18 Stunning Things To Do On The Sunshine Coast, BC

Things To Do On The Sunshine Coast, BC

This website contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast is a convenient weekend trip from Vancouver, but it’s a gateway to another world. The quiet coastline, dotted with charming towns, fabulous beaches and even more fabulous coastal hiking trails, made us fall in love with this secluded region instantly. And there are the giant mountain ranges and temperate rainforests as a backdrop to the beautiful shoreline.

Yet the Sunshine Coast is off the main tourist path, and miraculously remained somewhat of a hidden gem, especially if you visit outside of July and August. This post tells you about all the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast so that you fall for it as much as we did. To make your travel planning easier, I also included a Sunshine Coast itinerary and lots of practical tips in this guide. And some Sunshine Coast hidden gems for nature lovers.

First, some words of warning though. This post is about the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. There’s another Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland, Australia – which we also visited, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, but has nothing to do with this blog post. Pay attention to which one you found when you google it.

Second, don’t let the naming misguide you. Despite its name, the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia has a similar climate and weather as the rest of the BC coast: mild and rainy for most of the year.

Where is the Sunshine Coast in BC?

Skookumchuck Narrows, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Northwest of Vancouver, the coastline of British Columbia becomes incredibly rugged, carved by fabulous fjords that stretch for hundreds of kilometers. It results in stunning scenery which is almost impossible to access on land.

The Sunshine Coast is an isolated coastal region along the Strait of Georgia, cut off from direct road connections by dramatic mountains and the aforementioned fjords. So you have to take the ferry or the seaplane to access it, even though it’s not an island.

The Sunshine Coast stretches for 177 kilometers from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound. And it’s cut into two by Jervis Inlet, so you need to take the ferry to make the connection between the two regions of the coast. (What to do on the Sunshine Coast in the first place? Take scenic ferry trips. If the wind don’t blow you away, stay out on the open deck.)

Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

The South Sunshine Coast is the busier of the two regions –  understandably, because it’s only one ferry away from Vancouver. It includes the largest towns, too: Sechelt and Gibsons (don’t expect them to be actually large). And you find some quiet villages, like Roberts Creek, Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour or Egmont.

The North Sunshine Coast is even more sparsely populated, with Powell River being the only settlement you can call “town”. But there’s nature, unspoilt and magical. The Sunshine Coast tourist attractions are not the towns, anyway. As cute as some of them are, the main attraction here is nature.

How to get to the Sunshine Coast?

Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

morning view from the ferry

In short: take the ferry or fly. It’s a ~45 minutes ferry ride to get to the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver: from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Langdale on the South Sunshine Coast. BC Ferries operates this line, along with several others in the regions, and it takes both passengers and vehicles.

There’s ferry connection between Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, too: from Comox to Powell River. Finally, the North Sunshine Coast is connected to the south by a 50 minute ferry ride from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay.

You need to pay for each individual passenger and your vehicle on the ferry, but return fares are charged from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and Earls Cove to Saltery Bay, so physically you’ll pay one direction.

Several companies offer scenic float plane trips to Sechelt and Powell River from either Vancouver or Victoria. It’s a more expensive way to travel (and you can’t take your car), but undoubtedly very scenic.

Francis Point Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Though I need to add here that the ferry ride also treats you with beautiful views, and sometimes you can see whales, orcas or dolphins. It’s worth staying on the deck in clear, nice weather, but there’s a comfortable indoor area, too, with large windows. We couldn’t stay on the deck for long on any of our ferry rides in the region. The wind can get really crazy, even if the weather is clear and sunny. Our 3-year-old started crying that his face hurts, and I knew what he meant. Wind can be that crazy.

Since public transport is almost non-existent on the Sunshine Coast (except during the short summer), I definitely recommend bringing a car for this trip. If you’re renting, you’ll have the best options in Vancouver.

Best things to do on the Sunshine Coast

So let’s see the best things to do on your Sunshine Coast road trip (the order is from south to north, including only the Southern Sunshine Coast, because that’s what we explored):

Stroll Gibsons Landing

Gibsons, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

The coastal town of Gibsons is among the most easily accessible Sunshine Coast attractions, being only a few minutes drive from the ferry terminal. The town is split into two areas: Upper Gibsons along the highway and Gibsons Landing on the waterfront.

Taking a walk on the pier, then along the waterfront walkway to Armours Beach is one of the best things to do in Gibsons. It offers great views of Keats Island and the mountains of Howe Sound, and you also find cute shops on Marine Drive and Molly’s Lane.

Gibsons, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Don’t miss eating fish and chips at Molly’s Reach. It’s not only a restaurant, but one of the most famous things to see in Gibsons, since it was the shooting location of The Beachcombers TV show. In case you don’t know about it, well, you should. 🙂 It was one of the longest-running TV shows in Canada, running for about 20 years. 387 episodes were made! Some Beachcombers relics can still be spotted in Gibsons, and streets were named after the series.

If you’d like to taste the local craft beer, Gibsons Tapworks is a good stop to add to your sightseeing walk. Beachcomber Coffee Company, with coffee and doughnuts, is a nice place to have breakfast.

Gibsons is one of the most easily reachable Sunshine Coast destinations, yet we wouldn’t call it really busy, at least outside of July and August. But let me tell you a secret: everything is busy in July and August in British Columbia. That’s the short, usually warm and dry summer that everyone is waiting for in the rest of the year. Locals flood the parks, beaches and campgrounds. Then add the tourists who also plan a pleasant summer visit. Rain or crowd, that’s your choice. Or have some luck (it’s possible, I promise) on a shoulder-season visit.

Enjoy the beaches in Gibsons

Armours Beach, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Armours Beach has a cordoned-off swimming area and picnic tables up the banks. It’s a lovely walk from the pier in Gibsons Landing.

Georgia Beach is quieter and in a residential neighborhood. It’s a small pebbly beach. Bonniebrook Beach is just out of town, and the 2 kilometers long beach has sections of sand and pebbles.

Can you actually swim at these beaches? The ocean never gets too warm here, the average water temperature in summer is 12.5°C. Locals do swim, especially on hot summer days, but go kayaking or paddleboarding if you find it too cold. Then walk on the beaches, have a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

Take the stairs to Soames Hill

Soames Hill, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Hiking to hilltops and enjoying spectacular views of the coast and the islands is among the best activities on the Sunshine Coast. The best scenic hilltop hike in Gibsons is Soames Hill.

It’s actually more of a stair climbing adventure than a nature trail. But you get a very pretty reward for the workout: a fabulous panorama of Gibsons and the surrounding islands.

Soames Hill, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Though you climb a lot (about 400+ stairs) to the 250 meters high summit, the trail is short and can be done quickly. We recommend planning at least two hours for this hike. It takes about an hour to hike there and back, but you’ll want to enjoy the views at the top, maybe have a picnic on the large rocky plateau. 

Soames Hill Park has about 5 km of hiking trails overall, and they wind through second-growth forest. You can access the park from four different entry points (see them here), and even though it looks like it’s a walk away from Gibsons, it’s the most convenient to get there by bike or car.

Given the location, it’s one of the best Sunshine Coast places to explore before you catch the ferry back to Vancouver.

Hike to Langdale Falls

Langdale Falls, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Langdale Falls is a nice, short hike and one of the best things to do near Gibsons if you have some time left until the next ferry.

The trail takes you through the forest to a lovely waterfall, but don’t mistake it for a leisure stroll. You definitely need proper hiking shoes to tackle this, and it surprised us with some unexpectedly steep sections.

To get down to the bottom of Langdale Falls for the best view at the end, we had to climb down on a particularly steep, muddy slope while holding onto ropes. It’s a fun adventure, a bit of a workout for a nice reward.

Langdale Falls is the most impressive during the rainy months (which means the majority of the year), and can be a bit underwhelming after dry periods, mainly in August or September.

Langdale Falls hiking essentials:

See the waterfalls in Cliff Gilker Park

Cliff Gilker Park, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Cliff Gilker Park is only 10 minutes drive from Gibsons, in the tiny town of Roberts Creek. It’s one of the hidden gems near Gibsons, mostly visited by locals. The trails here take you through nice forest and over a scenic bridge along Clack Creek. You can see several small waterfalls on the way.

While none of the waterfalls are that spectacular (especially by BC standards), hiking in Cliff Gilker Park is easy and pretty, with all the crystal clear water flowing and the large trees towering above you. We did the Red Trail loop which would be an obvious choice for water lovers.

A hike in Cliff Gilker Park is certainly one of the best things to do in Roberts Creek.

Cliff Gilker Park hiking essentials:

Hike to little-known Roberts Creek Falls

Roberts Creek Falls, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

This forest trail starts in the village of Roberts Creek and takes you to a rushing waterfall, then continues along the creek. It’s an easy and not well-known hike, definitely one of the hidden gems of the Sunshine Coast. The trail marking is not straightforward either, so pay attention at the crossings.

Honestly, we were a bit underwhelmed, because we did this hike in mid-September and after a very dry summer, so the waterfall had barely any water in it. Knowing British Columbia’ weather, any other time would have been much better, and Roberts Creek Falls must be roaring in winter and early spring.

Roberts Creek Falls hiking essentials:

Stroll the Sechelt waterfront

Davis Bay, Sechelt, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Sechelt is the biggest city on the Sunshine Coast – which is the proof of how quiet this region is, with tiny, laid-back coastal towns. Sechelt sits on a narrow strip of land between Sechelt Inlet and the Strait of Georgia.

It has a lovely oceanfront pathway that starts from Friendship Park and ends at Snickett Park. You can walk out to the pier, or sit on the benches on the way. The waterfront is one of the nicest places to visit in Sechelt.

If you have the time and like browsing cute little shops, continue to Cowrie Street. Get coffee at The Basted Baker.

But if you ask me what to do in Sechelt, the first thing I’d recommend is not walking around in town…

Go kayaking on Sechelt Inlet

While the downtown and waterfront are lovely, if you ask me about the best things to do in Sechelt, I’ll tell you to rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard, and explore Sechelt Inlet. These calm waters are great even for beginners and families, and you can enjoy the quiet coastline the best from the water.

Watch the sunset on Davis Bay Beach

Davis Bay, Sechelt, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

What are the prettiest things to see in Sechelt, you ask. A Davis Bay Beach sunset is certainly one of them.

You can find romantic sandy beaches on the Sunshine Coast, and Davis Bay Beach is the most well-known. With a paved waterfront promenade behind the beach, it’s the perfect place for sunset strolls, playing in the sand (and with the lots of driftwood) or going for a swim in the summer. Walk out on the small pier, it’s a popular fishing spot, as well.

Davis Bay Beach, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

If you’re looking for romantic Sechelt activities, definitely don’t miss Davis Bay. We watched a romantic sunset, and miraculously, we enjoyed it undisturbed, while our 3-year-old son was entertained by the logs in the sand. Quiet and undisturbed moments exist – though they are rare -, even for parents.

Camp in Porpoise Bay Provincial Park

Okay, we are biased about the campground in Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, because camping there was part of a very sunny and enjoyable trip for us, and it was one of the rare places in BC where we didn’t feel cold even during September nights.

So Porpoise Bay Provincial Park has a campground with 80+ sites, set in the coastal rainforest, and it connects to the waterfront on a short trail. There’s a sandy beach, a grassy picnic area and an adventure playground. You can take a short trail along Angus Creek. It’s a great place to connect with nature and do various outdoor activities. It’s one of the best places to visit on the Sunshine Coast with kids, as it has great amenities and lots of things to keep them entertained.

Hike to Burnett Falls

Burnett Falls, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

This 250 meters walk to a gorgeous waterfall, surrounded by lush greenery, is just outside of Sechelt. The industrial sites don’t look promising as you drive to the end of Burnett Road, but you find yourself in a quiet forest trail in the end.

It’s one of the most easily reachable things to do around Sechelt. Don’t judge based on our picture. Burnett Falls looks prettier any other time of the year than in early September (after a very dry summer). It’s among the top things to do on the Sunshine Coast for families, as the hike is so short and water is involved.

Hike to Smuggler Cove

Smuggler Cove, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Combine a scenic coastal hike with exciting stories: this is what Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park offers. It’s near Halfmoon Bay, and the trail starts in the forest, takes you through a beaver pond and a swampy area, then reaches the coastline and the picturesque cove. You find several rocky outcrops that overlook the cove and the Salish Sea.

The trail is 4.2 km there and back, with a partial loop on the left fork. The right fork takes you to an additional viewpoint, but it’s not comparable to the views on the left fork, so if you need to skip it, don’t worry. Plan about 1.5-2 hours to get to all the viewpoints.

Smuggler Cove, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Why Smuggler Cove? It was used by smugglers, yes, Chinese workers were smuggled into the USA during the time when the Canadian Pacific Railway was built, then alcohol smugglers used it in the 1920’s.

Smuggler Cove hiking essentials:

Hike to Francis Point

Francis Point Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

The short, scenic coastal trail in Francis Point Provincial Park is another of those Sunshine Coast activities that has a great effort-reward ratio.

The Francis Point Trail leads along a rocky shoreline with nice ocean views, and ends at a rocky bluff. Though I read about it as “Francis Point Lighthouse” trail, there’s no lighthouse at the end. The trail is almost flat, but pay attention to your steps on the rocky ledges, especially in wet weather. Families can easily complete the trail, as well, but the same applies: be careful on the rocky ledges, hold your kid’s hand.

Francis Point Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Francis Point hiking essentials:

Swim in Katherine Lake

You find lots of small lakes in the Pender Harbour area – like Garden Bay Lake, Mixal Lake, Hotel Lake or Katherine Lake. This latter is very small and has the warmest water of all. (If you’d like to swim in pleasant waters in BC, go to the lakes in summer, because the ocean never gets really pleasant.) It has a nice beach area with very shallow water in the beginning, perfect for families with small kids. There are two floating docks inside the lake, as well.

Enjoy the iconic view from Pender Hill

Pender Hill, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

The best of the Sunshine Coast. A truly iconic view. Pender Hill deserves to be one of the most famous attractions on the Sunshine Coast, and the view from the top of this hill is surely among our favorite views in BC.

The trail is about 800 meters, the summit is 231 meters, and you climb most of that elevation. Yes, it’s steep, but short and has a very rewarding panorama with Hotel Lake, Garden Bay Lake, Pender Harbour and the Salish Sea. It’s not one viewpoint, you can walk around the rocks on the top and find your favorite one to eat the “summit chocolate”.

Pender Hill, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

You can see the trail on this map. There’s a small unpaved parking area just off of Coastview Drive.

Daniel Point is a tiny, very nice coastal park nearby. Spend half an hour exploring it if you have the time.

Find more great views on Mount Daniel

Mount Daniel, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Up for another challenging climb? Mount Daniel is a 4.5 kilometers return trail, quite steep at places. It offers a similar view as Pender Hill, and even though I liked Pender Hill better, I can’t get enough of the views in this area. The coastline is beautiful, with many lakes, bays, inlets and peninsulas.

The trailhead is just off of Garden Bay Road, the small pullout is suitable for a few cars only, and you can’t park on the road. It’s not a busy trail in general, but sunny summer weekends might pose some parking challenges.

Mount Daniel hiking essentials:

Watch the tidal rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows

Skookumchuck Narrows Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

What to do on the Sunshine Coast that is really unique and extraordinary? See the tidal rapids of the Skookumchuck Narrows. Uhm… okay, let me start from the beginning.

Egmont is a tiny village that seems to be at the end of the world and offers nothing, unless we count the cute harbor and the pretty coastal views. But there’s one thing – one of the best things to do in Egmont and also on the Sunshine Coast overall: witnessing the tidal rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows.

The trail to Skookumchuck Narrows was our favorite on the Sunshine Coast, and it leads to a “whitewater wonder” like no other – if you time it right. Twice every day you can see powerful rapids and whirlpools at the Skookumchuck Narrows as the tide changes. The opening of the inlet is narrow, but the inlet is big. As the flow of saltwater switches, a huge volume of water rushes through the narrows, and it forms whirlpools and rapids. It’s a spectacular and rare sight!

Skookumchuck Narrows, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Thrill-seeking kayakers prepare for the tidal change, just like the audience of hikers and nature lovers who take the trail there from Egmont. We were also impressed by the underwater world, without even going in the water. We saw a kelp forest in the sheltered bay, and counted sea stars under the water as we walked on the coastal rocks.

To get to the rapids of the Skookumchuck Narrows, you need to hike 4 kilometers through the temperate rainforest, passing Brown Lake on the way. It’s mostly flat, sometimes a bit rugged, and the trail splits towards the end: Roland Point is the best to see the big waves (during flood tides) and North Point is the best to see the whirlpools (during ebb tides).

Skookumchuck Narrows, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Timing is critical when doing this hike, and the best time changes every day according to the tides. It’s a 20-30 minute window you have to catch.

Skookumchuck Narrows hiking essentials:

Use the amazing kayaking opportunities

Sargeant Bay, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

I know I’ve already mentioned kayaking, but there’s really plenty of opportunities to find calmer waters along the Sunshine Coast.

Like Ruby Lake or Sakinaw Lake in the Pender Harbour area. Roberts Creek beach in Roberts Creek and Coopers Green Park in Halfmoon Bay both offer easy launch points for sea kayaking. Kayaking to Keats Island from Gibsons Landing can be turned into a stunning day trip.

Desolation Sound is a paddler’s paradise, with calm water and epic scenery.

And more Sunshine Coast attractions on the bucket list:

  • boat trip on Princess Louisa Inlet
  • hiking the hut-to-hut Sunshine Coast Trail
  • kayaking Desolation Sound
  • camping on the coast in Lund
  • exploring Texada Island

Best time to visit the Sunshine Coast, BC

Skookumchuck Narrows Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

As I warned you already: don’t let the name mislead you. The Sunshine Coast has a similar climate to Vancouver, with lots of rain between November and April. You can enjoy a relatively dry, sunny period from May through August. Summer is as busy as everywhere in British Columbia, May or September could be great for a much more peaceful shoulder season visit. The coastal hikes are snow-free all year, and the waterfalls are actually the most spectacular during rainy periods.

So pack a rain jacket and enjoy. It’s the British Columbia coast.

Sunshine Coast itinerary: 2 days on the Sunshine Coast for first timers

Day 1:

  • hike to Langdale Falls
  • stroll Gibsons Landing
  • visit Armours Beach


  • hike up to Soames Hill
  • go kayaking in Porpoise Bay
  • hike to Burnett Falls
  • stroll the Sechelt waterfront
  • watch the sunset on Davis Bay Beach

Day 2:

  • Smuggler Cove
  • Pender Hill & Daniel Point
  • swim in Katherine Lake


  • Skookumchuck Narrows (you might move this according to the tide times on the day of your visit)

Where to stay on the Sunshine Coast?

Francis Point Trail, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

I collected some of the coolest places for you to stay on the Sunshine Coast:

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in Halfmoon Bay: this beachfront resort is a perfect romantic getaway. There are suites with ocean view and also separate cottages. The dining area is on an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean. Guests can use the outdoor swimming pool, spa and wellness center.

Bonniebrook Lodge in Gibsons: a historic wooden lodge on the beachfront in a quiet neighborhood in Gibsons. Walking distance to the beachside park, but it has a private beach area and a whirlpool tub for guests.

Sunshine Coast Resort in Madeira Park: this 4-star beachfront resort offers ocean view from each room. A terrace or balcony also belongs to the rooms, and guests can relax in the hot tub or sauna. The best location to explore Pender Harbour and Francis Point.