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.
- Gibsons — setting of the 1970s TV show The Beachcombers.
- Pender Harbour and Egmont — Mostly rural area with a number of small communities on the coast. It includes Skookumchuck Narrows, a tidal rapid that is popular with kayakers.
- Sechelt —
- Lund — outdoor opportunities at the end of the road and gateway to Desolation Sound and Savary Island
- Powell River — largest town in the region
- Savary Island — An island with a tropical feel accessible from the end of the Sunshine Coast highway.
- Texada Island —
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.
- 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.
- Princess Louisa Inlet. 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.
- Trails. While visiting the lower Sunshine Coast (Langdale to Earl's Cove and Egmont) be sure to check out the 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.
- 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 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.