This blog continues my series of daily itineraries, in which I unlock the secrets of the Sunshine Coast and share a few of my best insider tips for favourite activities and restaurant recommendations. Today we are exploring the north end of the Lower Sunshine Coast.
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 one of the world’s fastest tidal currents.
On a Flood Tide, the water flows in at a far greater rate than the narrow opening can handle, creating a standing wave between the outside and inside waters. Kayakers gather here to surf the wave in their small white-water kayaks. (check out this YouTube video) The best viewing site for this is at Roland Point.
When the tide is flowing out of Sechelt Inlet (Ebb Tide) large whirlpools are created, strong enough to suck down a large log and send it popping into the air as it frees itself from the swirling vortex. The best viewing site of the Ebb tide whirlpools is at North Point.
You want to time your hike so you arrive when the tidal surge is at its strongest. The hike in takes about 40-50 minutes from the parking lot (there’s a great little bakery at the trail head) Arrive a little early, take a seat and then watch the Skookum Lady strut her stuff. Use this tide table link to organize the best viewing time and then it’s a simple matter of working out the rest of the day’s schedule.
Fortunately the Pender Harbour area has lots of interesting diversions to keep us entertained while waiting for the best tides. Also known as Venice of the North, the area was first settled as a fishing community and water continues to link its small communities. The Slow Cat, provides three daily scheduled tours around the harbour area and Captain Paul will regale you with stories from the past.
There are also over a dozen galleries and studios in the Pender Harbour area, representing a wide variety of styles and disciplines. Some of my favourites are:
- Copper Sky Gallery – located in Madeira Park
- FiberWorks Studio – located along the highway just after Madeira Park
- Flying Anvil Studio – at the Garden Bay turn-off
- Motoko Gallery – in Garden Bay
Depending on your schedule, you’ll want to stop for either lunch or dinner. The Painted Boat in Madeira Park is a casually elegant restaurant with a distinctly coastal feel and the menu is focused on the freshest of ingredients. Ask to be seated on the deck – the restaurant literally hangs over the water and the view is an extra bonus.
For something a little more casual you can’t beat the Garden Bay Pub with its large waterside deck where you can watch all manner of boats coming and going. Home of two summer music festivals, they also feature live music every Sunday.
So with a little planning and fitting the pieces into a manageable schedule you’ll be able to create a fabulous day – an incredible outdoor experience; interesting galleries to explore; and a great restaurant experience with a view. Your summer getaway just keeps getting better.