Written by Leah Adams-Chute
Sponsored by Sunshine Coast Tourism
The Sunshine Coast has all those chill, isle-like vibes you’re looking for while on vacation. This stretch of coastline, which is only accessible by ferry or floatplane, feels like a world away from the mainland, yet it's actually part of it. It's the perfect winter escape, with temperate weather for outdoor adventures and cozy indoor escapes.
1. Adventure in Snow-Covered Landscapes
Regan Hately - Sunshine Coast Tourism
Drive along Highway 101, from Gibsons to Lund, and the snow-covered trees and mountains draped in white are hidden. Here, winter wonderlands are just out of sight. Dakota Ridge, a 1,200-metre (3,937-foot) snowy plateau, has a network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails with spectacular views of the Coast Mountains and Vancouver Island. Outside Sechelt, Tetrahedron Provincial Park is a playground for backcountry explorers. Visitors can ski and snowshoe winter trails across frozen lakes and mountainous terrain before warming up, or staying the night, in one of four backcountry cabins. For a rewarding 360-degree view of jagged Coast Mountain peaks, hunker down at the 1,500-metre (4,921-foot) cabin on Mount Steele. Near Powell River, the Knuckleheads has north facing slopes for backcountry skiers and snowmobilers and two backcountry cabins for mid-day warm-ups or end-of-day tuck-ins.
2. Cozy Up in Cabin Hideaways
Ally Pintucci - Sunshine Coast Tourism
Looking for a tranquil weekend away to truly relax? The Coast is well-known for exactly that. Cozy cabins, oceanside A-frames and hidden retreats surrounded by old-growth forest dot the landscape. There are unique places to stay, many with wood-burning fireplaces and impressive views. If you need a break from hibernating, head to The SPA at Painted Boat for an outdoor spa experience. This oasis of calm, hidden amongst the islands and inlets of Pender Harbour, is a welcome respite on chilly days. Spend an afternoon in the outdoor hot tub, complete with a cascading waterfall for a soothing back massage, lounge in the cedar sauna, cool off in the saltwater floatation pool and relax beside the outdoor fire pit.
3. Discover First Nations Culture
Annie Wise - Sunshine Coast Tourism
One of the most significant burial finds in North America was discovered on the Sunshine Coast. The remains of a family, buried over 4,000 years ago, was adorned with thousands of shell and stone beads. These beads, perfectly preserved, are on display at the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum in Sechelt. Visitors can see this exhibit, along with other stone carvings, spearheads and art. Head for The Lund Resort at Kla ah Men, owned and operated by the Tla’amin Nation, for a unique experience at the gateway to Desolation Sound. Here you can dine on bannock benny with smoked salmon at the Back Eatery before venturing out for a day of adventure.
4. Enjoy Year-Round Biking and Hiking
Brandon Watts - Freehub Magazine - Sunshine Coast Tourism
While most of British Columbia is covered in fluffy white, the trails on the Coast are loamy and snow-free. Ride Sprockids Park in Gibsons, Roberts Creek’s famous Mach Chicken or Powell River’s impressive network of mountain bike trails. For adrenaline-seekers, the Coast Gravity Park is open on weekends for shuttle-service laps on 15 different trails. Swap stories with your fellow bikers, grab a freshly made pulled pork sandwich from the outdoor kitchen and warm up by the outdoor firepit.
Prefer to explore on two feet? Cruise the boardwalks and oceanside trails at Smuggler Cove or tackle the four-kilometre (2.5-mile) trail through Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park to see some of the fastest tidal rapids in the world. Don’t forget to stop in at the Skookumchuck Bakery & Cafe, hidden in the woods, before or after your hike. On the North Coast, head out for a day trip along a section of the 180-kilometre (112-mile) Sunshine Coast Trail, one of the only hut-to-hut hiking experiences in Canada.
5. Indulge at Local Culinary Hotspots
Geoff Tomlin-Hood - Sunshine Coast Tourism
Sample a flight in a cozy tasting room at one of five breweries and one cidery on the Coast before before getting to know the local cuisine. Check out Lunitas in Gibsons for casual and creative Mexican fare, The Wobbly Canoe in Davis Bay for unbeatable ocean views or Culaccino in Powell River for modern Italian comfort food.
Note: Access to backcountry areas requires a 4x4 vehicle, winter tires and chains. The winter routes within these parks are for experienced backcountry explorers only, and all visitors should have avalanche safety gear and training.
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