The next leg in our road trip of British Columbia was from Whistler along the Sunshine Coast with stops near Sechelt and in Powell River.
Having decided to go for more extended stays on Vancouver Island, we treated this part of our road trip as pass-through, but we did stay 1 full day at each of the stops to at least be able to explore the towns, plan some hiking trips, and relax a bit.
The first 160km / 100-mile leg was from Whistler to Sechelt, which started with breakfast at Function Junction’s outlet of Pure Bread (1040 Millar Creek Road) which was also our go-to place for breakfast and pastries in Vancouver as there was one just across the street from where we stayed. No fancy coffee machines in the original outlet, but the slow drip is made with the same fabulous coffee beans, so we were well stocked with goodies for the 1½ hour drive to Horseshoe Bay to catch the 12pm ferry to Langdale.
As we had made the reservation back home, it was advised to be at the ferry terminal 60 minutes before departure. The process was very smooth, and we were directed to our priority lane and only had to wait 30 minutes before the loading of the cars started. The 45-minute boat trip over the Howe Sound passing between the Bowen, Keats and Gambier Islands is just beautiful.
As we still needed to catch lunch, we stopped in Gibson at The 101 Brewhouse and Distillery (1009 Gibsons Way) which was right along the Sunshine Coast Highway. No poutine or burgers, but we had some Fish & Chips with beer-battered Crispy Cod Bites, Chicken Quesadillas, as well as great Falafel taco with hummus and tahini. I had chosen the Smoked Brisket Melt, served on grilled rye, with sauerkraut, melted cheese, and sour cherry mayo. The beers that we tried were Vagabond Dry-hopped Blonde Ale, the award-winning Shingleroof Hefeweizen and super refreshing Tree Top Summer Ale which is infused with spruce tips and has a splash of lemon juice.
After a beautiful drive and stocking up in the local supermarket, we settled into our Airbnb, which was located a couple of kilometers past Sechelt’s town Centre. The Lighthouse Marina Pub (5764 Wharf Ave) was recommended both by the Airbnb owner as well as online. Due to the Pub part, there is a separate entrance to the right for legal purposes to accommodate families with minors. It’s called The Buccaneers, but inside it is still one place with one kitchen. The main attraction is the patio view from the patio over Porpoise Bay and the aerodrome, which was indeed pretty spectacular. The food was less so. My Taco-Spiced Halibut tacos were good, the nachos and pizza and a bit soggy due to the wet toppings. Regrettably, the kitchen had sent out a cheeseburger that was actually carbonized on the bottom. The smell was so strong that we already notice something was wrong before the burger even hit the table. We did get a new (and tasty) cheeseburger, and in the meantime, we killed some time admiring the views as well as the mesmerizing jellyfish that were floating in the harbor and the Canadian Geese walking around.
The next morning, after a grilled cheese breakfast at The Bakery (5500 Wharf Ave #101), we set course to the Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park, about 5 kilometers past Halfmoon Bay. The hike there was terrific, starting over a walkway through the marches and then when arriving at the cove (which is pretty secluded so that it where it got its name), we took the elevated loop past France Islet all the way to the land’s end looking out on Capri Isle and Grant Island and Thormanby Island.
All the hiking made us hungry, and we had a great late lunch in Sechelt at Shift Kitchen Tapas Bar (5760 Teredo St). The men had some Shift Classic burgers (cheddar cheese, thick smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, shift special sauce) served with hand-cut Kennebec potato fries. Chantal had the Tuna Tataki (black & blue rub seared to rare, served on top of sushi rice and topped with sesame & wasabi soy sauce).
The next day, we had a 75km /45-mile drive to Powell River and wanted to catch the ferry between Earl’s Cove and Saltery Bay around noon, so we had time to catch some breakfast at Basted Baker (5685 Cowrie St #1). The Breakfast Sandwich and a Spinach and Brie Sandwich were tasty, but we are not huge fans of biscuits.
Some familiar faces when the Saltery Bay ferry unloaded at Earl’s Cove as Koen, Erica and Madouc were heading back to Vancouver after their stint on Vancouver Island…
Luckily, the weather did get better when we arrived in Powell River, and we first stopped for a round of quick tasters at Townsite Brewing (5824 Ash Ave). With a Belgian born brewmaster, Cédric Dauchot, the brewing styles were obviously very familiar to us (more so than other local attempts at Belgian-style beers), but he still managed to surprise us due to different varieties like their Zwarte Wheat, a Dark Witbier.
As they don’t have many food options, we checked in into our hotel (which was conveniently located above a supermarket and outlet of the Serious Coffee outlet) and the rest of the afternoon was filled by doing some laundry and relaxing.
Dinner was at Coastal Cookery (4553 Marine Ave), on the downtown marine mile, which has a great view on the Georgia Strait and excellent food to boot.
- Backyard Beer Can Chicken (Double breast local Vancouver Island chicken, dry-rubbed and beer-soaked, homemade BBQ sauce, roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables, spicy creole butter)
- Beurre Blanc Mac and Cheese (Smoked gouda, aged cheddar, white wine butter sauce, crispy pancetta, fried sage)
- Tuna Poke (Marinated tuna, sticky rice, cucumber ribbon, crispy wonton, edamame, avocado, mango wasabi)
- Fort Berens Estate Chardonnay
- S’more Smash (Vanilla gelato, house-made cinnamon graham cracker, chocolate ganache, marshmallow Brulé
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar (Dark & white chocolate, peanut butter, graham cracker crust, salted caramel)
Needing to walk off the indulgent desserts from the evening before, we took the Willingdon Beach Trail. This trail is just north of the town center with some parking available along the road from the Powell River Forestry Museum. The forest trail is just next to the beach and is “littered” with historic lumber equipment, so it was quite informative as well. Afterward, we played a round of mini-golf and had giant ice-creams at Putters Mini-Golf Course (4800 Marine Ave).
After stocking up on local wines, beers, and gins at Duke’s Liquor (4493 Marine Ave), some laundry runs and reading on the balcony,
we had our last dinner in Powell River at the tiny and therefore incredibly busy Costa del Sol Latin Cuisine (4578 Marine Ave), which apparently was the first venture of the couple that later started Coastal Cookery. We had to wait 30 minutes for a table, but were rewarded with some excellent Mexican food, beers, and cocktails!
- Elote Corn (Charred Corn, Spicy Yogurt, Crema, Cotija Cheese, Crispy Corn Chip Dust, Cilantro, Tajin, Smoked Paprika)
- Habanero Lime Fried Chicken Bites
- The Maverick (Marinated Flank Steak, Mexican Chorizo, Crispy Bacon, Chipotle Potatoes, Caramelized Onion, Fresh Guacamole, Crema)
- Quesadilla De La Frontera (Corn & Black Bean Salsa, Roasted Chicken, Queso Mixto, Honey Lime Aioli, Pico De Gallo)