The Sunshine Coast is a dog (and dog lover's) paradise, with plenty of spots swim, forested paths to explore, and pet-friendly accommodations to stay in. Read on for ideas to help you plan your next family vacation to the Sunshine Coast—four-legged family members included​​.

A dog enjoying a local beach
A dog enjoying some beach time. Photo: Darrin Greene

Etiquette Tips & Local Bylaws

Don’t forget to use your best doggy etiquette at all times. There are some simple rules for owners to follow:

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a current license tag on their collar and that their vaccinations are up-to-date.

  • Always clean up after your dog and dispose of waste in a garbage bin.

  • Obey all park and trail rules.

  • Keep your dog under control and in sight at all times.

  • Bring a leash with you, even if you are planning to visit an off-leash area.

  • Don’t let your dog dig holes, chase wildlife (including nesting birds), or damage the environment in any way. 


Note that there are also times where dogs are prohibited from certain places, or where on/off-leash rules vary according to the time of year. You can find details on local bylaws and off-leash areas here:

Travelling on BC Ferries

Pets are welcome on BC Ferries and travel for free. For the most part, animals (except for guide, service, or emotional support dogs) must remain in vehicles or in a designated Pet Area. Pet Areas are equipped with amenities like garbage bins, seating, waste bags, and water. 

There is currently an ongoing trial allowing dogs on the upper passenger deck—in designated areas only—on two Sunshine Coast ferries and routes:

  • Salish Orca – Sailings between Powell River – Comox

  • Malaspina Sky – Sailings between Earls Cove – Saltery Bay

Visit the BC Ferries website to learn more about travelling with pets.

BC Ferries
Photo: Sunshine Coast Tourism/Dolf Vermeulen

Things to Do

The Sunshine Coast is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and there is plenty of space to explore whether you’re on two legs or four. 

Dog parks are the best place to let your pet run around off-leash. Shirley Macey Park in Gibsons offers a large, fenced off-leash park—and is a popular spot for local dogs to frolic and play. There are plenty of dog-lovers in Sechelt as evidenced by its impressive amount of off-leash dog areas that includes Hidden Grove, a network of forested trails that were lovingly built by dog lovers. For more off-leash options, head to Brookman Park, Creekside Park, Lynnwood Park, or Jane Bowers Dog Park. In Powell River, the Powell River Dog Park is a fenced, off-leash park located off Duncan Street (just behind the Mother Nature store). 

Hiking is a popular pastime on the Coast, with opportunities to climb to new heights or simply meander through the forest with your leashed pup. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

  • Discover stunning vistas at Soames Hill Park, which overlooks Gibsons Harbour and neighbouring Keats Island. 

  • Explore the trails of Cliff Gilker Park, which offers a network of easy hiking routes that pass several scenic waterfalls. Cliff Gilker Loop makes for a great dose of forest therapy without needing to venture too deep into the woods. 

  • Wander the waterfront path in downtown Sechelt for an easy stroll with scenic views of the water. 

  • Tackle Mount Daniel, a dog-friendly trail with incredible views overlooking the waterways of Pender Harbour. Fitness is required for both dogs and people—the trail is steep!

  • Cruise along the SunCoaster Trail, a 37-kilometre multi-use trail linking Egmont to Halfmoon Bay that winds around mountain lakes and through lush forest. 

  • Head out for a stroll along Powell River’s Millennium and Penticton Street trails, or challenge yourself to complete a section of the spectacular Sunshine Coast Trail, which is dog-friendly (with restrictions). There are multiple entry points on the 180-kilometre trail, so you don’t have to hike it all at once.

  • Take the short path to Hurtado Point near Lund, which offers a rewarding view of the Salish Sea, or stretch your legs on the 1-kilometre Lund Loop, which passes through the village en route to a small beach.

Mount Daniel
Mount Daniel, Photo: Sunshine Coast Tourism/Chris Thorn Photography

Planning to spend some time at the beach? Keep in mind that for the most part, you’ll need to keep your dog leashed—and maintain control of your dog at all times. The Southern Sunshine Coast offers several dog-friendly beaches, including Bonniebrook Beach, a long, wide sandy coastline (dogs can roam off-leash there in the quieter fall and winter months). Other options include sun-warmed rocky beaches in Roberts Creek or Davis Bay, and the freshwater lakes surrounding Pender Harbour. On the Northern Sunshine Coast, popular favorites include Shingle Mill Beach, Block Bay, and Cranberry Lake. Texada Island also provides various trails and parks for on-lead and off-leash exploration and swimming. 

A few local tour operators also offer pet-friendly activities. In Egmont, Metta Eco Experiences offers boat tours that can accommodate dogs—either a 4-hour Rock Walls and Waterfalls boat tour or a 2-hour Inlet Explorer tour. Over in Pender Harbour, you can take your dog onboard SloCat Harbour Tours for a small fee.

Where to Stay

Every accommodation on the Sunshine Coast has their own pet policies in place. It’s always best to reserve a place to stay in advance, and to make sure your pet can be accommodated. Provincial Park campgrounds and Recreation Sites allow dogs; they must be leashed unless otherwise specified.

Here are a just a few dog-friendly accommodations to look into:

Click here to learn more about places to stay on the Sunshine Coast.

Where to Eat & Drink

Breweries and cideries play host to both humans and their canine companions, with the expectation that furry friends remain leashed and that you pick up after them. Persephone Brewing, Sunday Cider, Banditry Cider, and Brickers Cider are all pet-friendly and feature idyllic orchards and picnic areas. They all feature varying food options and plenty of good drinks to sip. Meanwhile, Tapworks Brewing's seasonal lower patio offers space for leashed pets to chill, and The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery has a grassy patio section that is dog-friendly. Happy hour calls at Townsite Brewing, which features a large, family and pet-friendly beer garden where you can enjoy the tasty brews on offer.

Many local restaurants feature patios, and welcome leashed pets. It’s always best to double check ahead of time, but if the patios are full or unable to accommodate pets, take-out is your next best option. Grab a meal-to-go or some picnic supplies and enjoy some more time at a local park with your pet, or head back to your accommodation and relax.

Click here to learn more about the Sunshine Coast’s culinary scene.