The Sunshine Coast, named for its 2,400 hours of annual sunshine, is north-west of Vancouver, a 40 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in the North Shore. It is a 180-km (110-mi) stretch of rainforest, seashore and mountains. This is the secret destination of many individuals, where the island life is found on the mainland. Here is a slower pace of life, where those who appreciate the beauty of outstanding marine parks and marshland bird sanctuaries, old growth forest and alpine peaks will find the perfect destination.
- 1 Gibsons — setting of the 1970s TV show The Beachcombers
- 2 Pender Harbour and Egmont — a mostly rural area with a number of small communities on the coast. It includes Skookumchuck Narrows, a tidal rapid that is popular with kayakers
- 3 Sechelt — a popular destination for outdoor activities that include kayaking, diving, snowshoeing and skiing, hiking and backpacking, camping and mountain biking
- 4 Lund — outdoor opportunities at the end of the road and gateway to Desolation Sound and Savary Island
- 5 Powell River — the largest town in the region, and a centre for ecotourism
- 1 Savary Island — An island with a tropical feel accessible from the end of the Sunshine Coast highway.
- 2 Texada Island — the largest island in the group, with a population of about 1,000 people
Major ferry terminals
- 1 Langdale — ferry terminal that connects to Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver); the main point of entry into the Sunshine Coast
- 2 Earls Cove and 3 Saltery Bay — 50-minute ferry crossing Jervis Inlet, dividing the Lower (South) and Upper (North) Sunshine Coast
The southern portion of the sunshine coast is almost a bedroom community of Vancouver. There are a number of people who commute to Vancouver on a regular basis, in this area.
Access from Vancouver to Sunshine Coast is primarily by BC Ferries. The ferry out of Horseshoe Bay leaves every 2 hours and it is a 40-minute ferry ride to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast (Sechelt Peninsula). First ferry leaves Horseshoe Bay at 7:20AM and the last ferry leaves Langdale at 8:20PM. Cost is $12.85/$6.45(adult/child) in peak season; cars are $43.20. The fare to Langdale is return, so you do not have to pay to leave.
The automobile is the easiest way of getting around the Sunshine Coast. Car rentals are available at a number of locations on the Sunshine Coast, but it is generally considerably cheaper in Vancouver. The Sunshine Coast only has one main road, BC-101 which runs along the coast.
Princess Louisa Inlet is one of BC's most beautiful natural locations. The wide opening of Jervis Inlet narrows to become a 64-km (40-mile) long fjord ending in Princess Louisa Inlet. Accessible only by boat. On the journey up, your boat will navigate past dozens of waterfalls that trickle down from steep, craggy granite bluffs that loom over you on both sides. Once past the geological constriction called Malibu Rapids, Princess Louisa Inlet opens up -- revealing the glacier-fed Chatterbox Falls, the highlight of this sheltered inlet. This region is protected and preserved within the 65-hectare Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park. Beside Chatterbox Falls, there is a dock with water, but no electricity, for boaters. There is also moorage available for at least twenty boats. Boardwalks will take you along trails to the falls, where the air is so moist that the trees are covered with thick moss and ferns. Tours leave for Princess Louisa from Egmont on a scheduled basis all summer long.
The Sunshine Coast is home to more artists per capita than any other Canadian region. Purple flags along the Sunshine Coast Highway and local streets indicate artists's studios where the public is welcome, and which feature many disciplines including painting, pottery and glassblowing. Held each autumn, the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl features over 200 artists' galleries and studios. Free illustrated programs are available, and there is no charge to visit the participating venues.
The Coast's wildlife includes cougars, black bears, wolves, marbled murrelet, orcas, great blue herons, seals, sea lions and bald eagles. There are also abundant tide pools with a variety of molluscs, sea anemones and fish. At certain times of the year, seal pups may be encountered on the Coast's beaches. They should not be approached, as the mother may abandon them. All wildlife on the Coast should be viewed from a safe and respectful distance.
Skookumchuk Narrows Provincial Park is the site of some of the strongest and most spectacular currents in western North America. These narrows occur where the water enters into the Sechelt Inlet. There can be as much as a 2-m difference in sea level between Sechelt Inlet and the Jervis inlet. The water can be moving at speeds of up to 16 knots and creates standing waves up to 1.5 m and whirlpools. Access to the best place to view the narrows is about a 1½-hour hike from the parking lot. This is in the fishing village of Egmont.
On the lower Sunshine Coast (Langdale to Earl's Cove and Egmont), there are hundreds of trails for hiking and biking. Many of the trails have been built by members of the very active mountain bike community and most are multi-use - meaning you may encounter hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and sometimes ATVs. However, the majority of users are hikers and bikers.
The 180-kilometre (110 mi) Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada's longest hut-to-hut hiking trail, and travels from mountains to shorelines and lakes. Beginning at Sarah Point in Desolation Sound and ending at Saltery Bay, it is free to everyone, and hikers can enter and leave it at multiple points.
The Powell Forest Canoe Route is a 57-km, 8-lake, 5-portage journey that takes about 5 days. Portages range from 0.7-2.8 km, and paddling from 1–28.5 km. The best time to travel it is June to October.
There are several mountain bike parks: Coast Gravity Park, 10 km from Sechelt, has trails for all riding levels, and a shuttle system to the trails. Sprockids Mountain Bike Park, in Langdale, has 14 km of downhill, ramps, jumps and teeter-bars, and is perfect for younger riders. Powell River Bike and Skate Park has a beginner pump track, slope-style dirt jump trails, downhill flow trails, and a beginner flow line. It is open to the public year round and admission is free.
- Backeddy Marine Pub, Backeddy Road (take the Egmont exit off Hwy 101 just south of the ferry terminal for the boat to Powell River), ☏ . Known for its gigantic "Skookum Burger".
- West Coast Wilderness Lodge (The village of Egmont), ☏ . The fine dining at the Lodge is all about the view. It has floor-to-ceiling windows that span the entire dining room, and was built high up on a bluff overlooking Sutton Islands and the Sechelt Inlet.
The Sunshine Coast has several breweries, including:
- Gibsons: Persephone Brewing Company, Gibsons Tapworks, 101 Brewhouse + Distillery
- Powell River: Townsite Brewing
- Sechelt: Bricker Cider Company
The Sunshine Coast is an extremely safe place. Although growing rapidly, it still maintains a "small town" feel, noted especially in the Roberts Creek and Pender Harbour areas. Crime is minimal, and there are no particular areas to avoid.
Rent a kayak or use your own to explore Desolation Sound.