The Sunshine Coast

Vancouver Coast and Mountains – breath-taking scenery, a playground for all

Out on the water at sunset with Bowen Island Sea Kayaking.
Paddlers are out on the water at sunset with Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. — Photo by Brent O'Malley

The beauty of a circle tour through the mountainous coastal region of southern British Columbia is that RVers can begin and end their loop wherever they choose without missing any of the best parts.

From the small town of Hope—for over 200 years the gateway to the Fraser Canyon and the B.C. Interior—through the farmlands of Chilliwack, Langley and other communities in the fertile Fraser Valley, the highway leads vacationers beyond the North Shore mountains to the world-famous Whistler ski resort.

For those who prefer to take the fork in the road to explore the roads less traveled, the smaller places along the way offer unexpected attractions.

Whether it's a sport-related activity, the beauty, or the down-home welcome that greets road-weary wanderers, the influence of many of those towns has been strong enough to draw people back year after year.

 Powell River

One such place is Powell River at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. Traditional home of the Coast Salish people, it once had the largest pulp mill in the world. Today, a changing economy has refocused the town's emphasis on culture and ecotourism.

Kayaks are rafted together in a sheltered bay on an island just off of Lund.
Kayaks are rafted together in a sheltered bay on an island just off of Lund. — Photo by Adam Vallance

RVers who enjoy sea kayaking, fishing, hiking and photography will find much to fill their days. One of the many places to stay is the Garnet Rock Oceanside RV Resort, located four kilometres from the city itself and overlooking the Malaspina Strait. The resort's welcoming hosts, Monique and Greg Roadknight, not only have kayak rentals on-site, they also have a wealth of information available about area activities.

Monique Roadknight's neighbours show off their catch of the day at Garnet Rock, Powell River.
Monique Roadknight's neighbours show off their catch of the day at Garnet Rock, Powell River. — Monique Roadknight

As guests Carolann and Marc Berube tell their story, "The perfect spot for our wedding was right in front of our tent! Monique and Greg gave us the most perfect day of our lives at their campground."

2 RVs parked with an oceanside view Garnet Rock, Powell River.
RVers park to enjoy the oceanside view, Garnet Rock, Powell River. — Photo courtesy Monique Roadknight,

Bowen Island

Closer to Vancouver, Bowen Island is only a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay. It draws visitors away from the busy mainland to its art galleries, sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming and fine dining. The island has been judged fourth in Canada for the number of artists per capita in communities with populations under 50,000.

The traveler will need to leave the RV parked and go aboard as a foot passenger or with a small vehicle. Calling ahead to Bowen Island Sea Kayaking to book one of its various tours, rental options or lessons is a must.

South Delta

Visitors arriving in B.C. via the Peace Arch border crossing will discover much to offer in South Delta, really three main communities – Tsawwassen, Ladner and Westham Island. The area encompasses the Fraser River estuary, home to the famous spawning grounds for millions of wild sockeye salmon that have traversed their age-old routes from the Broughton Archipelago down through coastal waters to the river where they were born.

Tsawwassen and Ladner are Delta's main destinations for stocking up on supplies and, in season, for enjoying the farmers and antique markets. After travelers drive by tiny float-home communities and cross a one-lane bridge, they arrive at Westham Island, the land of small agriculture, an Estate Winery and the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Nearby, the island gives its name to an herb farm where the fresh-picked fruit and veggies of summer give way to the highlight of the year—pumpkin fields in which the ripening orange of Halloween stretch as far as the eye can see. Easy pathways through the sanctuary lead visitors onto and along several miles of Fraser River dykes.

Life and the Fraser River flow slowly here, and you can see across berry farms for miles to where, despite their grandeur, even the North Shore mountains lose some of their tendency to dominate the landscape.

On the water, along mountain trails, or by the river—Vancouver Coast and Mountains puts it all in the palm of your hand for peaceful wandering.

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