A fine dinner in a very fine location on the Sunshine Coast

The Blue Heron Restaurant is a wonderful small country inn on the Sunshine Coast and is located just a short drive from Coracle Cove. It has been operated by a husband and wife team for almost twenty years. Manuel is an award winning chef who escaped from the hectic restaurant scene in Toronto to return, with his wife Gail, to her hometown on the Sunshine Coast.

The Blue Heron

The portions at the Blue Heron are always generous so sharing is a good strategy. The plate below is actually my half of the Digby Scallops wrapped in Proscuitto and it was the perfect starter for what I knew would be an evening of sampling many interesting dishes.

BLUE HERON APPETIZER

The restaurant is intimate, seating perhaps 25-30 and features a warm cedar post and beam interior with expansive west-facing views of Sechelt Inlet. We were able to enjoy this lovely sunset with a glass of wine. The menu offers a limited selection of decent wines, however,  you can bring your own and pay a $20 corkage fee.

ocean view from Blue Heron

Several of my guests have previously ordered the Seafood Trio and I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed.   This entree comes with a choice of soup or salad. I chose the latter and was served a small caesar, carefully dressed. Next came four perfectly cooked prawns, a fresh salmon filet, and smoked black cod with tarragon sauce. Entrees are served with a side plate of steamed vegetables.

Seafood Trio at Blue Heron

My wife loves scallops and doubled up with her entree, Digby Scallops and Prawns, also served with the tarragon sauce.  Scallops are best when they’re just seared and while this can be a problem in a busy kitchen with getting them to the table, the chef and servers teamed up to nail it perfectly.

Prawns & Digbey Scallops at Blue Heron

Sheila is also a great fan of creme caramel and this demanding dish is frequently on her wish list, both at home and when we are dining out. Tonight’s dish, unfortunately, didn’t quite measure up to my own creations, so I guess I’ve still got a job.

Creme Caramel at Blue Heron

The raspberry tart that I ordered, however, was over the top. The fresh, tangy raspberry filling was just the right contrast after my seafood trio, and a perfect ending to this fine dinner.

Raspberry Tart at Blue Heron

All in all, this was a very fine meal and a wonderful treat for ourselves after a couple of very busy weeks. We’re so lucky to have this little gem, just a short ten-minute drive away.

Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite www.coraclecove.com

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It’s so relaxing here you may not want to leave… a survival guide to staying at Coracle Cove

We’ve noticed that a lot of our guests don’t want to leave Coracle Cove once they’ve arrived. It’s quite understandable – it’s very relaxing here and the view’s not too bad either…

Winter Sunset on Four Mile Point

Choosing between the hot tub on the waterside deck and the big Adirondak chairs on the dock  may be the toughest decision you’ll make all day. It can get pretty comfortable, and like others you might want to just stay put…

Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

…because when the sun starts to set, that’s when the sky gets really interesting…

Falling for the Sunshine Coast

So, before you arrive at Coracle Cove, you might want to make sure that you have all of your necessary food supplies.  Here’s a few of our recommendations:

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Claytons Heritage Market is a full-size supermarket and is located in the Trail Bay Centre Mall, in Sechelt. They feature the freshest produce, quality meats, a unique bakery, and a fabulous deli.

You’ll find a government liquor store right beside Claytons.  The store was remodelled and expanded this past spring and has a great selection of wines and craft-style beers.

On the other hand, you may just want to pick up some take-out and we’ve got some great recommendations:

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Daphne’s Restaurant, on Wharf St. offers a  Mediterranean and Italian menu and has a 91% Urban Spoon rating. 604-885-2008

The Old Boot is across the street from Daphne’s and describe their food as having a Western feel with Italian flare. 604-885-2727

Sushi Bar 5517 is just a few doors down the street and boosts a 96% Urban Spoon rating. They have an extensive Japanese menu and the sushi is great.  604-885-0220

… and if by chance you find yourself needing to do something about dinner, you can always order in and have it delivered. Saffron ( 604-740-0660) offers an eclectic menu of East Indian, pizza, pasta, ribs and burgers and you can order online.

So with a little bit of advance preparation you don’t have to leave – just stay put and thoroughly enjoy your precious getaway time.

Follow this link to return to our website at Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite 

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Your first day on the Sunshine Coast… things to do in Gibsons

The Sunshine Coast is an easy and affordable option for anyone needing a few days away. Imagine taking a stunning ferry ride to another world where the pace is slow, the scenery is breathtaking and the people are friendly.  The  Sunshine Coast is on Vancouver’s doorstep, and it’s only a scenic 40 minutes away, waiting to welcome you to BC’s best kept secret. In this series of blogs we’ll unlock some of those secrets and share our best insider tips on suggestions for “things to do”to help you get the most out of your Sunshine Coast getaway.

Our first piece of advice is to get an early start to the day. There’s less traffic on BC Ferries and you’ve just gained some extra hours for your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, grab your camera and head up to the outside deck. You’ll get some great pictures like this as the ferry winds its way between several small islands.

Lower Gibsons is our first destination, so break away from that pack of cars, turn left as you drive off the ferry and follow this quiet country road. Gibsons was originally a fishing settlement and this area still holds some of that maritime charm.  There’s a good variety of galleries, and casual cafes, including Mike’s Gelato, recently named  as one of the lower mainland’s Ten Best Places to get Gelato. If it’s lunch you’re after give Truffles a try for some hearty, flavourful soups and be sure to have one of their Ultimate Cookies.

You’ve still got lots of time before check-in so have a wander down the street. Just beside the iconic Molly’s Reach is a lane of the same name, where you’ll find one of our favourite galleries, The Beachcomber’s Daughter. Lori Gray is the daughter and her father was an active beachcomber back in the day. The original Beachcomber series based many of their episodes on his lifestyle.

There are several other galleries along this two block stretch as well as a number of interesting stores. Another of our favourites is The Waltzing Whippet which features fabulous home decor, jewelry, art and lots more…

Sechelt is only a 25 minute drive from Gibsons. Along the way you might want to pick up a few supplies before-hand so that you can fully relax on our waterside deck after you’ve checked-in. The IGA in Wilson Creek is a good stop for food provisons, and you’ll find a good wine selection at the Lighthouse Wine & Cold Beer store, just as you come into Sechelt.

Keeping with the relaxation theme, our dinner recommendation for tonight is casual and there’s no need to get dressed up. The Lighthouse Pub & Restaurant (different location) has a new chef and a new menu with lots of seafood options and their new wood-fired pizza oven is creating some delectable pizzas. The view from their waterside deck is absolutely outstanding so head outside and grab a table where you can be entertained with all of the activity of this busy little harbour and the endless vista of Sechelt Inlet, beyond.

After dinner head back home and return to our waterside deck. As the evening sets in you’ll be treated to an amazing display of stars set against the dark, dark country skies. Are you starting to feel relaxed…. wait till you see what we’ve planned for tomorrow.

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

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Sunshine Coast Day 2 – things to do in Roberts Creek

Roberts Creek is one of those small communities with a big character. It has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches, inviting long walks at low tide, a pristine forested park with endless trails, and a vibe that is laid back and full of interesting personalities. You’ve got lots of choices for things to do in Roberts Creek so lets get started.

You’re on a holiday and there’s nothing better for relaxing than a yoga class. My favourite studio is Yoga by the Sea.   The drop-in rate is only $15 for a two-hour class and they’ve got all the gear you need. The instructors provide a great mix of both mental and physical activity, the classes are small, and you get as much attention and help as you want. So don’t worry, be happy – give it a try.

If walking though a forested paradise is more your style, Cliff Gilker Park offers a series of well maintained trails and foot bridges that criss-cross back and forth over Roberts Creek as it funnels its way down to the Salish Sea.

Along the way, the creek bed drops suddenly in elevation forming four powerful waterfalls. There are several viewing platforms and comfortable benches allowing an opportunity to sit and contemplate the beauty of this endless cycle of Nature.

The Gumboot Restaurant, is located in The Heart of Roberts Creek and it’s my lunch recommendation for today.  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.

After a relaxing lunch head down the road toward the ocean where you’ll come first to the large mandala, a community project re-designed and painted every year by local Creekers and committed followers. If you’re there in late July you will be welcome to join in.

A few more steps will bring you to the magnificence of the Salish Sea and this beautiful, deserted sandy beach where you can walk, explore tidal pools and collect interesting pieces of driftwood.

Wednesday afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00 are market days so on your way home stop in at the top of Roberts Creek Road where you’ll find  freshly picked local produce, artisan baking and a tempting selection of jams and preserves.

My dinner recommendation for tonight is the Old Boot in Sechelt.  This is an easy and relaxing dining experience – the food is good, the servings plentiful, and the prices reasonable. The menu is just the right size with a selection of pastas, steak, ribs and seafood.

After dinner head back to Coracle Cove and down to your favourite waterside seat on our floating deck. Get ready for an incredible sunset. You’ve had a good day, feeding both the body and the mind, so take some time to remind yourself of just how much you have to be happy about.

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

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Sunshine Coast Day 3 – things to do in Sechelt

Today is a Saturday activity and is the third in my series of blogs in which I unlock the secrets of the Sunshine Coast, sharing some of my best insider tips to help you get the most out of your getaway. Sechelt is close to home and offers a variety of choices in the things to do category – the choice is yours, a little or a lot

The Sechelt Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market  is the largest on the Sunshine Coast, taking place every Saturday morning, and it’s a very popular venue for locals and visitors alike. It’s always very satisfying to be able to find locally grown ingredients, picked that morning, to prepare a meal .

To inspire you, here’s a recent meal we prepared, using all ingedients we found at the market. Our starter was a fresh Camembert made from local goats milk, followed by a simple green salad, freshly picked that morning, dressed with a tasty vinegrette. I bought a little jar of pesto made from wild nettles and cashews,  and it was a perfect compliment to go with some fresh asparagus and nugget potatoes. I was also able to find some Halibut which we cooked very simply in a little brown butter.  Dessert was simple – a medley of freshly picked berries with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

But the market isn’t just about food. The Sunshine Coast has one of the highest per-capita populations of artists in Canada, and several of them are set up every Saturday at the Market. The artistic quality is very high and includes potters, photographers, and jewelry makers.

Peggy Collins is a nature photographer, and this image is one of my favourites.  It’s easy to spend several hours at the market and the vendors are always happy to talk about their products.

After the market, you have a couple of great options for walking tours. The first is a tour of the Public Art Sculptures that are immediately adjacent to the Farmers Market. Follow this link to read more.

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There are several First Nations Totem Poles in the area. Walk toward the ocean and pick up the sea wall walk… you’re in for a real treat as the view is outstanding. I like to do a circular route, walking first to the right and then retracing my footsteps and continuing on until I reach these magnificent totem poles. follow this link for more information about a Walking Tour of the Totems of Sechelt.

photo courtesy of Sunshine Coast Tourism

photo courtesy of Sunshine Coast Tourism

You’re probably ready for lunch by now and there are lots of good choices in Sechelt –  Ty’s Fine Food and Wheatberries are my favourites. But if you want to do some more exploring  head down the highway to Wilson Creek. Strait Coffee has been a leader in creating a coffee culture on the Sunshine Coast and they’ve created an environment that simply allows you to savour that perfect cup.

After all this activity it’s time to head back to Coracle Cove. Pick up a nice bottle of wine at the Lighthouse Wine Store and enjoy your fresh, locally sourced Sunshine Coast Dinner on your favourite waterside deck.

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

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Sunshine Coast Day 6 – Don’t miss the Skookumchuk Rapids

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 things to do while visiting the 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.

Follow this link to see more of our best insider tips or click here to return to our website.

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Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 2

Spring is here and as you can see from this image, we’re having a little trouble keeping our bird feeders filled here at Coracle Cove.

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spotted towhee at feeder

I took this photo from the outside deck off the suite and caught this Spotted Towhee in the act. He’s a bit bigger that most of the others and has a particular preference for these black oil sunflower seeds.

Song Sparrow belting it out

We have a large variety of LBJ’s (little brown jobs) mostly from the Sparrow family. This male Song Sparrow has one of the most beautiful mating songs which they sing upon arrival in the Spring to establish territory and attract a mate.

White-crowned sparrow

I think this White-crowned Sparrow is a particularly handsome chap with his black and white stripes, and he’s a pretty good singer as well.

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This is another of those LBJ’s that are sometimes difficult to identify. It looks like a sparrow but the yellow wing and tail feathers ID it as a Pine Siskin, one of the flock of Siskins in the opening image of this blog.

All of these images were taken just a few feet away from our feeders so be sure you bring your camera when you come to Coracle Cove.

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

 

 

 

 

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Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 1

As a novice birder, I’ve approached this new-found interest with enthusiasm, and one of the great things that I’ve learned about birding is that it has a season. Migratory birds set off from distant points south, and arrive here on a schedule that has been in place for eons. The arrival of the Rufous Hummingbird is a much anticipated event among local birders here on the Sunshine Coast.

Hummingbirds are of course, are extremely hungry after their migration, which could have been up to 9,000 kilometres long. They are naturally attracted to feeders and with two freshly filled feeders installed, I had my first visitor today – did I mention that there is a competitiveness among our local birders to announce the first sighting. It wasn’t me, but I was close.

They’ll stay for most of the summer, providing us with lots of entertaining moments and opportunities for taking pictures like these. It’s one more reason why you should bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

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All that Jazz… and so much more

What do you get when you mix together a hot line-up of cool jazz in an incredible seaside location… why the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, now in its sixteenth year.

Pender Harbour has been called the “Venice of the North” due to its many little communities connected to each other by boat. The Jazz Festival is an annual event for us, but this year we decided to take our boat to fully experience the flavour of this great weekend.

We tied up at Fisherman’s Resort,  just a short 5-minute walk from the Garden Bay Pub which was offering three jazz concerts that afternoon and evening. The sun was shining as we sat out on the expansive deck, overlooking the marina, while  listening to the bluesy jazz vocals of Ruth McGillivray.

Later that evening Doc Fingers took centre stage, together with a stellar cast of partners in crime, who kept the joint jumping well into the wee hours.

We woke up the next morning to bright sunshine, surrounded by water and boats. The water was as flat as the proverbial pane of glass, producing a surreal set of reflections.

It was another short walk, across a little wooden footbridge to LaVerne’s Grill where we had their rather substantial Boater’s Breakfast. Satiated, we wandered back and found front row seats  just as Anagram was setting up for their morning concert.

Back on our boat, we headed across the harbour to Madeira Park for the afternoon Jazzapalooza, four different groups, each offering one-hour sets and ranging from hot Afro-Cuban Jazz to mellow, straight ahead standards.

Here, Company B Jazz Band was on stage entertaining the appreciative audience with their beautifully harmonized renditions of the Andrews sisters and other songs from the 20’s to  40’s.

We made one more crossing, back to the Garden Bay Pub, to soak up the sunshine while listening to yet another fine group of jazz musicians. Wow… what a weekend. We’ll be back on our boat, heading up to the harbour next year for sure.

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

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Walking holidays on the Sunshine Coast – #6 – 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.

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

 

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