48 Hours on the Northern Sunshine Coast
A couple of ferry rides will get you to the last unspoiled stretch of the Sunshine Coast.
Don’t be dissuaded by the ferry rides—they’re the only reason this last precious stretch of the 180-kilometre-long Sunshine Coast has gone unspoiled for so long.
Two ferries and stretches of scenic drives through Sechelt, Gibsons and Saltery Bay will bring you to Powell River’s doorstep (or you can fly, transforming a five-hour-ish road trip into 30 minutes of air time). Either way, you’ll be hit with the fact that $300,000 buys you a detached four-bedroom home with a yard—and an ocean view. So save some time to re-examine your life choices.
Way ahead of you, Vancouver expats (and former Cactus Clubbers) Michael and Sarah Salome made the move to Pow Town four years ago and their second place, Coastal Cookery, is the spot to grab a bite. Woodsy-chic interiors with industrial touches set the scene for dishes like quinoa sliders and Salt Spring mussels—wash them all down with a turmeric gin and tonic on the big patio.
Nighttime brings a visit to the quirky Old Courthouse Inn, which is part museum, part Tudor-style boutique hotel, in the heart of Powell River’s historic district, Townsite. Its halls are filled with vintage finds like Dirty ’30s purses, fabulously gaudy tasselled lamps and historic photographs of the town and the innkeeper’s family. (Those looking for more luxe digs can head north to Lund and the Desolation Sound Resort, where ocean chalets with killer views peek out from the woods.)
Breakfast is a very short stroll downstairs to Edie Rae’s Cafe, a quaint family-owned diner that owner J.P. Brosseau created in his late mother’s honour. Vintage glamour photos of a turn-of-the-century teenage Edie Rae cover the walls, and her husband of 50-plus years (whom she met next door) still eats his “Leo” bacon and eggs special here every day.
By now it’s probably “afternoon” enough to head one block over to Townsite Brewing for a craft flight. This charming all-brick microbrewery is located in a 1939 post office, and its tasting room flows with the latest creations from B.C.’s only authentically Belgian brewmaster, Cédric Dauchot.
Nightlife isn’t ordinarily a small town’s strong suit, so for evening activities on this strip of Sunshine Coast you can’t beat dinner, dessert and what comes after at the Laughing Oyster Restaurant just outside of Lund. This is the type of fine dining you can enjoy in boat shoes and a polo shirt, and it specializes in unfussy (and generously portioned) plates—a massive piece of barbecued wild salmon plucked from nearby waters followed by a light, rolled oat-crusted cheesecake with a blackberry sauce—and all this is served on a wide-open patio that overlooks the picturesque Okeover Arm. The real magic happens when the sun goes down and executive chef David Bowes sets down his apron and picks up his guitar.
Start early to take a bite out of the 180-kilometre Sunshine Coast Trail. There are more than a dozen entry points as it snakes from the Saltery Bay ferry terminal south of Powell River to Desolation Sound’s Sarah Point, offering stunning coastal views and free hut camping along the way. Manzanita Bluff is a relatively easy day hike with a panoramic view; Tin Hat is harder, but the mountain vista goes 360 degrees.
Refuelling happens back in Lund’s harbour at local mainstay Nancy’s Bakery. With a raspberry white chocolate cinnamon bun in hand (inextricably sticky, but worth it), climb aboard a Zodiac at Terracentric Coastal Adventures to unlock the secrets of Desolation Sound. Whipping across the waves under wide-open blue skies: this is how the Sunshine Coast was meant to be explored. You’ll see the Sound’s islands—some covered in trees, others sea lions—and, hopefully, the epic Powell River zunga (that’s local lingo for “rope swing”).
On your way out of Dodge, preface your domestic departure with an international stopover in India: Little Hut Curry sits near the ferry terminal in Powell River proper and serves up authentic Indian cuisine on the converted house’s front porch. It’s official: they must really like you if you’ve been taken here by one of the locals.