Guide to the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia
By Kilee LeBlanc
The Sunshine Coast is like Vancouver’s eccentric hippy cousin. Here the pace is slower, the locals are friendly, and the vibe is super relaxed. While the distance isn’t long, you’ll feel worlds away from the city as you’re surrounded by mountains and ocean, artist’s workshops, and farm to table eateries. It’s about an hour away from Escape’s Vancouver, BC depot.
From Vancouver, the only way to get to the Sunshine Coast is via a float plane or by ferry. The ferry to the Sunshine Coast leaves Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and is run by BC Ferries – the largest passenger ferry line in North America.
There are sailings about every two hours departing to the Sunshine Coast. Note that in the summer months, especially weekends, the ferries fill up very quickly and it’s important to arrive extra early or reserve online for a guaranteed spot. Reserving online costs $10 but is totally worth it when traveling over weekends!
The crossing time to the Sunshine Coast is forty minutes and the cost per vehicle is $46.55 CAD (for Big Sur, Mavericks, and Santa Cruz camper vans) and an additional $13.90 per adult, $6.95 for children aged 6-11, and free for children under 5 years old. The cost per vehicle for an Newport Camper is $58.65 CAD (as it is taller than seven feet). The fee is only paid one way (from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast).
What to Do on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is an outdoor-lover’s paradise, with plenty of trails, beaches, and lakes to take advantage of. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, and breweries are on hand to fuel your adventures with home-baked goodies and the freshest ingredients. For those looking for a bit of retail therapy, you can’t drive far without spotting a sign for a local artist’s workshop or finding their wares in gift shops.
Below are some of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular activities, whether you’re a tourist or a local.
If you’re an avid mountain biker and have the opportunity to bring your bike with you on your trip to the Sunshine Coast – do it! Over 380 kilometres of trails wind their way through five main trail networks on the Southern Sunshine Coast and begin from the ferry terminal in Langdale. Sprockids, Robert’s Creek, Wilson Creek, Halfmoon Bay, and West Sechelt are the popular cross-country biking areas. They offer natural features, challenging rock rolls, skinny woodwork, and hand-built singletrack that snakes through the forests.
Looking for something a bit different? Coast Gravity Park in Sechelt has world-renowned shuttle access downhill trails that are open year-round. There are trails for beginners all the way to expert riders and is a great way to spend an afternoon. A dedicated crew keeps the trails in tip-top shape and it’s common to spot some of B.C.’s best riders sessioning the pro lines here.
Forgot your bike at home? Stop in at Off the Edge Bike Shop in Sechelt to rent a bike, pick up an extra tube, or rep the shop in a cool new t-shirt.
Feel the sand between your toes, grab an ice cream, or drink a sneaky beer out of a coffee mug during a stroll down one of the Sunshine Coast’s many beaches. The beach at Robert’s Creek is filled with driftwood and a nice spot to sit with a coffee from the nearby Gumboot Cafe. Watch cruise ships pass by from Davis Bay where at low tide you can skimboard, walk along for kilometres, or hop on the pier to watch an epic sunset.
The Sunshine Coast is home to amazing breweries, cideries, and distilleries that make for a great stop for a tasting flight, or to grab a growler to go to enjoy at the campsite. Persephone Brewing Company is right off the ferry in Langdale and is situated on a beautiful farm where you grab your beers from the barn and can enjoy them on the lawn outside. If cider’s more your style, The Bricker Cider Company in Sechelt allows you to visit their orchard and cidery and sample a variety of craft ciders with family and friends. If you’re looking for a meal to go along with freshly brewed beer or spirits, The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery in Gibsons serves up small-batch gin, delicious pub fare, and thirst quenching brews.
There’s so much hiking to do along the Sunshine Coast – from easy walks along the seaside to multi-day hut-to-hut treks. One of the most popular hikes is to Skookumchuck Narrows to view the spectacular and turbulent rapids that occur twice a day when the tide changes. Watch experienced paddlers and surfers harness the powers of the rapids and surf the waves.
Pender Hill provides panoramic views and a bit of cardio as it steeply ascents for 1.5 kilometres and overlooks Garden Bay and beyond. Smuggler’s Cove is also a lovely place to hike along the seaside as you walk between inlets and coves and enjoy the fresh ocean air.
For those looking for a multi-day hike, or who are looking for something more strenuous can look to the Sunshine Coast Trail – a 180 kilometre backcountry hiking experience that stretches along the Sunshine Coast. Day-trippers can work through the trail a bit at a time, or challenge yourself to travel from hut-to-hut for a multi-day expedition.
Where to Stay on the Sunshine Coast
There are two provincial campgrounds on the southern Sunshine Coast – Porpoise Bay and Robert’s Creek campgrounds. Porpoise Bay is located in Sechelt along the water and has sandy beaches, lush forests, and generously-sized sites. It makes for the perfect home base when exploring the Sunshine Coast.
The Sunshine Coast is a great place to spend the weekend, an entire week, or passing through on your way towards the northern end of the Sunshine Coast and onto Vancouver Island. There are so many different areas to explore, trails to be hiked or biked, and lazy days spent at the beach with a good book. From the Escape Campervans depot in Delta, it’s an easy drive to the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay and then onto the Sunshine Coast. Book your trip today with Escape Campervans and explore the Sunshine Coast in comfort and style!