The Sunshine Coast is a region made for exploring. Two areas—a north and a south—spread over 180-kilometres are linked by a 50-minute ferry and together encompass long stretches of beach, expansive ocean vistas, and forested mountains. In between, you’ll find artist studios and galleries, farmers' markets, restaurants, trails, parks, and pathways all available to travellers with mobility considerations.
Read on to plan your accessible getaway to the Sunshine Coast.
Note: For current information—and to ensure that your particular needs can be met—we recommend that you contact each business directly.
When travelling to the Sunshine Coast, visitors must travel aboard BC Ferries, airplane, or private boat. BC Ferries has a number of accessibility services and options for travellers to arrive safely and comfortably. Sunshine Coast sailing routes have elevators, accessible washroom facilities, and BC ferries can offer boarding assistance and even a Visitor Pass for persons with disabilities who require a travel companion to assist them to the ship.
For more details and information on BC Ferries accessibility options, visit https://www.bcferries.com/accessibility or call 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779).
Planning to fly? Contact your preferred airline ahead of time to ensure appropriate accommodations are available.
AIRLINES SERVING POWELL RIVER:
AIRLINES SERVING SECHELT:
Nature is within reach for people of all mobility levels on the Sunshine Coast. Wide, flat trails can accommodate travellers with physical limitations and lead through dense, lush forests and in view of waterfalls.
The crown jewel of accessible trails on the Sunshine Coast is found at Inland Lake Provincial Park in the Northern Sunshine Coast’s qathet region. Here a 13-kilometre, fully accessible trail loops around the entire lake, connected by a series of wide, flat boardwalks and bridges (but please note that part of the trail is currently inaccessible due to trail maintenance—visit the BC Parks website for details). There are eight picnic areas (with bathroom facilities) where you can rest along the way, plus plenty of fishing piers in case you’re looking to cast a line for lunch.
Ocean views can be found along the Gibsons Seawall, a short one-kilometre compact gravel walkway that connects Armours Beach to the Gibsons Public Market. (There are two ramps located at either end.) Up the road from the public market is Inglis Trail, a forested path that connects upper and lower Gibsons. Whispering Firs Park in Gibsons features a large grassy area and a wheelchair-friendly trail that winds through tall, second-growth Douglas fir forest and ferns.
In Roberts Creek, a short yet beautiful 30-metre accessible path leads to an observation deck overlooking a waterfall. For sunset views and wave watching, head to Mission Point Park in Davis Bay, which has over 550 meters of compacted gravel set back from the ocean shoreline through parkland. Its west-facing location means sunsets here are some of the best on the Sunshine Coast. Continue your oceanside exploration via the Davis Bay Esplanade along the wide, flat paved walkway that borders the beach.
Similar views can be found in Sechelt along the Trail Bay Walkway. (Don’t miss e.b.’s Ice Cream, a small takeaway stand selling scoops and cones at the south end of the walkway.) Walk or roll out onto the pier and watch fishermen and seabirds try to catch a fish. Also in town is the Sechelt Marsh, home to a meandering trail that circles a bird sanctuary. Along the east side of Sechelt Inlet is Hidden Grove, and when combined with the nearby Heritage Forest, offers two accessible routes through lush forest. Monty’s Way is a must-do. A similar-length wheelchair-friendly trail can be found at Kinnikinnick Park, or opt to take the Crowston Trail, a smooth, flat and gently sloped walk on compacted gravel which leads to breathtaking views of Sechelt Inlet from Crowston Road.
Sargeant Bay Provincial Park in Halfmoon Bay is home to a crescent-shaped sandy beach and wetland, which can be explored via 500 metres of compacted crushed gravel. The Big Tree Trail, located just up the road, is a wheelchair-accessible forested trail that leads to the site of some very old and large fir trees.
Learn more about accessible trails here, or pick up a map at one of the Sunshine Coast’s Visitor Centres.
Marinas and Scenic Spots to Watch the Sunset
Government wharfs and marinas are wheelchair accessible and provide gripped ramps and railings.
If you’re travelling by boat, you can tie up at Gibsons Marina (located a short walk or roll from the accessible-friendly Gibsons Public Market). Or dock at Desolation Sound, the largest marine provincial park in BC. Pull up at the government dock in Halfmoon Bay, conveniently situated down the road from Halfmoon Bay General Store where you can get an ice cream cone or treat mid-sail. In Powell River, Westview Harbour is a hive of activity. Watch BC Ferries come and go and small watercraft and sailboats pull into slips at the marina.
Land locked? Piers and marinas still make spectacular places to watch the sunset. The wide, flat pier at Davis Bay is wheelchair-friendly and offers a great vantage point for soaking in the setting sun. Looking for an overnight beach destination? Hop on the accessible-friendly BC Ferries from Powell River and explore Texada Island. Or, venture to tropical-like Savary Island. A water taxi and a small passenger ferry both service the island and can accommodate wheelchairs. (Note: if you are a wheelchair user, you may want to ensure your wheels can navigate Savary’s sandy terrain.)
Museums, Galleries and Artists’ Markets
The Sunshine Coast is home to a thriving creative community, and many artist studios, galleries and museums cater to those with mobility considerations. The elevator-friendly Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives features exhibits and photographs that tell the story of the area, including the history of the CBC’s famous and longest-running show The Beachcombers. Down the road, the Gibsons Public Art Gallery is a one-room exhibition space that sees rotating artists display their work. The qathet Art Centre in Powell River hosts exhibitions, workshops, artist talks and more.
Artists across the Sunshine Coast often welcome visitors to their homes and studios. Look for the purple banners and don’t miss the three-day, art-filled Sunshine Coast Art Crawl which takes place every fall. (Note: we recommend calling ahead to see if studios and artist’ homes can accommodate those with accessibility requirements.) Each summer, outdoor markets pop up across the Coast at mobility-friendly parks and outdoor spaces. The Festival of the Written Arts, Canada’s longest-running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers, has a wheelchair-friendly pathway that leads to the main venue where all events are hosted.
Sunshine Coast Art Tours offers bespoke art crawls via shuttle bus that allow you to interact with artists and galleries in an intimate, comfortable way. This is a great option for those who are ambulatory but may have other physical limitations and prefer less crowded spaces.
During summer, most communities across the Sunshine Coast offer some form of live music in public spaces that can accommodate those with mobility considerations.
Tours and Outdoor Activities
Guided tours and outdoor activities are ideal for getting the lay of the land in a fun and safe way. Sunshine Coast Tours can take you through the stunning Princess Louisa Inlet, a magnificent granite-walled gorge with cascading waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. Wheelchairs can roll right up to the boat, but guests may need to have some level of ambulatory ability to get on and off the boat safely. Looking for wildlife? Opt for the Sea Lion tour instead with Egmont Adventure Tours, which also offers marine excursions in the area. They, too, can accommodate users with some physical limitations. In Pender Harbour, Slo-Cat Tours offer harbour tours in a wide and shallow 24-foot pontoon boat. Call ahead to ensure your particular needs can be met.
Coast Gravity Park is a mountain biker’s paradise, with over sixteen fast and flowy gravity-fed trails that wind through lush, sun-dappled forest. Adaptive bikes and riders are welcome, though riders will need to call ahead to ensure all their physical requirements can be met.
Klein Lake, a popular and scenic recreation site located near Egmont, has one campsite and toilet specifically designed for wheelchair users. Porpoise Bay is another provincial campground ideal for users with physical limitations. The campground sits on a flat lot and features large, spacious sites with great views of the Sechelt Inlet, as well as accessible washrooms and showers, as does Roberts Creek Provincial Park. The Perch, one of two vacation rentals from Moon Dance, is fully wheelchair-friendly. Hole up here for a cozy and restful weekend away in the woods.