Just an hour-and-a-half trip by car and boat from downtown Vancouver, the quaint seaside town of Gibsons on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast makes an easy, breezy weekend getaway.
Rest Your Head: Set on an expansive double lot in a community nestled on the hill overlooking Gibsons Marina, The Seasalt Cottage is a quiet home base from which to explore Gibsons Landing and the nearby towns of Sechelt and Roberts Creek. The owner, Michele, has lovingly renovated the two guest suites—one on the ground level and one on the “Upper Deck,” in the complex in which she resides with her adorable French bulldog, Chloe.Each suite is bright and stylishly decorated with plush furnishings and marine-inspired décor touches (think seashells and a white and blue pastel colour scheme). Both guest units boast soaker tubs, TVs/Netflix, wifi and kitchenettes which are perfect for those wanting to stay for more than a couple of nights (and who wouldn’t want that when this adorable pup is one of your hosts?).
While the interiors are pristine and calming, the exterior space at The Seasalt Cottage is truly spectacular. Both suites have their own private patios where guests can enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing and enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. These terraces extend onto a huge garden filled where undulating pathways winding past lush bushes, vines and flowers.
Michele has created a few different seating areas nestled within the garden where guests can while away summer afternoons swaying in one of the suspended rocking chairs while taking in views of the sparkling sea and listening to the sound of water trickling from the fountains installed throughout the garden. Guests can also make use of the communal barbecue, grilling up seafood bought at the Gibsons Farmer’s Market (or caught on a fishing trip) and enjoying it in the outdoor dining area under a grapevine-covered arbour.
Wine & Dine: Just a three-minute walk down the hill from The Seasalt Cottage you’ll find an array of hip boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs at Gibsons Landing. My friend Fran and I arrived late on a Friday night and as soon as we dropped our bags in our suite we made a beeline to Tapworks pub, on Michele’s recommendation. The brewery has recently expanded from a hole-in-the-wall behind Gibsons Art Gallery to a two-level hotspot to see-and-be-seen while sipping locally crafted brews.
After ascending to the second floor, Fran and I made ourselves comfortable next to the firepit and ordered beer tasting flights, flatbread and spinach and artichoke dip from the snack menu. It wasn’t long before we had made friends with a couple of folks in their sixties who were visiting from West Vancouver and a group of twenty-somethings who were in town from Kitsilano. By the end of the night, we were playing board games with our new friends in the pub’s first-floor area. I mentioned to Fran later that night that it was Gibsons’ friendly small-town vibe that had likely inspired us to bond with complete strangers so quickly: if we had encountered the same people in a Vancouver bar we probably wouldn’t have connected in the same way.
Other notable (and super hip) dining experiences in Gibsons include Buono Osteria, a new Italian restaurant with a warm ambiance that overlooks the marina. Opened by Wally Buono’s son, the eatery serves traditional Italian fare with a modern twist, as well as excellent wines. Fran and I loved the locally foraged wild mushroom Bucatini with celery root and sherry cream. For happy hour drinks, super fresh oysters and a fun environment, head to Smitty’s Oyster House which is set right on the water. Next door Lunitas Mexican Eatery serves up beer, margaritas and excellent Mexican fare.
No trip to Gibsons is complete without a meal at the infamous Molly’s Reach restaurant which made its mark in the ’70s as one of the locations in the infamous Beachcombers series. On Day 2, Fran and I started our morning with a bacon and egg breakfast at the eatery while listening to Elvis tunes and overlooking Gibsons Marina.
Later in the day we had coffee at the locally owned and operated Beachcomber Coffee shop, an energetic little place located right on Gibsons’ Gower Point strip. I loved the unexpected, youthful vibe of the space known for its neon yellow and green branding and club-style music. On the last morning of my stay, after Fran had returned to Vancouver, I sat on the patio for a couple of hours, drinking coffee and snacking on pastries from Sandy’s Bake Shoppe down the street, people-watching, chatting with the locals and listening as they caught up on life.
Explore: The Sunshine Coast is a haven for nature-lovers so hiking, kayaking, fishing and beach-going are givens for visitors to the area. Soames Hill is a beautiful intermediate hike that we completed in about an hour and rewarded us with spectacular views of the Georgia Strait and Keats and Bowen Islands. Davis Bay is a beautiful beach to park yourself for the day with a blanket and a book. And for breathtaking sunsets Bonniebrook beach comes highly recommended by the locals I chatted with a Beachcomber Coffee.
But there is also lots to do right in Gibsons. You could spend a few hours visiting the many shops and boutiques along the strip which sell well-curated homewares and local art, as we did. And the Gibsons Public Market, opened in March 2017, is a fun place to pick up local cheeses, fresh fish, produce and flowers, and to visit the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre which temporarily holds local marine life in its tanks until they are returned to their natural habitat.
After spending a weekend getting to know Gibsons, it’s strange for me to think that it was once a town I’d drive through, without a thought, on my way to Sechelt. Now I realize it’s a gem in its own right—and I’ll definitely be back the next time I want a fun and laid back experience just a boat ride from Vancouver.
For more information about The Seasalt Cottage, or to book a room, click here.
Have you been to Gibsons? How was your experience?
This article was originally published in The Editor's Diary.