Canadian Geographic



- — Sarah Brown

Once upon a time, the Sunshine Coast could best be described as a sleepy retirement haven filled with aging hippies — in other words, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Tucked into the southwest corner of mainland B.C., the 180-kilometre stretch of coastline is not far from Vancouver as the crow flies, but the mountainou­s landscape means a trip to the city is still a 45-minute ferry ride away.

Now, a younger demographi­c is discoverin­g this coast, bringing with it a more youthful spirit. Each community has its own character — its own unique mix of hippie, entreprene­urial, arty and fun. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the cafés (so many cafés!). As you meander along the coastal road in the spring off-season, enjoying new blooms and waterfalls at their peak, be sure to take time out for coffee stops along the way. Here’s a taste test of some popular pit stops on the 25-kilometre route that moseys from the ferry stop at Gibsons Landing to Sechelt.


Gibsons is the heartbeat of the region, a lively harbourfro­nt town of 4,500 and the arrival point for the ferry from Vancouver. Named for the CBC TV show that made the town famous, Beachcombe­r Coffee embodies the sensibilit­y of this hoppin’ gateway town — bright, lively, happening. Acid-yellow sign, acid-yellow packaging. But even though the branding leans toward edgy, the region’s hippie history continues to inform the café’s menu — this kick-ass coffee is organic and fair trade. Their motto: It’s not just a coffee; it’s a lifestyle.

Don’t miss: When available, their vegan Deadly Donuts sell out quickly. The buttery baked goods are also a hot ticket.


Not to be overshadow­ed by all the new cafés on the block, the iconic Gumboot Cafe is still going strong after three decades. It leans into its hippie roots with grainy breads, rotating takes on eggs benny and jumbo-sized portions of classic homemade sweet treats just like your grandma makes — think hello dolly bars, date squares and peanut butter balls.

Don’t miss: A post-coffee stroll to the waterfront to see the Roberts Creek community mandala painted on the pavement at the park entrance. Each year, the community gathers to freshen up the iconic symbol, conceived in 1998 after vandals marred the site with a swastika and residents came together to cover the symbol of hate with one of beauty. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the mandala is an object of meditation and spiritual developmen­t.


Located on the water, Joe’s has an eye to the past and the future. This newish café-restaurant has modeled itself on the bustling neighbourh­ood eateries that livened the town in the 1980s, but with an upgraded and more veggieforw­ard approach to accommodat­e today’s diner. It draws both neighbours and passing tourists with a solid brunch menu during the day and a pricier “steak and seafood” menu at night. The “left coast” clientele demands creative plant-based options, and Joe’s offers lots to choose from.

Don’t miss: Joe’s does a killer vegan breakfast bowl with agedashi tofu, marinated tomato, avocado, kimchi, nuts and seeds. If that sounds too healthy, forgo the greens and fill the rest of the bowl with some deliciousl­y greasy breakfast potatoes.


Basted Baker brings in a steady stream of locals in beanies and Blundstone­s by offering really good takeout coffee and a sophistica­ted take on the breakfast classics. In late 2022, the café was taken over by the aforementi­oned Beachcombe­rs, whose owners respected the more laidback Basted mood, while bringing in an upgraded coffee menu.

Don’t miss: The various incarnatio­ns of eggs benny are heaping works of art that will keep you full well past lunch. Sweet tooths will appreciate the sticky buns slathered in cream cheese icing.

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 ?? ?? Clockwise from top: The iconic Gumboot Cafe; the breakfast bowl at Joe’s on the Beach; a morning coffee at Basted Baker.
Clockwise from top: The iconic Gumboot Cafe; the breakfast bowl at Joe’s on the Beach; a morning coffee at Basted Baker.
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