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The Sunshine Coast Taste Test Loop

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Often, Jake and I will dream up a trip and cram as many places into the experience as possible as a way to ‘taste test’ a bunch of locations just to see where we’d like to come back and to rest and play for a whole week. The taste test trip has us bouncing from place to place, restaurant to restaurant and activity to fun-filled activity. It’s an amazing way to require a vacation after your vacation and always worth the crazy!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Beginning at Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, cruising through the Sunshine Coast, connecting with the Island and travelling down to end in Nanaimo is a taste test trip to save for your BC Bucket List for the future! This may not be the time to travel, but it sure is a good time to collect ideas and save them for the (hopefully near) future.

The Itinerary: (7 days)
Gastown
Gibsons
Sechelt
Powell River
Comox
Campbell River
Parksville
Nanaimo

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Breaking up the drive time, we head to Vancouver and stay at the Delta Suites for the niche location, ocean views, and family suites. Gastown offers some of the best boutique shopping in Vancouver, unique restaurants, and fabulous proximity to key Vancouver sights. The Delta always seems to have a fantastic promotion or family fun activity going on.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

This time, we were given a photo scavenger hunt challenge! The boys loved chasing the landmarks and learning about the history. We won a family-sized prize of snacks and goodies to enjoy in the room. I appreciate the special touches the Delta makes to engage the whole family, not to mention, the comfy sleep we always have here that keeps us coming back!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

A forty minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale puts you in the seaside town of Gibsons. We headed straight for Soames Hill to hike the steep, beautiful, forested trail to the spectacular views of Keats Island and the Georgia Straight as well as the arbutus trees at the top. Places to visit in Gibsons include the Public Market for lunch, the pier for a romantic walk, and the beach-vibe streets with shops and treats.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

A quick 25 minute drive to Sechelt allows for a myriad of outdoor fun. Our highlight was Burnett Falls Park with all its Ferngully feels. Other places not to be missed include Sargeant Bay Provincial Park for wildlife, Davis Bay Beach for a leisurely stroll, Hidden Grove for tree-huggers, and Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park for views of Howe Sound.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Take the free ferry from Earl’s Cove to Saltery Bay and make your way to Powell River. Our kids went wild for Willingdon Beach Park. Do not even think about leaving before you’ve tasted the authentic Indian cuisine at the Royal Zayka! As you pass the paper mill, pause at the pullout to view the WW2 era ships, the Hulks, which provide a breakwater for the mill. Sea lions can be heard from the lookout and the history is something spectacular to behold.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Your next ferry from Powell River will land you on Vancouver Island. Stop at Gladstone Brewery for some local beer, burgers, and swag. A forty minute drive north gets you to Campbell River. Campbell River has been on my bucket list for over four years and I wanted to see and experience it from multiple perspectives!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

By sea: Hire a charter to take your family out for an unforgettable salmon fishing experience. A guide will have the gear you need and the knowledge about what is in season. We had an unforgettable time with The Salmon Stalker as Jake caught a 15 pound Chinook! Our guide, Wes, vacuum sealed and froze it for us.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

By air: Don’t leave Campbell River without seeing it as the soaring eagles do! A sightseeing trip with 49 North Helicopters is a top tier activity, one I’ll never forget. Even on a cloudy day, we learned much about the area from our pilot, Colin.

<who>Photo Credit: Tara Glenn Photography</who>

We saw the islands and ocean from a new perspective. At certain times of the year, it is even common to see whales and other wildlife such as the harbour seals we came across down below. Different flight lengths and tours can be found on their website. A special thank-you to local photographer Tara Glenn for capturing these memorable moments in the air!

<who>Photo Credit: Tara Glenn Photography</who>

On foot: Elk Falls Provincial Park is a stunning area of trails, waterfalls, suspension bridges, platforms, and clear swimming pools.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

The kids had so much fun, there wasn’t even any complaining after walking 5 kilometers of scenic trails. The Discovery Pier is also a great place for a stroll to watch the boats and harbour seals go by.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Parksville, our next stop, boasts some of the warmest ocean waters in all of BC for its temperate climate and is often referred to as the Canadian Riviera. It not only provides visitors with vast beaches and gorgeous trails, it has some swanky accommodations for every travel style. We stayed in a three-bedroom suite at Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort. Here’s why we would definitely return.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Space: This suite provided us with the perfect amount of bedrooms and space to spread out at the end of our busy trip, the perfect place to unwind. With everyone in their own bedrooms we had better (and longer) sleeps. The massive kitchen island brought us together for family dinners, and the deck was a great space to hangout and enjoy the gardens.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Amenities: A fully stocked kitchen and outdoor barbeque allowed us to have some home cooked meals or eat our takeout in comfort. Thoughtful touches like mighty leaf teas, organic shampoo and conditioner, and soft linens made our stay homey.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Location: We didn’t have to go far to keep the adventures happening. In just a few minutes drive, we were exploring Coombs, Little Qualicum Falls, Rathtrevor Beach (where we did our gender reveal!), and Kayaked Nanoose Bay with Jan from Adventuress Sea Kayaking!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Jan has been leading ocean kayaking tours, multi-day trips, and curated adventures for 20 years! Her knowledge of the area and wildlife provides a rich appreciation for visitors. We set out in two double kayaks as she led us through the early morning air to the hangout of the California sea lions. This ‘bachelor party’ as she calls it, hosts up to 500 males while the females are in the Baha having their pups. Feeding on the abundant herring, they peeked up at us, barked, and dove around our kayaks for a magical experience.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Nanaimo was our final destination and close enough to Parksville that we drove in from our resort to dine, shop, and seek out some thrills at Wild Play Nanaimo!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

We truly had an all-encompassing experience here as Ben braved the kids adventure course, Jake ziplined through the trees, and our international students swung from the 150 foot primal swing at 140 km per hour!

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

Ferrying back to Vancouver through the Tswassen terminal, we headed home exhausted and completely content. So many more BC locations and experiences we can now cross off our bucket list and yet, I can already feel Vancouver Island calling us back. This BC treasure beckons with more islands to explore, waterfalls to chase, and wildlife to admire.

<who>Photo Credit: Juliana Loewen</who>

For questions or suggestions, follow us on Instagram @loewenlifestyle we love connecting with fellow British Columbians and working your suggested places into our itineraries! You can also find videos from our trips on our YouTube channel! Remember to follow current travel guidelines and tuck these ideas away for when travel opens up again. Support local as much as possible. Stay healthy and be kind!



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