A short 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast's 180-kilometre stretch of trademark BC coastline is home to a thriving—and rapidly growing—culinary scene, making life a lot more delicious on this side of the water. As a resident of Gibsons, that means I'm never far from a delicious meal or drink—something that comes in handy after a day exploring the coast's beaches, trails and laid-back communities.
Read on to plan your own food and drink-fuelled adventure on the Sunshine Coast.
Kayak Gibsons Harbour and Refuel with Tacos and Margaritas at Lunitas Mexican Cantina
Perched on a hillside overlooking the islands of Howe Sound, it's no wonder Gibsons plays host to a handful of picturesque restaurants serving up delicious eats and ocean views. And while there are plenty of scenic viewpoints to be found throughout town, such as the view from Soames Hill, the best vantage point is from the water. Rent a kayak from Alpha Adventures, located around the corner from the storied Molly's Reach (yes, of the famous Beachcombers show), and watch for curious seals as you glide along the harbour. Or head to nearby Keats Island, a short 20-minute paddle away, where you can land at Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park for a well-earned break on its pebble beach.
It's tempting to overnight at Keats (and you can), but the return paddle is made enticing by the promise of a hibiscus mezcal margarita and tacos at Lunitas Mexican Eatery, located just down the lane from Alpha Adventures. The best part? Lunitas is home to arguably one of the best patios in Gibsons, overlooking its harbour (and your recent paddle route), where you can watch the sun go down while you toast to the day's adventure with the best margaritas on the coast and refuel on a staff and local favourite, the Mexican street corn. Be warned: it goes quickly.
Pack a Picnic and Sample Craft Cider at Sunday Cider
Sunday Cider has a devoted following and for good reason: this Gibsons-based cider company is making some of BC's best cider from 100% BC apples fermented right here on the coast. With a lineup that defies your classic cider expectations, you're in for a treat. Try the Stone Fruit, a juicy blend with notes of apricot and peach, or the Sunday Wild, made from 100% BC heirloom cider apples and fermented with wild yeast. The Twice is Nice Pinot Noir is twice as good, made in a co-ferment with Okanagan Pinot noir grape skins from Kitsch Wine. Sunday Cider will tell you that Sundays are best enjoyed on Saturdays, but here on the coast, I'd argue it's any day of the week, thanks to their sunny picnic area. Smitty's Food Truck can be found on-site (along with delicious ice cream from Little Spoon), along with rotating pop-ups like Mamma Musey’s Pierogis. Or, stop in at the Gibsons Public Market to stock up goodies—like cheese from Fromagerie De Baie, smoked salmon from the Fisherman's Market or fruit from The Good Acre Market—so you can spend a leisurely afternoon sipping cider on whatever day it happens to be.
Take in Sunset and Happy Hour from the Wobbly Canoe in Davis Bay
Davis Bay is a small enclave just three-kilometres south of downtown Sechelt, but its location facing due west makes it one of the best spots on the southern Sunshine Coast for sunsets. On a sunny, clear day the setting sky is awash with red, orange, and pink and best viewed from happy hour onwards from the patio at the Wobbly Canoe. Grab a locally-brewed beer from Persephone Brewing or Gibsons Tapworks, and for dinner, the poke bowl which comes piled high with fresh squid and tuna or the perennial favourite chuck and brisket burger with shoestring fries are hard to beat.
Before you settle in for sunset, make sure to spend time exploring Davis Bay's long pebbled beach, which runs nearly the entire length of this small community, and wooden pier. On summer days you'll find fishermen casting a line on one side of the generously-sized dock and on the other, intrepid swimmers jumping off the pier into the cool waters below.
Bike Coast Gravity Park and Sip on Craft Beer at Batch 44 Post-Ride
The gravity-fed trails at Coast Gravity Park, located eight kilometres from downtown Sechelt, are a mecca for mountain bikers year-round. With the claim of Canada's first low-elevation mountain bike park, you might think these trails are less than exciting, but as the brainchild of world-renowned builders and riders, and Sunshine Coast locals Coastal Crew, they're anything but. Fast and flowy, the rider-designed trails at Coast Gravity wind through lush forest with access to 4,448 metres of elevation on 16 downhill trails that suit all levels and rider abilities.
Post-ride, wind down at Sechelt's first brewery, Batch 44. The cozy brick-and-wood brewery was founded by two brothers in homage to their father who operated a Greek restaurant, Pronto's 11, in the very same location back in 1986. Cold, thirst-quenching beer awaits at Batch and the menu promises caloric recovery in the most delicious way possible. You'll find Greek-inspired options like the lamb and beef gyro stuffed with fries, tomato, onion, feta, and tzatziki to items with more Southern influences, like the Bayou Bite, a Louisiana-style fried chicken burger that comes with coleslaw, bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, and a spicy barbeque sauce to top it off. With an experienced brewer at the helm bringing you a range of delicious brews, a generous menu and lively patio space, Batch 44 is the perfect spot to cap off your ride.
Splash Around in the Waters of Sechelt and Sip on Cocktails at El Segundo Post-Swim
Located on a narrow isthmus between the Strait of Georgia on one side and the Sechelt Inlet on the other, the hard part is not deciding whether to spend time on the water but which water-based activity to choose. Stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking through the calm, glassy waters of Lamb Bay in Sechelt Inlet, as you casually look for starfish, sea birds, and other small marine life? Swimming and sunbathing along the sun-warmed, smooth pebble beaches of Sechelt's waterfront trail, mere metres from downtown? (The town maintains 40 beach access points so if you tire of one location, you're not far from another.)
As evening approaches, keep the energy going at El Segundo, a cocktail lounge-meets-restaurant. Decked out in tropical plants, bright wallpaper, retro kitsch touches, and a neon sign that glows "Trop' It Like its Hot," it's hard not to feel the tropical-infused good vibes overflowing from every inch of this bright fun space. Menu options play to El Segundo's smattering of pan-Pacific influences, including pork belly banh mi, soy-glazed tempura squash with pickled radish, and crispy cauliflower tacos. For drinks? With a stocked bar, creative mocktails, and ever-changing drink list, I suggest you opt for dealer's choice.
Catch Whitewater Wonder at Skookumchuck Narrows and Snack on Ginormous Cinnamon Buns
Between Sechelt and Egmont, the road narrows and the communities are few and far between. That's not to say they aren't there: Halfmoon Bay, Secret Cove, Pender Harbour and Madeira Park are well-deserving of your time. For me, if you're headed to the end of the southern Sunshine Coast Highway, you're going for one reason only: Skookumchuck Bakery. Situated 10 minutes within its namesake provincial park, Skookumchuck Bakery is, by my standards, the most scenic—and adorable—bakery on the coast. Only open during the spring and summer, the bakery is set in a cozy wood cabin and tucked away in the forest surrounded by green foliage. All of their baked goods are made on-site from scratch, from giant cinnamon buns to wood-fired sourdough pizza to sandwiches, including a breakfast option that's perfect fuel for the day.
It's not just the bakery that's a draw—most people make the trek to Egmont to see Skookumchuck Narrows, located down a five-kilometre trek from the bakery's front doors, and made famous for its surging, powerful whirlpools that attract kayakers and surfers to its twice-daily tidal flow. Stop in at the bakery for a pre- or post-hike treat. Or both. I won't judge. Tip: be sure to check viewing times for the rapids so you can time your visit for peak flow, and keep in mind that the delicious goods at Skookumchuck Bakery sell out fast.
Explore Stunning Princess Louisa Inlet by Boat and Dine With a View at Inlets Restaurant
While there are many spectacular views to be found on the Sunshine Coast, a boat trip through Princess Louisa Inlet is undoubtedly a feast for the eyes. Rising sharply from the water's edge, this magnificent granite-walled gorge soars to heights in excess of 7,000 feet. Every year, Mother Nature's thaw creates rushing waterfalls — as many as 60, including the famed Chatterbox Falls — that tumble down its slick, sheer walls to the inky water below. Egmont Adventure Centre lets you experience the fjord two ways — first by air and then by boat — leaving no view of this spectacular slice of the Sunshine Coast unexplored. A quick on-land excursion through the lush forest that surrounds Chatterbox Falls is a great way to work up a light appetite before gliding back for dinner at the aptly-named Inlets Restaurant at West Coast Wilderness Lodge. Here, you can dine outside (reservations required) on the restaurant's 5,000-square-foot deck, overlooking the water below and across to the blue-green mountains and beyond. Naturally, West Coast-inspired cuisine is on the menu, with dishes like crispy, yam-crusted lingcod and wild Sockeye salmon wellington. Grab a glass of BC wine alongside dinner and settle in for an evening of sunset watching.
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