Blessed with 2,400 hours of annual sunshine, British Columbia’s tranquil and picturesque Sunshine Coast is dotted with quaint towns, hidden coves and sandy beaches, providing the ideal setting to warm up, relax and maybe even propose
Only a 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, the lower Sunshine Coast extends from Langdale to Earls Cove. BC Ferries connects the upper coast by way of Saltry Bay.
Stroll or Hike in Gibsons
Gibsons is the first town after the ferry dock in Langdale, and the perfect place to stretch your legs and explore the newly refurbished waterfront.
Spend the afternoon meandering through family-owned artisan shops and galleries, then take in the Marina views at Smitty’s Oyster House. Owner and restaurateur Stanford, one of the original partners in Yaletown’s Rodney’s Oyster House, opened this hidden seafood gem in 2007.
Smitty's Oyster House, Gibsons - IMAGE: Curt Woodhall
The oversized windows that open to the patio and funky loft-style architecture of this restored historic Marine building create a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere suitable for indulging in freshly shucked oysters and micro-brewed beer. Or, try the New England Clam Chowda, Ahi Tuna Tartar and Rock Crab Cakes with house-made red pepper jelly family-style at the 27-foot spruce harvest patio table.
Later, you can work off the generously sized portions with a hike in Soames Hill Regional Park (off Boyle Road) and take in the sweeping views of Gibsons’ Harbour and the surrounding coastal islands.
Kayak or Cruise Around Sechelt
Sechelt, known as the Heart of the Sunshine Coast, is a few kilometres north of Gibsons. This small, laid-back community offers a vibrant town centre, beautiful beaches and an abundance of eco-activities including kayaking. Pedals and Paddles in Tilicum Bay offers a variety of tours through the sheltered inlets of Sechelt, Narrows and Salmon. The protected coves and calm winds in this area allow for a relaxed tandem paddle to enjoy the stunning west-coast scenery and secluded beaches for picnicking.
A favourite swimming beach among locals and visitors is Davis Bay, where, in the summer months, the sandy beach and shallow waters are warmed to Mediterranean-like temperatures.
Davis Bay, Sechelt - IMAGE: Flickr / K8
For those who prefer a more luxurious tour of the scenic coastline, book a boat cruise with A Place By The Sea. Departing from Porpoise Bay, these three-hour roundtrip tours sail to the 40-hectare Kunechin Point Marine Park before returning back to the bay. While taking in the marine life and spectacular waterfront homes, you’ll dine on gourmet appetizers, fresh fruit and home-baked goods.
Explore or Dine in Pender Harbour
Often referred to as the Venice of the North due to its temperate climate and intricate maze of waterways, Pender Harbour is located on the northern tip of the Lower Coast. Three charming ocean-side villages—Madeira Park, Garden Bay and Irvines Landing—make up the Pender Harbour community.
Trail to Skookumchuk Rapids, outside Pender Harbour - IMAGE: Flickr / Tyler Ingram
Take a romantic afternoon trip on the water taxi to Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park and explore the walking trails, old growth forest and rich marine ecosystem.
For oceanfront dining in a contemporary west-coast atmosphere, visit The Restaurant at Painted Boat in Madeira Park. Dedicated to procuring regional ingredients, The Restaurant’s Vancouver Iron Chef winner Spencer Watts has designed a seasonal menu of creative dishes including boneless braised lamb shank with yam puree, savoy cabbage strudel and five-spice jus and a succulent Fraser Valley duck breast with beluga lentils, parsnip puree and cherry brown butter.
Pop the Question in Half Moon Bay
One of the most serene and romantic places on the Lower Coast is the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in Half Moon Bay. Situated halfway between Langdale and Saltry Bay, this critically acclaimed resort marries rustic with luxury in a boutique collection of lavish waterfront Tenthouse Suites. Each luxurious tent features deluxe furnishings, a private veranda and hydro-therapy tub overlooking the sparkling waters of Secret Cove.
Luxury tent at the Rockwater Secret Cover Resort - IMAGE: Rockwater Resort
Lovebirds from around the globe have exchanged vows, celebrated an anniversary or become betrothed at this idyllic resort. Planning the perfect proposal? Rockwater offers a stress-free Just Bring the Rock package for $599, which includes a one-night Tenthouse stay, a Bliss couples massage, a three-course in-suite candlelight dinner, rose petal turndown, chilled sparkling wine and breakfast in bed the following morning.
Mhairri Cuthbert is a travel writer at Arrivals. Visit their blog for additional links, information and photos on this destination.