Searching for Sunshine on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

June 6th, 2009  |  Published in Hot off the press  |  4 Comments

The propane fireplace is really battling to heat this tent. I wonder if Kevin Toth, whose brainchild this was, took into account the heating bills when he came up with the idea of stringing 13 tents along a 2400 ft. wooden walkway hanging over the Malaspina Strait?

These tents have become very popular with newlyweds; 76 couples have already booked this year. It’s not just the spa on the beach, or the delectable meals dreamt up by chef Ben Andrew, who serves up dishes like Qualicum Bay Scallop Ceviche, but the reinvention of the tent as suite, featuring monster ‘disco’ bathtubs with coloured lights that flash in time to the pulsing of the water jets, a separate shower with ocean view, king size beds, and heated slate floors.

While the tents are well spaced, I’m thinking that honeymooning couples might want to request one of the lower tents, closer to the sounds of waves. How soundproof can canvas be? (

This morning I took a 45-minute ferry from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, hoping to escape the Vancouver drizzle by streaking over to the Sunshine Coast, a 170-kilometre strip of mainland squeezed between the Georgia Strait and the Coast Mountains, claiming 231 days of annual sunshine. ( It’s a beautiful trip. On deck, I could see the new Upper Levels Highway, soon to be leading visitors to Whistler for the 2010 Olympics. On the starboard side, curiously shaped Anvil Island hunkered between us and Sound’s end at Squamish, while on the port we passed Bowen Island, home to many Vancouver commuters and artists. Best yet, looking aft – a bluish ribbon was elbowing in between the Sunshine Coast and the sky’s grey canopy.

We dock at Langdale, and a few minutes later I’m driving down the main street in Gibsons, that little seaside town made famous by C.B.C.’s longest running series, The Beachcombers. Every Sunday evening from 1972 until 1992, the half hour show delighted children around the world. Nick Adonidas’s log salvaging boat, the Peresphone, is now dry-docked on the main corner, while Molly’s Reach, the scene of so much action, serves up food you previously could only see on television.

But I need to get to the Visitors’ Centre at Sechelt before it closes, about 20 kilometres on. It posts the best viewing times for Skookumchuck Rapids, and I’m going there tomorrow. ( From there it’s only 10 minutes to Rockwater.

And now, next morning, I am stepping out of my tent to marvel at the blue ribbon, now expanded to a banner overhead.

An hour later finds me on frosty but rapidly melting roads, coiling for 40-kilometres to the ferry landing at Earl’s Cove. Egmont and the rapids are just 5 minutes beyond. Then, a leisurely one-hour walk through moss and rain forest to the viewing point. The Skookumchuck connects Sechelt Inlet to Jervis Inlet, and on a three metre tide change, you can get 200 billions of water bucketing through this narrow passage. Long before I arrive, I can hear the cacophony of rioting waters, and the view lives up to the sound. It makes white water rafting look like rowing in your pool.

Really spectacular, but now I need to hurry to catch that next sailing.

This second ferry’s routing proves even more spectacular than the last, curling through Prince of Wales Reach and Hotham Sound toward the Saltery Bay Terminus. Things just keep getting better the further north I go, but unfortunately I have almost reached the end. Highway 101, the Pan American Highway, is the longest in the world, but its Northern terminus is 59 kilometers ahead.

Today I snub the little city of Powell River, lunging for Lund. There’s very little there except a busy marina, a boardwalk, a restaurant and Nancy’s Bakery, where cinnamon buns sell out early every day.

But there’s the historic Lund hotel, built in 1905 and deemed to be haunted. I can’t pass up a phantom, so I request the corner room where a nude male ghost has been known to perch on the bed. Instead, the owners tempt me with one of the lavish, recently decorated guest rooms, where I’ll get to soak in a Jacuzzi tub once again and lounge on my seafront balcony, watching the clouds lose the battle. Ghosts are good, but decadence decides. (

And in keeping with that self-indulgent theme, evening finds me at the Laughing Oyster, a nearby legendary oceanfront dining experience. The original chef, David Bowes, has recently purchased the restaurant. While I slurp oysters steamed in their own juice and wallow on to gunpowder prawns – David’s own herbal creation – the chef grabs his guitar and competently croons 70s music to accompany dessert and coffee. A singing gourmet chef; found only on the Sunshine Coast.

The next day, the final treat of the trip, a cloudless February day creeps through my curtains and I awake knowing I get to retrace my tracks.

I highly recommend this mini trip. If you’d rather not return the same way, you can take a ferry from Powell River to Comox on Vancouver Island and drive down to Victoria, then ferry across to the mainland. Whatever you decide, though, do not skip Skookumchuk.

Noisier guests at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort might want to ask for a waterfront tent

Noisier guests at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort might want to ask for a waterfront tent

Post dinner entertainment

Post dinner entertainment at the Laughing Oyster

Manzanita Restaurant is Powell River's secret

Manzanita Restaurant is Powell River's secret


  1. Gerald says:

    August 28th, 2009at 9:33 pm(#)

    nice article, will check out the singing chef!
    I wonder however where your fact regarding the pan american highway came to pass? the above link covers the basics however.

    keep writing.


  2. Cherie says:

    August 28th, 2009at 10:14 pm(#)

    Hi Gerald, thanks for your comments. Interesting how we all want to claim the Pan American highway, isn’t it? Depends where you live, obviously. If it’s in the U.S.A, it’s Alaska and if it’s in Canada, well – it’s Lund. Type up Lund, and Pan American HIghway on your search engine and you will see what I mean. Seeing as the experts haven’t been able to nail it down, I doubt you and I can.

  3. Cherie says:

    October 7th, 2009at 9:36 pm(#)

    Hi Gerald,
    I guess it depends which country you’re in, doesn’t it? Thanks for the comment; it got me doing some research and made me aware of the fact that there’s more than one ‘claim’ out there.

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