A Summer Road Trip to BC’s Sunshine Coast



Guest post by Mary-Ann Bell / The Camping & RV Coalition 

Camping season is upon us! Temperatures are heating up and the kids are almost out of school, which is a perfect combination for hitting the road and pitching your tent (or trailer, 5th wheel or RV). Every summer my family (and some of our friends) hit the road to explore BC’s Sunshine Coast. Accessible by BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, the journey across Howe Sound takes 40 minutes and the viewscapes of Bowen and Gambier Islands are spectacular. Our favourite spot on the boat is on the sundeck in the front where it’s the windiest!  We always make a reservation, which, if you are planning to travel at peak times, is strongly recommended.

Kayakers paddle at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park near Sechelt.

Upon arrival on the Sunshine Coast you may notice that time seems to ebb away and with it, the need for speed. Slow down and enjoy the drive from Langdale, through Gibsons to Sechelt. Highway 101 winds its way along the coast and is dotted with signs for artisans, farm fresh produce, spectacular ocean views and beach access points.   Pop into Roberts Creek for a Strait Coffee (roasted on the Sunshine Coast) at the Gumboot Café and wander down, towards the beach, to take a look at the mandala. Every summer, the mandala, with a new theme, is painted by a team of volunteers, and if you happen to be in Roberts Creek the day that they’re painting, you’re more than welcome to pitch in and paint a section yourself.

A visit to the Sunshine Coast isn’t complete until you get out on the water. And our preferred way of doing this is on stand-up-paddleboards.  Just a 5-minute drive from Sechelt, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is located on the shores of Sechelt Inlet.  The park has a sandy beach (and a playground), and is the perfect spot, for all abilities, to put a SUP in the water. Early morning’s calm waters provide a serene opportunity for paddling and it’s not uncommon to be visited by a curious seal.  SUP board rentals (and kayaks) are available from a variety of operators, many of who will deliver the boards to your campsite.

The tidal pools of Porpoise Bay Provincial Park make great exploration for kids.

A favourite hike of our group is the hike into Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park. The entrance to the park is just 15 minutes northwest of Sechelt and the four-kilometre trail is suitable for all abilities.  Enter the trail in dense forest and after a short walk you will reach a series of boardwalks over a bog. The bog is home to beavers, who, if you’re lucky, can be spotted working on their lodges. The trail meanders through the forest, and viewpoints offer spectacular views of Georgia Straight and Welcome Passage. The view at the end of the trail is amazing and everyone in your group will love clambering out onto the rocky shoreline and exploring the tidal pools.

Don’t miss the Sechelt Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday during the summer. From 9am – 2:30pm Cowrie Street, in downtown Sechelt, comes to life with the sights, sounds and smells of baking, farm fresh produce, local artisans, hot food and entertainment.  Why not grab the fixings for a picnic lunch to take on your hike to Smuggler Cove?

The Sechelt Farmer’s Market.

Arguably the best view of the ocean on the Sunshine Coast can be found at Davis Bay just south of Sechelt. When the tide is out a wide, sandy beach is revealed. The beach is perfect for building sandcastles and just happens to be home to the annual Davis Bay Sandcastle competition in July. There are lots of picnic tables and driftwood logs to perch on while you enjoy the ice cream cone that you grabbed from the shop across the street! Kids will often be spotted jumping off the pier, and it’s an amazing spot to watch the sunset.

Hungry? Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on dining out. Sechelt, though small, has a wonderful dining scene. Try Lucky’s Smokehouse for to-die-for pulled pork, Daphne Mediterranean Kitchen for authentic Greek food, settle in at the Lighthouse Pub for pub grub with a view or enjoy a locally-sourced meal with a visit to the Wobbly Canoe in Davis Bay.  And be sure to visit the Sunshine Coast’s newest craft cidery. The Bricker Cider Company opened last summer and have been serving up flights of their small-batch cider every day since.

When we visit the Sunshine Coast we camp at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, a lovely little family-oriented campsite just minutes from downtown Sechelt.

A treed site at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park.

Depending on when you visit, the community of Sechelt has a wonderful calendar of events.

  • Davis Bay Sandcastle Competition – July 14
  • Festival of the Rolling Arts – Aug 10/11
  • Festival of the Written Arts – Aug 16/19

If you go:

For a list of RV parks, campgrounds, BC Provincial Parks and Forestry Sites, as well as trip ideas and itineraries, visit CampingRVBC.com. To learn more about BC Parks, visit BCParks.ca 

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