Located across the Strait of Georgia from Comox is the BC Mainland community of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast, an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Accessed from the Island by BC Ferries’ Comox terminal, the region is home to a series of picturesque Coastal communities, including Lund, Pender Harbour, Sechelt and Gibsons.
Powell River, which celebrated its centennial in 2010, was founded as logging community and today is the largest town on the Coast. It makes an excellent jumping off point for year-round recreation and cultural experiences.
Stroll the community to view landmark buildings like the Patricia Theatre and Dwight Hall as well as the nearby Catalyst paper mill. At the Powell River Historical Museum, you’ll find the funky collection of logging equipment and Sliammon First Nations art.
Discover more of the region’s artistic talents with the Purple Banner Studio & Gallery Guide, and jump into the festival season with the Lund Shellfish Festival, May 24 to 26. The third annual Spot Prawn Festival celebrates June 1 at Westview Wharf, followed by the Texada Annual Fly-In – July 2 at Gillies Bay Airport. The Blackberry Festival Street Party is Aug. 16, part of the week-long Blackberry Festival, offering fireworks and foodie fun, and the Sunshine Music Festival in September fills the air with blues and worldbeat music.
More and more, the Sunshine Coast is becoming a go-to destination for hikers, paddlers divers, bikers and other outdoor adventurers who appreciate the four-season possibilities.
Hiking and biking trails, tranquil lakes, several golf courses and a seemingly endless array of beaches, vibrant festivals and events combine to create endlessoutdoor possibilities. In fact, nine new huts on the 180km Sunshine Coast Trail make it the longest hut-to-hut hiking trail in Canada.
While Powell River may be the largest community on the Upper Sunshine Coast, there’s plenty more to discover beyond the city confines – and no more beautiful place to explore.
A gateway to Desolation Sound marine recreation, Lund is a picturesque fishing village connected by a waterfront boardwalk winding from the SunLund By-The-Sea campgrounds to the Historic Lund Hotel, offering craft shops and a harbourfront cafe along the way. Circa 1905, the Lund Hotel is the heart of the village with a popular pub, dining room, art gallery and well-stocked grocery store carrying everything from beach toys to fresh deli sandwiches. From the Lund Marina, visitors can catch the water taxi to Savary Island, book a Deslation Sound boat tour, arrange an educational kayak tour of the wildlife sanctuary at Mitlenatch Island and more.
Texada Island is BC’s largest Gulf Island and ferries leave regularly from Powell River’s Westview ferry terminal for the 30-minute trip. KD Air also provides daily flights from Vancouver to the Gillies Bay Airport. The island has plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast, including excellent hiking and mountain biking trails, more than 250 species for avid bird-watchers, and a 9-hole golf course, while history buffs will enjoy the two museums. Water recreation includes kayaking, skim-boarding, scuba diving, swimming, and exploring the newly protected karst caves near Davies Bay.
Much smaller that Texada, Savary Island is a warm-water destination with stunning white sand beaches, with highly sensitive ecosystems ranging from sand cliffs to dune meadows and ancient forested dunes. While the island does have private holiday homes, there is no power and no public campsites or washrooms, though several cottage rentals, B&Bs and a private campsite are available. Daytrippers can be dropped off and picked up at the public wharf, with many visitors arriving by water taxi or aboard chartered boats from Lund. The best way to get around is to cycle from beach-to-beach. Prime stops include South Beach, Duck Bay, Sutherland Beach and the Malaspina Promenade.
The Coast Salish village of Sliammon, just north of Powell River, boasts a history dating back more than 2,000 years, and visitors can enjoy free interpretive hikes with a First Nations guide. The Sliammon Salmon Hatchery offers public tours of the hatchery.
While in 1792 Captain George Vancouver named Desolation Sound for its remoteness, today its pristine isolation is one of its prime attractions among pleasure boaters and paddlers. Warm waters, wildlife and breathtaking scenery make this a must-experience destination. Grace Harbour, Prideaux Haven and Tenedo’s Bay are the three main destination anchorages among the many sheltered bays and inlets. Popular activities include scuba diving, saltwater and freshwater fishing, and walk-in wilderness camping. Water taxis, guided kayak tours, cruises and boat charters can be arranged from Lund and Okeover Inlet.
Continuing to the southern coast toward Vancouver, other highlights include Gibson, named one of the most liveable communities in the world in 2009, Sechelt, “the cultural capital of the Sunshine Coast,” and Pender Harbour.
A driving circle route is also possible as BC Ferries links the northern Sunshine Coast with its southern communities and Vancouver. Coming form the Lower Mainland, the Lower Sunshine Coast is a 40-minute ferry ride from BC Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver to the Langdale terminal just outside Gibsons.
The Powell River Visitor Centre is at 4760 Joyce Ave. For details call 604-485-4701 or toll-free 1-877-817-8669 or visit www.discoverpowellriver.com For information about the greater Sunshine Coast visit www.sunshinecoastcanada.com
Find the Gibsons Visitor Centre at 417 Marine Drive or call 604-886-2374 or toll-free 1-866-222-3806. The Sechelt Visitor Centre is at 5790 Teredo St. Call 604-885-1036 or toll-free 1-877-885-1036.