My first attempt at wind surfing wasn’t in my native Northwestern US, despite the sport’s popularity in the region. Instead, I have fond memories of a calm inlet off the shores of Prince Edward Island, on a warm June afternoon.

PEI is a great place to learn water sports, thanks to the calm bays, good winds, and unhurried, un-crowded nature of island life in Canada. Outdoor recreation is one of the main draws of this smallest province, and families will quickly see why.

"Windsurf" by Cristian Torras via Flickr Creative Commons

Wind surfing and kite boarding

At the heart of wind surfing is sailing, and an introductory lesson will teach families the basics of both. Wind surfing is very doable for children as young as 10, especially when attempted on the sheltered bays across PEI. Kids should be old enough to follow instructions and understand basic wind directions to tack their sail accordingly. We took a lesson in the Summerside area, and had just as much fun watching the pros as trying our hand at the sport. It’s harder than it looks, so be patient!

"Paddleboard" by Neil Gaudet via Flickr Creative Commons

Paddle Boarding

When the wind isn’t picking up, locals turn to SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) to stay out on the water. Rentals are available at Charlottetown Yacht Club or Malpeque Bay for about $30 CAN an hour. SUPing is a great sport for beginners, and young kids can easily get the hang of "riding" the board much instruction or supervision. Paddle in protected bays, or take older kids directly off PEI beaches for a ‘wilder’ ride. You can think of SUP as kayaking standing up, just be sure to remember the life vest.

"PEI Tuna Fishing 2012-1884" by Bill Brine via Flickr Creative Commons


Another mainstay of PEI, offshore fishing excursions are a great way to get a different perspective on the island and local culture. The waters are teeming with bluefin tuna and mackerel, and chartered boats sail both the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait July through September. No matter where you’re staying on the island, there will be a fishing excursion nearby. If you’re unsure about braving the ocean, try one of PEI’s streams or the Morell River. Kids can fish for trout and salmon, as well as combine fishing with hiking for a more active day. Start along Points East Coastal Drive for Morell River spots, or ask at the PEI Visitor Information Center for directions to local fishing holes and for day permit information.

"Kayaks in North Rustico" by Arlen Tees via Flickr Creative Commons


Many PEI paddle board operations also offer kayak rentals, either via guided tours or solo trips by the hour or half-day. A full-day excursion with Malpeque Bay Kayak Tours takes families past shipwrecks, idyllic farms, and even a First Nation’s settlement on the shore. Birdlife is plentiful from this vantage point and you should be on the lookout for kingfishers, eagles, geese, and swallows. Pair a half-day trip with a day relaxing on the shore for the best of both worlds: a few hours on the water, and the afternoon with your feet on the sand.

Don’t forget to spend some time near PEI’s waterways via the Confederation Trail as well, or to simply take in the views and enjoy. No matter where you travel on the island, by car, foot, or bicycle, water is a vital part of the visit!