Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunshine Coast trips: never enough...

One of the great gems of British Columbia is an area known as the "Sunshine Coast". And it is so close to the city of Vancouver, so accessible - yet it remains largely unexplored.

That's not such a bad thing ... part of its charm is the fact that it is only a few hours away but still maintains a remote feeling. As a travel writer, I almost feel a bit guilty encouraging people to visit it. From time to time, most travel writers struggle with the dilemma of sharing their special spots, their favorite destinations for fear of creating too much consumer interest - especially when you're dealing with areas that are special because they are not typically "tourist-y" areas.

Don't make a fuss,
just hop on the bus - er - ferry.

Getting there does involve a bit more than hopping in a car - but not much. You cannot just drive there - you do have to take a B.C. ferry or two, starting from Horseshoe Bay, then again from Earl's Cove, depending if you want to stay on the Lower Sunshine Coast or visit the Upper Sunshine Coast. But it takes less time to get there than it does to drive from downtown Vancouver to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen and sail over to Vancouver Island. Still, it does seem more people plan trips to the island than they do the Sunshine Coast.

Frankly, I'm glad there is not too much traffic up and down the Sunshine Coast Highway. The highway is mainly a two-lane road, so it can be backed up at times, at least close to ferry arrivals/departures.

The drive itself is beautiful, once you get away from the ferry landing at Langdale.

I've made four trips there in the seven years I've lived in Vancouver, and I feel I haven't even scraped the surface on exploring the area. There are so many things to see and do there...

Want to go sea kayaking? It's not hard, because the Pacific Ocean is your constant companion on any journey up the coast. There are several companies based along the coast, including Half Moon Sea Kayaks on the lower coast, and Powell River Sea Kayak on the upper coast.

One of the stops along the way,
Desolation Sound Marine Park

If you're a hardcore hiker, there's always the Sunshine Coast Trail. While not as well known or publicized as its older, bigger brother, the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, it offers much to those who love spending time in the outdoors.

Looking for a great resort to stay at? Go to Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, where you can try your hand at "glamping" in their luxurious tenthouse suites. Along the upper coast, Desolation Sound Resort offers kayaking/dining packages when you stay in their chateaus.

If you're looking for something a bit more private, Moon Dance Cabin provides a secluded, bay front getaway that is still very close to any services you may require.

Moon Dance Cabin: secluded yet not isolated.

Just because you're outside the city, doesn't mean there's not good food. The Laughing Oyster offers some incredible meals; their beef wellington is second to none.

Looking for a spa experience, with a bit of other outdoor activity like kayaking or hiking? Painted Boat Spa and Resort can fill that bill.

As I'm looking back at what I've written here, I'm struck by the feeling that it reads like just another tourism ad, a case of a writer shilling for something. But quite frankly, most of this stuff I've experienced myself, on my own, booked by myself, paid for by moi - so it's not like I'm trying to be overly optimistic and positive to please or impress tourism reps. Also, I am not necessarily endorsing all of the companies with links listed here -  those are just included to give you an idea where to start.

Yes, even given that caveat, it still may sound like I'm promoting the area shamelessly. Fair enough, believe what you will. It's just that it is very hard not to write effusively about my travels there because they really have been magical.

When all is said and done, there really is some kind of mystic charm to the region that has to be experienced to understand. It has to be felt in person in order to appreciate what the Sunshine Coast is all about.

But don't take my word for it. Hop in your car, jump on a ferry and see for yourself. And don't be surprised if you find yourself coming back, again and again and again ...

Paddling the Sunshine Coast near Painted Boat Spa

No comments:

Post a Comment