Now that our trip is done, here are some random thoughts about motorbike touring on Prince Edward Island, for anyone who happens onto this blog and wants to consider our experience.
1) Get the guidebooks — they’re invaluable! Each province has an official guidebook (google the province – tourism) which lists restaurants and lodging by town and type. Also get the “Motorcycle Tour Guide” for Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada http://www.motorcycletourguidens.com/order-your-guide — this gives you detailed routes through every part of Atlantic Canada, along with a list of repair shops. Speaking of which…..
2) If you ride a Honda, a Yamaha, or a Harley-Davidson, there are repair shops all over Atlantic Canada waiting to serve you. If, on the other hand, you ride a Vespa, good luck! There’s one dealer in Halifax, one in St. John’s Newfoundland, none on PEI, and you have to go to Quebec other than that. And in New England? One in Brunswick, Maine; one in Derry, NH; and then you have to go to Massachusetts. Dennis Motors in Ellerslie, PEI, was willing to work on my Vespa (even though they are not a Vespa dealer) and did an excellent job. I called two dealers in Moncton (one Honda, one Yamaha) and both refused to work on my bike; one, however, was kind enough to recommend the independent mechanic Adrian in Moncton, who dropped everything to fix it. Personally I don’t see how installing a drive belt on a Vespa is any different than installing one on some other brand, but no — they wouldn’t do it. *^%$#@@! So if you drive a Vespa, be sure it’s in good working order before heading out!
3) There are far fewer gas stations in Atlantic Canada than there are in New England, and almost none of them are located on the scenic routes in PEI — you have to go inland, as much as thirty miles sometimes, to find one. So watch your gauge carefully, and when it’s down to 1/4 full, head toward the nearest city to gas up!
4) Given the geography of the province of New Brunswick, if you are coming by road from the States the only way onto PEI is through Moncton. To approach Moncton, then, you have two choices once you cross the border at Calais, Maine — you can go north via NB-3 and NB-4 to Transcanada-2 in Fredericton, or you can go more south via NB-1 through St. John. We found NB-1 to be generally quicker and a better road, having taken the northern route east to PEI, and the southern route west, back home. St. John, however, has more interchanges and traffic, and lots of fog, so be careful!
5) Having now been all over PEI, we feel that the east side generally has a bit more to offer than the west, should your time be limited. PEI does benefit from the fact that it really isn’t that big, and you can certainly ride across it in one day. But, again, if one needed to make choices, my advice would be to stay on the east side. Definitely go north from Summerside and see the National Park, definitely visit Souris as it is a lovely coastal village, and — if you are an “Anne of Green Gables” fan — definitely go to Cavendish and spend a day seeing Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home and the various “Anne”-themed attractions there. There are, of course, some nice beaches on the west side and some interesting culture there if you can afford a longer stay.
6) Nobody reading this blog, by the way, should assume that what we did was all there is to do on PEI. This was our third trip to the Island, albeit our first via motorbike, and we had pretty much done the “Anne” stuff, been through Summerside, and seen the Darnley basin on previous trips. Those are all worthwhile and I would recommend them to anyone with the time to do it all.
7) Canadians seem really nice. People observe traffic signs, cross at crosswalks, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, offer directions, let you into traffic, and generally evince the sort of manners with which I grew up — and which seem in distressingly short supply, in post-truth and post-respect America. Honestly, PEI seems like a really nice place to retire — nice folks, every amenity within reach, lovely scenery and a laid-back vibe of respect and dignity wherever you go. So, despite the mechanical problems which plagued our trip, we had a lovely time and would certainly recommend PEI as a place to see. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this account of our trip and that it might prove helpful to someone considering a visit to Prince Edward Island.