North Rustico, a quaint little town near the center of Prince Edward Island (PEI), on the north shore, sits near the middle of Cavendish National Park. North Rustico is a lobster and crab fishing port, with six to 10 deep sea fishing charters running daily when the crustaceans are out of season. The fishing boats start taking passengers out on deep sea fishing excursions starting right after the Canada Day long weekend, on July 2nd. However, if you are not watching closely to where you are going, you could well miss this jewel on the island.
North Rustico, in the winter, is not much more than some empty cottages, a restaurant that serves scrumptious fried clams and scallops, a Home Depot store and the obligatory lobster dinner restaurant. There are a few mansion-type homes, but most of the 100 or so homes appear to have been brought over from Newfoundland in the 1950’s. During the summer, if you want to visit the lobster dinner restaurant, where you get 2 market-sized lobsters and all the trimmings for under $30, just look for the caravan of tour buses parked aside and behind the restaurant, just as the highway (2 lane) veers sharply to the left.
You can get to PEI by driving over the Confederation Bridge, from Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick, to Borden-Carleton, PEI. You can access the island from the Wood Head ferries, running from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, PEI. You can also fly into the island, landing at one of the three main airports, which are located at Charlottetown, Summerside and Cable Head. Each airport has vehicle and limousine rentals, and are located within minutes of at least one major beach and one major golf resort. North Rustico is no more than an hour and a half’s drive from either airport.
There is one deep-sea fishing excursion at Rusticoville, just before you reach North Rustico, or just after the second bridge if you are driving in from Charlottetown. At each of the two bridges before Rusticoville, sea trout and halibut are the main catches of the day for angers and fly fishermen. There are 5 more operations in the harbor that do crustacean fishing, as well as deep sea fishing excursions all summer long.
If you get to PEI by driving over the Confederation Bridge, then the easiest way to get to the North Rustico harbor is to take the highway exit to Summerside, and then follow the directions to Cavendish National Park. Using this route, you will pass through Lucy Maude Montgomery’s home, and the home that was the inspiration for Anne of Green Gables. This entire route is filled with beautiful scenery, rivers and creeks that are full of sea trout and salmon. There are a couple of theme parks just up the highway from Ms. Montgomery’s home, filled with concession games, go carts and water slides, a few tourist shops, and the infamous Cow’s Ice Cream outlet. Yum! One visit and you will be hooked.
However, if you want to visit Charlottetown first, the drive to North Rustico will be a little longer. North Rustico, PEI appears to be a scene right out of the 1930’s through to the 1960’s, with hundred-year old barns used as fish houses, bait making shops, and for storing traps in the off-season. Many of the boats in the harbor are more than 30 years old, and the barns that they work out of have mostly been standing since the early 20th Century. There is no need for guided tours to see the workings of these fishing businesses, as all are welcome to take a look around, especially if you have a ticket for a deep sea fishing excursion on the same day.
If you are a golfer, a fisherman or a beach lover, PEI should be on your list of soon-to-visit locations. There are many campgrounds, some with full trailer services and dumping stations, and the prices are very reasonable. Tent camping is especially nice, with many sites set in the woods, where red foxes may walk into your site and appear to beg for food, which is exactly what they are doing. This problem started when the foxes were on the decline, and people were feeding them, making them more reliant on people for their sustenance.
I’ll see you in PEI, where the beaches can run for miles and miles, with large sand dunes and the rare Atlantic Puffin birds setting up their nests. These nests are surrounded by three-foot tall wire fences, to keep people away from the eggs. It is a Provincial offense to enter a Puffin cage, or to remove red-clay rocks from the island.
Travel safe. Travel informed.