Disappointment at Thunder Cove

This is the face of someone who is about to be vastly disappointed.

I've written about my favorite island drive before. Each year I've visited since, I've attempted to return to Thunder Cove. And every year, it gets bumped to "next time" for one reason or another. My brother's visit was the perfect excuse to put it back on the agenda. But we were going to make one vital change - this time, I was going to make sure that we arrived at low tide, so that we could explore the rock formations that appear in, like, 90% of Pinterest-worthy pictures of PEI. The beach is a little less dramatic these days, as several of the former arches and other sandstone structures have crumbled into the sea, but still - I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

A sample tide chart

I obsessively checked the weather to be sure our outing would fall on a gorgeous day. I found the best online tide charts, checking them against our own tides to see which ones seemed to be the most accurate. We just needed to get there before 4:00 PM, which was afternoon high tide.

Finally, the day arrived. We started a little later than I would have liked. Almost immediately, I was thrown when my father suggested getting lunch - I knew it would set us back even further, but I also knew that he was right when he said there weren't many restaurants between Stanley Bridge and Malpeque. So we stopped at Carr's, which, despite the tour buses that lined its drive, had great oysters.


After lunch, we traveled on to French River and out to the New London lighthouse, where we met a pirate cat. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, we had fun walking around the beach, and I had a wonderful feeling that today was going to turn out alright.

But then... we had to wait on my father to get back to the car, we ended up behind a crawling vehicle, and I forgot where the turn was for Thunder Cove. As the moments ticked on, I felt more and more frantic that my perfect day was slipping away. I tried to convince myself that the afternoon tide only made a minor difference, when compared with the more dramatic one in the early morning hours.

We arrived at - you guessed it - 4:00 PM.  I had waited three years to visit this dumb beach and explore further, but as we skirted around jellyfish and got close to the point where we'd stopped before, the waves crashing against the cliff face seemed too strong for me to safely navigate. My brother, who was in the Navy and has a much higher tolerance for "hold my beer, watch this," behavior, ducked around them anyway. My dad hiked up the cliff behind us and my mother took a video of me as I sat on a hunk of red sandstone and sulked.

Typically, I'm a pretty easy going, go-with-the-flow, "sure, whatever you'd like to do!"-type person.  But then there are times when I'm just over putting other people first, and it's at these moments that I turn into a passive-aggressive brat. It happened here and it happened in Rome (and may explain why I have an appreciation for solo travel).

But seriously. Three years. And I missed out on this yet again...


I'd almost gotten up the courage to brave the tide and creep around the cliff face when my brother came tromping back through the surf, almost getting slammed into the rocks in the process. Still, he was grinning, giving a thumbs up to indicate he'd been able to see what we'd come for. Being happy for him made me feel at least a little less deflated.

And then, to complete my terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day, as I waded out to meet him I got stung by a jellyfish. I knew what had happened the moment it hit me - I yelped - and even though it only stung as much as a bad sunburn, it left a nice little Wilson-the-Volleyball-like "hand print" on my leg for the rest of the afternoon.

Also, I had to pee. We stopped at Cabot Beach Provincial Park to use the bathrooms and walk around - since Thunder Cove had been a bust, we still had a few hours to kill before the Ceilidh mom wanted us to go to. One of my favorite island restaurants, the Malpeque Oyster Barn, was on our way, so Mom suggested we stop for a little pick-me-up. Dad was convinced the restaurant would be full - not hard to do, when you only have six tables. Given my luck, I was inclined to side with Dad.

We arrived, and I was surprised to see every table but one empty. But almost immediately, a waitress popped out of the kitchen and asked if we had a reservation. Nope. And we hadn't spotted the 'RESERVED' signs on every other table.

Still being too early for the Ceilidh, and feeling bad that my afternoon had been a bust, Mom decided we should stop at Carr's for oysters. So we ended up back where we started, looking out over the water on Carr's deck and slurping down oysters on the half shell.


Turns out, it wasn't a great choice. We arrived at the Ceilidh to find a massive line, which ended up being cut off about a dozen people in front of us. Now Mom's plans had been ruined, and it was largely down to her trying to make my disappointing afternoon a bit better. Oops. In the end, we went into C'town, bought ice cream and went to a movie - a nice way to end a frustrating day.

However... Thunder Cove - I'm putting you on notice. The rest of your stupid arches may crumble and fall into the sea. But I will be back.


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