Story by Tricia Edgar
Vacay.ca Outdoors Columnist
GIBSONS, BRITISH COLUMBIA — “Do you ever get used to this?” a friend asks, staring out the window as the ferry moves its way slowly through the inland waters of the Salish Sea. The mountains cascade toward the deep water. The ocean is calm.
Not really. A visit to the Sunshine Coast is spectacular in every way, from the ferry trip up the coast to the natural delights you find once you get there. The Coast is a lovely fusion of urban folk, back-to-the-landers, and born and bred coastal people.
This fusion has led to a delightful array of choices for foodies visiting this area that’s about 50 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, but not accessible by a paved public road. At any time of the year, the Sunshine Coast is brimming over with vibrant local food. Summer and early fall are an especially lovely time to visit. During this harvest time, enjoy a visit to the farmers’ market followed by a picnic on the beach: a foodie’s version of bliss.
Where should you go to experience the joys of coastal food?
If you’d like a little taste of local food, there’s no better place to find it than at the resident farmers’ markets. There, you’ll find fresh produce galore, as well as niche goodies like jam and honey to bring on your picnic or pack to take home. On Saturday, there’s the Sechelt Market, on Sunday there’s Gibsons and Pender Harbour. For weekday shoppers, Roberts Creek hosts a Wednesday market, while Sechelt holds an evening market on Thursdays during the summer months.
Take a Stand: Visit a Farm
Go on a food-lover’s adventure. Visiting farm stands, chatting with farmers, and buying your products from the people who grow them is a foodie’s ultimate delight. You can’t get more back to the land than this.
At Sun Creek Farm (1312 B Russel Road, Gibsons), you’ll find a farm stand packed with delicious vegetables. Knock on the door and buy some of the preserves as well. The farm also hosts cheese-making workshops.
Get to know the true flavours of the coast at Gladiator Wild Seafood in Madeira Park. Here, you’ll find sustainably harvested wild seafood available from the walk-in freezer. Yum!
Looking for something lovely to smell and eat? The Lavender Beds On Lockyer features u-pick lavender and other herbs and seasonal vegetables. Find them on 1478 Lockyer Road, Roberts Creek.
Sit Down Eats
After a day of hiking in the rainforest, you need some fuel! For those who are looking for a seafood infusion, Smitty’s Oyster House in Gibsons Harbour will fit the bill. With its halibut fritters and local raw oysters, it’s a favourite of locals and perfect for a big group.
For a walk on the casual side of the café world, try the ultimate in hippie fare at The Gumboot Restaurant and Café (1057 Roberts Creek Road, Roberts Creek). The café caters to one and all, featuring vegan and gluten-free options. Its peanut butter and chocolate balls are to die for.
Take Home Delights
Want to bring some of the Coast home? Well, you can’t bring the beach with you, but you can bring selected foodie delights. If you want to get stocked up before you go, your first stop should be the Coast’s least subtle cereal — Holy Crap. Packed full of seeds and dried fruit, it’s a health-nut’s solution to the morning meal.
In need of a caffeine jolt to give you energy to explore? Take home a taste of the local brew from Strait Coffee, an accomplished local roaster.
If you’re still in search of a delicious nibble, head to La Petite Souris, a local company that creates fresh, handcrafted chocolates and truffles.
Stay Near Your Food
If you’re looking for the full foodie experience, dive into a food-oriented retreat. Enjoy sustainable food fresh from the farm where you’re staying: what could be better?
Rolling Earth Farm and Retreat
Rolling Earth farm in Roberts Creek is a food and wilderness experience in one, complete with a cob outbuilding and composting toilet. Oh yes, and there are lovely walks in the forest nearby as well. The farm also features organic catering.
Country Haven Bed and Breakfast
Looking for a casual place to relax on the farm? Head to Country Haven on the edge of the forest in the town of Sechelt. This B & B also features a hot tub and beach access, and the garden-loving proprietors also sell goodies at the farmers’ market.
Whether you’re visiting British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast for the beaches, the wildlife, or the culture, the food will entice you along the coast to explore. Enjoy the Sunshine Coast’s eclectic communities, and you’ll find equally diverse options hidden in each town to inspire a foodie’s holiday.
DIRECTIONS TO GIBSONS, BC FROM VANCOUVER (USING BC FERRIES)