Sunshine Coast & Vancouver Island
Best for: Coastal scenery, kayaking, wildlife and hiking
ROUTE: Vancouver • Gibsons • Powell River • Little River • Ucluelet/tofino • Swartz Bay WHY GO? It’s 200km (by road/ferry) between Vancouver and Lund but it deserves a few days, to enjoy its towns, hikes and natural attractions.
Driving north-west from Vancouver (via car ferry hops), the Sunshine Coast Highway ends in Lund, and has innumerable reasons to stop and dawdle in places such as Gibsons and Powell River. Its small towns have a laid-back air, with relaxed service at the pubs and restaurants overlooking the Strait of Georgia. Some hotels have canoes, for easy pootling among the sheltered coves, and can even organise moonlit paddles to see porpoises, seals and sea otters at play. Near Egmont is also a 45minute walk to see one of the region’s great natural spectacles: the reversing tidal rapids of Skookumchuck (‘strong water’) Narrows – local guides detail times for the peak flow.
A car ferry from Westview to Little River on Vancouver Island allows road-trippers to continue along a spectacular route through old-growth forest via Port Alberni to the island’s west coast and either Ucluelet or Tofino (both surfing Meccas). Finish at Swartz Bay for the ferry back to Vancouver.