Sunshine Coast Canada

I first discovered the Sunshine Coast of Canada in 2010, when a friend who lives in Vancouver recommended it as a less congested take on Vancouver Island, which is home to Victoria, the capital of the province. Canadians know all about it, but most folks we’ve encountered in California and elsewhere have no idea what we’re talking about.

As I explain on the accompanying video, we tell them we’re going to British Columbia, and they mention Vancouver or Victoria. Or Whistler in the winter. They assume the Coast is on Vancouver Island, but as locals proclaim on T-shirts, “Not an Island.” The Sunshine Coast is part of the mainland, through two inlets, south and north, that are only accessible by boat or (sea) plane. We're talking green green land (thanks to all that rain when the sun isn’t shining) spectacular sunsets, hikes, ferries, seaplanes, those super-friendly Canadians and the one and only Skoomumchuck Narrows! It's definitely worth a visit!

Logistics: Fly to Seattle (a short two hours from the Canadian border) or Vancouver, rent a car and head to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, (an hour's drive from the border) which will take you on a short 40 minute hop to Langdale. The city of Gibsons, the first major stop on your tour, is a few miles up the road. 

Important to note: check the ferry crossing times as  they don't leave that often. If you miss the boat, you'll sit in the car awaiting the next one for a good one to two hours. Reservations are accepted, but they cost an additional $15. 

Gibsons is home to about 10,000 people, a wonderful marina, a cute small town, and multiple cool photo spots. As I point out in the video, they include Gospel Rock and Soames Hill for scenic overlooks, the marina itself and the myriad, secluded beaches that look across the water to Vancouver Island. 

Roberts Creek: A funky tiny town by the sea best known for two things: a community mandala art project that, and a wonderful pier with great BC views.

Davis Bay: A long-pebbled beach coastline that stretches along the main routes going in and out of Sechelt with a long wooden fishing pier jutting out from the shoreline. This is a popular destination to beach comb, windsurf, fish or swim. 

Sechelt: the largest city on the south side of the Sunshine Coast, with over 10,000 residents. Here you’ll find larger stores, a cute hometown, a pier that will take you to the edge of the water, and a wonderful ice creamery named EBs.

Skookumchuck Narrows:  Just a few kms up the road is the Shoockumchuck, one of the main attractions of a Sunshine Coast visit. Simply put: here’s where twice a day the tide changes and reverses directions. Besides onlookers and photographers like us, it also attracts extreme kayakers who enjoy keeping up with the currents. (The meaning of Skookumchuck, by the way, is fast water in the native language.) Be sure to check the tide table charts before you come. They’re posted all over town, and at visitor centers. You'll want to time your visit accordingly, but know that the tide action will start up 30 minutes before the advertised time, and continue 30 minutes on the other side as well. To get to the rapids, you’ll take an hour hike down to the water, and one highlight of the walk is this great bakery in the woods that specializes in cinnamon buns, coffee and other baked goods.

For part 2 of your journey, you take another ferry to cross the water to Powell River, from Earl's Cove, landing in Saltery Bay. 

Powell River is the largest "city" on the Coast, with over 15,000 people. The north side of the inlet has myriad hiking, biking and water opportunities and a great historic town that's just too much fun. 

Visit the old historic downtown, which is home to the oldest continually running movie theater, the Patricia and the old Courthouse Inn, a small hotel that is the former home of the court, police station and jail. Otherwise, downtown is full of galleries, craft shops and if you’re into sausage, a wonderful shop, the Chopping Block, which has many, many varieties.

Powell River is a transportation hub. It’s here where you can catch a seaplane to Vancouver or Victoria, or take the ferry straight across to Vancouver Island, and the small town of Comox. 

But photographically, the most impressive thing about Powell to us was the sunsets. The further north we got on the Sunshine Coast, the richer and more dramatic the colors got. Which of course, made the ferry ride well up here worth the time and trouble.

Past Powell River, about 30 minutes up the road, is the last stop, Lund. Route 101 ends here. If you want to continue up the coast of BC to Alaska, you'll need to get there by boat or plane. 

There's not much in Lund, beyond a historic hotel that never re-opened after COVID, and a parking lot for folks boarding a water taxi across the way to remote Savary Island. 

And speaking of Savary--that's another story, coming soon. Stay tuned. 

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