The Points East Coastal Drive is one of the most scenic and popular drives on Prince Edward Island. And while this area of the province is known for its phenomenal beaches, there are plenty of other great stops and things to do along the way.
This drive is a perfect opportunity to get away from the crowds that you’ll find in Cavendish and Central PEI, and to experience the natural beauty of the island.
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The Points East Coastal Drive explores the eastern side of PEI, winding its way along the coast through some of the island’s most beautiful scenery. Small towns and quaint villages, fishing harbours and rolling farmland, lighthouses and friendly locals, there is plenty to see and do along this coastal drive. And of course, there are plenty of fantastic beaches – in fact, there’s 50!
About the Points East Coastal Drive
The Points East Coastal drive is a circular drive that can be started anywhere along the route. Many visitors either begin this drive when they arrive at Woods Island on the ferry from Nova Scotia, or drive this route as a day trip from Charlottetown.
The drive can be done in either direction and is easy to follow – just keep an eye out for the starfish signs along the route.
How Long to Drive Points East Coastal Drive?
The Points East Coastal drive is 475 km long, and while it’s possible to do the whole drive in one day, there is so much to see and do that you’ll want to take your time. You could easily spend a few days driving along the Points East Coastal Drive, taking your time to explore all that this area has to offer.
Honestly, there is so much to see and do in this area of the island that it’s hard to narrow it down what’s best to do. So we’ve chosen the must-see stops and best things to do on the Points East Coastal Drive, as well as listing a few other options that you might be interested in.
And there’s no way we could list all 50 of the fantastic beaches here, so we’ve highlighted a few of the more popular beaches, but make sure to stop at any that look appealing as you’re driving along.
Must-See Stops on the Points East Coastal Drive
Woods Island Lighthouse
Woods Island Lighthouse is one of the first lighthouses you’ll see when arriving on PEI from Nova Scotia. (Or the last stop if you’re taking the ferry to Nova Scotia.)
Built in 1876, this lighthouse is PEI’s most family-friendly interactive museum.
Explore the different rooms, then climb to the tower top for a 360-degree view of the Northumberland Strait and the surrounding countryside.
There’s also a Visitor Information Center with plenty of information, parking, washrooms and the all-important internet access.
Cape Bear Lighthouse
Cape Bear Lighthouse is a beautiful spot to stop on this Points East Coastal drive.
Built in 1881, the lighthouse is still in operation today, although it now has an automated lantern.
The lighthouse was also the site of a Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station, and it was here that the first distress call from the Titanic was received.
Cape Bear is one of the few lighthouses in PEI that is open to the public. A climb up to the lantern room offers panoramic views of the red cliffs and fishing boats on the Northumberland Strait, as well as the coast of Nova Scotia.
Kings Castle Provincial Park
One of the best places to visit in PEI for families, Kings Castle Provincial Park has a large wooden play area for kids and a riverside beach.
But the highlight of this park are the storybook characters that are hiding in the forest. Take a walk through the woods and see how many characters you can find!
It’s a great spot to stop and stretch the legs on this drive, or stay for awhile and spend the afternoon.
Panmure Island Beach & Lighthouse
Panumure Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, where at the end, you’ll find Panmure Lighthouse. It’s PEI’s oldest wooden lighthouse and you can climb to the top for some fantastic views.
After touring the lighthouse, head to Panmure Island Beach for a dip in the ocean. It’s a gorgeous white-sand beach with grass-topped dunes and a great spot to stop for a swim on your Points East Coastal drive. The shallow water is warm and calm, perfect for families with little ones, and it’s not as busy as some of the other beaches on PEI.
Montague is the largest town on PEI’s Points East Coastal drive, and is often called “Montague the beautiful”. It’s one of our favourite places in PEI (aside from the beaches, that is), and there are plenty of things to do in Montague.
The waterfront boardwalk connects to the Confederation Trail and has a fun, train-themed play area for kids. There’s also the Station Cafe inside the old railway building, and a large blue mussel statue (probably not for kids to take a photo in, but that’s what they like to do!).
There’s also the Garden of the Gulf Museum, which displays historical artifacts of the local area and also offers children’s programs in the summer months.
Just outside of town, Buffaloland Provincial Park is another family favourite, where PEI’s resident bisons roam.
Then stop for an ice cream treat at What’s the Scoop, on the way to Brudenell.
Read more | 9 Fun Things to Do in Montague PEI
Souris is home to a beautiful sandy beach, which is one of the best places to find sea glass in PEI. It can also one of the windiest places on PEI, making it popular with kiteboarders and windsurfers. if you happen to be in Souris when it’s raining and windy, be sure to head to the beach to watch the action out on the water!
There are several shops and places to eat at the beach, including the Poke Shack and the Flavour Shack, owned by world-renowned chef Michael Smith. Or head into the town of Souris, where you’ll find a few restaurants and shops, including Artisans on Main, which has a variety of handmade products from local artisans.
Souris is also home to a historic lighthouse that overlooks the harbour. Admire the displays of sea glass or try your hand at a ship’s wheel. Climb up to the lantern room and outer platform where you can see the Souris Harbour and the Northumberland Strait, and if it’s clear, even Cape Breton Island.
Basin Head Beach & Fisheries Museum
Just a few minutes east of Souris is Basin Head Beach, one of PEI’s most popular beaches.
It’s also known as “Singing Sands”, as the sand is very fine and makes a noise when it’s stepped on, due to the high silica content in the sand.
Unique sounds aside, Basin Head is a gorgeous white sand beach that stretches for miles down the coast. The beach is supervised during the summer months and there’s washroom and shower facilities, as well as shops and snacks.
Beside the parking area is Basin Head Fisheries Museum, which is also worth a visit. Learn about PEI’s historic fishing industry and the lives of fishermen on the island. There’s photos, displays and exhibits on different types of fishing, including crab, mussel, lobster and tuna. The displays are interesting for both kids and adults.
If you’re looking for things to do in PEI a rainy day, be sure to visit the Fisheries Museum!
East Point Lighthouse
East Point Lighthouse is one of the most well-known lighthouses on the island, and it’s worth the drive to see it. Also known as “Canada’s Confederation Lighthouse”, it’s the only lighthouse still standing that was built in 1867.
The lighthouse is open to the public and offers guided tours and a chance to climb the five floors for a stunning view from the tower. Here you’ll see the tides of the Northumberland Strait meet the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
There’s picnic tables, a craft and gift shop and washroom facilities. It can also be quite windy here, as it’s the most eastern point of PEI, hence it’s name!
Elmira Railway Museum
The Elmira Railway Museum is a must-see for anyone who loves trains!
Located in an old train station, the museum shares the story of railroading on PEI through a collection of photographs, artifacts and displays, including the original station master’s office.
The museum is also home to Atlantic Canada’s largest model train collection, with over 200 models.
Kids will love taking a ride on the miniature railway which goes through a forest and has a covered bridge and above ground tunnel. The ride is about 15 minutes long and runs in July and August only.
The museum is open June to September, although the miniature railway only operates in July and August. Opening hours and admission rates can be found here.
Boasting the largest sand dunes on the island and pristine white beaches, Greenwich is one of the highlights of the Points East Coastal Drive.
Part of Prince Edward Island National Park, there are boardwalks and hiking trails that take you through the dunes and along the coastline.
Walk across the marsh on a 700-metre floating boardwalk before crossing the dunes to reach the beach. The sand seems to go on forever and it’s not as crowded as other beaches in PEI. While you can’t walk on the dunes, you can stroll along the beach for miles in either direction.
The beach is not pet-friendly, but there are other trails in the park which dogs are allowed on.
Orwell Corner Historic Village
Further south along the Points East Coastal Drive, just east of Charlottetown is Orwell Corner Historic Village.
Experience the small village life of the 1890’s in this historic village. There’s daily programming in the summer months, some specifically designed for kids, including making ice cream. There’s also a working blacksmith shop, an old schoolhouse, a general store and plenty of animals, as it’s a working farm.
Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the grounds or by the scenic look-off.
Point Prim Lighthouse
A national historic site, Point Prim is PEI’s oldest lighthouse. It’s also unique as it’s the only round brick lighthouse on the island.
Climb to the top of the lighthouse for some fantastic views of the Northumberland Strait.
A guided tour is included with the admission fee, or you can stroll the grounds, where there are informational display boards to read.
There is also a gift shop with a variety of locally handcrafted items.
And be sure to stop in at Point Prim Chowder House, for some of the best chowder or lobster rolls you’ll have in PEI.
Hannah’s Bottle Village
One of the most unique things in PEI is Hannah’s Bottle Village. Created by a retired school bus driver, this bottle village is made from donated bottles and a bit of cement.
The village started with church and now includes a store, school, sports center and even a lighthouse, all made from bottles cemented together.
The building are small and a perfect size for kids to enjoy although adults will find them interesting as well.
It’s free to wander through and admire the bottle village, although donations to the IWK Children’s Hospital are appreciated.
Other Things to Do on Points East Coastal Drive
(for the Parents)
Rossignol Estate Winery
Rossignol Estate Winery is PEI’s first winery and produces excellent fruit wines, as well as award-winning red and white wines.
Stop by for tastings or book ahead for a tour of the winery and grounds.
Myriad View Distillery
Another first for the island, Myriad View Distillery is PEI’s first artisan distillery.
They offer a variety of unique spirits, as well as producing Canada’s first legal moonshine.
Tours of the distillery are available on weekdays or stop in for tastings of the various spirits they offer, including Island Moonshine.
PEI is well-known for its excellent fishing and there are several companies that offer charter fishing tours. This is a great way to spend a few hours, enjoying the fresh air and hopefully catching some fish.
North Lake, near East Point Lighthouse has several deep sea fishing tours available, and there are also several fishing tours running out of Souris.
With several championship golf courses, PEI is a great place to enjoy a round or two of golf.
Several of the courses are located along the Points East Coastal Drive, making them easy to fit in while you’re exploring the area.
Some of the most popular include Brudenell River Golf Course, the Links at Crowbush Cove and Dundarave Golf Course.
Whether you’re looking for scenic beaches, unique attractions or just a place to relax, points east coastal drive in PEI has something for everyone.
Points East Coastal Drive Accommodations
There are plenty of options for accommodations on the Points East Coastal Drive, from cottages to campgrounds, or bed and breakfasts to resorts at the golf courses.
We’ve stayed at both campgrounds and the golf course while doing the Points East Coastal Drive. If you enjoy camping, Red Point Provincial Park near Basin Head Beach is a great campground, with wide open sites, a beach and free wifi.
For a more luxurious stay, Brudenell River Golf Course offers rooms and suites, even if you’re not golfing. The rooms were large and clean, with a patio or deck overlooking the grounds or the water. The mussels at the club house were some of the best I’ve had and they offer kids meals as well.
And closer to Point Prim, Rachel’s Motel and Cottages offers motel rooms or private cottages. Clean and comfortable, they offer free wifi and air conditioning in every unit. It’s close to the highway and convenient to explore Point Prim, as well as being just a half hour drive to Charlottetown.
Points East Coastal Drive Beaches
There are 50 phenomenal beaches on the Points East Coastal drive, with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas. While it may not be possible to visit each and every one, here are some that we recommend you not miss!
- Panmure Island Beach (supervised during summer months)
- King Castle Provincial Park
- Northumberland Provincial Park (supervised during summer months)
- Sally’s Beach Provincial Park
- Bay Fortune
- Basin Head (supervised during summer months)
- Greenwich Beach (supervised during summer months)
Lighthouses on Points East Coastal Drive
While we’ve mentioned a few of these lighthouses above, as they are definitely highlights of the Points East Coastal drive, there are several others that are worth a visit as well.
Of the eight lighthouses on Prince Edward Island that are open to the public, six of those lighthouses are found on the Points East Coastal Drive. These lighthouses are:
- Wood Islands Lighthouse
- Cape Bear Lighthouse
- Panmure Island Lighthouse
- Souris Historic Lighthouse
- East Point Lighthouse
- Point Prim Lighthouse
Other lighthouses on the Points East Coastal Drive that aren’t open to the public, but are still worthy of a photo op and visit are:
- St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse
- Naufrage Lighthouse
- Annandale Rear Range Light
- Murray Harbour
Final Thoughts on the Points East Coastal Drive
The Points East Coastal Drive is a great way to see some of the best that Prince Edward Island has to offer. It’s picturesque, a bit quieter than Central PEI and you’ll feel that you’re seeing the real PEI.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, enjoy some fresh seafood, play a round of golf or just take in the island scenery, Points East Coastal drive is the perfect place to do it.
Have you done the drive? What were your favourite things to see or must-see stops? Let us know in the comments below.
For more inspiration and ideas on travel in PEI or the East Coast of Canada, be sure to check out these posts:
- Best Beaches in PEI for Families
- 19 Best Things to Do in PEI with Kids
- 19 Awesome Things to Do in Charlottetown with Kids
- 15 Fun Day Trips from Charlottetown
- 55 Fun and Interesting Facts About PEI
- 13 Places to Stop on the North Cape Coastal Drive
- 9 Fun Things to Do in Montague PEI
- An Eastern Canada Road Trip: Toronto to Halifax, Nova Scotia
- 18 Fun Things to Do in Halifax with Kids
- Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Moncton