International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: The Sunshine Coast BC
An Eco Adventure
whatever the weather
Photos by Brent Cassie
one thing that most people hope for when planning a vacation?
Good weather, right? Its always top priority on my travel
wish list. So, as we load onto the BC ferry, bound for Langdale,
my spirits literally dampen when pellet-size droplets spill from
the swollen skies.
Photo: Point Roberts
Sunshine Coast will live up to its name," my optimistically-minded
husband says, from beneath his protective umbrella. "Ive
heard the odds are pretty good."
absolutely right. Its reported that this lush 180 kilometer (110
mi) strip of shoreline, sandwiched between Pacific waves and coastal
peaks, receives around 2,400 hours of annual sun. Though its a
little premature to dig out the sun block, my fingers are crossed.
island-studded cruise of Howe Sound is scenic and smooth, and by
the time we bridge the forty minute waterway my weather wish comes
true. A few meager rays break through the thick grey dome above
and brighten the adventuresome route that waits ahead.
While some veer into the seaside town of Gibsons, and home of Mollys
Reach, we take the high road. Gnarled arbutus trees and bushy evergreens
frame our peek-a-boo ocean views where kayakers, canoeists and sailors
ply protected waterways.
Land lovers are
lured to the Mother lode of grounded adventures; nature
walks, hiking trails, picnic pull-ins and campgrounds everything
from rustic backwoods sites to lush parks that are packed with amenities.
We coast through the laid-back community of Roberts Creek, parallel
the promenade that rims Davis Bay and tootle along Sechelts main
drag. This thriving hub thats well rooted by Coast Salish heritage
is linked by a slender isthmus to BCs mainland. An inland sea,
gouged out by the melting ice age 10,000 years ago, fills the gap in
between. Today, this tranquil waterway is rated one of the top 100 dive
sites in the world, and the sunken HMCS Chaudiere provides a flourishing
Situated at the southern end of this idyllic inlet is Porpoise Bay Provincial
Park, just one of the pleasure stops that dot the shoreline. Tall timbers
shade the grassy areas and a sandy beachfront skirts the bay. As well
being a drawing card for families, kayakers take to these still waters,
floatplanes view them from above, and anchored yachts bob here in regal
Although it all looks inviting, we keep on trekking along Halfmoon
Bay, beyond the alluring picnic grounds of Coopers Green Regional Park
and past the hidden gem of Secret Cove.
Finally we meander into Pender Harbour, a waterfront enclave that collectively
unites the communities of Madeira Park, Garden Bay and Irvings
Landing. Inlets are sculpted into the lush shoreline, lakes are carved
into the wooded hillsides and islets dot the aquatic perimeters. Its
not surprising that this stunning seascape has been coined Venice
of the North. We also discover that its one epic playground!
Before expending any energy, we re-fuel at the Copper Sky Café
and Gallery, a funky eatery that combines home cooking with artisan
treasures. With mile-high sandwiches and scrumptious pastry under our
belt, were ready for action and Andy Cardiff, owner of Malaspina
Water Taxi has plenty of it to dish out. Hes been the skipper
of his ocean going cruisers and kayaks since 2005 and its easy
to see hes in his glory. "I operate year-round, 24/ 7,"
he says with a wide grin. "And to me, this kind of work is playtime."
We could paddle to the untarnished jewel of Jedediah Island where hiking
trails weave through old-growth Douglas Fir or cruise to the distant
Chatterbox Falls that tumbles from a forty-five meter precipice. But
theres no need to stray that far. The surrounding region not only
offers unspoiled beauty but brims over with natural wonders.
With Andy at the helm, we cruise out of the harbor, passing classy hilltop
homes and the hikers hangout of Mount Daniel. We check out the
craggy Indian Islands where eagles, herons and teary-eyed seals provide
non-stop entertainment and sidle up to Fearney Bluffs, a 120 meter (400
ft) deep grotto that thrives with sea life. Pictographs etched on granite
rock faces depict an ancient story and Agamemnon Channel frames the
omnipresent snow tipped peaks. Our final stop is Roberts Beach
on Nelson Island where remnants of an old log cabin still stand. Embracing
the setting is crescent-shaped shoreline thats strewn with storm-tossed
driftwood. As well as a hot spot to explore its a perfect place
to reflect and relax. And like the rest of this two hour tour, leaves
us with a sense of awe.
We both love the great outdoors and though the Sunshine Coast is dotted
with places to pitch a tent, when it comes to doing the camp thing
my husband and I dont quite jive. Hed be quite content to
cuddle in a mummy bag of eiderdown, but my spine goes into spasm after
sleeping on a mattress of earthy rough stuff. Thanks to our posh eco-style
accommodations along the way, more on my wish list is granted.
though its just minutes from the grid, Sakinaw Lake Lodge
feels blissfully removed from civilization. Were whisked away
by an African Queen-like pontoon boat to the far side of the lake
where it snuggles into the forested hillside. Two of the guest sanctuaries
cantilever over lapping waves. The main cozy cottage that sleeps
three, boasts an all-equipped kitchen and the penthouse tent house
depicts glamping to a tee. Chiropractic queen beds, crisp Egyptian
cotton duvets, comfy Fretted bathrobes this is my kind of
The property is
a labor of love for Garrett and Liza Gabriel, and Garretts mother,
Donna. "We each have our preferences and talents," Liza shares.
"Donna has the green gardeners thumb, Garret is the wine
guy and I do most of the cooking."
Bountiful breakfasts are included with each nights stay and though
a communal barbecue, fridge and cooking facilities are available for
other meals, guests often opt for the delicious delights ala Liza. Its
hard to turn down her miso-glazed halibut, wasabi mashed potatoes and
roasted asparagus, especially when paired with Garrets recommended
vino. Yes, it sure beats baked beans around the campfire!
And this hideaway also offers lots of ways to help burn off those unwanted
calories. Balance on a wakeboard, skim the lake on a boat cruise, trek
the trails that lace its seven wooded acres or feel free to follow
our lead. Just sit back and relax in the shadow of Hallowell Mountain
and enjoy this slice of serenity.
In addition to seclusion, our next eco retreat, literally offers a taste
Jervis Inlet bisects the upper and lower sections of the Sunshine Coast
and BC Ferries bridges them together. Our fifty minute scenic cruise
is more like a National Geographic slide show and from front row seats
the rolling vistas include quiet inlets, lush finger-like fjords and
From the ferry drop off point at the divers den of Saltery Bay, Highway
101 continues to pave the way. We pass by a strip of verdant parkland
that links the hub of Westview with Powell Rivers historic Townsite,
bisect the recreation jewel of Powell Lake and slink by the Coast Salish
village of Sliammon. Its tempting to stop and survey each scene,
but were on a mission for more creature comforts. And we soon
find them at the end of the road.
The quaint historical fishing village of Lund, founded by the Thulin
brothers in 1889, is also the gateway to Desolation Sound. Along with
remnants of the Swedish heritage it oozes lots of charm and allure.
A boardwalk flanked by a handful of shops and eateries trails down to
the hull-filled marina. Whether its waiting for the fresh catch
to come in or a tour boat to go out, theres never a dull moment.
this waterfront town from its solo rocky bluff is The Sevilla
Island Resort, a posh spot that combines pampering perks with
treats from the sea. Owners Ian Hobbs and Donna Kaye roll out the
red carpet and in the comfort of their cruiser were transported
to this dream scene. The thirty five hundred square foot treasure
delightfully unites flavours of the West Coast with Santa Fe. Gleaming
hemlock floors lead us to our handsomely decorated suite, where
a colourful duvet drapes the comfy queen bed and flat screen TV
provides late night viewing. Thirsty towels and heat lamps warm
up the spa style bathroom, and our private deck offers an awesome
sea view. The same vista is framed by the twenty four foot high
windows of the main floor great room, a faux finished beauty where
we can read, relax, watch TV or listen to music.
the adjacent dining room mealtime magic happens three times a day.
Our palates are pleased after the chef savvy line-up; beautifully
executed crab cakes precede Sevilla Island Seafood Boats, Ians
sensational creation of roasted squash that brims over with scallops,
salmon, and prawns. After being paired with fine wine its
topped off with a decadent dessert. We also discover that the breakfasts
are just as grand: melt in your mouth blueberry scones and homemade
preserves, followed by hearty entrees ranging from anything
and everything omelets to fluffy French toast. Ian and Donna believe
a hearty meal is an important start to the day. And in order to
check out the abundant sea life that thrives below the lapping waves,
youll want to be energized.
been diving all over the world," Ian shares, "And the underwater
metropolis in this area beats anything Ive ever seen." Whether
its from behind a snorkel and mask or in the comfort of his ocean-worthy
cruiser, Ian promises to make your every eco wish come true. Kayak the
neighboring islands where youll spot seals, eagles, and sea stars.
Bike on Savary Island and picnic on a sandy beach, or hike the Sunshine
Coast Trail that stretches all the way to Saltery Bay.
Lunds Terracentric Coastal Adventures also provides tours above
and beneath the deep, and on our final day we venture out on a zodiac,
with high hopes of spotting some sea life. The sky looks ominous and
dark bulbous clouds threaten rain. Once again my fingers are crossed
for a little bit of luck.
cruise up Thulin passage, a slim waterway that separates the mainland
from the Copeland Islands and slow down to take photos of stoic
cormorants, blue herons and a family of mergansers. Birdlife is
prolific in these parts, as is the beauty. Kingfishers, sandpipers,
gulls and other migratory species are spotted around the craggy
shorelines, evergreen islets and older growth timber. We agree whole-heartedly
with Jacques Cousteau that the scenery is second to none.
that were all connected to our natural environment and our guide
Christine Hollmann has a wonderful way of integrating eco-education
with the stunning surroundings. While paralleling the mainland, we learn
about the First Nations people and explorer Captain Vancouver. In shallow
bays she shares the symbiotic relationship between otters, sea urchins
and kelp. And when checking out lazy sun-bathing seals we discover the
importance of keeping our distance. This act of privacy is a guideline
that Christine closely adheres to and though we never invade their personal
space, were able to get a real good glimpse of the sea life that
As were heading back, we have one last performance a grand
finale off to the distant starboard. Jet black torsos break the still
surface, revealing their pure white undercarriages before submerging
again. They swim at record speeds, darting back and forth, leaping and
cresting in unison, creating a riot of rooster tail spray. Though its
just a feeding frenzy to these Dall's Porpoise, its a synchronized
water ballet to us. And as rays of sun slice through the cloudy overcast
sky, another wish is granted. The Sunshine Coast its a destination
of eco excellence whatever the weather!
Copper Sky Café and Gallery
12904 Madeira Park Road
Madeira Park, BC
Tel: (604) 883-0096 Gallery (604) 883-0098
Malaspina Water Taxi & Tours
Tel: 604-989-BOAT (2628)
Sakinaw Lake Lodge
Tel: 1-604-989-3242 (888) 341-1720
Sevilla Island Resort
Terracentric Coastal adventures ltd.
Tel: (604) 483 7900
Were standing with other skiers at the top of Sunburst Express.
In spite of the chilly mountain breeze, both of my hands feel hot &
clammy.This is clearly fear factor.
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