Canada Travel | Travel

Clam Digging in Prince Edward Island

If someone told me that I’d one day be clam digging on the shores of Prince Edward Island, I’d most likely laugh. Yet there I was, rubber boots on and trudging in the iconic-red mud, whole-heartedly looking for that perfectly sized shellfish. 

The chance to go clam digging is possible thanks to Experience PEI, the Island’s leading maker of memories and experiences for travellers. Clam digging is just one of the many organized tours that you can book when visiting the island, yet this particular one is the #1 thing to do in PEI according to Trip Advisor.

clam digging prince edward island

After all, clam digging is an island tradition, and when visiting a new destination – do as the locals do and experience the true essence of the location. 

The Happy Clammers Experience on Prince Edward Island starts in the late afternoon at Point Prim which is a half an hour east of Charlottetown. You begin at the house of a local fisherman, Gilbert Gillis. A bonafide clam-digger-expert, he takes you to a great spot on the Point Prim shores to clam dig, which isn’t too far from his home. 

happy clammers experience PEI

Sharing a wealth of information and a few different tools to get the clams out, Gilbert is knowledgeable and very thorough. You literally feel like an expert yourself after his guidance. 

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When digging for clams; you can use the shovel, rake, or gun {which is a plastic barrel that sucks a column of mud out of the ground, along with the clams}.

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The trick is to look for the tiny {or not so tiny} breathing hole coming up through the earth or mud, indicators that there’s a clam immediately below. Then, get in there! Chances are if you find a hole, you’ll find a clam!

clam digging

You do need to measure each clam to make sure it’s good for taking, as the little ones are too young and you have to put it back to grow more for next year. 

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I can certainly say that this was the first time I madly dug through the mud, hands in and searching for food. Know what? It was so fun! In fact, one of the best experiences of my life. It also doesn’t hurt that you are set on a beautiful coastline, among newfound friends and the chance to partake in great conversation.

The time seemed to pass quickly while digging, I really could have done it all day long!

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Once our group collected a good load of clams, we set back to the Gillis house for dinner. YES, you catch what you eat when taking in this experience! Better yet, you are welcomed into the Gillis home where Gilbert and his lovely wife, Goldie, cook a mouthwatering dinner to end the day. 

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On arrival at the Gillis home, the clams must be washed first. Just a hose and water is all you need, getting rid of as much sand as possible.

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Then, as Goldie explains the differing types of clams and the where to find them on the island – Gilbert steams the fresh clams which are eaten with a side of warm melted butter. 

clam digging experience PEI catch and eat dinner

At dinnertime guests will enjoy steamed clams, fresh biscuits {I had 2, yep, that good}, and a bowl of Clam Chowder. Goldie even makes a seasonal dessert, we had Rhubarb Crumble – which is divine. The entire meal was truly wonderful and a great way to spend an evening on PEI.

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When kids are part of the group, Goldie will even make a clam pizza. I hear it’s very popular with children {mental note: bring kids next time I go – so that I can try the pizza too!}.

During dinner I sat back during a break in conversation, and looked out the Gillis living room window and stared right at the coastline of Prince Edward Island. The sun was starting to set, and it was the perfect backdrop. I exhaled deeply and smiled at a day of firsts. This my friends, is what travelling is all about. 

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When exploring a new destination, you are often {always?} in restaurants. It’s rare to be invited so warmly into the home of a family, hear their life stories, and made to feel so welcome. Plus, you learn a new skill, one which you didn’t know you had.

The entire Happy Clammers Experience is amazing, and one which I’ll never forget. 

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Happy Clammers is offered Monday-Saturday at low tide from May 5 – Sept 14, 2015. The duration of this tour is 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Advance reservations are required. For more information and pricing, please refer to Experience PEI

 

 

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27 Comments

  1. I have always wanted to visit Prince Edward Island! And clam digging would be so much fun! What an amazing experience!

  2. Clam digging sounds like so much fun. I have fished my whole life, so this is right up my alley.

  3. Sounds like it was an amazing experience! I am not a fan of eating clams but I think going digging them would be worth it just to say I had!

  4. I’ve done this in RI, but would love to do this in Prince Edward!! What a lovely place to visit.

  5. We have talked about going clam digging here in Washington before, but we have not made it yet. This looks like an amazing experience and what amazing hosts. The food looks amazing!

    1. It looks like a total blast! We’re kosher, so we don’t eat seafood, but I’d love to go digging for the experience and then let the seafood eaters go to town!

  6. That looks like so much fun! My family is kosher, so no eating clams for us, but I think it would be great to go with a group and get in on the action. We could dig and they could eat!

  7. I’m so jealous! PEI has been on my travel bucket list since I was a kid – and you look like you have the most amazing time!

  8. I’ve never been to Prince Edward Island. This sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon!

  9. I am so happy you were visiting my Island and to find out how hospitable and friendly we are. Point Prim is about and an hour and a half drive from my home in Summerside in Prince County. I know the area a little because there used to be a Scout Camp near there . My friends and I were involved in Cubs many years ago and I spent part of four summers in that area at Camp Buchan with about 30 young lads. It was a bit daunting but great fun.

  10. Oh I am so jealous!! Been wanting to do that forever!! I think you should bring home fresh lobsters to us in AB! bawhaha I could not see you on the big waves catching lobster

  11. What a wonderful experience; a true Maritime adventure. Bet the food was fantastic!

  12. We love digging clams! Every year going up island the kids enjoy finding and cooking their own clams!

  13. Would so much like to go to PEI and definitely dig for clams Wow, it’s a dream for me

  14. This looks so fun and you get a great meal after too! What a great travel experience! I would love to visit the east someday, it looks beautiful.

  15. Trip to Nova Scotia planned for the summer – crossing the Confederation Bridge in PEI for two mini-adventures. After reading past stories on PEI – we are planning to stay in a lighthouse for a night and also clam digging – my son has never done both – on the bucket list is to dip his toes in the Atlantic Ocean….can’t wait…..

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