My previous knowledge of the Sunshine Coast extended only to its Australian counterpart, but when I discovered that the Canadian one is just a short bus and ferry ride from downtown Vancouver (one of fairly few places that are easily accessible without a car) it sounded like a good option for a weekend away and some sunshine.
This is what I was greeted with:
It wasn’t just drizzling, it was throwing it down, and it was cold. Whistler declared a powder day on the 28th of May – unheard of. But anyway, I’m British so I just wore all my clothes, took an umbrella and got on with it.
This was also my first solo Airbnb experience, and seemed to be going well so far – great communication from my hosts (who were British and couldn’t wait to meet me), and the promise of a lift from the ferry. They’d even offered to change the dates of my stay owing to the terrible weather. Anyway, Judith (or ‘Judes’) was waiting under the bus shelter wearing a red scarf as promised, and was simply DELIGHTED to welcome me, but TERRIBLY sorry about the weather. She was incredibly lovely, but all kinds of posh and I ended up doing that strange thing I sometimes do where my accent adapts to the person I’m speaking to…I was practically calling her ‘daaaarling’ by the time we arrived at their house in Gibsons. This is all in jest, as I cannot say enough how lovely her and Paul were – I was even welcomed with coffee, muffins and cinnamon buns before being shown to the part of the house I was staying in. Their listing here.
I cowered from the rain for a bit longer before venturing out for some food, and tried to pass the time by browsing in some of the small and slightly random shops in the town, including sampling approximately 15 different balsamic vinegars in a specialist artisan produce store. That took about 10 minutes.
Then I decided to get even wetter by walking up a very steep hill to the supermarket, water rushing in the opposite direction and soaking pretty much every inch of me. It was safe to say that when I got back to my apartment, I wouldn’t be leaving again until the next day.
Thankfully, when I woke up on Sunday morning the view had improved dramatically…
I took myself off on a little run along what Judith had described as a ‘rolling’ road (read: the hilliest road in the world) and once it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be a great deal of fun I turned around after a couple of miles and concentrated on stopping to take pictures of the views instead.
I headed down into Gibsons for some breakfast at Molly’s Reach – a cafe/restaurant made famous by appearing in some Canadian TV show called Beachcombers. I’ve never heard of it but the food was tasty, although I won’t ever be able to return as I forgot to tip.
I was for a few minutes at a little bit of a loss at what to do with myself – options are slightly limited if you don’t have a car, however there is a bus service which runs all along the coast from the ferry terminal to Sechelt, about half an hour further north. I popped into the visitor information centre and after a quick chat hopped on the bus (skilfully timed to be passing just 5 minutes later despite the Sunday timetable being somewhat sporadic) along to Robert’s Creek and walked for about half a mile along a fairly busy highway to Cliff Gilger Park. It was very Pacific North West – lots of tall fir trees, waterfalls and wooded trails – but the walks weren’t too challenging and were clearly marked.
Those pink ‘warning’ markers did little more than make me stop, then read that the tree above me was unstable, just what they didn’t want you to do – nice one.
After that I walked back along the highway (North America really does not like pedestrians) to the tiny village of Robert’s Creek, which consisted of a cafe and restaurant owned by the same people, and a small shop. I walked down to the water to look at the views, then went and had a coffee and cake because there was an hour and a half until the next bus and I’d forgotten my book. I need to get better at eating cake slowly, a skill I’m happy to put some work in to.
Back in Gibsons I pottered around by the marina in the sunshine for a couple of hours then retreated to my deck with a local beer and my book and enjoyed some proper holiday time. It was glorious.
The sunshine continued on my final morning, so I enjoyed breakfast al fresco at one of the local cafes before heading back to the ferry. I will add here that the ferry was incredibly good value – less than $16 (about £8) return for a foot passenger! Although the payment system is slightly unconventional; you essentially only pay for your journey from Vancouver to Langdale, and not the return. When boarding in Langdale you go to a machine, press and button and just take the ticket – no payment required. I guess it sort of makes sense, but some Aussies on the way over there could not work this system out at all, and were convinced they were being conned into buying two single tickets when they wanted a return.
All in all, a lovely couple of days away to somewhere new, and I’ve been told that with a car, a tent and a few more days you can find amazing beaches with no one else on them and miles and miles of walking and hiking. Just take a waterproof.
And for those of you who like to complain about the lack of photos of me when I go away, here is a special collection of selfies we shall call Boaty McBoatface.