Sunshine Coast and Discovery Islands
Relax and unwind on the Sunshine Coast and Discovery Islands located along a stunning stretch of British Columbia’s western coastline, where you can enjoy deserted beaches, quiet country roads, charming inns, artisan crafts, First Nations culture and history, as well as a huge range of outdoor adventure activities.
While the pace of life might be slow in this scenic part of the world, there are year-round activities to enjoy including kayaking, golf, hiking, biking, horse riding, sailing, fishing, swimming and in the winter months, backcountry snowshoeing and snowmobile riding. For wildlife lovers, there are soaring eagles, bears, beavers and black-tailed deer and culture lovers will enjoy exploring the First Nations history along with the many arts and crafts galleries. The lakes and beaches also make this region a great destination for a family holiday, perfect for both relaxing and outdoor adventure activities.
Both the Sunshine Coast, which is tucked into the southwest corner of mainland British Columbia and the Discovery Islands (also known as the Gulf Islands), located further north between the mainland and Vancouver Island, can be easily reached by ferry or air from Vancouver. The Sunshine Coast which runs from Howe Sound in the south to Desolation Sound in the north is bordered by rugged mountains which have cut off the many inlets from a direct road connection, hence the need to travel by ferry or air.
This region was once the territory of the Squamish, Sechelt, Sliammon and Klahoose First Nation peoples, known for their fishing, hunting and trading lifestyle, cedar canoes and beautifully carved totem poles. Today, their descendants are proud to share their history and culture with visitors and both the Tems Swiya and Sunshine Coast Museums contain interesting artefacts and exhibits on the region’s historical and cultural development. We’d also recommend exploring the the quaint coastal towns of Robert’s Creek, Sechelt, Gibsons and Pender Harbour.
The Discovery Islands are found north of the Sunshine Coast and the most well-known in this lovely archipelago is Quadra Island. Although Quadra has just 3,000 inhabitants, it is the most populous island and includes descendants of the Laich-Kwil-Tach First Nation peoples. The stunning scenery is great for grizzly bear viewing, biking, kayaking and whale watching. For those looking for luxury and comfort, one of the most exclusive islands is Sonora, home to the upscale Sonora Resort. Covered in swathes of Douglas fir and red cedar trees dating back 700 years, this is one of British Columbia’s best fishing destinations.
We’d also recommend a visit to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, where you can sail or kayak through a maze of scenic islands in sheltered waterways. The islands are full of wildlife from seabirds to songbirds, from otters to seals and playful orcas. A great spot to hike to mountain viewpoints and lighthouses, explore the heritage of the Salish First Nation community and Canada’s pioneer past.
We think this entire coastal region is a fabulous place for a family holiday with lots of opportunities for wildlife spotting, adventure activities and quiet relaxation and combines well with a trip taking in the urban charms of Vancouver.