Canada’s best kept secret, the Sunshine Coast

British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast photo collage by Jefferson Graham for the PhotowalksTV series

Even when you live in a coastal paradise, it’s good to escape sometimes to a land with greener grass and trees, islands and coves, berries growing on the trees by the roadside, huge skies and the idea of ​​going to places where the only route is via a ferry.

You can see some of it in Oregon and Washington during the summer, but go a little further down the road and you’ll be visiting a different country with a 25% price reduction on everything you buy (the difference between Canada and US dollar) incredibly friendly people, stores that sell products with English and French labels, and a waterfront quite different from ours. Two words: green and mountain.

I first discovered the sunny coast of canada in 2010, when a friend who lives in Vancouver recommended it as a less crowded outlet on Vancouver Island, home to the province’s capital, Victoria. Boy was David Hathaway on the right.
I left there thinking the coast was one of the top 5 most beautiful places on earth, tied with New Zealand and Kauai, and have now decided to come back and prove it to the rest of the world. world. In August, I took my cameras to the coast for the latest edition of the PhotowalksTV YouTube travel series. You can watch the episode directly below.

Canadians know all about the coast, but back home in California, most people we meet have no idea what we’re talking about.

As I explain on the attached video, we tell them that we are 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 the coast dwellers proclaim on t-shirts, “Not an island”.

The Sunshine Coast is part of the mainland, through two coves, south and north, which are only accessible by boat or (seaplane).

Logistics: Fly to Seattle (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 in 40 minutes to Langdale. The town of Gibsons, the first major stop on your tour, is a few miles away.

Important to note: check the ferry crossing times because they don’t leave often. If you miss the boat, you’ll be sitting in the car waiting for the next one for a good two to two hours. Reservations are accepted, but they cost an additional $15.
Gibson home to around 10,000 people, a beautiful marina, a cute little town and several cool photo spots. As I point out in the video, they include Gospel Rock and Soames Hill for panoramic views, the marina itself and the myriad of secluded beaches that look across the water to Vancouver Island. Where to stay? We love the Caprice Bed and Breakfast, which overlooks the water and has an eagle’s nest in one of its trees. Book early, as rooms are going fast. Where to eat: The Black Bean Cafe is a great local hangout, and there are Chinese and Mexican restaurants in town overlooking the waterfront. Gibsons was once home to a popular Canadian TV show, the Beachcombers, where a big part of the action was at Molly’s Reach restaurant.

Roberts Creek: A funky little town by the sea, known for two things: a community mandala art project and a beautiful pier with great views of British Columbia.

Davis Bay: A traditional shoreline that stretches along the main roads in and out of Sechelt includes a long wooden fishing pier that looks like the types you might find in Hawaii, jutting out from the shore. It is a popular destination for bathing, windsurfing, fishing or swimming.

Sechelt: the largest city on the south side of the Sunshine Coast, with over 10,000 inhabitants. Here you’ll find bigger shops, a cute hometown, another big pier that feels like it’s directly over the water, and a wonderful ice cream shop named EBs.

The view from the side of the road at Skookumchuck Narrows in Egmont, British Columbia.

Skookumchuck Strait: A few miles down the road is the Shoockumchuck, one of the main attractions on a visit to the Sunshine Coast. Simply put: this is where twice a day the tide changes and changes direction. Besides onlookers and photographers like us, it also attracts extreme kayakers who like to follow the currents. (By the way, Skookumchuck means fast water in the native language.) Be sure to check the tide charts before you come. They are posted throughout the city and at visitor centers. You’ll want to time your visit accordingly, but be aware that the tidal action will start 30 minutes before the advertised time and will also continue for 30 minutes on the other side. To get to the rapids, you will hike for an hour to the water, and one of the highlights of the walk is this great bakery in the woods at the start of the hike which specializes in cinnamon rolls, coffee and other baked goods.

After Skookumchuck, as you continue north, it’s time to take another ferry across the water to Powell River, from Earl’s Cove, disembarking at Saltery Bay.

Powell River is the largest “city” on the coast, with more than 15,000 inhabitants. The north side of the creek offers myriad hiking, biking, and water opportunities and a great historic town that’s just too much fun. There are a few motels here and there, but the local tourist board recommended booking through Airbnb.
What to do in Powell? Visit historic old downtown, home to the oldest operating movie theater, the Patricia and the Old Courthouse Inn, a small hotel that is the former home of the courthouse, police station and jail. Otherwise, downtown is full of galleries, craft shops and if you like sausage, a wonderful shop, the Billotwhich has many, many varieties.

Powell River is a transportation hub. This is where you can catch a seaplane to Vancouver or Victoria, or take the ferry directly to Vancouver Island and the small town of Comox.

But photographically the most impressive thing about Powell for us was the sunsets. The further north we went on the Sunshine Coast, the richer and more spectacular the colors became. Which of course made the ferry ride well worth the time and trouble.

After Powell River, about 30 minutes down the road, is the last stop, Lund. Route 101 ends here, or begins, depending on how you look at it. If you want to continue up the BC coast to Alaska, you’ll need to get there by boat or plane.

There’s not much to see in Lund, beyond a historic hotel that never reopened post-COVID, and parking for people boarding a water taxi opposite the hotel. remote island of Savary.

And speaking of Savary– that’s another story, coming soon. Stay tuned.

Welcome to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, by Jefferson Graham for the PhotowalksTV series

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