girl who has grown up in Queensland, I know surprisingly (perhaps shamefully) little about the bush, and I found learning about the rainforest’s unique plant and animal life here intriguing. As we travelled across Fraser Island as part of the Beauty Spots (day) Tour, I was fascinated to learn about this amazing World Heritage listed space − the largest sand island in the world, and the only one where rainforest sprouts from sand at elevations of 200 metres or more. The island’s World Heritage listing ranks it up there with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef, and its remarkable landscape is a masterpiece of long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, framed by azure ocean and coloured in by ancient green rainforest and crystal clear blue lakes.
Peter our guide − also known as Peter Meyer, world-renowned photographer − openly offered us his wealth of knowledge gathered over 19 years. He told us stories of the savage 2011 bushfires that tore across this beautiful region, explaining the ramifications included the extra soft sand he was navigating, as well as where new plants were growing out of trees which is a heat-trauma reaction.
Peter pointed out native plants like Banksia (which I recognised from Mae Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories of my childhood), and showed us what happens to the plant following exposure to extreme heat; he explained how Eucalyptus trees emit a highly flammable gas, and also discussed theories as to why there are no koalas on the island, despite these Australian marsupials being common in similar terrain not too far away. Peter fondly recalled how he learns about the world through the eyes of his tour guests, and how once, a pair of Irish girls described Banksia as “hairy potatoes” or “a koala with its head tucked in”, and teased how sometimes it’s fun to see who can be convinced Drop Bears (the fictitious large evil relation to koalas, said to drop onto their prey from above) exist. Most importantly though, we learned that wombat poo comes out square. True!
We were so enthralled by his stories we almost missed the landscape change: dense rainforest transitioning to broad sandy white beach stretching as far as the eye can see. As 4-wheel-drives whizzed past (at no more than 80km, I hope, as that’s the speed limit in these parts), we realised we’d hit the famous Seventy-Five Mile Beach, a sprawling oasis for fisherman, campers, kids and fun seekers. We stopped at Eli Creek, a freshwater stream where water pours out to sea from an inland spring at the rate of 4.2 million litres per hour, particularly popular during our visit (thanks to the school holidays) with kids on floating-tyres and European tourists enjoying a spot of revelry under the Aussie sun.
The group scoffed cookies and pastries for morning tea before venturing further along the sandy white to the Maheno shipwreck, an impressive structure that’s been beached here since 1935, and one of 23 shipwrecks recorded as having crashed upon Fraser Island’s beaches between 1850 and 1935. The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1904 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer, weighing a massive 5323 tonnes. Once a well-known trans-Tasman liner, as well as a hospital ship during World War 1, the ship was bought by a shipping company in Sydney after the war; later sold to Japan for spare parts. As the Japanese buyers were in the process of towing her to a new home, a powerful cyclone hit Queensland; subsequently the good old ship was separated from the vessel towing it, and ended up on its own course towards Fraser Island where it smashed onto this beach and has remained ever since. It’s a unique and thrilling site that makes for some lovely photos options (if you can hold until the tourists move out of the shot, that is).
Everyone was having a whale of a time on the tour, gradually appreciating the fact that here, there was no getting rid of sand − in your hair, shoes, clothes, bags − it’s all part of the experience. To make things even more exciting, as we cruised along the beach we noticed puffs of air emerging from the ocean followed by a massive fin splashing the water. Yep, you guessed it from the intended pun at the top of this paragraph: Majestic whales! Each year between June and November, the humpback whale migrates north from Antarctica to the warmer waters of our eastern Australian coastline. Interestingly, the term ‘humpback’ is derived from the motion these gentle giants make as they arch back out of the water in preparation for a dive. An adult usually ranges between 12 and 16 metres long and weighs around 36 tonnes, and a baby calf can weigh 700 kilograms when born. Sheesh − that’s a big baby! This area is perfect for whale watching at this time of year, although we did encounter unseasonably windy weather and our whale watching excursion has been postponed, so more on that up-close experience in a future post…
We ooh’d and ahh’d for a while before setting off for lunch. Along the way we discussed dingoes … and fate. Peter recalled how late one afternoon a tour he was leading came to an abrupt halt thanks to a flat tyre. As he went about fixing it, their party noticed four dingoes sauntering along the beach; three dingoes were stalking one little guy who obviously had ventured where he shouldn’t have been. Being an opportunist (as apparently is characteristic of dingoes), this one unfortunate soul ducked under the bus, taking shelter from the other three. This was a sight in itself, and those taking part in the tour soon forgot they had been delayed getting home. Eventually it came time to move on though, and naturally the vehicle revving to life gave the dingo a fright − so startled was he that he bolted across the sand to the shipwrecked Maheno and attempted to dive through one of the portholes. Only problem was, he got stuck! A wave came crashing through the bones of the old ship though and promptly pushed him back out, and he ran off, his ego bruised more than anything else. “A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence − that sequence of events will never happen again, and we saw it all because we had a flat,” beamed Peter.
As the day moved forward we explored more of Fraser’s famous colourful sandy yellow and red-shaded landscapes, including the vast Pinnacles, discovering the whiter the sand, the older it is (a little like ageing hair). The red in the sands is essentially caused by iron that is rusting, and there’s a nice Aboriginal story I read that explains how these sands are lucky.
“Once a beautiful black maiden named Murrawar fell in love with the Rainbow who visited every evening. Burwilla, a bad man from a distant tribe, stole Murrawar for his slave wife. One day Murrawar ran away, and Burwilla followed her with his terrible killing Boomarang. She called for help and her faithful Rainbow raced across the sea. The wicked Boomerang attacked the brave Rainbow and they met with a roar like thunder. The Boomerang was killed, while the Rainbow was shattered into tiny pieces and lay on the beach. It is still there, its colours forming the hills along the beach here. Aboriginal women of many tribes, near and far, believe to obtain this sand or place it in your hair brings the Rainbow’s protection and good fortune”.
Lunch, a wander through ancient rainforest and a dip in the pure waters of Lake McKenzie capped off a truly beautiful and interesting day-tour.
Back at ‘home’ in our spacious, comfortable Kingfisher Bay Resort digs, we took a moment to recoup a little energy and enjoy the sublime bush-meets-ocean view from our veranda. We’d been urged to get to the beach by sunset to catch the dramatic mango-coloured beams of light reflect across the ocean and disappear into the night. We secured a little possie at the beachside Jetty Hut, ordered a glass of bubbles and a beer, and merrily soaked-up the spectacle; sail boats bobbed in the distance, foreign accents gossiped among us, and the segway tour group made its way back along the beach towards us as night fell.
Kingfisher Bay Resort and Fraser Island is the ideal escape for those who want to get back to nature in the nicest, most comfortable way possible. The place certainly lives up to the name given to it by its original Aboriginal owners who called Fraser Island K’gari, which means ‘paradise’. The accommodation and facilities at Kingfisher Bay Resort are proudly sustainable and we thoroughly enjoyed everything about the resort.
YOUR TRIP │ OUR TIPS
Kingfisher Natural Therapy day spa
So many relaxing ways to enjoy yourself. Why not indulge in an Holistic Massage, or a Refreshing Specialist Facial?
Peter Meyer is a world-renowned photographer who specialises in Fraser Island landscapes and life. His photography is on sale within the gallery in the village square. More at petermeyerphotography.com. We love his dingo on the beach series.
Tickled our fancy…
The fact that at Kingfisher Bay Resort you can choose to forgo room service for a day (or more) which in turn gives back to the environment. As a thank you for this, Kingfisher Bay Resort offers credits towards a spa treatment. Worth keeping your room clean and tidy independently, right?
Additionally, there’s a plethora of activities to entertain and inform couples, families and groups, from nature walks to guided tours; resort fun and beach/ocean activities. Read more at kingfisherbay.com/fraser-island-activities.
Eat + Drink
The most difficult part about this experience is choosing where to go. Maheno Restaurant offers a divine seafood buffet experience, while The Sand Bar provides a contemporary pub feed and great music. Seabelle Restaurant is just lovely! And you can’t go past the Jetty Bar at sunset for a cold drink, cheese or prawn platters. Then there’s the Dingo Bar for those who want to party on with other travellers (and a sprinkling of fun international guests) – it’s a hidden treasure that you can catch a free shuttle to after dark and into the wee hours.
Whales (September and October), birds, dingoes, wildlife and a delightful, natural, sustainable experience − really, we were sad to leave Kingfisher Bay Resort, can’t wait to go back.
About Kingfisher Bay Resort
152 room resort including hotel rooms, self-contained villas and holiday homes. Gateway to World Heritage Listed Fraser Island. Read morekingfisherbay.com.
We flew to Hervey Bay from Brisbane, transferred a few minutes up the road from the airport to River Heads, and caught a ferry across to Fraser Island. There are plenty of options however. Visit kingfisherbay.com for full details.
I grew up in Far North Queensland, right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, but never before have I ever seen it as I did on the weekend, in all its spectacular glory. I was invited on a Whitsundays experience and flew down the coast from Cairns to Hamilton Island this past Saturday.
Visibility was pretty much perfect, as you can see from the photos! Usually airline passengers will only view the deep blue below, but over the weekend the reef was showing off, and looked entirely magical from above.
I waited a short while at Hamilton Island airport before boarding the ferry to Airlie Beach, a pretty, hilly ocean-side paradise set within the Whitsunday Islands.
While, like Cairns, Airlie Beach offers fun for party-goers and backpackers, there is also a luxurious resort culture here that presents a playground for adults (without the noise or crowds at the bar).
Resorts are built into the hills around Airlie Beach, overlooking the ocean, and we stayed at Pinnacles Resort & Spa which I’d highly recommend for its large, lush rooms, views as far as the eye can see, and easy proximity to everything in town. Room number 6 is the way to go, although I’m told by all our group that every room was divine (and HUGE). Particular highlights are the vast balconies that include a yummy spa bath and views of the Whitsundays.
We indulged in a fabulous dinner at Capers at the Beach Bar & Grill with none other than the Executive Chef, Tim Whitehorn. The divine set menu we sampled was enough to ensure we understood why the likes of Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Hugh Jackman have also enjoyed a meal or two here.
A highlight? the Twice cooked pork belly, prawn, chorizo sausage, scallops, cauliflower cream & crispy prosciutto main, only to be matched by a dessert of strawberries and passionfruit with mango sorbet.
Interesting to note – place five gals with iPhones together in front of beautifully presented cuisine, then check out Instagram for live streaming of foodie pics.
It seems ‘food porn’ is the new favourite pastime of anyone with a camera and an eye for colour; and really, what better to photograph then food that looks like this…?
A peaceful sleep and beautiful sunrise later, it was time for brekky. Capers was so good that we returned again the next morning.
After guzzling as many pancakes, strawberries, delicious pork topped with pineapple, fresh fruits (locally grown, of course) and muesli, we wandered around the corner to Airlie Day Spa & Hair Studio for a bit of pampering.
This lovely establishment is conveniently located in the centre of town and caters to any and all beauty needs – both in-salon or by appointment to your room! Toes (Linda), manicure (me), and a couple of facials (Felicity and Meren) later, we bid farewell to the friendly team at Airlie Day Spa and went to meet our Whitsundays media familiarisation (‘famil’ in journalist speak) guide, Tamara, who was taking us on our next adventure to Hamilton Island.
We ferried across the channel keeping a keen eye open for whales splashing about in the sparkling blue.
A number of excited Japanese tourists raced outside in the breeze and indicated there were sightings to be had, but no such luck by the time we got to the deck.
It didn’t matter too much because in no time we had arrived at Hamilton and were distracted by the island’s many charming attributes.
Following check-in at the fabulous Reef View Hotel, we toured the famous Whitsundays holiday destination by electric buggy (no vehicles allowed here) before settling in for a divine relaxation massage at Spa Wumurdaylin.
We were all fairly sleepy by the time we finished ‘work’ on Sunday, but Linda and I powered on and ventured into the village for an evening ice-cream and martini (it was important to us to ensure our meal contained all essential nutrients required for a healthy diet).
74 Islands including Hayman Island, Daydream Island, Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Island (and Whitehaven Beach), Long Island and North & South Molle Islands.
Getting there: Fly or drive to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast Airport), Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island (airport).
Things to do: Snorkel, dive, sail, eat, relax, hike, explore, camp, golf, dine, swim, jetski, shop, party, indulge.
I’m presently sitting on a remote beach somewhere on Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, waiting for sunset so I can take photos as the light goes down across the far reaches of the world.
If I was to set sail on the ocean in front of me I’d be heading back towards the UK, which might otherwise be a bitter-sweet thought, but given that the experience on PEI has been sublime I simply can’t be anything other than at peace.
I had waited my whole life to come here. Like many, it’s the appeal of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (image from the tv-movie starring Megan Follows, pictured above) that drew me to this far away land, but I’ve also always perceived Prince Edward Island to be some kind of heaven: and as the wind gently echoes across the green fields, quaint colourful homes and sparkling ocean I am pleased to share that I was right.
The Gentle Isle, Prince Edward Island
It wasn’t looking so good to start with though. I’ve been planning this pilgrimage for a while and each turn to get here since leaving London was plagued with one problem or another. We missed the summer season by one week, and consequently quite a few of the shuttles and bus services that would have made the journey on and off the island simple are closed for another six months.
The longer I investigated journeys in and out, the higher travel costs became. Note to prospective travellers – PEI is absolutely worth the trip, but organise yourself early and book flights in and out of Charlottetown to avoid any hassle.
The complications continued to the very end when our train from Montreal was delayed by two hours overnight causing us to miss the last connecting bus to the island, and then the following day there was a delay with our transport on arrival into the island thus drastically reducing our limited window of exploration time. I was quite distressed by this point, really feeling like I wasn’t meant to get here – what could go wrong next?
Fortunately the bad luck subsided, and I’m here! The weather has been stunning, accommodation in our little cabin at the Anne Shirley Motel & Cottages fabulous, locals friendly and helpful, and the island itself simply stunning. Prince Edward Island is much bigger than I had expected. It’s a vast space of land consisting of rugged beach front, rivers, lakes, bays, lighthouses, pastoral land, small white churches with tall steeples, deep-sea fishing boats, and scattered townships and cities including the capital where we landed initially, Charlottetown.
Regardless of it being larger than I had imagined, the maritime province is still the smallest in Canada, but it is significant as being the ‘birthplace of Confederation’. This is marked by the famous (and loooong) Confederation Bridge which links PEI with Moncton in New Brunswick, the place where we were stranded the evening before arrival.
Pockets of civilisation were founded throughout the area from the 1700s, and it’s obvious from where founding fathers (whether by original land discovery or through spoils of war) hailed – examples of township names include New London, New Glasgow, Cornwall, Kensington, Stratford, Greenwich, IIe Saint Jean and Irishtown.
Visiting Green Gables was obviously a highlight. It’s straight out of a storybook! What I didn’t realise is that the building is historical, not just a film set. In real life (back in the 1800s), the farm was the home of the Macneill’s, cousins to the famous author L.M Montgomery. She grew up nearby with her grandparents but was always inspired by Green Gables and the surrounding woodlands which she named Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood, as depicted in the fictional Anne of Green Gables series.
Green Gables is just one of many beautiful examples of quaint homes and gardens across Prince Edward Island though. When driving around it is easy to be captivated by the scenery, but the houses are just as striking! Gorgeous triangular roofed homes – colourful, well-kept with beautiful gardens, huge farm barns, and often matching dog houses out in the large back yards. In fact, my initial impression of the island was that it is so picturesque that it’s almost like a country version of the Desperate Housewives set! Similar architectural styles exist whether located in the ‘middle’ of the island across sprawling green countryside surrounded by cows, sheep, horses and dogs, or on waterfront property bordered by boats bobbing in the breeze.
The locals are simply divine too, with several going out of their way to help, guide and chat to us. The folks at Anne Shirley’s Motel were more than helpful, and today we even met a real life Anne Shirley, a lovely lady who was indeed named after Montgomery’s character, and who in the 50s used to own a hair salon and visitors used to ask for her autograph – cute!
Prince Edward Island is the magical land I’d always imagined it to be, perhaps thanks to L.M Montgomery, or Maud as she liked to be called, and her vivid descriptions of her truly beautiful homeland that she wrote about all those years ago. Over the past day and a half on PEI we’ve met two lovely people who both said their lifelong dream was to visit our home, Australia, all the way across the other side of the globe. They said they probably won’t get to travel the distance though, which makes me sad for them, but also makes me realise that I am very lucky to have been able to see this place − so far away but always on my mind. I’m very lucky and grateful indeed.
Getting to PEI:
Try Air Canada, ViaRail and Acadian Bus Lines. Read more here
You’ll need a map of the island and a car – we hired from Enterprise Car rental (Charlottetown) enterpriserentacar.ca. Alternatively, there are cycle lanes surrounding the island so hire a bike and go exploring.
It’s customary to try a ‘Lobster supper’ on Prince Edward Island, and some of the best are allegedly located in New Glasgow.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.