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Soak in the Sunshine Coast Along BC’s Salish Sea Route – Langdale to Egmont

Indigenous cultures, artistic communities, sea-inspired activities, spectacular coastlines and old growth forests make up British Columbia’s Salish Sea Coastal Route. This blog covers the Sunshine Coast part of the drive, from Gibsons area north to Egmont. Watch for part 2 which will cover Saltery Bay to Lund.

Sechelt Waterfront Photo: Province of BC
Sechelt Waterfront Photo | Province of BC

The Sunshine Coast area is only accessible by ferry, boat or plane providing an island feel experience. It has a mild coastal climate with many sunny days however, visitors should be prepared for wet days. (Boaters and hikers, check the weather before heading out.) Rain or shine, there are plenty of things to do in this incredible part of British Columbia. Fill your days exploring beaches, biking, paddling or fishing. Book a land or sea tour, take in a museum or festival, visit an art gallery or relax at a spa. Fuel up at breweries, cideries, distilleries, farmers’ markets and specialty food shops.

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons Photo: BC Ale Trail
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | BC Ale Trail

Getting There

The 40-minute BC Ferry ride to Langdale on the Sechelt Peninsula departs from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver; along the way take in Coast Mountain views and the spectacular Howe Sound. For travellers heading northwest to Powell River and beyond there’s a ferry between Earl’s Cove and Saltery Bay across the Jervis Inlet and on to the Malaspina Peninsula area of the Sunshine Coast. Total kilometres (not including ferry rides) from the Langdale ferry terminal to the village of Lund is approximately 140 km.

BC Ferries’ Vessel Island Sky Approaches Earl’s Cove | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Langdale

The Sunshine Coast has more artists per area than any other place in Canada, and Langdale is one of the anchor towns of the Purple Banner Tour, a self-directed studio and gallery tour which runs northwest to Powell River. A purple banner on a property indicates an artist at work, and some of them open their studios to the public. Another crafty event is the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, which takes place from Langdale to the Earls Cove area every October, with over 175 venues taking part!

Hikers and walkers can stroll the beach at Hopkins Landing or Smith Cove Park, which has a great viewpoint toward Gambier Island. Test your quads along Soames Hill Trail between Langdale and Gibsons, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of nearby islands and the Salish Sea. Mountain bikers should check out Sprockids Park and its 14 km of well-kept trails.

Gibsons Public Art Gallery. Carving is “Welh Áynexw tl’a Swa7ámchet” or “Spirit of Our Ancestors”. Artist: Sinàmkin (Jody Broomfield) of the Squamish Nation | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Gibsons

Perched on a hillside with harbour views, the town of Gibsons is a steppingstone to the Sunshine Coast. Coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries are popular with locals and tourists, and the Gibsons Public Market is open year-round. A must while here is Tidepools Aquarium, a collect-and-release aquarium located inside the market.

History buffs will enjoy the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives (recently named one of the best community museums in BC). For more art there’s the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and The Kube, with its working artists’ studios, gallery and curated retail. The Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival is held each June and is a fun way to kickstart the summer.

Painting the Roberts Creek Mandala Photo: Mary Ann Bell
Painting the Roberts Creek Mandala | Mary Ann Bell

Roberts Creek/Davis Bay Area

There are more than a few fun events in and around Roberts Creek and Davis Bay with farmers’ markets in both communities and Davis Bay’s annual sandcastle competition in July. Creek Daze is an August event that celebrates all that is whimsical in the area, with live music, food and craft vendors and games. Be sure to visit the Roberts Creek General Store and the Roberts Creek Mandala artwork on the way to the pier.

East of Roberts Creek is Kitchen Sink Rescue, with its farm animal sanctuary, and the Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club. Low tide at Roberts Creek Provincial Park means sand bar exploring, sea star spotting and seal watching.

Sechelt Harbour Sunshine Coast
Sechelt Harbour Sunshine Coast

Sechelt

Sechelt is located on a narrow isthmus that separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea and is surrounded by forests. It’s a magnificent area to kayak or to take a float plane tour for a bird’s-eye view.

Art is in the air each spring in Sechelt with its Festival of the Performing Arts and in August during the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, a gathering of Canadian writers and readers. October sees Oktoberfest followed by the Sechelt Festival of Lights in early December. The Raven’s Cry Theatre shows movies and hosts events and the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum has a large collection of artifacts including cedar baskets and ancient stone tools.

Take in the sights and smells of local flora at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden and wander along the long, sandy beaches in Porpoise Bay Provincial Park.

Halfmoon Bay | @glamouraspirit_:

Halfmoon Bay

Northwest of Pender Harbour on the way to Halfmoon Bay is Sargeant Bay Provincial Park and Trout Lake Picnic Area. South of Halfmoon Bay is Coopers Green Park with its beaches and great diving. Hikes can be had at Halfmoon Bay and Coopers Green trailheads.

Pender Harbour

Surrounded by sea inlets, this community is water-centric and full of fun. The end of May means the annual Pender Harbour May Day, and 2025 will be its 80th year! The Pender Harbour Blues Festival in June and August sees the Harbour Chamber Music Festival and the Pender Harbour Wooden Boat Show, a celebration of marine heritage, ​with historical boats, ​land-based displays and kids’ activities. Winter features the very original Pender Harbour Christmas Boat Parade.

Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast | Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Madeira Park, just south of Pender Harbour, is a hub of marine activity. Check out the many paddle sport and fishing rentals in the area.

Earls Cove to Egmont

At the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula, Earls Cove is home to the ferry terminal location for sailings to Saltery Bay. The ferry links the lower and upper areas of the Sunshine Coast.

Experience a scenic 50-minute (16 km) ride up the Agamemnon Channel, around the northeast tip of sparsely populated Nelson Island and into Jervis Inlet. You will think you’re in Norway with views of rugged mountain slopes and fjords. Don’t be fooled, it’s the Coast Mountain Range!

Whitewater Kayaking Skookumchuk Narrows near Egmont | Destination BC/Danielle Hayes

South of Earls Cove is Ruby Lake and the sandy beaches of Dan Bosch Park. Ruby Lake and nearby Sakinaw Lake have great trout fishing in season and are perfect for freshwater activities, including canoeing portages. The lagoon at Ruby Lake is a rewarding spot for waterfowl and wildlife viewing.

East of Highway 101 on the drive up from Pender Harbour is the large provincial park of Spipiyus, renowned as having the oldest closed-canopy temperate rain forest in Canada. Its hiking trails even offer ocean views.

Egmont is a waterfront village on Secret Bay, 7 km east of the BC Ferries terminal. It’s the trailhead for Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, and has modern marinas offering moorage and supplies for yachts and floatplanes. Boat charters are available here, as are a variety of guided tours, including kayaking. Make sure to visit the Egmont Heritage Centre to learn about the Shíshálh peoples and the history of logging and fishing in the community.

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The Sunshine Coast region is home to the traditional and ancestral territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, shíshálh, Tla’amin, Klahoose and Homalco Nations. Visitors are encouraged to learn about how they can engage in cultural exploration.

Read our suggested drive along the Salish Sea Coastal Route or learn about winter activities on the Sunshine Coast.

For places to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtags #campinbc #explorebc.

Winter Activities On British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast for Snowbird RVers

From the artistic community of Gibsons to the harbour village of Lund, mountains meet the sea along the Sunshine Coast, a mainland area uniquely only accessible by ferry, boat or plane. Winters are typically mild and range from 2 to 10ºC (20 to 50°F) during the day. In lower elevations, rains keep the flora and forests lush, while higher areas see snow.

There’s plenty to do both inside and out if you’re RVing here in the winter. Make sure to get out on the water and head up some slopes. You will be rewarded with majestic views and an excellent chance of seeing animals in their natural environment.

Beach walks and beachcombing make for enjoyable outings in the off-season | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Arts, Shops and Spas

This scenic and inspiring region boasts a thriving art community with more artists per capita than any other area in Canada. The Purple Banner Tour is a self-directed studio and gallery tour. Purple flags along the Sunshine Coast Highway and local streets from Langdale to Lund indicate galleries or artists’ studios, many of which are open to the public. (Visitation appointments may be necessary.) Sunshine Coast Art Tours combines visits to some tasting rooms with a majestic flight over Sechelt Inlet. There are also many eclectic shops and boutiques to explore that sell locally produced and handmade items.

Douglas Bevans of Sunshine Coast Art Tours and guests after an enjoyable visit to Motoko’s Fine Art Gallery in Garden Bay | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson 

The town of Gibsons on the shores of Howe Sound has a collection of fine galleries, clothing and giftware shops and bookstores. Molly’s Lane and Marine Drive are some streets to check out, as are the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. The Kube has working artist studios, an art gallery and curated retail. 

In Sechelt the Raven’s Cry Theatre shows movies and hosts events and the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum has a large collection of artifacts including cedar baskets and ancient stone tools.

For a different experience visit the collection of yurts in Madeira Park at Fibre Works Studio & Gallery, a creative space for art exhibits and workshops. The Sunshine Coast also has funky thrift and vintage shops and there are craft fairs and year-round and seasonal markets, including the Gibsons Public Market, the Roberts Creek Community Farm Market and Powell River’s Townsite Public Market. Sechelt has a winter market in the pre-Christmas season and the Powell River Community Resource Center hosts the Uptown Winter Market.

There are fun and practical general stores, including one at Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay. Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region.

Historic Powell River has an educational forestry museum and, in late winter, hosts the Powell River Film Festival in the classic Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously running cinema. The townsite has over 400 buildings dating to the original 1910 town plan and, in 1995, was designated as a National Historic District of Canada. Stroll around for yourself or book a heritage walking tour. There’s also the unique opportunity to take in an Indigenous experience, such as the Tla’amin Nation Cultural Tours where you can meet skilled craftspeople and learn about traditional practices.

Enjoying the Spa and Serenity Garden at Painted Boat Resort & Marina in Pender Harbour | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Of course, it’s not the West Coast without some zen spa treatments. A few to visit are Painted Boat Resort Spa in Madeira Park, with its Canadian Wilderness Scrub, Seabreeze Spa in Halfmoon Bay, Shades of Jade in Roberts Creek and Beyond Bliss in Powell River.

Click here for the Sunshine Coast Tourism events calendar.

Coffee Culture, Drinks and Dining

A dedicated coffee culture thrives in the Sunshine Coast. For mojo, pastries, brunch and more check out:

Black Bean Cafe, Beachcomber Coffee Company and Wheatberries Bakery in Gibsons
Gumboot Café, Roberts Creek
Basted Baker and Strait Coffee in Sechelt
Skookumchuck Café and Bakery, amongst the trees in Egmont
Base Camp Coffee, 32 Lakes Coffee Roasters and Bakery, River City Coffee Roasters and Edie Rae’s Café at the Old Courthouse Inn, all in Powell River.
Nancy’s Bakery, Lund (popular for its blackberry cinnamon buns).

Tacos and margaritas at Mexican and Latin influenced Costa del Sol in Powell River | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Drinks and dining options range from sustainable restaurants and bistros to distilleries, cideries and breweries. Here are a few to sample:

Tap Works Brewing Company, The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, Banditry Cider, Persephone Brewing Company and farm and Sunday Cider, all Gibsons area.
Bruinwood Estate Distillery and Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, Roberts Creek

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons Photo: BC Ale Trail
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | BC Ale Trail

The Backeddy Pub in Egmont for Pacific Northwest fare with inlet views.
Townsite Brewing for craft beer, Monks on Marine for a steak and Guinness pie and Costa Del Sol for Latin cuisine, all Powell River.
The Bricker Cider Company and TwentyTwo Taphouse in Sechelt. Also, El Segundo for Pacific tropical fusion and Jamar Canteen for Lebanese food and cooking demos. For comfort food try the Wobbly Canoe or the Gourmet Girl.

You can always refer to the BC Ale Trail for self-guided itineraries along the Sunshine Coast. Many establishments are dog friendly.

Outdoor Activities and Tours

When visiting the Sunshine Coast in winter you’ll need waterproof gear and to have extra clothing on hand. Plan any hikes—particularly in the off-season—and respect trail rules and any closures.

Wildlife such as elk, deer and coyotes are active year-round and blue herons and bald eagles can be easily spotted. Along the coast you will see seals and even sea lions, and molluscs and sea anemones in tidal pools. Guided wildlife tours are recommended for safety and best viewing. If you’re in Gibsons on a weekend the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre may be of interest.

The winter recreation of Dakota Ridge (max elevation 1,200 m) will have you looking up and out over mountains, islands and inlets | Brayden Hall @braybraywoowoo

Popular hikes and hiking areas include:

Soames Hill Park and “The Knob”, Gibsons, for sea and island views.
Iris Griffith Wetlands Park, Baker Beach Park and Mount Daniel/Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park near Madeira Park.
Pender Hill Park and beachcombing and birdwatching around Pender Harbour.
Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek.
Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park and trails around Halfmoon Bay.
Suncoaster Trail and Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park near Egmont—witness the spectacular tidal changes of the Sechelt Rapids.
Sechelt area: Wakefield Road Beach, Kinnikinnik Park, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and the lush forest of Hidden Groves.
Willingdon Beach Trail, Powell River.
Lund and area. Explore nearby marine parks, including Desolation Sound (by boat) and the Sunshine Coast Trail, Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail.

Creek areas and falls to visit in the winter are: Cliff Gilker ParkLangdale FallsHomesite Creek, Kelly Falls and  David Lam Falls in Blackwater Creek.

Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek | Chris Thorn Photography

Inland from Sechelt, winter recreation fans enjoy the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Dakota Ridge. (Alpha Adventures organizes tours here.) The ski trails are well groomed and the snowshoe trails vary in difficulty. Just north are the trails in and around Tetrahedron, a wonderful provincial park for backcountry snowshoeing. Powell River is home to Knuckleheads, a sub-alpine area popular for snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

Tours are a great way to get out and about and experience the Sunshine Coast from a local’s perspective. Sunshine Coast Tours has a boating day trip to Princess Louisa Inlet (where you can see Chatterbox Falls); you can also charter a floatplane to view this hidden gem. Harbour Air Seaplanes offers scenic flights from Sechelt. Winter kayak or go on a boat tour of the Halfmoon Bay or Pender Harbour areas; various companies offer rentals and tours. Also, Sunshine Coast Shuttles out of Powell River drives people to/from the Sunshine Coast Trail and offers some supply services.

If you fish the Sunshine Coast is a dream come true, with its inland lakes and streams, meandering coastline and the Salish Sea. The Powell River area is famous for Chinook salmon and a winter fishing charter is an unforgettable adventure. Companies include OTB Charters (Pender Harbour) and Powell River Sportfishing and Coho Point Fishing Charters. All anglers in BC must obtain separate licences to fish in tidal (salt) water and/or freshwater.

NB: Visitor Information Centres across the Sunshine Coast may have shortened business hours in the winter.

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Sunshine Coast Tourism reminds locals and visitors that they’ re on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, Skwxwú7mesh, and Homalco Nations”. Its Know Before You Go webpage has details on safe, responsible and respectful travel.

Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc #exploreBC #sunshinecoastbc

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Published: January 18th, 2024

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