Secluded Bays and Inlets
The Sunshine Coast is a popular destination and a route to Princess Louisa Inlet, Desolation Sound and the Great Bear Rainforest. Stretching from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound, the Sunshine Coast is renowned for casual hospitality and endless sunsets as you journey through secluded bays, striking inlets and tight archipelagos. You’ll find enticing communities and full-service marinas along the way.
Meet the First Nations
The Sunshine Coast is home to three First Nations: Tla’amin, Shíshálh, and Skwxwu7mesh and Klahoose, who have lived on the Salish Sea since time immemorial. They continue to paddle and fish these waters and welcome visitors to their territories.
Visit the Tems Swiya Museum in Sechelt, the Tla’amin Salmon Hatchery north of Powell River, or the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives in Gibsons to explore First Nations’ history and culture. Even better, take a cultural paddling tour with I’Hos Cultural Tours or Talaysay Tours.
It’s an island, sort of
There are no roads to the Sunshine Coast. Your first stop is Gibsons, a United Nations most liveable community, with hospitality that reaches right down to your boat. Tie up at the Harbour Authority and sit at the long table with newfound mates at lively Smitty’s Oyster House, at the foot of the wharf. Really tasty sandwiches at Smoke on the Water on the wharf and outdoor pub fare at Grandma’s Pub. Molly’s Reach, famous from TV’s The Beachcombers show, greets you as you come ashore. Stroll through the 50 shops and eateries of the Landing, where a statue of George Gibsons gazes over the harbour.
The thickly forested coastline hides world-class hiking and mountain bike trails that take you from the water’s edge to the mountaintops.
The next community is Sechelt. There is no moorage on the Salish Sea shoreline. You can visit Sechelt by way of the Agamemnon Channel and Sechelt Inlet. Sechelt Inlet has long arms to explore with compelling scenery. There are several campsites. This is a lovely, less travelled waterway and at its end there is the reward of good food and drink. Visit the Lighthouse Pub. There is a marine store adjacent.
North of Sechelt, Smugglers Cove Marine Park is a popular stop-over, with enclosed basins and an enchanting hike through forest flooded by beaver dams. The tide pools are strewn with purple starfish. You can tie up at the dock in Halfmoon Bay and visit the classic general store (liquor sales) and bakery/cafe. Secret Cove Marina sells fuel, has a well-stocked store and a fine dining at the Upper Deck.
The mid-section of the Sunshine Coast is a miniature maze of islands, bays and fjords. Pender Harbour has an assortment of marinas. For a luxury destination, pick Painted Boat Resort with marina, full spa, exquisite dining and a range of accommodation. Sunshine Coast Resort has boat rentals, a variety of accommodation, health and spa packages and links to land and water activities. If you are combining camping with boating or a waterfront cabin appeals, we recommend Pender Harbour Resort, where you also can rent a small boat.
Fuel is available at Harbour Authority of Pender Harbour. From its docks it is a short stroll to the shops of Madeira Park.
A taste of the wild is close by in Jervis Inlet with its steep walls, many waterfalls and year-round snowy peaks. Please consult the Sunshine Coast anchorage guide for staging areas. The best way to enjoy Jervis Inlet is to stay at Backeddy Resort with lively pub and variety of accommodation.
You absolutely must visit Princess Louisa Inlet, described as the “most beautiful anchorage in the world,” with 2100 metre-high (6500 feet) high granite cliffs and more than 60 waterfalls. Sunshine Coast Tours offers an interpretive 5-hour tour to where Chatterbox Falls cascades into Princess Louisa Inlet and a 1-hour tour to Skookumchuck tidal rapids, one of BC’s most visited natural wonders.
It is well worth the trip down the calm waters of Sechelt Inlet to Porpoise Bay where a berth, Lighthouse Pub and fine casual dining await. The shops of tidy little downtown Sechelt are a modest walk from your dock. Be sure to ask about safely navigating Skookumchuck and Malibu (Princess Louisa entrance) tidal rapids.
The Salish Sea is bisected here by lengthy Texada Island. Stop at the sailing club and go ashore to experience an island culture in transition from forestry and mining to a haven for rustic living. The passage north to Powell River is protected by Texada.
Powell River is the last sizeable community until Prince Rupert, which is close to Alaska. You will find a full range of services, amenities and outdoor activities. Beach Gardens Resort is a destination marina with bistro, pool, gym, oceanfront accommodation, kayak rentals, liquor sales and transportation to nearby Powell River.
Most boaters who come this far are heading to Desolation Sound. The last haven on the Sunshine Coast is at Lund, where you will find a berth, a bed and a beer at the Lund Hotel Marina. Around the Malaspina Peninsula in Okeover Bay are marinas, a resort and the exquisite Laughing Oyster Restaurant.
This is a jumping off point for the Fjords, Islands and Passages Region.
Relaxation guaranteed. Only accessible by ferry, boat or float plane, the Sunshine Coast is a popular tourist destination with B.C. locals, especially in summer months. Spend time off points and underwater structure fishing tidal eddies for salmon looking for baitfish. Setting traps for prawns can be very productive in deeper protected water along the coast. Spend a day out while the prawn traps soak, searching for evidence of bait or salmon on the calm, protected waters of the Georgia Strait, located between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
Main image at top of page: Sunrise, credit Destination BC/Albert Nomandin