Fantastic alternative to the Camino De Santiago in Prince Edward Island

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The Camino De Santiago in Spain is a 500 mile odyssey that begins in France and takes the pilgrim (as hikers are often called) through four of Spain’s 15 regions before ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It’s the kind of trip that goes beyond a difficult hike and weaves its way through your psyche, from an epic adventure to a spiritual sojourn. And now, for those looking for a physical or emotional trip, there is an equally spectacular trip to Canada, at Prince Edward Island’s 435 mile Island Walk.

In many ways, the two routes couldn’t be more different. From technical challenges on the ground to styles of trekking, the Camino and Island Walk have few similarities. People who have done both actually say the Island Walk reminds them more of hiking in Portugal than anywhere else! But it is no coincidence that the Island Walk website proclaims that its motto is “Come Back Different. “It’s a transformative trek! Prince Edward Island is no imitator of the Camino, but there is no denying that the Island Walk is about to take its place alongside the great pilgrimages of the world .

I myself had a little taste of this adventure. During a press trip in the summer of 2021, I experienced several sections of the Island Walk. While my individual hikes were short, their lasting impression was huge – and I may be planning a trip home to seriously tackle the Island Walk (and maybe dragging a friend on the along the way to have company!)

Whether you’re planning the transformative trek of a lifetime or just curious to see a different side of Prince Edward Island on an afternoon walk, here’s what you need to know about the Island Walk.

Practical advice: How to get to PEI

Prince Edward Island is one of the easternmost provinces in Canada and also has the distinction of being the smallest province in the country. However, getting there is relatively easy. You can fly, usually to the capital Charlottetown, and many flights connect via nearby Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can also go through the Confederation Bridge, which connects Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick, or take the ferry which connects Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia. Visitors from the United States often pass through Maine and spend time in New Brunswick before traveling to Prince Edward Island via the bridge.

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When to hike on the island?

While I think Prince Edward Island is a great year-round destination, winter is not the best time for hikers and many seasonal businesses like B & Bs will be closed. . However, there are many trails designed for snowshoeing, so it’s not impossible! As with most rural destinations, keep bug spray by your side in the spring, summer, and fall. It should be noted that July and August are peak months for tourism and booking accommodation in advance is strongly recommended. You want to know that you have a comfortable bed (maybe an air-conditioned bedroom!) At the end of the day!

1. Rules are made to be broken

Rebel hikers, this is the place for you and there are no rules to restrict your style. Well, I guess there is, technically, some rules. Do not engage in criminal activity during your walk! But in addition to obeying the law of the land and good hiking practices, you can start the Island Walk anywhere you like. Waypoint number 1 is just outside Charlottetown and the last stop, number 32, is in the city itself, but there’s nothing stopping you from starting at any point you want. You can take days off, and you don’t need to finish the walk within a certain amount of time or time a minimum mileage. You do not need to register or inquire with the authorities. Flexibility is the name of the game. If you hiked the suggested 12-16 miles per day, you would do the entire route in about 30 days (more or less depending on your speed, weather, and more. factors, of course).

Sea View cottage community in north central Prince Edward Island, Canada
Howard Sandler / Shutterstock.com

2. Your walk, your way

Far be it from me to discourage anyone planning to hike the entire trail, but if you really want to do a few sections here and there you can do that. Unlike the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Island Walk in Prince Edward Island is really designed so that you can easily dive in and try out a few segments of the route without having to embark on a big hike. . So you can walk as little as 30 minutes and say, yes, you’ve spent some time on the Island Walk. However, I think once you’re on the trail you’ll be tempted to stick around for a lot longer.

If you’re not sure where to start or which section is best for you, there are routes online to help you choose your route. Inasmuch as Anne of the Green Gables fan, the Montgomery section between Kensington and Charlottetown intrigues me but I have to say the “Tuna, Oysters, Harbors, and Brews” route from Souris to Murray River looks amazing!

It should be noted that the entire Island Walk is suitable for bicycles. Personally, I think adding a few days of cycling would be extremely rewarding. You would be working different muscles and you would also have the benefit of walking a few miles in a day or two, which can be very motivating amid the slower pace of walking.

3. A gentle stroll on the “gentle island”

Prince Edward Island is sometimes referred to as Canada’s “sweet island” and it’s a nickname that I have always found very appropriate. This sweetness extends to the Island Walk itself. There are very few places that pose technical challenges. The Island Walk is flat, generally very well maintained, and ratings do not exceed 2%. However, it should be noted that some areas may be covered with loose gravel (my personal enemy). However, you can expect a relatively easy walk. Well, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word when there are over 400 miles to consider! Let’s go with friendliness.

Summerside Waterfront (Prince Edward Island, Canada)
Vadim.Petrov / Shutterstock.com

4. You won’t be in the countryside all the time

Although one of the main attractions of the Island Walk is that much of the route takes place in rural areas, along country roads and even beaches, there are many urban and even urban components of the island. walk. One of the best features of the Island Walk, in my opinion, is that it passes through and is near so many beautiful little communities. One of my favorite sections is through the Municipality of St. Peters Bay. This small town has a community theater, lovely guesthouses, and lovely shops and restaurants (including my beloved Black & White Cafe, home to killer lattes, breakfast burritos, and baked goods. ). If you want to shop for local art or maybe homemade chocolate during a stroll break, the shops of St. Peters Landing are the place to do it.

If you’re looking for larger communities, the Island Walk passes through the towns of Summerside and Charlottetown, which are also perfect stops to rest for a few days (and by ‘rest’ I can mean visiting bookstores, theaters, restaurants and spas!).

5. You will get a ton of “passport” stamps

Unless you are a visitor from abroad, you do not need to bring your real passport, but there is another type of passport that you will want to use on the Island Walk. When planning your trip, you can apply for a passport and it will be mailed to you. It contains 32 boxes, which you can use to obtain signatures or stamps from your hosts in each of the 32 sections of the Walk. However, you can also use it to tell your adventures your own way. However, if you tackle all 32 segments, you can take a photo of your passport and submit it electronically to receive a personalized Island Walk certificate of completion.

Starting in 2022, a $ 10 shipping and handling fee will be charged to receive blank passports in the mail. An Island Walk backpack patch is included with every shipment.

Afternoon light in Charlottetown
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Photo credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com)

Accommodation tips

If you started reading on the Island Walk in mid-2021, you may have noticed that the list of accommodation partners and some related services is a bit short. Be aware that this reflected the closure of many businesses due to COVID-19 restrictions, and not an indication of the number of services and amenities available to customers in a regular year. The Island Walk website has a growing list of accommodation partners who very helpfully list those who can provide packed lunches and offer access to the kitchen. Additionally, they also list accommodation providers who can help with transportation (from providing rides to arranging taxis) to help clients get to and from the trailhead.

More Prince Edward Island adventures to consider:

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