Leave It All Behind on BC’s Sunshine Coast

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The Sunshine Coast is made up of a north and south coast, connected by a fifty-minute BC Ferries trip from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay. Depending on your preferred style of travel, three days is enough time to explore one, the other, or both. Just keep in mind, the Sunshine Coast is all about slowing down and relaxing. Here are a few ideas for a three-day getaway, so you can choose how you’d like to explore.

BC Ferries vessel Island Sky approaches the terminal at Earl's Cove.

BC Ferries vessel Island Sky approaches the terminal at Earl’s Cove. Photo: Andrew Strain

Gibsons, Roberts Creek, and Sechelt

From the Langdale Ferry Terminal, your first stop is Persephone Brewing Company. Here you can taste award-winning craft beer—made with hops grown on-site—and enjoy wood-fired creations from the Farm to Feast food truck. Head to nearby Gibsons Landing to browse the local shops— including the newly opened Gibsons Public Market—and check out Molly’s Reach, famous for being the star location on CBC’s longest running Canadian drama, The Beachcombers. Don’t miss the newly opened Gibsons Tapworks, the Sunshine Coast’s third microbrewery.

Persephone welcomes beer-lovers to sip the local brew on the farm on the Sunshine Coast.

Sip the local brew while on the farm at Persephone. Photo: BC Ale Trail/Geoff Tomlin-Hood

Head up the coast to Roberts Creek for a gentle stroll along the pier, or on the trails in Cliff Gilker Park or Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park. If you brought your mountain bike, this is a great place to hit the local trails. The fast, flowy Mach Chicken trail is one of the area’s most well-known and sought after rides. Post-hike (or bike), settle into The Gumboot Restaurant for a locally sourced meal on their sunny patio.

Riding in the Coast Gravity Park on the Sunshine Coast.

Riding in the Coast Gravity Park on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Brandon Watts

Further north, Sechelt is home to great beaches for relaxation. There are a number of beach access points along the oceanside roads around town, and Porpoise Bay Provincial Park boasts views up the Sechelt Inlet. Talasay Tours offers kayaking trips and rentals directly from the park. The Coast Gravity Park—a nearby shuttle-serviced bike park—is the perfect adrenaline fix for gravity junkies. If you don’t have your own bike, rentals are available from Off The Edge Adventure Sports in Sechelt. The Sunshine Coast has some of BC’s best year-round mountain biking, with more than 300 trails to explore.

Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour, and Egmont

Continue up the coast and make a detour from Highway 101 onto Redroofs Road for a scenic drive. Stop at the historic Halfmoon Bay General Store and Halfmoon Bay Cafe to fuel up on coffee and baked goods before a short walk in Smuggler’s Cove Marine Provincial Park. For an adventure, head to Secret Cove and take the water taxi to Thormanby Island, where you can spend the day exploring beaches and trails.

Ruby Lake, one of the many freshwater lakes near Pender Harbour and Egmont.

Ruby Lake, one of the many lakes near Pender Harbour and Egmont. Photo: @vancitywild

As you head towards Pender Harbour and Egmont, tackle the 10 Lake Challenge and swim in all the region’s lakes in one day. In Egmont, hike the 4-km (2.4-mi) trail to the Skookumchuck Narrows and watch whirlpool activity during the daily ebb and flood tides. If you’re lucky, you’ll see kayakers riding the surf. Be sure to check out the Skookumchuck Bakery— tucked in the woods near the entrance to the park—for a pre- or post-walk snack. From Egmont, jump on a boat and cruise up the Princess Louise Inlet with Sunshine Coast Tours. This five-hour tour takes you through a steep fjord, surrounded by cascading waterfalls. The highlight is mesmerizing Chatterbox Falls. Finish the day with a sunset dinner from the spectacular patio at West Coast Wilderness Lodge.

View from West Coast Wilderness Lodge, Sunshine Coast.

View from the patio at West Coast Wilderness Lodge. Photo: @bcrobyn

Powell River and Lund

Patricia Theatre in Powell River's historic townsite, Sunshine Coast.

Changing the marquee at the Patricia Theatre in Powell River. Photo: Andrew Strain

While in Powell River, spend some time exploring the unique Historic Townsite. Check out The Patricia Theatre—Canada’s longest continuously running movie theatre—sip on local beer at Townsite Brewing, get caffeinated at 32 Lakes Coffee, and book at stay at The Old Courthouse Inn. In the town’s downtown waterfront area, Costa Del Sol Latin Cuisine and Coastal Cookery area great places to grab a bite.

Powell River's Townsite Brewing, Sunshine Coast.

Powell River’s Townsite Brewing. Photo: @localwanderer

Take a ferry to Texada Island to explore the green waters of Quarry Lake, or cruise to the sandy beaches and warm waters of Savary Island by way of the Lund Water Taxi. You can also book a boat or kayaking tour into Desolation Sound with Terracentric Adventures or Powell River Sea Kayak, who offer glamping in the wilderness at Cabana Desolation Eco Resort.

Cabana Desolation Eco Resort on Kinghorn Island, off the northern tip of BC’s Sunshine Coast.

Cabana Desolation Eco Resort lodgings. Photo: Adam Vallance

Prefer to stay on land? Explore Canada’s longest free hut-to-hut hiking network along the Sunshine Coast Trail. Opt for a day trip with Footprint Nature Explorations and get inspired to plan your next trip, when you come back and tackle the full 180-km (112-mi) route.

Tin Hat Hut, along the Sunshine Coast Trail.

Tin Hat Hut along the Sunshine Coast Trail. Photo: Andrew Strain

Getting There

Accessible by BC Ferries service at its north and south ends, the Sunshine Coast is part of the BC mainland, but has all the laid-back charm of island living. From Vancouver, you can access the south coast via Horseshoe Bay. From Vancouver Island, the ferry leaves from Comox to Powell River. Alternatively, you can floatplane with Harbour Air Seaplanes directly into Sechelt from Vancouver and Nanaimo and with Sunshine Coast Air from Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Victoria. Pacific Coastal Airlines also flies into Powell River from the Vancouver International Airport’s South Terminal.

For more information or to plan your trip, check out sunshinecoastcanada.com.

Opening image: Sunshine Coast. Photo: @vancitywild