How to Experience BC's Must-See Coastal Towns

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Harbour Air Otter seaplane landing in Ganges Harbour in the Salt Spring Island | Harbour Air Seaplanes

BC’s coast is dotted with charming seaside towns, each shaped by their unique surroundings and history. Find out how to experience a few of the province’s quintessentially West Coast towns.

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet | Jordan Dyck

Ucluelet, Vancouver Island

With ragged shorelines and coastal rainforest at its doorstep, Ucluelet makes for the perfect cozy spring getaway.

Explore the sheltered waters of Ucluelet Harbour with Majestic Ocean Kayaking, or walk along the famous Wild Pacific Trailwhere you can witness the waves barrelling in from offshore. Learn about local sea creatures at the Ucluelet Aquarium, or tour the Broken Group Islands with Archipelago Wildlife Cruises for a chance to see whales.

Savour seafood, al fresco, at the upscale food truck RAVENLADY Oyster Forte and the newly opened Ucluelet Brewing Company.

The luxurious Black Rock Ocean Resort makes for a relaxing spa retreat. Cozy up in the rustic Terrace Beach Resort’s rainforest cabins or stay in a secluded yurt near old-growth forest at Wya Point—located on the traditional territory of the Ucluelet First Nation.

Check out BC Ferries spring vacation packages to book your trip to Ucluelet.

Plan Your Stay
Davis Bay Pier, Sechelt | Chris Thorn Photography
Sea Lions, Sunshine Coast | Dolf Vermeulen
Sechelt | Chris Thorn Photography

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast

Centrally located on the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt is a hub for exploring art, nature, and the local culinary scene.

Indulge in a hearty brunch at Basted Baker or watch the seaplanes come and go from the Lighthouse Pub patio. Sip your way through a cider flight at The Bricker Cider Company, a family-owned orchard in west Sechelt. For a meal with spectacular views, dine at the Wobbly Canoe or Gourmet Girl, overlooking Davis Bay—a popular spot to view the sunset.

Visit Porpoise Bay Provincial Park for a hike through the well-maintained trail network or meet local artists and tour their studios with Sunshine Coast Art Tours. Stop by tems swiya Museum for a chance to see ancient Indigenous artifacts and learn about the rich culture of the shíshálh Nation, who have lived on this land since time immemorial.

Watch the ever-changing landscapes from your perch at Pointhouse Suites in Sargeant Bay, just west of Sechelt. Find solace in the Cabins on the Coast, home of the top-rated “Alfie the A-Frame.”

Get to the Sechelt by air with Sunshine Coast Air and Harbour Airor by sea with BC Ferries.

Plan Your Stay
Wild Renfrew, Port Renfrew | @joordanrenee

Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island

Experience the untamed West Coast in Port Renfrew.

This small fishing village is known for its massive Douglas firs, cedars, and Sitka spruce trees. See them up close in Avatar Grove, where you’ll also find “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree.” Port Renfrew is frequented by hikers finishing off their multi-day trek of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, though day trippers can take a stroll along Sombrio Beach. Stop in at Botanical Beach to explore (at a respectful distance) the rich and colourful marine life living in the intertidal pools. Take a whale- and wildlife-viewing tour with Orca Spirit Adventures or go fishing with Mckenna Sportfishing.

Wild Renfrew is the town’s recreational hub, offering adventure packages, two eateries (Renfrew Pub and Coastal Kitchen Cafe), and accommodation in its oceanfront cottages. For alternate dining options, check out the funky vibes at Tomi’s Home Style Cooking or head for light bites and a brew at Bridgeman’s West Coast Eatery in the Pacific Gateway Marina. Make Port Renfrew one of your overnight destinations as you drive the Pacific Marine Circle Route.

Check out ferry and accommodation packages for this route with BC Ferries.

Plan Your Stay
Ganges, Salt Spring Island | Harbour Air Seaplanes

Ganges, Salt Spring Island

The artsy seaside town of Ganges is abundant with character, charm, and a thriving food scene.

Starting in April, the vibrant Saturday Market in Centennial Park attracts 160 local vendors, including an artisan cheesemaker, a wood-fired bakery, and two lavender farms. Salt Spring is also home to two vineyards, a distillery, and a craft brewery.

Check out the quaint Tree House Café or head farther up-island to Twig and Buoy for comfort food by the sea or dine at Rock Salt Café and Restaurant for global flavours and comfort foods with ocean views.

Unwind as you explore the island at a casual pace. Sightsee at Ruckle Provincial Park and Ruckle Heritage Farm (BC’s oldest working farm). Salt Spring Adventure Company offers bike and scooter rentals, as well as whale watching, paddleboarding, and kayaking tours. Explore the hidden gems of Salt Spring with Tour Salt Spring.

Stay on the outskirts of town in private oceanfront cottages at Daffodil Cove Cottage. Retreat to the Mineral Springs Resort for rest and relaxation. For lakeside living, try The Cottages, located just minutes from Ganges.

Fly to Salt Spring via Harbour Air or take BC Ferries.

Plan Your Stay

Cow Bay Harbour in Prince Rupert | Andrew Strain

Prince Rupert, Northern BC

Nature is on an entirely different scale in Prince Rupert—a fascinating town with a deep connection to Indigenous culture.

Learn about the Tsimshian First Nations and other Northwest Coast peoples by visiting the Museum of Northern BC, which houses an impressive collection of artifacts and research materials.

As a gateway to both the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, there are unparalleled nature and wildlife experiences around every corner. Head out on the ocean with Skeena Kayaking or visit Khutzamateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours. Drive to North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site for a history lesson, or grab your own catch-of-the-day with Haida Fishing.

Walk to quirky Cow Bay district for a coffee and pastry at Cowpuccino’s Coffee House. Just up the street, you’ll find a warm atmosphere and tasty selection of craft beer at the Wheelhouse Brewing Company.  Dolly’s Fish Market is a great spot to sample fresh-caught seafood.

Stay at the Crest Hotel, with panoramic views of Prince Rupert Harbour. For a quieter setting, rest your head in Cassiar Cannery’s waterfront cabins, located 25 minutes outside of the city.

Flights to Prince Rupert depart daily from Vancouver International Airport. Alternatively, take the BC Ferries route through the Inside Passage.

Plan Your Stay
Haida Heritage Centre, Haida Gwaii | Grant Harder

Skidegate, Haida Gwaii

Update for Summer 2020 Travel: As of July 2020, Haida Gwaii remains closed to non-essential and leisure travel. For more information on responsible travel and Indigenous experiences, please visit the Indigenous Tourism BC website.

Indigenous culture, rugged nature, and unrivalled adventure abound in the remote village of Skidegate on Haida Gwaii.

There are many ways to celebrate the living culture of the Haida people. Take a boat tour with Haida Style Expeditions to visit Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Or, stop by the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay to learn about art, language, traditions, and contemporary life.

Rent a scooter to explore viewpoints and attractions around the island. Swing by the Queen Charlotte Farmers Market (open on Saturdays) to discover farm-grown produce and artisanal goodies. Be sure to pay a visit to iconic Balance Rock, too.

Taste Haida-inspired cuisine at Keenawaii’s Kitchenwhere Chef Roberta Olsen serves fresh, local ingredients from her home. Jags Beanstalk, a family-owned bistro with several guest rooms, is also a great option.

Enjoy a tranquil stay in oceanfront cabins at Haida House in Tllaalwhich offers a unique and intimate opportunity to experience this world through the eyes of the Haida people.

Fly directly to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver International Airport, or sail with BC Ferries via the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert, with a connecting ferry to Haida Gwaii.

Plan Your Stay

Title Image: Ganges, Salt Spring Island | Harbour Air Seaplanes

Amber Turnau in Squamish
WRITTEN BY: Amber Turnau

From: Squamish
Amber is a freelance storyteller and outdoor adventurer who has spent nine years living in the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Corridor. When she's not writing, she spends her spare time snowboarding, hiking, biking, and SUPing her way through the wilds of BC. Fun Fact: Amber spent the first seven years of her life living on a sailboat and travelling the world with her family. Now, she has the best of both worlds, splitting her time between ocean and mountains—and loving every minute of it.

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