Exploring Charlottetown by Water
By Aaron Hansen
Charlottetown has many elements that contribute to it being one of the best places to visit and enjoy during the summer. Many would argue that one of Charlottetown’s greatest assets is its proximity to the water. Nestled between two rivers, there is no shortage of stunning views, shorelines to explore, and activities to take part in that are water-centric. As a seafaring kind of guy, who spends many, many hours every summer enjoying Charlottetown’s waterscapes, I’m here to give you the insider’s scoop on some of the city’s best water-based outing. Whether you’re visiting on holiday, a seasonal resident, or simply looking for something fresh and fun to try, Historic Hillsborough River has got you covered.
Go On An Amphibious Adventure
Take an exciting ride on the very large amphibious vehicle called the Harbour Hippo! Discover Charlottetown from the water on this guided tour that travels both in the water and through the streets of downtown Charlottetown. You and your family will love crashing into the water as the Hippo drives from the street straight into the water. Not only will you enjoy unique views of the City from the water, you’ll also be privy to great insights and stories from the friendly tour guides!
Fun For The Whole Gang
If you happen to be part of a larger group and are looking for something unique and guaranteed to be good fun, I recommend checking out Peake’s Wharf Boat Tours. These guys will accommodate pretty much any request when it comes to experiences like hauling in a lobster trap, cooking mussels or checking out some seals. If you are playing host to a family reunion or your team just won a big game, the 45ft Fairview can handle the whole group and provide some fantastic summer memories.
Another great option for those who are especially keen on trying their hand at lobster fishing and lobster feasting is Top Notch Lobster Tours. Captain Mark Jenkins offers morning, afternoon and evening tours for up to 12 people on his genuine lobster boat. You’ll get to haul trap, band a claw, take your turn at the wheel and, of course, sit down to a lobster meal at the end of it all. Truly, it doesn’t get much more PEI than heading out on a lobster boat!
Charter A Sailing Boat
If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on to fill a beautiful summer day, you may want to consider chartering a sailboat for you and up to 12 of your closest friends. Saga Sailing Adventures offers a beautiful 36’ Canadian designed fiberglass sail boat that will take your group out on the water, where you can enjoy all sorts of activities, from snorkelling and swimming to exploring isolated beaches or catching a tan on deck. With Captain Kurt Martel at the helm you can rest at ease as he puts his 20+ year of sailing experience to work and provides you with an enjoyable and memorable outing that is sure to be on your summer highlight reel.
Get Really Close To The Water
If being a bit closer to the action is your preference, there are all sorts of paddle activities that you can try your hand at in Charlottetown. Your starting point will be the Charlottetown Yacht Club, where there is a beautiful public boat launch for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards. Feel free to take your own boat down and launch from this facility or, if you’re visiting, Paddles PEI is conveniently located right next to the boat launch. Their friendly staff will get you on your way in a single or double kayak or you can try your hand at stand up paddleboarding! Once on the water you can explore the various marinas, cruse along Victoria Park or take a longer paddle up the North River. Again, this is one of those activities that will, undoubtedly, be etched in your memories of summer for a long time to come.
Sit Back And Enjoy The View
Perhaps sitting back and enjoying some food and drink is on your ‘must do’ list, or maybe you’re just really hungry after kayaking the river! No problem, Charlottetown’s waterfront has many spectacular patio restaurants with the mesmerizing views of the water. Feel free to pull up a chair, order some grub and watch the sailboats, cruise ships, and stunning vistas of the Historic Hillsborough River. There are many options to choose from including of Steamers, Lobster on the Wharf, Peake’s Quay, and Brakish. Wile away the evening hours on one of these patios or enjoy the Island tradition known as ‘patio-hopping’.
There’s plenty more to do on and along Charlottetown’s waterways, but part of the joy is in discovering those hidden gems, so I’ll leave a few for you to find on your own. And remember, when visiting Charlottetown, you’re on island time, where everything is close by and you’re never more than 30 min from an amazing beach!
Aaron Hansen is a lifelong Islander who grew up in Stratford and works in Charlottetown. He spends the majority of his time on the Charlottetown waterfront and operates Paddles Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals at the Charlottetown Yacht Club.