And I thought Hawaiian sunrises were gorgeous. While visiting the Sunshine Coast recently, low-lying fog helped create some of the most beautiful early-morning light imaginable.
This friendly coastal town, just a 40-minute ride with B.C. Ferries ride from West Vancouver followed by a short drive along Highway 101, is one of the largest municipality on the Sunshine Coast. Tucked in between Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia, Sechelt offers activities for all ages and abilities, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, golf and diving. Foodies will love the community’s farmers markets and the surprisingly diverse restaurant scene, which includes many eateries specializing in local ingredients.
Who knew? I only had a short amount of time to hit the shops of Sechelt, but scored big time at a local thrift store, which unlike comparable ones in the city, still charge thrift-store prices. I also found a great consignment shop, Re Décor, specializing in vintage dishware and furniture. But if second-hand isn’t your thing, there’s Blue Magnolia, which specializes in high-end women’s clothing with a focus on West Coast function.
My favourite find was at Fresh From the Coast where they sell a rainbow of T-Shirts depicting those iconic Sunshine Coast rural bus stops complete with lawn chairs. Some years ago random chairs began to appear mysteriously at bus stops with no place to sit and the trend continues today. The store is also one of many in the area that sells locally-produced Holy Crap Cereal.
This Wilson Creek coffee shop sells only fair-trade coffees from across the globe with a focus on organic. It’s also famous for its fresh sandwiches and scratch-made desserts, several of which I had the pleasure of trying, including a creamy cheesecake, a lemon tart and chocolate cake. But my hands-down favourite was a square made from sesame paste, nuts and seeds with a name I can't remember.
My fellow travel writers and I were also invited for an unexpected tour of the small warehouse where Strait Coffee roasts its own beans and where the magic happens. Owners Lyle Mumford and Grace Bland are just as passionate in their commitment to sustainability as they are to roasting great tasting coffee.
Turns out the Sunshine Coast is full of surprises, including unexpected opportunities to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Considering that during my January visit the sun was shining and it was almost sweater weather down by the ocean, it was hard to believe there was enough snow above us at nearby Dakota Ridge to cross-country ski or snowshoe. I didn’t snowshoe that day, but other members of my group did and used the experienced Alpha Adventures as their guide and for equipment.
This stretch of water puts on a spectacular show twice a day and it’s free. As the tide changes, the flow of saltwater switches reversing the powerful turbulent rapids, which pushes 200 billion gallons of water through the narrows connecting Sechelt and Jervis inlets.
This popular hiking trail is located just above Gibsons and three kilometers from the Langdale Ferry Terminal. Conquering the “Knob” can be accomplished in just 40 minutes, making it an ideal day trip, but you’ll want to leave plenty of time to soak in the incredible views from the summit. This popular hike is included in a project dubbed 52 Weeks of Trails, a blog that details a year’s worth of hiking, biking, snowshoeing and paddling on the Sunshine Coast. The 52 Weeks of Trails blog posts are available at sunshinecoastcanada.com.
Not only does Sargeant Bay offer up some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find anywhere on the West Coast, those views are even more spectacular when seen from one of the decks of Pointhouse, which I was lucky enough to experience.
Located in the rural area of Halfmoon Bay, Pointhouse offers a vast expanse of glass, natural light and five-star comforts, including a walk-in, temperature-controlled wine room. The home was completely rebuilt in 2012 to include a new guesthouse. Pointhouse is officially designated a bed and breakfast, but it’s best described as an architectural homage to the West Coast. This was the view from my room.
I think it’s safe to say the Sunshine Coast literally has a spa to suit anyone’s taste and budget. During my visit, I had the opportunity to check out the spa garden at Painted Boat Resort Spa and Marina, a five-acre resort at Madeira Park in Pender Harbour, featuring 31, two-bedroom villas. Our visit was on a cold, wet January day, but we hardly noticed the weather as we moved between hot tubs and the sauna. Due to the landscaping and towering trees overhead, the garden has a very West Coast feel, which was only enhanced by the pair of eagles circling overhead. The spa practices a centuries-old tradition of healing through “taking the waters,” inspired by the ocean its sits on.
Tall windows in the villas at Painted Boat Resort allow for natural light and also highlight the forest and ocean views surrounding them.
There’s nothing like watching a West Coast sunset in surroundings that include old-growth forests, ocean beaches and soaring eagles.