I have loved exploring the Sunshine Coast ever since I was about 8 years old, when I went off to my first week at summer camp. Back then, it was the forest, beach and ocean play time that drew me in. Today, it’s all of the Coast’s natural beauty paired with the inspiration it gives locals to produce amazing art, food, and dining experiences.
The scenic crossing, 40 minutes between Horseshoe Bay to Langdale through Howe Sound, is just the beginning of your adventure, and I’ve put together 3 Ways to Enjoy BC’s Sunshine Coast to help you get the most out of your visit to this charming corner of the “604”.
PLAY: On the water, in the forests & mountains
The Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail, stretching over 180km of beautiful landscapes, from coastal shorelines to panoramic mountaintops. If you’re just up for the weekend and are looking for something a little more low-key, but equally pictorial, try the following:
Paddle Sechelt Inlet with Pedals and Paddles. I booked a 2 hour guided tour with my sister, joining a group of visitors from Switzerland. Our guide took us around islets and islands, through tidal pools, and over to a Provincial Marine Park, only accessible by boat. We hopped out onto dry land and hiked up to a waterfall to add even more depth to our experience.
There are also an abundance of hikes all up and down the coast. I loved Cliff Gilker Park when I was a kid and it hasn’t lost its appeal! Just off the highway in Roberts Creek it has hiking trails and waterfalls tucked inside a forest next to the busy athletic park with playground and picnic area.
In the heart of Gibsons, there’s also Soames Hill, providing a rewarding lookout atop 434 steps where views reach Howe Sound, the North Shore mountains, Keats, Gambier and Bowen Islands, Gibsons and Salish Sea.
EAT WELL: Shopping, dining, sipping
The Gibsons Public Market will now forever be my first stop on the Sunshine Coast. Whether it’s for brunch at Emelle’s or to pick up staples from its many vendors.
Another must-visit location that may not have been on your radar before: Sunshine Coast Olive Oil. Get an education in olive oil – such an integral ingredient for home cooks – while you sample and shop over 50 flavours of balsamic vinegars, single-estate and infused extra virgin olive oils. The knowledgeable staff at Sunshine Coast Olive Oil will find you your perfect flavour, pairing, and offer recipe ideas.
OMG chocolates at La Petite Souris in Gibsons! @lpschocolate @sunshinecoastca @HelloBC #explorebc #sunshinecoastbc pic.twitter.com/03IBjlisyo
— Rebecca Bollwitt (@Miss604) June 24, 2017
Tucked away just off the highway in Upper Gibsons, is La Petite Souris Chocolates. It’s worth popping by to stock up on some of their barks, gingers, toffees, caramels, and classic truffles. Visit with Amber, the proprietor and resident chocolate genius, and if you thought you couldn’t get more excited about chocolate, her passion for her craft is infectiously sweet.
My Roberts Creek comfort food fix at The Gumboot #SunshineCoastBC @sunshinecoastca #explorebc pic.twitter.com/dJdx9Uh3TJ
— Rebecca Bollwitt (@Miss604) June 24, 2017
Looking for someone else to do the cooking? The Gumboot Cafe in Roberts Creek is another one of my go-tos on the Coast. Nestled next to lush gardens in the seaside community, they serve up healthy and hearty dishes that include everything from a Brisket Burger and the Gumboot Reuben to my fave, the Super Salad (leaf lettuce, beets, carrots, red cabbage, pickled onions, sliced cucumber, tomato, avocado, baked tofu, pinto beans, feta and seeds with miso ginger dressing).
Heading up the highway you’ll find Gourmet Girl in the heart of Davis Bay. We stopped here for breakfast and there’s nothing like a Waffle Benedict (with smoked salmon, back bacon, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and tomato) paired with a feisty Americano on a beach-side patio to wake you up in the morning.
Dinner options? You got it! My Gibsons Public Market membership gives me a discount at Nova Kitchen in Gibsons, just up the hill from the landing and with a killer patio view of the entire harbour and sound. Pesto Polenta Bites, Chilli Salt Humbolt Squid, Line Caught Ling Cod, Roasted Corn with Whiskey Butter. The menu changes often to reflect what’s in season but there’s always something for everyone in their small and large share plate options.
Finally, two words: FOOD TRUCKS! The best two you’ll find on the Coast will most likely be parked outside a brewery. There’s Nomadic Kitchen at Gibsons Tapworks, where we picked up some deliciously simple yet fresh and flavourful Bulgogi Chicken Lettuce Wraps after a taster flight in the taproom.
Then over at Persephone Brewing, where you’re right on the hop farm, there’s Farm to Feast with their brick oven pizza. Grab a pint of Persephone’s Goddess Golden Ale, a slice of mozza + bacon + greens, and enjoy some live music on the lawn.
There’s one more satisfying spirit you need to try and that’s the Bricker Cider Company in Sechelt. Ciders on tap inspired by grandma’s apple farm, yoga on the lawn, board games on picnic tables. On the Sunshine Coast they eat and drink well, while enjoying every bit of the land around them.
PRO TIP: Reward yourself, after a day of shopping or hiking, with a big scoop from Mike’s Gelato in Gibsons.
STAY: Somewhere awesome
Days full of shopping, hiking, paddling, and dining, were capped off with evening strolls down to Henderson Beach from our room at Shades of Jade Inn and Spa in Roberts Creek.
Shades of Jade is luxury in the rainforest, but you’re also just up from the beach, it’s pretty surreal. The spa and guest hot tub are on the main level, along with the Tea Garden Suite. Upstairs, we had the Tall Cedars Suite that was indeed surrounded by towering trees that embraced the private patio.
Being the true Pacific Northwest gal that I am, I kept thinking how cozy our inn would be in the rain, with the evergreens even greener, the sound of raindrops on roof, and curling up in front of the fireplace.
It felt like forest cabin getaway but it was far from basic and rustic. Gas fireplace, speedy Wi-Fi, 2 person steam shower, bubble massage tub, heated tile floor in ensuite, king bed with luxury linens, contemporary bar kitchen, and breakfast for two delivered each morning.
I love the Sunshine Coast and visiting now, as an adult as opposed to a child at summer camp, definitely has its advantages. Sip, savour, shop, and explore then end your days with toes in the sand watching a Pacific Northwest sunset.
There are many ways to explore the Sunshine Coast, and this list just scratches the surface of this beautiful region. To plan your day trip, weekend getaway, or extended stay, connect with Sunshine Coast Tourism on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Plan your stay and use Booking.com to receive a $40 rebate via Miss604!