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A Brief Guide to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

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In a province known for its picturesque destinations, the Sunshine Coast is one of British Columbia’s most beautiful.

This stretch of coastline runs for 180 km from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound. While a part of mainland British Columbia, travellers can access the Sunshine Coast only be ferry, boat, or plane, giving it a charming remote feel.

At Mosaic Earth Travel, we love showing guests around this region, which is why it’s part of our collection of immersive multi-day tours of British Columbia.

We have poured our local insight and expertise into this Brief Guide to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

Keep reading to discover more about this spectacular part of Western Canada. If you have any questions about our off-the-beaten-path adventures in BC, please feel free to get in touch.

Where is the Sunshine Coast in BC?

The Sunshine Coast begins along the Howe Sound in the south, with the town of Gibsons just a short 40 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver. From here, the coast road weaves north through Sechelt and Madeira Park to a second ferry that will bring you to Powell River, Lund, and Desolation Sound.

Why is It Called the Sunshine Coast?

As the name suggests, this area is renowned for the amount of sunshine it receives – 2,400 hours annually, to be precise. Lying to the east of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast can often be sheltered from the storm systems seen elsewhere in coastal BC.

When you factor in the region’s beautiful beaches, wonderful towns, stunning hiking trails, and sweeping ocean views, the Sunshine Coast offers a truly warm welcome for visitors.

What Sights Can I See on the Sunshine Coast?

The Sunshine Coast is home to many incredible natural wonders, including:

  • Princess Louisa Inlet – An awe-inspiring granite-walled gorge rising sharply from the ocean. At its highest, the gorge is over 2,100 metres (7,000 feet) tall.
  • Chatterbox Falls – Located at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet, this powerful waterfall drops 120 feet into the fjord below.
  • Skookumchuck Narrows – These turbulent rapids are famous for their whirlpools. Whitewater kayakers love riding the waves here which can be viewed from the shore by curious hikers.
  • Amazing Beaches -The Sunshine Coast has many beautiful beaches. Some highlights include Bonniebrook Beach, Davis Bay, and Porpoise Bay.

Find even more travel inspiration by reading our recommendations for 8 must-dos on your next Sunshine Coast vacation.

What Activities Can I Do on the Sunshine Coast?

There’s something for everyone on the Sunshine Coast!

For outdoor enthusiasts, you can enjoy an array of popular activities like hiking through dense, old-growth forests, stand-up paddle boarding, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and fishing.

Floatplane tours are an unforgettable experience. If you’ve got a head for heights, you can take in the utterly spectacular views of the breathtaking scenery below.

The Sunshine Coast also has a strong artistic community – with more artists per capita than anywhere in Canada – and one of our local tour partners offers behind-the-scenes art tours. You can also join local Indigenous guides for a walking tour to learn about the area’s ecology and First Nations history.

Looking for a more relaxed pace? Some of our favourite lodges and B&Bs offer on-site massage, private yoga classes, and catered dining.

And with craft breweries, cozy specialty cafes, and fine dining options, many of which are gorgeous waterfront restaurants, you can eat and drink in style too.

Our own Sunshine Coast Self-Guided Tours combine all these great experiences in one multi-day trip.

What are Some Must-Visit Places on the Sunshine Coast?

Artsy and eclectic oceanside towns and villages are scattered along the Sunshine Coast. You can spend your days exploring the local farmers’ markets, gallery hopping, or sampling local coffee or craft drinks.

Each community offers unique accommodation and easy access to the region’s hiking, paddling, and other adventure activities.

Some of the best stops for a Sunshine Coast vacation include:

  • Gibsons – A quaint town that’s home to artists and some of the best culinary delights on the Coast.
  • Roberts Creek – Immersed in nature with prime access to hiking and mountain biking trails.
  • Sechelt – An artistic community and the gateway to Sechelt Inlet and floatplane tours.
  • Madeira Park – Stunning rocky shorelines, great boating, and freshwater lakes.
  • Egmont – A quiet town rich in history and close to outdoor adventures.

Read our previous blog, Art & the Sunshine Coast: A Mindful Journey from Gibsons to Madeira Park, for a deeper insight into exploring this part of Western Canada.

First Nations History and Culture on the Sunshine Coast

The Coast Salish people have called this land home since time immemorial. The southern Sunshine Coast specifically is home to the shíshálh (Sechelt) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations. Visitors will notice traditional Indigenous place names on signage, and Indigenous art in various forms.

Guided day tours offer the chance to connect with the local First Nations and hear their stories first-hand. You can join a walking tour through the rainforest to learn about ancient uses for plants and cedar trees, or a historical walking tour of the town of Sechelt.

The tems swiya Museum in Sechelt is another great place to learn about the region’s culture and history. There are artifacts dating back over 10,000 years that show the historical importance of the Coast Salish people and their strong connections to land.

All these options and more are offered on our Sunshine Coast Explorer tours.

Discover the Sunshine Coast and British Columbia with Us

As a brief guide to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, we can only scratch the surface of everything there is to see and do here.

For more travel inspiration, browse our wider range of tours of British Columbia. Each itinerary can be customized to your unique interests and budget.

And if you have any questions about our guided or self-guided experiences, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

See you on the Coast!

Photo credits:

  1. Destination BC/@nochancenanc
  2. Destination BC/@glamouraspirit
  3. Paige Lorraine/Pointhouse Suites/SunCoast Wellness
  4. Destination BC/Local Wanderer
  5. Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout
  6. Destination BC/@dolfvermeulen

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Guide

Sarah Hain

Based on Vancouver Island, Sarah holds a BA in International Development and an MA in Sustainable Leisure Management. Sarah is passionate about elevating responsible tourism practices that benefit both visitors and residents alike while protecting the fragile environment of the places we love to explore. Sarah has experience guiding in Central America where she led multi-day trips up volcanoes and through the remote foothills of Guatemala. She has since partnered with several non-profit tourism organizations in Guatemala, Belize, Canada, and the US to provide transformative experiences for travellers and empower local communities.

When not working, you can find her skiing, fishing, caring for her chickens, and volunteering her time to restore and protect salmon habitats.

Photographer & Guide

Josh McGarel

An avid photographer for over twelve years, Josh has gained experience with local and international businesses, world-renowned athletes, and individuals to build professional content and brand presence across a variety of platforms.

He has worked on assignment for an expedition cruise operator as Photographer in Residence along the East Coast of Canada, South Georgia, and Antarctica. Here, Josh connected with his love of travel as he documented daily excursions, wildlife, and life onboard, and shared his knowledge of photography through presentations and workshops for passengers.

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Josh has lived in BC since 2014. He spends his time exploring the area by mountain bike and dreaming up crazy photo projects with friends.
Founder & Lead Guide

Pam McGarel

With a Masters of Science in International Development and Sustainable Tourism, Pam has dedicated her career to harnessing the power of travel to support the wellbeing of our planet and its people. She is an experienced guide, planner and project manager with a knack for logistics.

Prior to launching Mosaic Earth, Pam worked in sustainable tourism consulting where she helped develop a globally-recognized certification program for tourism businesses and destinations.

She has experience in public-private partnerships with a polar expedition cruise operator where she built relationships with world-leading field scientists, conservationists, and educators to facilitate their projects alongside the traveller experience. Pam is a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Women Travel Leaders, and loves to connect with values-driven tourism professionals.

Originally from Ontario, Pam moved to BC in 2016 seeking outdoor adventure, with favourite activities including hiking, sea kayaking, snowboarding, and road trips around this beautiful province.