With just under a week, this itinerary is designed to keep you moving each day so that you can experience all of the highlights of both Upper and Lower Sunshine Coast. You'll have short drives and ferry transfers each day, passing through Gibsons, Sechelt, all the way up to Powell River and Lund. En route, stop at historic seaside villages, local breweries, driftwood-strewn beaches and sheltered coves for easy kayaking.

Highlights

  • Escape to an idyllic stretch of coastline less than two hours from Vancouver
  • Explore over 100 miles of protected coves, inlets, and driftwood-strewn beaches
  • Hike, kayak, and paddle-board at some of the best spots in British Columbia
  • End your days at great local breweries and local sea-to-table restaurants

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver Vancouver
Day 2 Vancouver to Gibsons (2 hours) Gibsons
Day 3 Gibsons to Powell River (2 h 45 min) Powell River
Day 4 Powell River to Egmont (1 h 30 min) Egmont
Day 5 Egmont to Vancouver (3 hours) Vancouver
Day 6 Depart Vancouver  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver

Stanley Park, Deadman's Island, and downtown Vancouver
Stanley Park, Deadman's Island, and downtown Vancouver

Fringed by the Pacific Ocean and backed by the coastal mountains, Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities with some of North America's best cuisine, rich indigenous heritage, and opportunities for outdoor activities. 

It takes around 30 minutes to get from the airport to downtown. The city center and surrounding neighborhoods are within easy walking or biking distance and all the main attractions are a short distance away. To get your bearings, start with a stroll along the seawall from English Bay to False Creek before wandering the historical, cobbled streets of Gastown and Chinatown

With over 60 different cultures, pick from a variety of international restaurants serving anything from Asian cuisine to seasonal farm-to-table dishes. For dinner, choose from a selection of top-notch eateries—from downtown and the West End to the North Shore and Kitsilano. Keep in mind, Vancouverites love eating out any day of the week so be sure to make a reservation if it's a popular restaurant.

Day 2: Vancouver to Gibsons (2 hours)

The typically sunny town of Gibsons
The typically sunny town of Gibsons

Head north toward Horseshoe Bay and catch the ferry to the Sunshine Coast. This 112-mile (180 km) stretch of coastline—from Howe Sound in the south to Desolation Sound in the north—holds countless bays and inlets, driftwood beaches, lush fir forests, and rugged headlands backed by the snowcapped mountains.

Gibsons, a small town in the Lower Sunshine Coast, offers a good base for exploring. The town has two sections: the original 100-year-old fishing village around the harbor and a commercial corridor along the highway. Around the harbor, Gower Point Road is a charming strip of seafaring businesses, antique dealers, arty shops, and cafés. Down on the harbor itself is a marina and the pleasant Gibsons Seawalk, a 10-minute scenic meander that’s lit up at night.

Driving time (Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay): 30 minutes (12 miles / 12 km)
Ferry time (Horseshoe Bay to Langdale): 40 minutes
Driving time (Langdale to Gibsons): 15 minutes (4 miles / 6 km)

Day 3: Gibsons to Powell River (2 h 45 min)

Pacific coast near Powell River
Pacific coast near Powell River

Follow the coast north to Powell River, which involves a ferry crossing from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay (check departure and wait times in advance). En route, both Sechelt and Egmont are great places to stop and explore or grab a meal. It's a pretty drive, with the highway winding its way along coves and inlets past the beautiful coastline. Remember to drive slowly and stop often to enjoy the views!

At Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows is a popular stop to witness a whitewater wonder of the world. It's an easy 5-mile (8 km) return hike that leads to a section of the river where, twice a day, the saltwater flow changes directions and creates large waves and whirlpools. Check that your timing is right to catch the waves.

If there's time left in the day, follow Highway 101 north to the historic fishing village of Lund on the shores of Desolation Sound where you can head out on a sea kayaking tour or short hike. Don’t miss a stop at Nancy's Bakery for their celebrated blackberry cinnamon buns. Head back to Powell River for a pint of Pow Town Porter at Townsite Brewing before heading out for dinner.

Driving time (Gibsons to Earls Cove): 1 hour, 15 minutes (50 miles / 80 km)
Ferry time (Earls Cove to Saltery Bay):
 50 minutes
Driving time (Saltery Bay to Powell River): 30 minutes (20 miles / 30 km)

Day 4: Powell River to Egmont (1 h 30 min)

Coastal inlets along the Sunshine Coast
Coastal inlets along the Sunshine Coast

Head to Saltery Bay for the 50-minute ferry crossing to Earls Cove. From there, it's a short drive to Egmont. Skookumchuck Narrows is a popular stop to witness a whitewater wonder of the world. It's an easy 5-mile (8 km) return hike that leads to a section of the river where, twice a day, the saltwater flow changes directions and creates large waves and whirlpools. Be sure that your timing is right to catch the waves!

Driving time (Powell River to Saltery Bay): 30 minutes (20 miles / 30 km)
Ferry time (Saltery Bay to Earls Cove): 50 minutes
Driving time (Earls Cove to Egmont): 10 minutes (4 miles / 6 km)

Day 5: Egmont to Vancouver (3 hours)

Downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park
Downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park

It's a 40-minute drive to Langdale where you'll catch the ferry to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland. Take your time to enjoy the stops along the way. From Horseshoe Bay, it's only a 30-minute drive to Vancouver. 

Before catching the ferry, consider grabbing lunch in nearby Gibsons, a small town in southern Sunshine Coast. The town has two sections: the original 100-year-old fishing village around the harbor, and a commercial corridor along the highway. Around the harbor, Gower Point Road is a charming strip of seafaring businesses, antique dealers, arty shops, and cafés. Down on the harbor itself is a marina and the pleasant Gibsons Seawalk, a 10-minute scenic meander that’s lighted at night.

Driving time (Egmont to Langdale): 1 hour, 30 minutes (53 miles / 85 km)
Ferry time (Langdale to Horseshoe Bay): 40 minutes
Driving time (Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver): 30 minutes (12 miles / 20 km)

Day 6: Depart Vancouver

Sunset over Vancouver from Kits Beach
Sunset over Vancouver from Kits Beach

Head to The Naam (open 24/7) for an early morning breakfast before making your way to the airport. If you're feeling indulgent, splurge on a seaplane harbor tour to take in the magnificent scenery of the mountain-and-sea-dominated city from a new perspective. Alternatively, enjoy some more time at Stanley Park, paying a visit to Klahowya Village via the Spirit Catcher miniature train to watch cultural performances. Here you can also purchase souvenirs and gifts of traditional First Nations arts and crafts from the Artisan Marketplace and Métis Trading Post.

It usually takes 30 minutes to travel from downtown Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport but allow extra time in case of traffic. Best to arrive at least two hours prior to your international departure while allowing extra time to drop off your rental car.