Hello from the top of a lighthouse! It’s not a bad view from up here.
I think I’ll stay awhile. Darn, I didn’t bring any ciders with me…curses! Anyone want to drop by with a couple of drinks and perhaps join me? I promise the view is worth it. Unless, of course, you’re afraid of heights. Then no cider for me, I guess (ha ha).
If you caught my last post, you’ll know that I’ve been traipsing across Prince Edward Island, which is located on Canada’s beautiful East Coast. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our visit either (compared to our last trip here anyway): Lots of sun, blue sky and quite warm (but without the sticky humidity we get in Ontario). Perfect for beach-hopping and lighthouse-touring.
And a visit to PEI is not complete without seeing at least one lighthouse while you’re here. It’s a great way to learn more about the island’s sea-faring history, and snap a few nice pictures for your Facebook page too. (since photo albums are passe, right? Gah… I’m old ha ha).
In fact, PEI has the highest concentration of lighthouses of any province or state in North America (yes, even Maine!).
Back in the day, when the sea was the original mode of transportation for early settlers, lighthouses were crucial for guiding ships away from rocky areas and dangerous reefs along the shoreline. And, each lighthouse on the island has its own unique style, beauty and story to tell.
Like this one. Friends, say hello to the Point Prim Lighthouse.
It sits on Point Prim, a peninsula along the southeast shore of the island that faces the Northumberland Strait (between PEI and Nova Scotia). It’s roughly a 40-minute drive southeast of Charlottetown. You’ll find it on the Points East Coastal Drive of your PEI Tourist Guide.
Fortunately for us, Cowboy’s parents’ cottage is in Point Prim too so it’s just a hop, skip & jump from the lighthouse. Every time we visit, we always spent part of an afternoon at the lighthouse and also enjoying the beautiful area around it, too.
Point Prim was the perfect location to build the island’s first lighthouse as it helped guide ships into the Charlottetown Harbour and during inclement weather ships would seek shelter in the Northumberland Strait to wait out the storm.
It was designed by Architect Isaac Smith and stands over 60 feet high, making it one of the tallest lighthouses on the island. It makes even Cowboy (who’s over 6 feet) look like an ant standing beside it. You can barely see my furry little kook in the photo (above).
It’s also one of the island’s most popular lighthouses with over 5,000 visitors every summer. That makes it a pretty big tourist attraction on the island, though it’s not quite as busy as Green Gables.
Don’t worry, you still won’t find a heck of a lot of crowds here as it’s a fairly quiet part of the island. It’s a welcome break from the crowds at Cavendish, that’s for sure.
We’d been to visit the lighthouse a few times on previous trips here, but have never been inside it. So Cowboy and I decided it was time to finally take a tour so we could see the view from the top.
As we walked through the lighthouse entrance, a couple of very friendly staff greeted us with big smiles and told us a bit more about the lighthouse’s history. We then paid the entrance fee (it’s only $3.50 for adults or $2.00 for kids under 12) which included the tour. It was time to make our way to the top of the lighthouse.
The staircase is quite narrow and steep, not too surprisingly given it is a lighthouse. So if you’re claustrophobic you may be a tad nervous in here. However it’s not really that bad so I definitely recommend doing it if you think you can handle it. Cowboy often has sciatica (back) pain but he was still able to manage the stairs without much problem…he just took it slow.
The view is SO worth it. There are a total of 5 floors before you approach the top but the floors are rather close together so it doesn’t take too long to reach the top of the lighthouse.
We made our way up the twisty stairs and approached the first landing, which was essentially the lighthouse keeper’s ‘bedroom’.
It’s hard to believe that someone actually slept in here.
You won’t ever complain about your small bedroom after seeing this one, that’s for dang sure.
As we walked up through the lighthouse, we got a glimpse of the working life of a lighthouse keeper. There have been many keepers here since it’s construction in 1845. The last one working here at Point Prim was Mason Murchison who was the keeper here until 1969, when the lighthouse became fully automated.
When we got to the top, we were both in complete awe of the view that awaited us.
I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt to be standing at the top of this lighthouse– 60 feet high–with a panoramic view of the ocean and gorgeous landscape around us.
Of course we had to take a couple of photos of ourselves up here. Just so you’ll know that we actually climbed to the top, of course (he he).
Just recently, Point Prim (amongst a few other lighthouses on the island) received a National Heritage designation from Parks Canada. The ‘Point Prim Lighthouse Society’ (a volunteer group) has been waiting for this news for a long time. The society hopes to take ownership of the lighthouse later this year.
So there are some big changes ahead for Point Prim in the next few years, but I’m so happy to hear it’s now even more protected since it’s become a heritage site. Woo Hoo!
Heading to PEI this summer? I definitely recommend a stop at Point Prim if you’re anywhere near the southeast shore of the island. The lighthouse is about a 10-minute drive off the main highway but it’s absolutely worth the detour. The lighthouse is only open during the summer months (July & August) so be sure to check out their website if you’re thinking of swinging by.
Even if you can’t go inside, you’ll still love seeing the lighthouse up close and personal. And the shoreline is very beautiful, too.
I hope you’re all having a great summer so far. I can’t believe it’s August already! It’s just flying by way too quickly. Yikes! Hopefully you are enjoying the hot, hazy summer days and maybe even on vacation yourself.
Stay tuned for more PEI adventures soon!
Love, Dana 🙂