Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Smuggler Cove is our destination this morning – a half-hour drive up the highway, just past Halfmoon Bay. This morning’s walk should take no more than an hour and will give you a great introduction to the pristine beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

Smugglers1

Bring your binoculars, as the first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small marshy lakes, and offering good birding opportunities. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Islands, and at this time of the year, you’re also likely to see several sailboats moored within the protected confines of the cove itself. Follow this link for more information and pictures.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.52.08 AM

For lunch, drive back toward Sechelt, but turn right at Redrooffs Road, and then follow the signs  to the Halfmoon Bay General Store. Next door you’ll find the Upper Crust Bakery with a good selection of Paninis and baked sweets. Between the two stores you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Then carry on down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

After your leisurely lunch, it’s time to hit the road again, but we’re not going too far.  Continue driving along Redrooffs Road for about ten minutes and you’ll find another Sunshine Coast Secret.

Sargeant’s Bay has been a favourite of mine for a long time – a perfect horseshoe-shaped cove with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along a pebble beach – and most likely you’ll have the whole area completely to yourself. If you’re interested in birding, this is a rich habitat with over 150 species. Spend as much time as you like here – with benches and lots of logs on the beach, pull up a seat, relax and soak in this pristine setting.sushi bar 5517

Our dinner recommendation for tonight is Sushi Bar 5517 in Sechelt at that address on Wharf Street. If you are a sushi afficionado you will not be disappointed but they also have a great selection of other Japanese dishes. The menu offers a very broad and creative selection of sushi – one of my favourites is the Alaska roll with salmon, crab and avocado. Be sure to order the Gomaae, a wilted spinache salad with sesame-peanut dressing.

If you’re not into sushi, there are two other restaurants nearby – The Old Boot and Daphne’s. After dinner, it’s time to head back to your favourite waterside deck to watch the stars come out. Keep an eye out for those of the shooting variety.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Six Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Our resident family of eagles have been extremely active lately. While their nest is hidden  in the forest, as the day begins to lighten they return to their regular perches along our shoreline to watch for breakfast opportunities, and eagerly call back and forth  to each other.

an eagle visits coracle Cove

Occasionally one of the family will perch in our big fir tree and give us a great close up. It’s a magical moment for our guests and a reminder to always have your camera ready.

Bandit

“Bandit” whom I named last year for the band of adolescent brown feathers over his eyes, will now undoubtedly, have a full head of white feathers. His younger brothers and sisters, however, jostle for landing space as they land in the nearby trees. Toward the end of each day, they can often be seen practicing their flight manoeuvres, chasing each other in the sky and calling out with their distinctive high-pitched whistling.

IMG_5785And sometimes, we’ll get another close-up when one of them perches on the railing leading down to our dock… all the better to catch their next meal.

IMG_1752

We often think of eagles as being at the top of the food chain, but only about one in ten actually survive past age three. We’re very lucky as Bandit has several brothers and sisters  Proud Parents

While all this is going on, the parents are never too far away, and should be very proud of their efforts in raising such a large family and beating the odds that Nature so often extracts.Hidden Groves near Sechelt

 

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.comCliff Gilker Waterfall

Posted in Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Watching the Great Blue Heron at dinner

Like a well choreographed musical, the Great Blue Heron has once again made its grand seasonal entrance to the stage at Coracle Cove, displaying its timeless evolutionary talents.IMG_9516 - Version 2

It brought back memories of another Spring day, when I was able to watch this beautiful bird standing patiently for several minutes, in a shallow basin of water at low tide. It was very focussed, not seeming to notice the close attention that I was paying to it at all, when suddenly its head plunged into the water.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

 

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Heron are carnivores and their long legs, neck and pointed bills have evolved to allow them to forage for their water-borne food supply. A further modification in their vertebra lets them draw their neck back into an S-shape. Standing completely motionless, they patiently wait for small fish to move into striking range, and then shoot their head and bill forward with lightning speed to spear their unwary prey.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Unfortunately, these heron are themselves, caught in the middle of the food chain. They must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for the sharp-eyed and swift-flighted eagle. As the eagle population has increased, the ungainly flight pattern of the heron is seriously outmatched, and our heron population is now noticeably declining.  Can anything be done, or do we already interfer too much with Mother Nature?

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

Posted in Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Comments Off on Watching the Great Blue Heron at dinner

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

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.DSC02128

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.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.40.30 AM

 

So much to see! So much to do! So much to taste! We stopped in at nine shops and restaurants to sample some of the finest foods Sechelt has to offer.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 9.48.55 AM

 

 

Our first stop was Ty’s Fine Foods, which has always been one of my favourite spots for lunch. We sampled two of their in-house soups: a zesty carrot-ginger and a savoury split pea, together with a lovely flakey spinach scone. All of their products are made from scratch – no “heat and serve” soups here, and yes, they do take-out.

DSC02123

Half a block down Cowrie Street we stopped in to meet Dean,  the new owner of the Sechelt Fish Market. Dean provided us with his sampling: salmon pate with a caper aioli on a delightful biscuit-style cracker. All of the ingredients were available in his store, together, of course, with a good selection of fresh, local seafood. I picked up some seasonings for my own kitchen, some Old Bay and a small tin of Maldon Sea Salt.

DSC02130

Further down the road and around the corner we stopped in at Lucky’s Smokehouse where we sampled some pulled pork sliders on a fresh baked biscuit. Wow, not just a feast for the eyes, but mighty tasty as well. Here’s a picture of our happy group. In the background you can see a few of the old classic movie posters which have been used to decorate this great little spot. While there, I learned that Lucky’s also delivers, so I’ve picked up a few of their menus for my guests.

DSC02126

Our next stop was the Butcher Block where we had a very interesting presentation on their products, the farms they come from and what makes them different from the mass produced products we find in supermarkets. Once again, it was an eye opener for this local boy. I was given a couple of links of their in-house Italian sausage to take home with me, which I added to a spaghetti sauce that night. Yes, there is a difference!

DSC02134

Now I don’t have a dog, but if you look a little closer at this picture you’ll see why our next stop was so much fun…

DSC02135

If you do have a dog or have a special friend with a dog, then you must stop in at Three Dog Bakery. They use all natural ingredients to make their special dog treats. Coracle Cove is a pet-friendly vacation rental and many of my guests like to travel with Fido when they stay with us, so I’ll be sure to recommend a visit. DSC02139

 

Our next stop was the newly opened Angelo’s Greek Grill. It was late in the day but we still had some room for these Gyro sampler’s – shaved pork on pita bread… yumm!!

DSC02142

And finally, just to round out our geographical sampling, we ended the tour at Saffron, for some East Indian cuisine. The pakora was perfectly cooked with an interesting blend of spices, and sitting inside the restaurant magically transported us to another land.

Like I said earlier, so much to see, so much to do, so much to taste. A taste of Sechelt is offered by Earthly Journeys. Check out their website for other tours and give them a try.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on A Taste of Sechelt – where to eat & where to shop to eat later

Restaurants in the Sechelt Area

Sheila & I both love to cook and when we go out for dinner the bar is pretty high.  These are the restaurants that we will always return to and we’re very comfortable recommending them to our guests.   While I’ve included TripAdvisor ratings to add a more measured perspective, I often find that one mediocre review can really skew the results. So take the ratings with a grain of salt… perhaps a good quality sea salt from the west coast of Sicily.

restaurants in the Sechelt area

 

The Blue Heron specializes in fresh seafood. Located on Sechelt Inlet. Wonderful food, great service and an incredible view of Sechelt Inlet all work together to make a memorable experience. It’s on the pricey side but well worth the splurge. Reservations are recommended 604-885-3847  TripAdvisor #1

Lighthouse Pub offers food that is casual but good, and in a great location. The outside deck looks onto a busy little harbour with boats & seaplanes coming and going, and an incredible view looking up Sechelt Inlet. Anything with seafood is great, especially their warm seafood salad. Live music Sundays 604-885-9494  TripAdvisor #2

Basted Baker is my new “go to” place for coffee and/or lunch. They have a very creative menu of amazing soups and biscuit sandwiches, decadent desserts and great tasting breakfast sandwiches (aka Bennies)  Their cappuccinos and lattes are the best, hands-down. There’s a great atmosphere inside. 604-885-1368 TripAdvisor #3

Daphne’s offers an extensive and varied menu with lots of authentic Mediterranean specialties. I love the slowed braised lamb. The service is warm and friendly and the outdoor seating affords good opportunities for people watching 604-885-2008 TripAdvisor #4

Ty’s Fine foods & Bistro is a great place for lunch, offering a selection of interesting soups, sandwiches and fabulous flat crust pizzas for an incredibly reasonable price. Open Friday evenings for tapas and wine 604-740-9818 TripAdvisor #6

Pebbles Restaurant is located on the Sechelt waterfront with beautiful views of Georgia Strait, Vancouver Island and the cruise ships heading up the coast each night.  Seafood is a favourite and they are famous for both their chowder and seafood salads. Fridays night is a very popular fiesta night with a Mexican theme 604-885-5811 TripAdvisor #8

Sushi Bar 5517 – This is the place to go for sushi. They have an extensive menu using the freshest of ingredients. It can get busy at lunch time- a true testament from locals who know where they can get a good meal at a reasonable price. Dinner time is quieter  604-885-0220 TripAdvisor #11

The Old Boot Eatery – the food is always good, the servings plentiful and lots of action. Great pastas, steak, and seafood. Live music on Thursdays 604-885-2727 TripAdvisor #14

return to our website at www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Restaurants in the Sechelt Area

Romance is in the water at Coracle Cove

I love this time of the year. The days are getting longer, and old friends are returning to Coracle Cove…like these Goldeneyes with their beautiful markings and a most interesting courtship ritual.

Barrow's Goldeneye at Coracle Cove

 

Coracle Cove is located at Four Mile Point on Sechelt Inlet,  a beautiful, pristine environment, and this is the time of the year when wildlife begins to return, with new sightings waiting to be seen almost every day.

This trio were very interested in what was below the water, diving repeatedly to break off the mussels that had attached themselves to the bottom of our dock. This is a handsome male who’s attracted two female companions.

goldeneye mating ritual

 

But it was his behaviour that really got my attention, as I had just read about it earlier that morning. The image above (courtesy of Bird Note) is his signature courting move. He thrusts his iridescent green-black head forward for a moment, then whips it back so that his nape touches his rump and his bill points skyward. Finally, he slings his head forward and makes a high buzzy call while splashing water outward with his feet.

Apparently it’s a genuine turn-on for female goldeneyes.  But he’s a rambler. After she lays their eggs, the goldeneye male abandons his mate and parental duties. It’s common conduct among ducks

It was a real privilege to have witnessed this courtship ritual and I’ll be watching more carefully to see it again, usually just around dusk.

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Romance is in the water at Coracle Cove

What’s this blog all about?

Four years ago I launched Insider TipsIt 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 the  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 Insider Tips   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.

Posted in More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on What’s this blog all about?

How to beat the winter blues – get up there to Dakota Ridge

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.06.24 PM

Grab your gloves and toque, winter is here and Dakota Ridge is a winter paradise just waiting to be explored. West coast winter rains mean fresh snow higher up on Dakota Ridge, and you’ll find world-class cross country skiing and snowshoeing right here on the Sunshine Coast.

snow shoeing on the Sunshine Coast

IMG_6935This 1,500 acre plateau features 20 kilometres of world class groomed and track set cross country ski trails (classic and skate) and another 8 kilometres of snowshoe trails, plus acres and acres of backcountry terrain. The winding trails pass through old growth forests and open areas in a beautiful subalpine setting.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.03.42 PM

Topping out at 1,200 metres, you’ll get amazing views of the Coast Mountains, Vancouver Island, and Georgia Straight capturing the magic of the Sunshine Coast.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.07.21 PM

Dakota Ridge is located off Field Road in Wilson Creek, 14 kilometres up the forest service road. The access road is plowed on a regular basis. However, at subalpine elevations, winter conditions should always be expected on the road and access is restricted to four-wheel drive vehicles with chains.

Alpha Adventures is your “go to” place for equipment and shuttle services.  They have a great selection of cross country skis and snow shoes, and can provide a safe and convenient shuttle service to get you up the mountain and onto the snow.

Check out this Facebook link for daily up-dates on road and snow conditions up top… what are you waiting for??

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.03.58 PM

Posted in Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast | Comments Off on How to beat the winter blues – get up there to Dakota Ridge

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

Posted in More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove, Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #11 – Hidden Grove & an amazing set of trails to explore just 5 minutes from Coracle Cove

Walking Tours on the Sunshine Coast – #7 – A tasting tour of Gibsons

Catch our Drift is a new tour company with a novel approach to helping visitors connect with the Sunshine Coast by providing them with unique local experiences. I went along on the Taste of the Landing Tour  the other day, and while I’ve lived here for almost 40 years, I learned quite a bit about my own community and met some pretty interesting people.

smitty's outside plank table

Our first stop was Smitty’s Oyster House where we had a sampling of fresh raw oysters from Gorge Harbour on Vancouver Island. The large plank table that you see in the image above sits just a few feet from the salty brine and we were encouraged to toss our empty oyster shells over the railing to help seed a new oyster bed. The table has an interesting story. When the restaurant first opened, the municipal council of the day were only prepared to allow a single table for outside seating. I guess you can fight City Hall!

taste mikes

We walked a few steps down the street to Mike’s Gelato where we were greeted by an impressive array of 64 varieties of gelato. It was tough narrowing my choices down to our allotted three but with a little help from our affable and engaging server I choose the Chocolate Snickers, Radical Rolo and Twisted Sweet & Salty…. yumm!!

taste black bean

We walked a couple of blocks further to the Black Bean Cafe, a coffee shop that uses only organic, fair trade beans, which they roast themselves. I had a caramel macchiato and sampled some strawberry-rhubarb muffin… what a great combination. They do all of their baking on-site and have a very loyal customer base.

taste daffodilly

We crossed over to the other side of the street and were welcomed inside by the owner of Daffadowndilly, which offers an eclectic collection of work by local artists. The building was built in 1928 as apartments for loggers and fishermen and has a colourful history. When we commented on the slanting floor, the owner shared the story that the building had been partially knocked off its foundations by a runaway truck that had careened down the steep hill some years ago.

taste grammas

This is the impressive view from Gramma’s Pub, our next stop, and another business with an interesting story. The pub was the first licenced marine pub in the province, opening over 40 years ago. A family owned business, it was named after the mother who had a penchant for the cool amber fluid.  We were served a glass of Landing Lager, which is the house brew and made by Russell Brewing specifically for Gramma’s.

taste blackberry

The Black Berry Shop was our next stop and as you can see from the image and guess from the name, they offer a lot of blackberry products. We had a sampling of an interesting  blackberry/garlic jam over cream cheese on a cracker and it was delicious.  There was also blackberry chutney, syrup and vinegar as well as some straight up blackberry jam. The store is a cooperative for over 65 local artists and food producers and offers a wide variety of wonderful products.

taste gypsy cove

Gypsy Cove is right next door and we were able to sample some of their food products as well. We started with a refreshing glass of iced tea made from one of their many specialty fruit teas. They offer over 35 different teas for a variety of tastes and needs, including a good selection of “wellness teas” to help with energy, relaxation or jet lag. We also sampled some of their infusion sea salts with some raw veggies – my two favourites were the Spanish Rosemary and the Salish Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt.

What a great day!! I was able to sample some very tasty food products made right here on the Sunshine Coast and I heard lots of interesting stories. All in all it was a very entertaining day and provided me with some unique experiences that helped this long-time resident connect even further with the community.  You can find more information about Catch Our Drift on their website.

Follow this link to return to our Coracle Cove website.

Posted in Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Walking Tours on the Sunshine Coast – #7 – A tasting tour of Gibsons