72 hours on the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is a bit of a secret – endless stretches of craggy coastline, winding trails through verdant green forests, and a laid back vibe, called coastal time that compels you to slow down. But if all you’ve got is precious little time, how do you unlock this secret??  We’ve put together an interactive map and 15  great ideas for enjoying three very full days on the Sunshine Coast:
1. Get an early start on your getaway – take an early ferry – there’s less traffic in the morning and you’ve just added a few extra hours to your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry head upstairs and enjoy the view. Snap off a few pictures like this as your ferry winds its way between several small islands.

2. Lunch & Exploring Old Gibsons Harbour/ 12.30  – as the ferry unloads break away from the pack of cars … Continue reading

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Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – # 5 – The Sechelt Seawall

IMG_5365The seawall in front of Sechelt is one of my favourite walks and I visit it throughout the year. I captured this winter sunrise a few years ago and love its intense colours.

However, the real attraction of the Sechelt Seawall for me is the opportunity to get in a very pleasant half-hour’s exercise with an interesting and incredibly scenic walk. My walk usually starts at Snickett Park with its beautiful large-rock outcroppings and views of the Trail Islands.  There are a few heritage cottages at this end of the seawall built almost a century ago when Sechelt was a stopping point for the old Union Steamships that travelled along the coast.

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Halfway along the seawall is the grand Tori Gate, built in 2002 by the Timber Framers Guild of North America as a gift to the community. The Tori Gate serves as an entrance to the Sechelt Pier which provides a great vantage point to look back at Sechelt. There’s an interesting set of pictures depicting how the shoreline looked during the Union Steamship days, and includes a historical description of the various buildings. IMG_5935

The seawall continues along through the Sechelt Indian Band Lands, where you’ll often see fishing nets hanging up to be repaired. The real treat can be found at the end of the seawall, five majestic totems staring resolutely out to the ocean.  These totems were carved in the mid 1980’s to honour each of the four tribes which came together to form the shishálh Nation, and the fifth to celebrate their achievement of self-government status, one of the first Indian Bands in Canada to do so. The shishálh have carved over 25 totems over the past few decades and these five are fine examples of this beautiful west coast art. the totems of Sechelt

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Searching for trolls along Chapman Creek

 

Brookman Park, SecheltLast winter, heavy rainfalls overloaded Chapman Creek, causing it to spill over its banks in some sections and washing out part of the trail. That section of the trail has now been bypassed, with a new pathway and a serious set of well constructed stairs leading back down to follow the creek.  While I was curious to see what had been done, I was even more interested in planning an adventure for my grandchildren, looking for trolls, hiding in the forest.

IMG_2883If you’re coming from Sechelt, the trail is accessed just past the big sandy beach at Davis Bay, and just before the small bridge you’ll find the parking lot and a small playground.

IMG_2884You’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.

IMG_2882The trail is well maintained with this footbridge recently built over a perennial wet spot.chapman creek gnomes

I was on the look-out for trolls and was soon rewarded with this pair carved into the aged stump of an old growth cedar that had been logged decades ago.

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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 trolls along the trail, as many as seventeen. Some are quite obvious and others… well, they’re hiding so you keep your eyes open and sure enough I was rewarded with another pair further off the trail, and then two more. trolls

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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 trolls. All in all, not a bad outing. My count for the day – seven, but I’ll be heading back with my grandchildren to see if we can find a few more.

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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. Follow me for a map & pictures… Continue reading

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A guide to the Farmers & Artisan Markets on the Sunshine Coast

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

The relaxed lifestyle and natural beauty of Sunshine Coast has attracted an eclectic mix of people, many of whom are both creative and talented. Coasters also like to know where their food comes from, and a trip to the community market is a regularly scheduled event to pick up freshly picked supplies for a special dinner, and often to see what your favourite potter has just fired in her kiln.

Sechelt Farmers Market

Fortunately for locals, as well as those visiting the Sunshine Coast there are plenty of markets to choose from. Here’s a guide to help you experience the full flavour of Farmers & Artisan Markets on the Sunshine Coast.

Wednesdays Farm Gate Market: until October 28. Locally grown produce and organic food, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Roberts Creek Hall. Insider tip: ask how the ancient Maya used these raw cacao ingredients to treat a variety of ailments.

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

 

 

 

Thursdays  Gibsons Night Market: to Sept 3.   Food, live music, crafts, chocolate, lotions, art, clothing, and more. 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, 626 Shaw Rd, Gibsons (behind Petro Can),

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Friday Farmers’ Market at the Gibsons Public Market:. Pick up locally grown fruits and vegetables, seedlings for your own garden, frozen seafood, fresh flowers, fresh bread, local honey and preserves, local chocolate and other ready to eat foods. Listen to live music while sipping one of Persephone’s fine craft beers. Afterwards, enjoy a stroll through Gibsons Landing. 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM, 473 Gower Point Rd (every Friday until Oct 9th)

Sechelt Farmer's Market

 

 

Saturdays  Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market:  The original and largest market on the Sunshine Coast – always local – always fresh – and an extensive collection of local artisans.  Insider tip: ask Farmer John for a jar of his hidden supply of Highland Marmalade. 9:00 am – 2:30 pm at the end of Cowrie Street by the Library. Every Saturday to Sept 26.

Sechelt Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays  Roberts Creek Heart Market: to September 20. Local, organic farm produce, artisan wares and crafts. Live entertainment. A co-operative venture between the Roberts Creek Health Food Store, The Heart Gardens, and Heart of the Creek Holdings, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Markets on the Sunshine Coast

Sundays  Gibsons Landing Sunday Market: every Sunday to end of September. Locally made crafts, baked goods and fresh produce.  10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Holland Park, across from Winegarden Park in Gibsons Landing

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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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A Taste of Sechelt – where to eat & where to shop to eat later

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Recently, I was invited to join a group of visitors on a guided walking tour, A Taste of Sechelt.  As a long-time resident I have to admit that I learned a few things on this tour, but I also came away with an appreciation of just how valuable such a tour would be for anyone visiting Sechelt. If you’re looking for ideas on where to go for lunch or dinner, or what to pick up for dinner back at Coracle Cove, this is a great introduction to Sechelt’s food scene. Here’s a few tips from what I learned… Continue reading

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Escaping through Smuggler Cove

If you are looking to get away for the weekend or wanting a short side trip from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful destination and Smuggler Cove, with its pristine beauty and colourful history makes for a great escape.

Shortly after leaving the parking area you’ll reach the first of several wooden walkways that cross over flooded areas and skirt around small ponds. If you’re lucky you might see beavers busily building the dams which have caused this flooding.

The 1.3 km trail winds through a diverse rain forest habitat with several twisting Arbutus reaching above the canopy, and continues with outlooks onto the cove itself, as well as Welcome Passage and Georgia Strait beyond. In the near distance you can see several islands, including North and South Thormanby and Texada.

During the summer months the cove is often full of anchored sailboats and other pleasure craft. You’ll see large boats navigating carefully through the narrow entrance to the cove, hugging the far shoreline to avoid several rocks lying just below the surface.

The cove has a colourful history dating back to the late 1880’s when it was first used to smuggle Chinese labourers into the United States to work on the expanding network of railways. The head tax required to enter the country was prohibitively expensive forcing them to resort to other means.

Later, American Prohibition, spawned a burgeoning industry for many Canadian boat operators, attempting to make ends meet during the Depression. Small, fast boats would load up with illicit liquor from stills on nearby Texada Island, to meet up with their American counterparts in international waters, 12 miles offshore. Each side of the sale would hold a torn dollar bill, to match up as proof of purchase.

Getting There:  Head north from Sechelt along the highway for approximately 10 minutes  and watch for the well-marked sign to Smuggler Cove. Turn left and follow this winding road until you reach a small parking area, where the trail begins.

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Birding at Sechelt Marsh

 

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The Sechelt Marsh is a great place to stretch your legs with its winding trail around a small pond. The pond is fed by both fresh and tidal water, offering a rich habitat, and an abundance of ducks, mostly Mallards together with other common species. IMG_4850

There is a small island in the middle of the pond offering protection to new arrivals, and many rarer ducks have appeared including this Canvasback.

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Springtime is wonderful for seeing new young life, paddling closely by the mother, with the male species nearby keeping a close watch for any danger.IMG_8076IMG_9314

The winding loop passes through trees and bushes surrounding the Marsh and can be good for a wide variety of passerines at any season, including Black-capped Chickadees, and White-throated Sparrows.IMG_3751

I always enjoy making several loops around the Marsh, both for the exercise as well as the opportunity to see something I may have missed.

Sechelt Marsh is located north of the town centre on Wharf Road, at Porpoise Bay. More information about birding on the Sunshine Coast can be found at http://www.sunshinecoastnature.com/

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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.

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Dwellable

 

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