I’m not one to really celebrate dates. My husband and I never celebrated the anniversary of our first date, we don’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day. We’re low maintenance kind of people.
Our wedding anniversary seems different, though. I think it’s important to celebrate this commitment and reaffirm it each year. We normally do this by taking a trip together. Since getting married three years ago, we’ve been to Iceland and the Magdalen Islands for our first and second anniversaries. This year, we decided to stay closer to home but still wanted to commemorate the event. So, we ventured over the Confederation Bridge for a weekend of sun and surf at Dalvay-by-the-Sea in beautiful Prince Edward Island.
Dalvay-by-the-Sea is a National Historic Site situated within one of PEI’s National Parks, with 25 guest rooms at the Inn and eight, three bedroom cottages on the grounds. The house was built in 1895 as a summer home for Alexander MacDonald, a wealthy businessman with the Standard Oil Company. It was built in the Queen Anne Revival style, known for it’s whimsical and exuberant features, asymmetrical lines, many gables, bright colours and wraparound verandas. Local materials were used extensively: Island sandstone boulders cover the entire lower part of the exterior and three massive indoor fireplaces are made from quarried blocks of the same stone.
The effect is a truly stunning structure. Many of the rooms are very small, and there are no televisions, but that just encourages you to spend more time in the common spaces, which are the true charm of the Inn. Curling up with a drink by one of the three roaring fires quickly became my favourite activity. Also, don’t miss out on trying a delicious meal in MacMillan Dining Room, courtesy of Chef Chris Colburn.
If you think the Inn looks familiar and you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan, you might remember it as the White Sands Hotel from the Road to Avonlea series and the Anne of Green Gables movies produced in the 1990’s.
Staying at an Inn inside a National Park has some great advantages. You’re super close to hiking trails, walking distances from beaches and there are even bicycle rentals right on site. The Inn is also situated on a lake, and canoe and kayaks are available to take out for a spin.
As we were driving into Dalvay Friday night, the sun was setting just behind the sand dunes in the most gorgeous shades of pinks and oranges I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of it, we were tired and just wanted to get out of the car. You will have to take my word for it, it was stunning! We checked in just in time to get settled and have a couple night caps by the fire in the main lobby.
Saturday morning we got up early, had a delicious breakfast at the Inn and headed out to hike Robinson’s Island, in the park. The trail is an easy 5 km loop taking you through forest and along the shoreline, with a few beach access points along the way. As we walked through the sun-filtered woods and explored the deserted beaches, I understood how these landscapes could inspire Lucy Maud Montgomery to pen her famous series.
“The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels” – L M Montgomery, from Anne’s House of Dreams.
After our hike we made our way over to the PEI Preserve Company to buy some of the best preserves you can get anywhere. Seriously, check out the Peach Salsa and Strawberry & Grand Marnier jam. So good.
We had a lovely dinner at The Dunes Studio Gallery and Cafe, which is a really unique spot close to Brackley Beach. Not only do they serve great food, but you get to eat it surrounded by an incredibly eclectic collection of locally made arts and crafts. There are so many interesting things to look at, you might find yourself spending hours strolling through the seemingly never-ending compound and gardens.
Back to the Inn for one more drink by the fire and a moonlight stroll along the beach pretty much brought us to the end of our Dalvay stay. It’s a charming place and feels a little like going back in time. The season is coming to a close for them very soon but if you can, you should definitely check this place out next season when they reopen!