If you’ve ever wanted to visit the pretty coastal villages of Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Sechelt, Powell River and Lund – which begin in that order, just a short ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay – I have a hot winter travel tip for you: Do it now, because it’s never been easier.
And if you, like me, have raced like Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run along the Trans-Canada Highway, desperate to make your sailing, only to spend countless hours in parking purgatory after missing your boat – rejoice! That horrible #ferrystress is (temporarily) a thing of the past.
From now until early April, ferries are leaving hourly from both Horseshoe Bay and Langdale, and traffic is pleasantly light. The reason for the increased sailings is due to construction to an onramp at the Langdale terminal. The boats in service can’t handle as many cars, but not that many are travelling at this time of year anyway, which makes it the perfect time to visit this beautiful and very nearby part of our province.
The hordes arrive by Easter or the May long weekend. Before that, you’ll be able to find off-season deals at several of the hotels, Airbnbs and bed-and-breakfasts that have remained open in the winter. And if you go, you owe it to yourself to experience the full glory of the Sunshine Coast by venturing to the northern leg, crossing the spectacular Jervis Inlet via BC Ferry to Saltery Bay. (Check that schedule closely; there are some major midday gaps in it.)
From there, explore the cultural awakening occurring in Powell River. Thanks to the Greater Vancouver Exodus, this is one of the towns benefiting from young families and retirees taking advantage of cheap real estate. The recent influx has seen a renaissance of sorts on the once-depressed “downtown” strip of Marine Drive, which is now lined with delicious and hip eateries. Check out the upscale Coastal Cookery (which features an absolutely world-class view of the Strait of Georgia), the zesty and authentic Costa Del Sol Latin Cuisine, and Base Camp, a popular coffeehouse with great sandwiches and salads.
Five minutes up Highway 101 is Powell River’s historic Townsite, where you can stay at the comfy Courthouse Inn, catch a movie at the stunning Patricia Theatre (the longest-running movie theatre in Canada) and get tipsy at the award-winning Townsite Brewing. And then you can sober up right across the street at 32 Lakes Coffee Roasters (named for the number of lakes in the Powell River area).
If you’ve made it all the way to Powell River, you owe it to yourself to wind your way a further 30 minutes to tiny Lund – the end of the road, where the major attraction is the world-famous cinnamon buns found at Nancy’s Bakery. More incredible views of the mountains of Desolation Sound can be found at the excellent Laughing Oyster Restaurant, over the hill in Okeover. (Call ahead to make sure they’re open; they tend to head south in the winter months.)
If you make the trip, chances are you’ll have most of the coast to yourself at this time of year. But be warned: once that ferry ramp is fixed, everything will return to the formal shitty schedule, with boats leaving every two hours if you’re lucky. Word has it residents of the Sunshine Coast have threatened to sabotage the repairs just to keep the sweet hourly schedule. I suggest you take advantage of it while you can.
This is a 100-per-cent non-sponsored article.