Three ways to enjoy this Sunshine Coast gem.

It’s been a smoky end to summer, but there’s still some sunshine left in the forecast. For a day trip or weekend break that feels a world away, you can’t beat a quick trip to the Sunshine Coast town of Sechelt. The best part? It’s surprisingly accessible from downtown Vancouver—simply jump on a bus, a ferry, and another bus and you can be on relaxing in paradise within two hours of leaving the city. Kayas Photo: Pedals and Paddles

Paddle to a Private Beach

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can’t beat the calm waters of the Sechelt Inlet. Dramatic scenery includes colossal mountains that seem to plunge straight into the ocean and packs of seals that sun themselves on rocks along the shoreline. Pedals & Paddles is a waterfront outfitter in Sechelt that rents sea kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and other ocean equipment for self-guided day or overnight trips. In two hours, you can paddle up Sechelt Inlet to beautiful 9 Mile Beach, where a long stretch of rocky shoreline is waiting to be explored. Alternatively, a shorter paddle will lead you through calm waters to Tuwanek Beach Marine Park, which is a great spot for a swim and lacks the crowds you’d expect to find on a sunny day on Vancouver’s beaches. In fact, the entire shoreline along the inlet is dotted with rustic campsites, so with a little preparation, you can turn your day trip into a overnight backcountry adventure—often without another soul in sight. If you’re not confident paddling solo, a number of outfitters (including Pedals & Paddles and Alpha Adventures) offers guided tours. And if you’re really not into the whole camping thing, boat-access only Tzoonie Wilderness Resort offers a range of glamping options. Porpoise Photo: Redonebird/Wikimedia Commons

Find Your Zen

For a more chilled outing, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is not a bad spot to relax. Douglas fir and western hemlock groves surround this waterfront park, giving you plenty of opportunities to commune with nature along the lush trails that run beside Angus Creek. If you’d rather stretch out on a paddleboard, Alpha Adventures runs group SUP lessons at Porpoise Bay that include yoga poses and strengthening exercises. For a more traditional zen session, Blissful Yoga offers waterfront classes at Trail Bay Pier in Sechelt until August 30, as well as regular retreats and workshops. The nearby tiny community of Roberts Creek is also home to a number of wellness and yoga studios, including Yoga by the Sea. Persephone Photo: Persephone Brewing Company

Have a Pint

And for anyone looking to avoid the outdoors or wellness, there’s always beer. The craft revolution has very much arrived on the Sunshine Coast, with a number of options a short distance from the ferry terminal in the town of Gibsons. Award-winning Persephone is a popular spot off the Sunshine Coast Highway to stop in for a brew before heading home to Horseshoe Bay. Choose from a crisp and delicate Goddess Ale, herby and hoppy IPA, and a range of other award-winning beers on a rotating tap while exploring the 11-acre farm, or simply staying in for a round of foosball. Nearby, The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery has a hearty menu full of comfort food to please hungry hikers and kayakers, including Hot or Not Fried Chicken, banh-mi bowls, and tacos, as well as small-batch spirits and—of course—beer. And in the heart of town, Gibsons Tapworks is one of the newer kids on the microbrewery block, offering live music on Saturday afternoons on the sunny rooftop patio and a cosy indoor area for rainy days downstairs.

How to get there

Yes, you’ll need to take a ferry, and vehicle reservations often book out in advance in the warmer months. Thankfully, the journey is easier than you may imagine on public transit. Jump on the 257 from downtown Vancouver to arrive at Horseshoe in 40 minutes. From there, you just have to buy your walk-on ferry ticket and board. It’s only a 40-minute journey to the Langdale terminal at Gibsons, where a bus taking you to Sechelt awaits. Depending on your destination after arriving, you may need to walk, catch a bus, or call a cab. But the entire process can see you on the water in less than two hours from leaving downtown Vancouver. And that’s well worth the effort.