As Vancouver’s quintessentially dreary weather sets in this Fall, it may be in the books for a recharge. With its picturesque panoramas, bounty of culinary gems, untouched natural beauty and no shortage of warm, inviting places to take refuge as the rain falls, B.C.’s Sunshine Coast is a place to visit if you’re looking for the perfect getaway.
I recently had the chance to take the Volkswagen Touareg on a road trip and found some of the best spots to eat at, see and stay at for an energizing quick escape.
Getting there, getting around
The easiest way to get away for the weekend is on four wheels, and with the Volkswagen Touareg, we were able to do just that. Drive on to Langdale at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal (40 minute crossing time) and let your journey begin there.
Recently named The Car Guide’s Best Mid-Size SUV over $50k, the 2015 Touareg is available with a 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel engine, offering the perfect combination of fuel efficiency and performance. Shift gears into sport mode or switch into off-road mode and you’ll have enough power and stability to get yourself out of the even the stickiest situations. Don’t worry about getting lost as the 3D navigation will have you covered wherever you need to go – or do, and the panoramic sunroof will give you a full 360 view of the surroundings.
Visit a VW dealer or book a test drive and see how smooth, fun and luxurious the Touareg is on the road, all starting at $49,675.
Eat: Smitty’s Oyster House – Lower Gibsons
Once an abandoned marine shop, this charming local eatery has been featured on ‘You Gotta Eat Here,’ receiving high praise. Facing one of Canada’s few remaining functioning wharfs, the oyster haven boasts fresh caught seafood and delicious B.C. wines – and is open from noon until late on weekends.
Dive into mouthwatering dishes like Smitty’s sizzling Mahi Mahi Fajitas, Chili-Lime Prawns, two variations of classic seafood chowda and Halibut Bites, aside from a wide selection of fresh and deep-fried oysters. The staff are incredibly welcoming, and they know their oysters!
Hike: Skookumchuck Rapids Provincial Park, Egmont
Image: Katakanadian / Flickr
If the rain holds up and you need a shot of endorphins to supercharge your rejuvenating Sunshine Coast escape, you’re in luck. The area is home to countless trails, all offering gorgeous vantages of vibrant greenery and clear, hidden lakes. Skookumchuck means ‘strong water,’ and the rapid tides pour through a narrow opening between the open waters of the Strait of Georgia and the Sechelt Inlet. The rapids pump 200 million gallons of water through the narrowest point, with faster tidal flow only to be found in Saltstraumen, Norway.
A perfect view of the rapids can be reached by an easy-intermediate 4 km hike along a well-marked, minimally elevated trail, which takes about one hour to walk. The Roland and North Point Viewing Areas boast unobstructed views of the unique whirlpool and tidal pool activity. We hear that this is also a well-traveled route for B.C.’s porpoise population!
Nature: Ruby Lake, Madeira Park
Image: JR Mercer
If you’d prefer to take in the beauty and tranquility of the Coast without exerting too much energy, Madeira Park is ideal. In the summer, Ruby Lake is one of the Sunshine Coast’s premier swimming lakes, and its crystal clear, secluded waters seem to be even more pristine this time of year when it is less frequented by canoers and kayakers. Bountiful fishing, superb hiking and unparalleled views are nestled into accessible Madeira Park.
Image: Klaywerk Studio
Swarming with local craftsman and artisans, there is no shortage of galleries sprinkled across the Sunshine Coast, which boasts more artists per capita then any other area in British Columbia. While the Coast Cultural Alliance has a host of seasonal artisan fairs scheduled from November through the end of the year, Gibsons and Egmont are must-visits if gallery hopping tickles your fancy. Here are a few to check out:
Klaywerk Studio, Gibsons
Features sculptural works and functional pottery embodying a fusion of Africa and the West Coast in the creations of clay artist Liz de Beer.
Daffadowndilly Gallery, Gibsons Landing
This eclectic gallery showcases local artists, crafters, hat-makers, soaps and lotions in a restored heritage building overlooking Gibsons Harbour.
This museum (716 Winn Road, Gibsons) captures the local history and roots of the Sunshine Coast through their exhibits and research library.
Stay: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort and Spa
Image: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort
A true sanctuary overlooking a secluded cove, Rockwater Secret Cove Resort offers a unique coastal lodging experience. The resort, while equipped with a lodge and cabins for rest and relaxation, has also sprinkled its deluxe tenthouse suites across its expanse of dense arbutus forest overlooking the Malaspina Strait. Each tenthouse is tucked into its own place overlooking the water, while still easily accessible from the main lodge. The tenthouses feature hydrotherapy tubs, luxurious rain showers, unfathomably comfortable beds, private verandas, shoji screens and propane fireplaces. The heated floor tiles in each tenthouse are a wonderful touch.
Image: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort
Should all of this still not be enough to have the best sleep of your life – the Rockwater Spa will certainly lull you into slumber with their full body massages, body wrap treatments and facials. The main lodge is home to Rockwater’s excellent in-lodge restaurant, where the menu adapts rapidly to fresh, local, seasonal ingredients while remaining the pinnacle of comfort food.
Rockwater also makes for an ideal wedding venue, as it was recently named B.C.’s Best Wedding Ceremony Location.
A short drive and ferry ride from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is full of gems. Whether you’re looking for a fun, outdoors getaway or a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend, you’ll be able to find plenty of things to do no matter where you go.
What are some of your favourite spots on the Sunshine Coast?
Feature image: Mark Faviell / Flickr
Disclaimer: Vehicle provided by Volkswagen Canada with stay at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort. Reviews consist of my own thoughts of the experience.