There’s nothing like packing up the tent or RV for a weekend of camping.  To help you make the most of your time outdoors on the Sunshine Coast, we put together this list of camping tips. From where to recycle to campfire safety, following these suggestions will ensure you spend more time stargazing than stressing. 

1. Pick Your Campsite Ahead of Time

The hardest part about camping on the Sunshine Coast is choosing where to go. From marine parks to backcountry sites to family-friendly campgrounds, you’ll find options for every type of camper. Summer on the Sunshine Coast is busy though, and that can mean full campgrounds. To avoid the disappointment of missing out on a site (and sleeping in your car), make sure to pick your campsite in advance (we can help you with that here) and reserve. And if you’re flexible, consider camping mid-week. This gives you the best chance of getting a prime spot in a popular campground.

2. Book Your Ferry Travel in Advance

You picked your campsite, now what? Make sure you can book your ferry travel for the dates you want to camp, and make sure you book travel for both ways. Ferries to the Sunshine Coast book up fast and sailing waits are frustrating for residents and visitors alike. Reserving in advance ensures you are guaranteed travel over to the Sunshine Coast and keeps ferry lineups minimal. If you’re headed to a campground on one of the Sunshine Coast’s many islands, reserve your ferry, water taxi, or boat charter in advance as well.

3. Opt for Shoulder Season Travel

Skip the busy summer season and consider camping during shoulder seasons. Both spring and fall on the Sunshine Coast see mild weather and their share of sunny days, plus fewer crowds and less traffic. A spring or fall camping trip means your chances of snagging that coveted campsite are better and you might just even get the campground to yourself!

4. Be Prepared for Wildfire Season

During BC’s hot, dry summers, campfires can easily lead to devastating consequences. Wildfire season in BC means there are fire bans across most of the province, and air quality can be smoky and poor. Make sure to check if there are local fire bans and obey all campground rules before starting a fire. Staying informed of current wildfires and weather conditions allows you to better plan activities during your trip (and helps keep you and other travellers safe).

5. Learn the Basics of Campfire Safety

The crackling sound of a fire, the dance of red flames in the inky black of the night—a campfire is a quintessential camping experience. It’s also a big responsibility. Even if there are no local fire bans, it’s still important to learn the basics of campfire safety. Brush up on your skills so the only thing you risk burning is the marshmallow you’re roasting.

Camping in Powell River
Willingdon Beach, Powell River. Photo: Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

6. Planning to go Fishing? Purchase a Fishing License

The Sunshine Coast has exceptional fishing. If you plan on dropping a line for trout or chinook, make sure to purchase the appropriate fishing license. Saltwater fishing licenses are best purchased online (you’ll need to keep a printed copy with you), or pick up a freshwater license at the Home Hardware in Gibsons on the Southern Sunshine Coast or Marine Traders and Powell River Outdoors Inc on the Northern Sunshine Coast.

7. Pack In, Pack Out

Pack out what you pack in. This is one of the main tenets of the camper’s code, and abiding by this rule means you’re respecting the local environment and wildlife. It may also be a requirement for some campers—backcountry and wilderness areas and recreation sites lack the garbage facilities and infrastructure that you’ll find in frontcountry provincial parks and private campgrounds. The general rule of thumb wherever you’re camping is to leave your campsite better than you found it.

8. Recycle on the Sunshine Coast

Help keep the Sunshine Coast clean and trash-free. Conscious campers will find recycling stations at the Gibsons Recycling Depot, in Sechelt at Salish Soils and in Powell River at Sunshine Disposal and Recycling and Town Centre Recycling Depot. Have bottles to return? Swing by the Return-It Centre in Powell River, Caps Off Bottle Depot in Sechelt, or the Gibsons Bottle Depot to dispose of your empties.

9. Be Bear Aware

The Sunshine Coast is a rural destination and we share our backyard with many different species, including the black bears that roam our woods. When camping, avoid encounters with bears by packing away food and storing smelly items in bear-safe containers (or places, like a locked RV or car). At backcountry and marine wilderness sites, make use of any bear caches or bring rope to hang food from a tree that is inaccessible to bears (at least 4 meters off the ground and 3 meters from the nearest tree).
Check out the Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance website to learn more about safely co-existing with bears.

10. Plan Your Beach Visit for Low Tide

With 180-kilometres of coastline, the Sunshine Coast has plenty of beaches to explore. Planning to hit the sand? Check the tides and plan your visit for low tide when the water is shallow (and often warmer) and there’s more towel space to be found.

Find a place to camp on the Sunshine Coast.