Think of Prince Edward Island – if you have heard of it at all – and one thing is likely to come to mind.
The island is best known for being the setting for the bestselling novel Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels.
On the eastern side of Canada, it’s not exactly an easy place for Australians to get to, and those who do venture there are usually hardcore fans who want to tick off their bucket list the house that inspired author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books.
Once they arrive, however, they discover there is far more to PEI, as it is affectionately called, than the tale of a feisty red-haired orphan.
The best way to explore is to hire a car and spend a few days pottering around the island, admiring the wildflowers and cute shingled cottages and barns which dot the countryside, and staying in converted lighthouses and cosy B&Bs.
It’s also a mecca for seafood lovers.
On a perfect summer’s day on Prince Edward Island, push off from Fisherman’s Wharf at historic Georgetown aboard one of Tranquility Cove Adventures’ sturdy deep-sea fishing vessels.
First stop, a tiny deserted island where you’re handed a clam rake and invited into chest-deep water to dig for giant clams, a local delicacy famed throughout the region and beyond.
Once you’ve snagged enough of the fist-sized beauties, it’s back to shore for a traditional clambake, where your catch is steamed and served right there on the beach.
Then it’s off to explore your surrounds – including a visit to the island’s most-photographed lighthouse, and maybe spotting a sunbathing harbour seal or two.
It’s one of the purest pleasures to be found on any adventurous holiday – and if you can time your visit for the three-day PEI Shellfish Festival each September (basically the Woodstock of clam, lobster and mussel aficionados), you’re in for a treat, with chowder chowdowns, oyster shucking contests, celebrity chef cook-offs and more.
On a Prince Edward Island lobster tour aboard owner-operator Captain Mark Jenkins’ vessel Top Notch, you’ll experience a day in the life of a fourth-generation lobster fisherman – before dropping anchor in one of the most scenic coves for a fresh lobster meal.
The Magdalen Islands – or Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the local parlance – are a small Québec province located north-east of Prince Edward Island.
Winds and storms batter the islands constantly, but the culture, local produce, spectacular scenery and wildlife have turned them into one of Canada’s hidden tourist gems.
Beaches dominate the landscape, making it an ideal spot for the adventurous, with windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaking all popular local activities.
It’s also a wonderful foodie outpost, with an impressive selection of seafood, cheese and local beer.
With more than 200 species of birds documented here, the Magdalen Islands are a phenomenal spot for birdwatchers.
Head out on a boat trip with your camera and you’ll find birds wheeling overhead against the stunning backdrop of red sandstone cliffs.
For those visiting during February, you’re just a helicopter ride away from witnessing the newborn harp seal cubs crawling across the snow.
You may come for the beaches, for Anne, or for the best lobster roll, but you’ll return because this little island packs a mighty punch.