If you are going to visit Prince Edward Island, you really should take some time to see the island by water. The views of the red cliffs, bays, inlets and green fields spinning out toward the horizon is a view not to be missed.
Last year, we went for a morning boat tour that included fishing and clamming. This year we went a little more low key and a lot more musical. We booked a ‘jigs and reels’ sunset tour with the Fiddling Fisherman out of Souris.
This was by far the most expensive part of our trip, but just like last year, we never regretted it. It’s well worth the cost for this unique experience and you will have many fond memories for years to come.
What is it?
We went with the ‘Jigs and Reels’ experience. It’s a music lesson, a dance lesson, a cèilidh, a fishing and conservation lesson, an island tour all on a boat at sunset. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, The Fiddling Fisherman offers a lobster experience and even a wedding option. That would certainly be unique.
After motoring out of the harbor to a nearby quiet bay, JJ (the captain and the fiddler) throws the anchor and brings out the fiddle for some traditional music that will get you moving. You’ll also get to play along with some spoons (harder and more fun than it looks!) and learn a few basic step dancing jigs.
If you’re the type that gets nauseous or sea sick this might be the tour for you. The boat is new (as of 2018), large and very stable. It fit our tour of 20+ (in addition to two dogs) very comfortably with room to spare. In addition, you do not motor out very far and are never out of sight of land. Other than the brief time that the kids were allowed to drive, no one got sea sick during our cruise.
Captain JJ and the entire crew (wife and daughter on our tour) were great with the kids. As you leave the harbor he invites the kids up to ‘drive’ the boat, which mainly involves going in circles for a bit. He also has them help haul in and examine a lobster trap, including holding the lobster if they want. Of course, they also get to play the spoons and join in the dancing.
Snack & Drinks
While the tour starts at 6 pm and runs till around 8:30 there is no meal included but rather a light snack of local biscuits and jam. You don’t want to be trying the spoons on a full stomach!
There are a couple alcoholic beverage options available to purchase including local beer, wine, and a canned cocktail. All for $10 each.
They do provide kids with free juice boxes and encourage you to bring water bottles and use the water bubbler to fill up while on board.
Fiddling & Dancing
The music and dancing are the highlight and main part of the evening. After motoring 15 to 20 minutes to a quiet inlet, JJ anchors the boat and takes out the fiddle and plays a number of traditional tunes while you (hopefully) enjoy a beverage, the setting, and the sunset.
After the initial set, the spoons come out and the entire boat gets a crash course in some basic techniques in this traditional island instrument. It’s trickier than it looks to keep the rhythms and the patters, especially when JJ jumps back on the fiddle but it’s all good fun and everyone on board gets to take a set of spoons home as a gift. These make a great and unique souvenir. Just make sure you pack them away before starting any long drive off the island!
Along with the fiddle and spoons, you’ll also learn a few simple step dance techniques. I was a mess at this despite the simple routine but the girls loved it. With the dance steps, along with the spoons, they had all sorts of new props to put on shows back at the rental house for the rest of the week.
If you’re visiting PEI and looking for a fun, relaxing, and unique island experience, the Fiddling Fisherman offers all that and more. Don’t miss it. It’s highly rated for a reason.