(This story is sponsored by Sunshine Coast Tourism)
Congratulations—you’ve almost made it through a long West Coast winter marked by rainy days and nights of hibernating on the couch. With the sun about to start shining again and flowers almost ready to start popping, it’s time to explore the province famous as “Beautiful British Columbia”.
And as anyone who’s ever spent an afternoon at scenic Smuggler Cove, viewed the majestic Skookumchuck Narrows, or experienced the spectacular sunsets of Powell River knows, few places in B.C. are more beautiful than the Sunshine Coast.
Getting to one of the province’s crown jewels from Vancouver is easy, whether you're driving, cycling, or even walking. Departing throughout the day from Horseshoe Bay, BC Ferries sailings offer breathtaking boat-deck views before you arrive 45 minutes later in beyond-quaint Gibsons—famous as the backdrop for Canada’s iconic ’70s TV show The Beachcombers.
For those who prefer a sweeping aerial view, Harbour Air flies from downtown Vancouver to both Sechelt and to Powell River, which is located on the rugged northern end of the Sunshine Coast. Once you’ve touched down on the water at the Harbour Air dock, kick back in the spring sun at the adjacent Shinglemill Pub & Bistro with fresh battered Pacific rockfish and fries and a cold Townsite Suncoast Pale Ale.
Architecture buffs know Powell River for its National Historic District—an honour bestowed on the town for its 400 buildings dating back to the community’s original 1910 plan. One of the most beautiful of those gems is the Arts & Craft landmark Patricia Theatre, which hosts the qathet International Film Festival from March 3 to 12.
Looking to the months ahead, Klahoose Wilderness Resort, located in stunning Desolation Sound, opens in May. Offering a hyper-local culinary program that mixes farm-to-table fare with the best of the Salish Sea and West Coast rain-forest delicacies, the resort is owned and run by the Klahoose First Nation, with its guides and staff giving visitors the opportunity to experience their shared traditions and stories.
Whether you’re travelling with a special someone on a romantic getaway, or celebrating the arrival of spring with your family, the Southern Sunshine Coast also offers no shortage of adventures.
Make the most of the outdoors with the must-see Skookumchuck Narrows, where twice a day Mother Nature puts on a show that involves the tidal waters of the Sechelt Rapids changing direction. The 9-foot-high water walls and tidal whirlpools attract both hikers and thrill-seeking kayakers.
Loved by locals and visitors alike as the “most beautiful anchorage in the world”, and traditionally known as swiwelát, Princess Louisa Inlet boasts 60 waterfalls cascading down granite walls that tower as high as 2,100 metres. The fjord is at its most dramatic in the spring, when the sun emerges to melt the winter snowpack. Book a marine sightseeing adventure with Sunshine Coast Tours to visit Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, where there are walking trails, and marine-access campsites and picnic tables where you can chill in the great outdoors.
Later this spring, learn about the rich history of the southern Sunshine Coast—and the shíshálh Nation—with Sunshine Coast Air on the Talaysay Land, Sea & Air Audio Tour. Guests will hear stories narrated and recorded by Talaysay Tours’ Candace Campo, along with songs and history of the shíshálh peoples and how they have fished, hunted, gathered, cultivated, and stewarded these lands for thousands of years.
While it’s been an enduring draw for decades thanks to its oceanside scenery, outdoor activities, and famously laid-back vibe, the Sunshine Coast has also blossomed into a celebrated food and drink destination.
Once you’ve put in some time kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, or just exploring, reward yourself with a cold craft beer. Fans of the BC Ale Trail know it first took shape on the Sunshine Coast. Today the region’s craft beer boom continues with the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail, which includes favourites like Tapworks Brewing Company, 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, Batch 44 Brewery & Kitchen, and Persephone Brewing (named, awesomely, for the log-scavenging boat owned by Nick Adonidas and Jesse Jim in The Beachcombers.) On the North Coast, be sure to pop into Townsite Brewing for a Tin Hat IPA, Perfect Storm Oatmeal Stout, or Raincoast Kombucha.
Want to combine a little light exercise with your dining? Gourmand in Gibsons is a guided walking tour that starts at historic Gibsons Landing and includes stops at foodie destinations such as: Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co., Brassica, Drift Café and Bistro, Lunitas Mexican Eatery, and Smitty’s Oyster House. Choose the option that includes a private shuttle to take you home, which might come in handy, as Gourmand in Gibsons starts with a cocktail and each meal is served with a paired wine.
Or, instead of hopping on the shuttle, you can always walk home—assuming, of course, you’re staying in idyllic Gibsons, as opposed to one of the many cozy Sunshine Coast communities along Highway 101. It’s spring, after all, and it feels good to be outside again—especially in one of British Columbia’s most beautiful destinations.
For more information on the Sunshine Coast visit www.sunshinecoastcanada.com.