Separated from BC’s Lower Mainland by an island-studded ocean and a chorus of craggy peaks, the Sunshine Coast feels far removed from big-city life. But, with the Langdale ferry terminal just 40 minutes from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay — and communities that are threaded along Highway 101 — this laid-back region is an ideal easy-access spot for a weekend break. Here’s an insider’s itinerary to help you make the most of your time away.
3 PM | Grassroots Arts
Arrive mid-afternoon and kick off your weekend by exploring the Sunshine Coast’s creative side along the Gibsons Landing waterfront. Stroll the dock to Sa Boothroyd’s cabin-like studio of quirky paintings; peruse the latest exhibit at Gibsons Public Art Gallery; or grab a Purple Banner flyer from the Visitor Centre to plot stops at the many studios throughout the region.
4:30 PM | Market Fuel-up
Embrace some even tastier artistry at Gibsons Public Market, a hub of small-batch purveyors selling cheese, seafood and more. Savour a coffee at Bowen Island Roasting Company, then pay a visit to the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre.
7 PM | Evening Paddle
Expect peaceful quietude and pyrotechnic skies on a sunset tour with Sunshine Kayaking along the Gibsons shoreline.
Photo courtesy sunshinecoastcanada.com, by Barry Haynes
9 PM | Coastal Brews
Back on dry land, visit The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery, a wood-beamed haunt with a serious beer fixation. Chase a four-glass sampler of house-made brews with some smoked brisket tacos or a slow-roasted pork Cubano sandwich.
Surfing the Skookumchuk Narrows rapids. Photo courtesy Kelly Funk Photography
9 AM | Brunch Vista
Aim for a sought-after deck table at Gibsons’ tiny Drift Cafe & Bistro, complete with lofty coastline views. Polish off your eggs Benedict then hit the road.
10:30 AM | Hobbit-ville
Just 12 km away, Roberts Creek’s shingle-sided buildings suggest a woodsy Hobbit hamlet. Fuel up at the rustic Gumboot Cafe, then wander downhill to the shoreline, pausing to peruse the kaleidoscopic Community Mandala painted on the road.
12 PM | Market Wander
The Lower Sunshine Coast’s largest community, Sechelt (11 km past Roberts Creek), hosts the region’s biggest Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market. Drop by (from Apr. to Sept.) for local produce, baked treats and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Photo courtesy iStockphoto.com
2 PM | Leg-stretch
Powell River is your final destination today, but there’s plenty to do along Highway 101 before you reach what the locals call Powtown, starting with Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park. A local favourite with hiking trails for all levels, its scenic strolls are studded with birdlife and lichen-bearded branches.
4:30 PM | Boat Trip
Embrace adventure on a Sunshine Coast Tours one-hour boat excursion to the churning Skookumchuck Narrows rapids, a natural phenomenon where tides surging under great pressure create turbulent whirlpools. It’s a fun, sometimes white-knuckle ride where you’ll learn just how powerful Mother Nature can be.
9 PM | Upper Coast
Hop on the 50-minute Earls Cove to Saltery Bay ferry for the scenic journey to the Upper Sunshine Coast. Continue along Highway 101 for half-an-hour to Powell River — and a late dinner at Coastal Cookery.
9 AM | Heritage Stroll
Explore Powell River’s yesteryear Townsite area, complete with handsome arts and crafts buildings from its golden pulp-and-paper-mill heyday. Don’t miss the gabled Old Courthouse Inn, now an antiques-packed hotel and inviting breakfast spot.
10 AM | Get Outside
The 180-km Sunshine Coast Trail is a nature-hugging gem studded with memorable hiking paths and viewpoints. Dip into it from here via the Inland Lake area, a Powell River favourite. Alternatively, rent a bike from Suncoast Cycles and check out the Duck Lake area’s bike trails.
2 PM | Grab a Growler
Colonizing a former brick-built post office, Townsite Brewing is popular with thirsty locals replenishing their growlers and sampling an ever-evolving roster of brews. Perch on a stool here, toast your Sunshine Coast caper with a Tin Hat IPA and plan your three-hour designated driver trip back to the Langdale ferry terminal for an evening ferry to Horseshoe Bay.
Photo courtesy Raissa Wadden