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Prince Edward Island's unlikely charms

Beach Goats 1.jpg
Beach Goats 1.jpg

Abigail Healy learns about Canada’s smallest province where activities include stand up paddle boarding...with goats

Have you ever tried stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP)… with goats? No, me neither.

Yet at an Atlantic Canada event recently I learnt that travellers can try this highly Instagrammable activity for themselves on Prince Edward Island (PEI).

“There’s a lady who keeps goats and they love SUP so she runs tours with them through an outfit called Beach Goats,” explained tourist board representative Isabel MacDougall.

Most visitors to this province in the Gulf of St Lawrence on Canada’s east coast tend to arrive in Halifax. They’ll spend some time exploring Nova Scotia before catching the ferry across to PEI where, MacDougall asserted, it’s important to hire a car to explore fully.

“It’s also possible to take the Confederation Bridge, the longest in the world over ice-covered water, to New Brunswick, so you can do a full loop,” she added.

The island is also known as Canada’s Food Island and the Million Acre Farm, plus capital city Charlottetown is home to the Culinary Institute of Canada. So despite being the nation’s smallest province, the island is keen to boast its foodie credentials.

“We’ve been pumping out great chefs for decades, but they haven’t been staying on the island until more recently. Now, lots of new restaurants are popping up,” said MacDougall, referencing one in particular.

Canadian celebrity chef Michael Smith bought ramshackle The Inn at Bay Fortune and has completely converted it to become the island’s first five-star country inn with its own restaurant, FireWorks.

“Everything is cooked over charcoal on an open fire and is locally sourced, plus there’s an oyster hour each evening when guests can get a look behind the scenes.”

Getting an insight into island life is encouraged more widely too with plenty of hands-on activities for visitors to try.

“They can hop on a lobster boat with a fisherman and check out the traps or go out on an oyster boat,” said MacDougall.

For clients with an adventurous streak, there’s a cycling trail along an old railway line. Kayaking is popular too with PEI boasting the warmest waters in North America, north of the Carolinas, thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Those with more of a cultural bent can embark on the Arts and Heritage Trail that covers each of the island’s five regions, with insights into its Celtic and Arcadian roots, festivals, art studios and museums and of course, local artisans.

Just make sure to tell clients to check out SUP with the goats – it has to be one of the most memorable travel experiences out there.

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