The Sunshine Coast is still 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/ 1:00 – as the ferry unloads break away from the pack of cars ……make the first left turn and follow this quiet country road for a few minutes until you reach Lower Gibsons. Originally a fishing settlement, this area still holds some of that maritime charm. Molly’s Reach was the main set in The Beachcombers, one of Canada’s longest running television series. Follow the stairs down to Smitty’s Oyster House, and grab a seat at this long communal plank table, located mere feet from the glistening brine. The decidedly seafood menu offers crab cakes, clam chowder, and of course, a variety of oysters, both raw on the half-shell, and cooked for those less adventuresome.
After lunch, explore the docks – you may be able to buy some fresh seafood directly from one of the boats. Walk back up the stairs and on to Gower Point Road and you’ll find Sunshine Coast Olive Oil, a gourmet food store specializing in single-estate and infused extra virgin olive oils.
There’s a number of interesting galleries and shoppes along this street and you can certainly spend a bit more time here.
3. Coracle Cove pre-checkin/ 2:30
Sechelt is a short half-hour drive from Gibsons so it’s time to hit the road. We suggest you pick up a few supplies so that you can truly relax once you arrive. If you need some libations, stop in at the Lighthouse Liquor Store, conveniently located just after entering Sechelt (third traffic light on your right) They boast having the most comprehensive wine selection on the Sunshine Coast, and “the coldest beer”
Stop in at Plethora Fine Foods, located on Cowrie Street, where you’ll find a great selection of imported cheeses, smoked meats and other savoury treats – enough to make up a tasty snack tray to enjoy when you arrive at Coracle Cove
Check-in at Coracle Cove/ 3:00
You’ve arrive and it’s time to enjoy the magic of Coracle Cove. Pour yourself a glass of your favourite beverage, and wander down to our dock, with your snack tray. Settle into one of these comfy red chairs and close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax… you’re beginning to shift into coastal time.
4. Dinner at the Lighthouse/ 6:30
The Lighthouse Pub (on Porpoise Bay) is all about enjoying one of the most amazing views on the Sunshine Coast. It’s casual, relaxing dining, on an expansive outside deck, where you can watch all of the action – speedy water taxis racing to and from the dock, float planes landing, and pleasure boats heading off to another adventure. Anything from the menu with seafood is recommended – Warm Seafood Salad, Baha Fish Tacos, Seafood Curry Hotpot, and of course their Fish & Chips, or if you’re feeling more carnivorous, try the Braised Lamb Shank or the legendary Pile Driver.
5. Breakfast & Walking Tour of Sechelt/ 9:00
The Basted Baker is located on Cowrie Street (just a few doors from Plethora Fine Foods) and has a really creative menu, updated constantly… their signature dish is a variety of Bennies served on a lovely soft biscuit, but we also recommend a perfect soft poached egg atop a kale/butter bean/avocado mash. You’ll be tempted by their selection of decadent treats, and their latte’s are the absolute best, hands-down.
Now it’s time for some exercise. Head up Cowrie, where you’ll find an endless selection of small shops that will draw you in – Fossello’s, Moorestock, and a newly expanded Source for Sports. Turn left at Trail. Fresh from the Coast is a great little store featuring locally made artwork by over 150 artisans. Talewind Books is few doors away. They’ve been selling books for almost 30 years and are one of the last of the independent bookstores. Check out their extensive collection of books about all things Coastal BC
Continue walking along Wharf, toward the ocean until you reach the seawall, another favourite walk of mine. Turn left and halfway along the seawall is the grand Tori Gate, where you can walk out to the end of the pier, and find an interesting set of pictures depicting how the shoreline looked back in the early pioneer days.
The seawall continues to meander through the Sechelt Indian Band Lands, where you’ll often see fishing nets hanging up to be repaired. At the end of the seawall, five majestic totems stare resolutely out to the ocean. These totems were carved in the mid 1980’s to honour each of the four tribes of the shishálh Nation, plus a fifth, to celebrate their achievement of self-government status, one of the first Indian Bands in Canada to do so.
6. Pick up Lunch Supplies/ 12:00
It’s time to explore more of the Sunshine Coast, but before setting out we suggest picking up lunch supplies. So head back to Cowrie Street for another stop at Plethora Fine Foods and pick up one of the Ploughman’s picnic lunch boxes, seen above.
7. Escaping through Smuggler Cove/ 1:30
Head back up the highway, continuing north for just a few minutes, watching for the turnoff to Smuggler Cove. The first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small ponds, created by a busy family of beavers. Later the trail opens to sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Island, before looping around to Smuggler Cove, so named for its colourful history. Nowadays, however, you’ll see only sailboats instead of sleek rumrunners of the Roaring Twenties, so have a seat and enjoy your picnic lunch
8. Dinner at The Wobbly Canoe, Davis Bay/6:30 – The Wobbly Canoe just opened this summer (2017) and judging from the line-ups and our own personal experience they’re going to be a great choice for dinner or lunch. They have a good selection of beverages, with several local craft beers, and a menu which includes pretty-well everyone’s favourites. But the highlight is the location and sitting on their outdoor patio, looking out to the Davis Bay pier and the Salish Sea, and facing west to catch the last hours of the sun and a beautiful sunset.
9. Breakfast at the Daily Roast/ 9:00
The Daily Roast is another gem in Sechelt. They’re located beside the Lighthouse Liquor Store and have a good selection of baked breakfast goodies, together with sandwiches, soups and wraps. Extra Tip: pick up a few goodies as a treat after your hike into the Skookumchuck.
10. The Eighth Wonder of the World & More/ open times – see below *
The Skookumchuk Rapids could very easily be considered the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World. Twice a day, close to a trillion litres of water flow through the constricted opening of the Skookumchuk Narrows, creating one of the world’s fastest tidal currents.
Ebb tides create huge whirlpools, strong enough to suck down a large log and send it popping into the air as it frees itself from the swirling vortex. North Point is your best viewing site. On a Flood tide, the water flows in far too fast for the narrow, constricted, opening, creating a powerful standing wave which kayakers love to surf. The best viewing site for flood tides is Roland Point.
* So now it’s time for some math… you need to time your Skookumchuck experience so that you arrive just before the tidal surge is at its strongest – ebb or flood. Use this link to determine the best time for today, then calculate – it’s a one-hour drive from Sechelt and a 40-50 minute hike from the parking lot – so it’s a simple matter of working around the Skookumchuck times to fit in the rest of the day’s activities – and here are my recommendations for experiencing the rest that Pender Harbour has to offer:
10a. SloCat Tour – located in Madeira Park at the Government Dock they offer a 90-minute tour of the inner harbour, at 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00. The tour is a good way to get out on to the water and and Captain Paul will entertain you with stories and gossip from both the past and present. Check out this link for more information.
10b. Mini Art Crawl – with over a dozen galleries and studios in the Pender Harbour area, representing a wide variety of styles and disciplines, there are lots of options to experience some original art. My favourites: Euspiria Gallery (Madeira Park); FiberWorks Studio (along the highway, just after Madeira Park); Flying Anvil Studio (Garden Bay turn-off); Motoko Gallery (Garden Bay)
10c. Lunch at the Garden Bay Pub – another large waterside deck awaits you, overlooking a marina with all manner of boats coming and going. Home of two summer week-end music festivals, they also feature live music every Sunday.
11. Dinner Options at Coracle Cove/ 6:00
Tonight’s dinner recommendation is a little more relaxing and doesn’t involve going anywhere. There are several menu choices, as well – you can order take-out and either pick it up on your way home or have it delivered Follow this link for a few of our suggestions. Or you could pick up a few ingredients at Claytons Heritage Market in Sechelt and cook yourself a simple dinner. There’s a good Weber BBQ for those so inclined, as well as all of the cooking pots and utensils you would need. Or, if you’d rather go out for dinner here’s another link with a few more of our favourites
12. Breakfast at the GumBoot/ 9:00
It’s your last day on the Sunshine Coast so we’ll reluctantly work our way back to the ferry. The Gumboot Restaurant, is located in The Heart of Roberts Creek and definitely falls into the coastal time category. Try the Buddda Bowl… you’ll get a large healthy plate, mounded high with steamed greens, shredded raw carrots and beets, baked tofu slices, and brown rice with a rich and flavourful peanut sauce. If you’re into something more traditional, they’ve got that too, but it’s all about staying in coastal time.
13. Exploring Roberts Creek/ 10:00
After breakfast wander down the road toward the ocean where you’ll find a beautiful mandala, a community project, re-painted every year by local Creekers. A few steps further will bring you to the magnificence of the Salish Sea and a beautiful, deserted sandy beach where you can walk, explore tidal pools, and collect an interesting piece of driftwood.
14. The Waterfalls of Cliff Gilker Park/ 11:00
Cliff Gilker Park is zealously protected by this passionate community. Its 56 hectares are joined together with a series of well maintained trails and foot bridges that criss-cross back and forth over Roberts Creek as it funnels its way back to the Salish Sea. In a few spots the creek bed drops suddenly, forming four waterfalls. Several viewing platforms and comfortable benches will allow you the opportunity to sit, enjoy some coastal time and contemplate the beauty of this endless cycle of Nature.
15. Langdale Ferry Terminal/ 2:45
If you’re travelling during the summer, make sure that you’ve made a reservation for the ferry well in advance. Knowing that you have a guaranteed place on the sailing of your choice, you can continue this relaxing journey in coastal time. I hope you’ve had a great Sunshine Coast experience.
Check out this interactive map for all of the places mentioned in this blog and then login to your own Google Maps to upload and use while you’re exploring the Sunshine Coast.
Follow this link to return to www.coraclecove.com