What’s this blog all about?

Four years ago I launched Everything Sunshine Coast. It was a logical next step to the ten-years of monthly e-letters that I’d been sending out to my former guests who had stayed at Coracle Cove.  I enjoy sharing my beautiful community, particularly with people who are thinking of visiting for the first time. Blogging enables me to respond quickly to what’s happening, and I think there’s an audience that’s interested in timely, insider information on the Sunshine Coast.

Cliff Gilker Waterfall

In this blog I provide information about Everything  Sunshine Coast – my favourite places for an afternoon hike, new restaurants and old – where we’ve really eaten and will actually go back;  upcoming festivals and events – when & where to get tickets… all that good stuff that will help you have a better experience when you next visit the Sunshine Coast.  That’s what I’ve been doing since we first opened Coracle Cove to visitors to the Sunshine Coast and it’s one of the appreciative comments I keep hearing from my guests.

Fine Dining at Chasters

Fine Dining at Chasters

But I have a bit of a confession – it’s really just a labour of love. In order to write meaningfully about all of these great Sunshine Coast experiences, I need to research and experience all those experiences myself.  My wife and I moved to the coast in 1974  and this blog is a great excuse for us to continue experiencing all the great things that this beautiful place has to offer. And now that we’re retired, we have a more time to do just that.

I also love the challenge of taking better and better pictures and there’s lots of great opportunities for that on the Sunshine Coast – a picture is worth a thousand words – so for all you speed readers, I’ll include a few pictures of this great place we get to call home. Like this one, taken early one morning. about this time of the year, from the seawall in front of Sechelt – one of my favourite places for a quick walk.

I hope you’ll find these postings helpful and I invite you to return for more timely information on Everything Sunshine Coast   http://www.coraclecove.com

And for the speed readers, you can find more of my images on Instagram (@coraclecove) and on our Coracle Cove Facebook page.

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Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #11 – Hidden Grove & an amazing set of trails to explore just 5 minutes from Coracle Cove

How good is this… a walk through a beautiful forest and a chance to do some photography – sounds like the perfect outing for me!! Hidden Grove is just five minutes from Coracle Cove and I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately.

Google Map for Hidden Grove1

A series of wonderful trails has been created over the past few years and a second, widened trail with a good smooth base has just been finished by the hard working crew of volunteers. Both are perfect for the wheels of your choice – a wheel chair or a child’s stroller – providing increased access to a broader spectrum of users.

There’s a cultural history component to the trail system as well. Shortly after entering the trails you’ll notice several trees which have undergone bark stripping. The shíshálh Nation who have settled the area for several millennia, continue to harvest the bark of the cedar tree to make traditional baskets, regalia and clothing. The bark is relatively thin and grows back quickly.

The history of Hidden Grove is also one of survival… survival from natural fires of several centuries ago, which left charred bark up to a foot thick on the largest Douglas firs. More recently, the area was scheduled for logging but the local community rallied together  and Hidden Grove has been saved again.

Today these precious 125 acres have been set aside solely for recreation and less than 5 minutes away from Coracle Cove, they provide our guests a nearby opportunity for both solitude and a re-connection with nature.

View from Hidden Grove

The main trail rises gently, passing rocky outcrops and mossy plateaus and I branched off to the yellow trail to take this picture. The trail wound its way around a large outcropping of rocks and the view from the top was outstanding. It shows the very narrow stretch of land upon which the town of  Sechelt sits  and how it got it’s first name “Land Between Two Waters.”    We could just make out Vancouver Island in the distance across the Salish Sea

Hidden Groves near Sechelt

The extensive trail system loops through some interesting micro-climates and vegetation. Coming down from Pine Bluff, I picked up the Red Trail and as I followed it further, the change in vegetation was dramatic with a profusion of low growing ferns and moss covered tree trunks.

Hidden Groves near Sechelt

The network of trails is well marked with signs like this at each intersection, and it’s impossible to lose one’s way. Today,  it seemed as if I had the trails completely to myself, with the exception of a a couple of woodpeckers who kept me company with their rhythmic tapping on the trunks of the trees.

Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com

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Favourite Fall Memories at Coracle Cove

Fall Colours at Coracle Cove

I’m celebrating my 100th blog with a look back at some of my Favourite Fall Memories. I call September the “endless summer month.”  Maybe it’s because I’m retired that I have the time to really enjoy and appreciate the blue sunny skies and warm temperatures, but it still seems like a bonus.

September at Coracle Cove

The hot days of August are behind us so there’s less thermal wind during the day. The morning water is flat, creating beautiful reflections.

Fall sunrise   2012 - Version 2

As each day passes, the sun rises and sets a little further south and is lower in the sky. This can result in the most amazing sunrises that make you want to jump out of bed and grab your camera.

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Sometimes there’s a little mist in the morning, hanging gently over the calm, flat water.

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And then at the end of the day, the low setting sun repeats its amazing colourful display over our western shoreline.

I’ve put together a video of some of my favourite Fall Memories – I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

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Fifth Annual Art Crawl coming up soon – October 17-19

How often do you get to visit an internationally acclaimed artist in their own studio and watch them working at their craft?

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

As a long time resident I’m aware of the large number of artists who are attracted to the lifestyle and beauty of the Sunshine Coast. But last year I was given an insider’s list of the “best of the best” studios to visit during the annual Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL. I had an amazing weekend and came away with a whole new appreciation for the tremendous amount of talent hidden away in this colourful, eclectic community.

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

With this much anticipated event  just a few weeks away I decided it was time to update this post.

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

 This is a great weekend getaway where you can take a scenic coastal tour of 135+ galleries, artist studios and more. You’ll have a chance to meet the artists in their studios and experience the vibrant arts and culture community on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no pressure to buy, just a weekend for you to see some new art, talk with the artists and most of all, to enjoy the experience.

Last year there were several opening night receptions taking place up and down the Coast. Goldmoss Studio in Roberts Creek was definitely “the place to be” and  Fresh from the Coast in Sechelt, offering live music and a demonstration by local artist Brett Varney, also attracted a good crowd.

Artist: Brett Varney

Just a few doors down the street, Artworks celebrated with more food and music and a demonstration by contemporary artist Donna Swain. It was a magical experience watching this image emerge on her canvas.

As the evening progressed, a large crowd converged at RockHouse Studio... even the Mayor showed up to help celebrate Art on the Sunshine Coast.  RockHouse, as the name implies features a large granite interior wall which was an intersting counterpoint to the work of impressionist painter Dana Caple Smith.

Sechelt’s Mayor John Henderson with Dana Caple Smith

Saturday morning broke with unexpected sunny skies and I was really looking forward to visiting my “best of the best” list of Arts Crawl participants in the Roberts Creek area.

 This is it. Design, a glassworks studio, is tucked away deep in the woods of Upper Roberts Creek, and this modernistic studio, filled with treats both inside and out, is now on my official visitors’ must see list.

Further up the road, as I drove deeper into the forest I found yet another hidden jewel, just down a roadway behind this interesting street marker.

Andrew Dunkerton came to the Coast in 1975 and has lovingly crafted his beautiful post and beam studio from the trees on his small acreage. Andrew’s love of wood carries on into the studio where he has created beautiful Northwest Coast style masks and bentwood boxes.

My next stop was filled with more surprises. Goldmoss Gallery, with polished concrete floors, high ceilings and large windows offering magestic ocean vistas beyond would not be out of place in an urbane setting were it not for the majestic tall cedars surrounding the gallery. Goldmoss, which opened in 2010 provides a mix of work by local artists Bon and Lee Roberts as well as others from afar, and their goal is “to provide original fine art to established and emerging collectors.”

Artist: Sally Michener

Sunday brought forth another sunny morning. It was going to be a perfect day for a drive up the Coast to visit a special studio in Halfmoon Bay. But first I wanted to re-visit the studio of Laurie Rolland. Laurie’s small tidy studio in Davis Bay belies her status as an artist whose pottery has been displayed internationally and held in both corporate and public collections (as well as my own)

Sunshine Coast ART CRAWL

George Pratt’s studio was the last on my list and I was looking forward to my visit.  Like many artists that I had met this weekend, George was drawn to the Coast as much by its lifestyle as its beauty.  His work is widely collected in North America by private individuals and corporations and several large works have been commissioned for public display in Canada. Some also  have been presentation works for foreign dignitaries including Prince Phillip and Bill Clinton. I was greeted by several of his creations as I walked up the driveway.

His home based studio, set on five acres of rock and trees offers inspiring panoramic views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Island. More recently, this talented artist has turned to painting and coming inside his studio of vibrant colours was like a fine dessert to end this wonderful weekend.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Art Crawl. The studio guide has just been published and I know that I’ll be in for a very full  weekend.

Follow this link to return to my website at www.coraclecove.com or to read some of my other recommendations for the Sunshine Coast.

 

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Festival of the Rolling Arts ready to roll out the memories

Most of us remember our first car – mine was a ’51 Chev, which I bought for a hundred hard-earned bucks. Fortunately, I worked part time pumping gas and the guys in the back of the garage were pretty good about helping me keep it on the road.

1951 Pontiac Chiefton - not much difference between Pontiacs and Chevs back in the day

1951 Pontiac Chiefton – not much difference between Pontiacs and Chevs back in the day

A few years later, after working all summer in a remote fishing cannery, I came home with enough money in my pocket to pay for my next year of university, and became the proud owner of a 1961 Chev Impala Hardtop. It was sky blue and I’ve still got lots of great memories driving that car.

1961 Chev Impala  lots of memories in this baby

1961 Chev Impala
lots of memories in this baby

The Festival of the Rolling Arts, also known as the Sleepy Hollow Rod Run and Show’n Shine is an all weekend event where we get an opportunity to walk down memory lane, remembering the cars we owned and those cars we once dreamed of owning.

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Old classic cars usually start showing up in our community during the week, and on Friday the Rod Run rolls out at 6:15pm. Last year’s run had 416 classic cars winding their way for 30km, through 3-4000 spectators who lined the highway from Sechelt to Halfmoon Bay.

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The drivers are always amazed at their warm welcome from the enthusiastic cheering crowds. They make signs, dress in costumes and place couches/ lawn chairs in their driveways, with a number of barbecues and house parties in full swing. I’ll be gathering on Redrooffs Road, just before the Halfmoon Bay Fire Hall, where I’ll watch and party with my daughter-in-law’s family.

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The Show’n Shine starts Saturday morning in downtown Sechelt, where the main street is blocked off and lined with cars parked on both sides, stretching for several blocks. This is definitely a walk down memory lane, where you get a chance to have a closer look at these beautifully restored cars.  Check out this great video by local blogger Duane Burnett

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and here’s a sampling of some of our local entries:

1929 Model A Ford

1929 Model A Ford

 

1932 Ford Phaeton

1932 Ford Phaeton

1930 Model A Sport Coup

1930 Model A Sport Coup

1947 Plymouth

1947 Plymouth

1967 GTO - one of the first muscle-cars

1967 GTO – one of the first muscle-cars

If you haven’t seen this show then you’re in for a real treat, and if you can’t make it this year be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event – it’s always the second weekend in August – which is always a great time to visit the Sunshine Coast.

Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

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Where can I find great fish & chips on the Sunshine Coast ??

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Finding a good plate of fish & chips on the Sunshine Coast is relatively easy, but I’m searching for something great and that narrows the options.  So how do I define great?

The quality of the cooked fish and fries are obvious, but the ambience of the location, and then the price should be considered when choosing where to satisfy that elusive craving.

Molly's Reach

Lower Gibsons, originally a fishing settlement, has three places worthy of consideration. Molly’s Reach, the iconic cafe of Beachcomber’s fame, has the show piece location, together with outside tables offering a great view looking over Gibsons  Harbour.

Molly's Reach

$14 gets you a 1-piece halibut and chips with a small side of coleslaw and tartar sauce. They are also licensed, offering a good selection of brews and beverages to accompany your meal.

smitty's outside plank table

Smitty’s Oyster House is just down a flight of metal stairs from Molly’s. Outdoor seating is communal on a long wooden plank table that is literally just a few feet from the salty brine, scoring greatness for the location factor.

fish and chips on the sunshine coast

For $17 you get a definite step up on your plate – tempura battered halibut pieces with a malt vinegar reduction and yam frites… yumm!! They’re also licensed, offering a selection of craft brews and wine. The added bonus is their menu of other seafood dishes and as somebody said to me “why just limit yourself to fish and chips?”  

the codfather

Codfather’s is just around the corner, along a busy little street with several small cafes and gift shops. Fish & chips have been served at this location for 58 years.  Codfather’s has a loyal following and are always busy, with seating limited to a few tables set out on the sidewalk.

Codfathers

$14.95 gets you a plate filled with more fries than you can eat and a meaty piece of ling cod. The dish came with a freshly prepared cole slaw and a most interesting tartar aoli.

Sharkey's

Locals in the know have long headed to Sharkey’s for their favourite dish. Tucked away in upper Roberts Creek, it can be hard to find. If you’re coming from Gibsons, turn right at the traffic light and watch for this small sign on your left. It’s take-out only so the location factor suffers. However, there are two wondrous waterfront locations within a short five minute drive – Roberts Creek beach and the Davis Bay Seawall.  Bring your own beverage of choice,  find a big, bleached log to sit on, and enjoy your meal. It’s the most splendid location ever.

Sharkey'sJust $6 will get you all this – 4 oz of chipped cod, lightly battered and cooked to perfection, plus the piece de resistance, a side of chips, “twice cooked,” as they were meant to be.  The cole slaw is fresh and the tartar sauce, tangy. These are the greatest of the great.

Lighthouse at Davis Bay

Further down the highway, at Davis Bay, where the road runs along beside the ocean, is the latest entry into the competition. Lighthouse on Location has re-appeared under new management. This location, along the popular seawall is absolutely outstanding, especially at low tide which exposes a large sand bar.

Lighthouse at Davis Bay

$8 gets you a small plate of fish and chips, strait-up with no cole slaw or tartar. They’ve just opened up so I’d give them a few weeks to work out their menu. They do offer other choices, so if you’re already at the beach, you may want to give them a try.

Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt gets top location marks for its large outdoor deck and amazing views looking up Sechelt Inlet. You’ll be entertained by the parade of colourful boats and float planes coming and going in the busy little marina.

Lighthouse

$13.75 gets you a delectable plate of craft beer battered halibut, galley fries and a generous serving of slaw.  It’s a licensed pub so you also get a full choice of beverages, including a few tasty local craft beers.

I live in Sechelt, so the Lighthouse is my #1 choice, especially if I want to have a couple of pints. But if I’m in Gibsons, I’ll choose Smitty’s for their unique presentation. Then again, if I’m on the road and I’m not too fussy about location, then it’s Sharkey’s, hands down!!

I’m sure I’ve left out other favourites so please feel free to add your comments and let’s get a dialogue happening. The whole purpose of this blog is to give visitors and locals a bit of insider information on where to find great fish & chips on the Sunshine Coast.

Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

Dwellable

 

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Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #15 – searching for gnomes in Davis Bay

 

Brookman Park, Sechelt

It had been several years since I last walked the Brookman Park trails, but I had a little extra time on my hands and what better way to get some exercise and take a few pictures. Besides, I wanted to see if I could spot any of the hidden gnomes I’d heard about.

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If you’re coming from Sechelt, the trail is accessed just past the big sandy beach at Davis Bay, and just before the bridge. It follows along beside Chapman Creek.

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You’re never too far from the creek and soon after I had started, the sounds of traffic were replaced by flowing water and the plaintiff call of a Swainsons Thrush hiding somewhere in the brush.

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The trail is well maintained with this footbridge recently built over a perennial wet spot in the trail.

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I was on the look-out for gnomes and was soon rewarded with this pair carved into the aged stump of an old growth cedar.

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…and then, just as quickly, another appeared right in front of me. These stately faces were carved several years ago by Terry Chapman, using a chainsaw. Terry started carving at a very young age, making boats and figures from bark found along the riverbanks of the Fraser River. He now lives in Ladysmith where he has his own gallery.

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I had heard that there were several gnomes along the trail, as many as seventeen. Some are quite obvious and others… well, they’re gnomes so you have to keep your eyes open… and sure enough I was rewarded with another pair, hidden a little further off the trail.

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My time was running out and finally I had to turn back. I’d had a great walk through the woods, took a few pictures and had spotted a few gnomes. All in all, not a bad outing. My gnome count for the day – six, but I’ll be heading back to see if I can spot a few more.

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Where to eat in Sechelt? The Lighthouse is a great waterfront option

 

Lighthouse in Sechelt

It doesn’t get much better than this – dining on the deck on a beautiful sunny day at the Lighthouse. It’s one of my favourite places to go and I definitely speak from experience when I recommend my guests to have at least one meal at the Lighthouse.

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It’s casual dining, and the place to be is on the deck, where you can watch all of the action.  Porpoise Bay is a busy waterway with small work boats coming and going and float planes landing and taking off throughout the day.

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…there’s all sorts of things passing in and out of this amazing vista. The view is constantly changing, keeping you entertained while relaxing on the waterfront deck

Lighthouse in Sechelt

Even when it’s a cloudy, misty day, your table is protectively tucked under the retractable roof and you’re still able to enjoy the ever-changing view. And if it’s one of those “rare” west coast rainy days you can move inside and sit beside the warm fireplace.

Lighthouse in Sechelt

The Lighthouse is all about enjoying one of the most amazing views on the Sunshine Coast and their expansive outside deck has plenty of seating.

Lighthouse in Sechelt

They’ve got a good selection of brews on tap, including some great craft beers. My favourite… Total Eclipse of the Hop, a strong IPA brewed with six varieties of hops, produced by nearby Howe Sound Brewing. If you like a beer with some character, then I would recommend giving this one a try.

Lighthouse in Sechelt

Yesterday’s special was the Warm Seafood Salad and as you can see the serving was extremely generous, with fresh prawns, mussels, salmon and whitefish served over a bed of mixed greens. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the dressed mixed greens were fresh and crisp.

Lighthouse in Sechelt

Some of my other recommended choices: Seafood Curry Hotpot, Baha Fish Tacos, Braised Lamb Shank, anything with Mussels, and of course their Fish & Chips… and if you’re feeling a bit more carnivorous I’ve heard their Pile Driver is pretty unbelievable.

Follow this link to learn more about Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite and more of our Insider Tips for the Sunshine Coast.

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The Upper Deck Cafe – fine dining in a floating restaurant in Secret Cove

You can’t get any closer to waterside-dining at the Upper Deck Cafe because you’re actually floating on it.  Located in Secret Cove Marina in Halfmoon Bay, they have a well deserved reputation among boaters, many of whom plan their trips around a scheduled overnight mooring in order to sample their fare.

Secret Cove is just a short 25-minute drive from Coracle Cove and we regularly recommend this small intimate restaurant to our guests who are looking for a special dining experience. They were recently reviewed in Flare Magazine’s “Five most romantic little getaways in the world.”

This seasonal restaurant, open from May to September, has been managed for the past few years by a family who alternate their seasons between Secret Cove and Melaque in Mexico where they operate their own restaurant during the winter season. Mother is the genius in the kitchen while her affable son most capably manages the floor.

They offer a limited menu with a fresh sheet for daily specials which allows them to extend a variety of choices over their short season.  The tantalizing choices will definitely keep you focussed as you struggle to narrow down your selection. My wife is a self-admitted scallop junky and when we were last here she ordered the sambuca-orange scallops with wild rice and barley.

Fortunately, scallops were on the menu again, this time prepared in a ginger, basil, coconut sauce. Cooking delicate scallops demands impeccable timing to keep them moist and to maintain their briny flavours. They were cooked perfectly and accompanied with julienned pepper, red onion and zucchini sticks, together with Thai curry rice cakes that were just spicy enough to add a counter balancing zing to the palate.

Upper Deck in Secret Cove

We were on our way home from a Skookumchuk hike where we had watched a group of crazy kayakers surfing in a 15+ knot tidal current. Normally I’m a bit of a carnivore, as evidenced from this image from my previous review: a coffee-crusted tenderloin. It was tender, with a bit of spicy heat and the coffee crust and balsamic reduction a lovely counterpoint.

It was late into the evening, however, so I wanted something a little lighter.  The Proscuitto wrapped halibut came with a  lemon-caper beurre blanc sauce that was absolutely succulent. Like the scallops, the halibut was cooked perfectly, moist throughout with fresh ocean flavours. As you can see the serving was most generous, coming with a side of mixed greens and a wonderful mushroom risotto, with lovely, little oyster mushrooms.

Upper Deck in Secret Cove

The food was marvellous, the service efficient and friendly, and the bill quite reasonable – $90 including a generous pouring of wine for each, plus tip. In addition to this fine dining experience we were entertained by boats of all sizes passing by our outside table on the upper deck. Dessert wasn’t necessary, but the colourful sunset was a wonderful finish.

Follow this link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

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Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #14 – Skookumchuk Rapids

The Skookumchuk Rapids could easily be considered the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Twice a day, over 200 billion gallons of water flow through the narrow and constricted opening of the Skookumchuk Narrows, creating a tidal current that is rated as one of the world’s fastest and most dangerous.

Skookumchuk

Experienced boaters will carefully consult their tide tables, often checking a second and even third source, before entering the Narrows. They are waiting for “slack tide,” that precise moment when the tidal flow changes direction, from flood to ebb and the current subsides. However, it’s those extreme currents which can sometimes approach 16 knots,  that attract a daredevil group of white water kayakers, .

Skookumchuk Rapids

During a Flood Tide, the water flows through Skookumchuk Narrows at a far greater volume than the narrow and constricted opening can handle. As the waters back up they create a series of standing waves and it’s these waves, that attract the kayakers, who attempt to surf in their small vulnerable craft. (check out this YouTube video)

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It’s an incredible experience to witness the raw power of Nature and this is what makes the Skookumchuk such a great experience.  At the end of your hike there are two viewing areas to choose from. If it’s a flood tide you’ll want to carry on to Roland Point, while if the tide is ebbing, North Point is the preferred site to see the large whirl pools.

Ebb Tide occurs when the tide is flowing out of Sechelt Inlet and that’s when the large whirlpools are created. They’re strong enough to suck down a large log and send it popping into the air as it frees itself from the swirling vortex. It was an ebb tide that was responsible for the tragic accident that took the lives of two Auxiliary Coast Guard members in 2012, as they attempted to travel through the waters during a practice session.

You need to time your hike to see the tidal surge at its strongest and you can use this tide table link to determine the best time for this.  The hike itself takes about 40-50 minutes along a wide and well maintained trail, that is easy for most abilities. If you arrive early you can watch the current building up.

Skookumchuk Rapids

From early June to mid-September, the little bakery is open at the trail head where you can pick up panninis or sticky buns to munch on while you’re watching the show.  Once you arrive, take your seat and watch the Skookum Lady strut her stuff.

We hope you enjoyed this. If you’d like to learn more about other Sunshine Coast attractions and our award winning Vacation Rental follow this link http://www.coraclecove.com

 

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