You rescheduled vacations in 2020, dreamt of future adventures on the Sunshine Coast, and have been patiently waiting until travel is safe to resume. Now with vaccinations rolling out and restrictions loosening, you might be wondering how to plan your trip to the Sunshine Coast in 2021.
Below, we’ve got you covered with resources, suggestions, and links to all the information you need to make your trip a reality. Welcome back to the Sunshine Coast!
- Check our Know Before You Go page
- Stay up to the date with latest BC travel information and border updates via Destination BC
- Stay up to the date with latest Canadian travel information and border updates via Destination Canada
- Consult the latest British Columbia public health guidance and orders here
- Check out and take advantage of current travel deals on the Sunshine Coast
- Plan your trip to the Sunshine Coast using our Trip Planner tool
- Stop by our Visitor Centres in Gibsons, Sechelt, Pender Harbour and Powell River
- Find activities to do while you’re visiting
- Familiarize yourself with the Sunshine Coast
Planning to Visit Within BC
What’s The Latest Update on Travel?
For British Columbians, currently travel is only allowed within your health zone. Non-essential travel between health zones continues to be restricted until June 15.
After June 15, provincial travel restrictions will be lifted and recreational travel within British Columbia is allowed. Transit services, like BC Transit and BC Ferries, will increase service as needed.
For the latest public health guidance and restrictions, and to stay up to date with BC’s Restart Plan, click the button below.
Planning to Visit Within Canada
What’s The Latest Update on Travel?
Provincial health orders differ by province. Before you embark on inter-provincial travel, check Destination Canada’s website for the latest provincial health updates by province.
British Columbia does not require self-isolation for domestic travellers entering British Columbia, although this may vary by province depending on where you are leaving from.
Non-essential travel is prohibited within the province and between three regions: Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley, Northern/Interior (including Bella Coola Valley, Central Coast and Hope) and Vancouver Island. Travel on BC Ferries is for essential reasons only. People travelling to British Columbia from another province or territory for essential travel are expected to follow the same travel and public health guidelines while in the province. All non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii is restricted.
For the latest travel orders and restrictions, click the link below.
Planning to Visit From Abroad
What’s The Latest Update on Travel?
Exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada are expected in early July.
You will also be expected to follow British Columbia’s rules and orders on travel when you are visiting.
To stay up to date with the latest travel orders and restrictions, click the link below.
Tips to Planning Your Trip
1. Plan with flexibility in mind.
Given the pandemic’s unpredictable ebbs and flows and the changing travel restrictions, it’s best to remain as open as you can in 2021. If you can, keep your dates as flexible as possible; if you have to change them unexpectedly, this gives you a greater option to rebook your trip. (We’re also aware that being flexible with travel can be tough on the Sunshine Coast where you’ll need to book ferries or air travel to visit. Tip #2 will help you remain as flexible as you can so you can still enjoy all the Sunshine Coast has to offer.)
2. Look for flexible cancellation policies.
When booking accommodation and transportation, look for flexible cancellation policies that allow you to rebook if you have to cancel your trip. What does that look like? Policies that allow you to change your reservation up to 24 hours advance, without expensive late penalties, and that allow you to rebook the same amount of days but at a later date.
3. Book in advance.
It’s also helpful if you book as far in advance as you can. The Sunshine Coast can get busy during summer months so it’s recommended that you make a BC Ferries reservation for your ferry travel once you know when you’ll be visiting. Planning to camp? Provincial and private campsites across the Sunshine Coast can especially book up fast so make sure to reserve your campsites. Looking for a place to stay? You’ll find everything from budget-friendly hostels to oceanside Airbnb’s to wilderness resorts. Book a place to stay here.
4. Travel by car or boat, if you can.
Even though the Sunshine Coast is land-locked, a road trip still offers greater flexibility if your trip unexpectedly changes or a destination is busier than you would prefer. A vehicle gives you the ability to seek out quiet places on the Sunshine Coast or to visit our more remote communities on a whim. Plus travelling by vehicle allows you to pack extra supplies and gear (see tip # 8) as some places on the Coast may experience limited supplies this summer.
Have your own boat? Find out what ports of call and moorages you can access across the coast here.
5. Consider travelling In the shoulder season & to less frequented areas.
This summer promises to be extra busy for BC residents. Although we’re thrilled to welcome visitors back to the Coast, you might find more space to roam come fall or early winter. Alternatively, if you can’t wait to hit the Coast’s beaches and mountains, consider less popular and frequented areas on the Sunshine Coast where there is more elbow room and activities available (not to mention, your visit will be gladly appreciated by these smaller communities and businesses who were impacted greatly by COVID-19).
6. Pack extra supplies and gear.
Depending on where you are visiting on the Coast, stocking up on essentials, such as groceries or beach gear, can lessen your impact on smaller communities that may have limited supplies. If there are activities you’d like to do on the Coast — like biking or paddleboarding — consider bringing your gear with you. Don’t forget to bring a Clean Trip Kit with you as well!
7. Practice Responsible Tourism
Research your trip to the Sunshine Coast as thoroughly as you can and have a back-up in case your first option doesn’t pan out. While our local businesses and communities are ready to welcome back visitors, please do respect the guidelines and protocols they have in place to ensure their resident’s and employee’s safety and yours!
8. Consider purchasing travel insurance.
Travel insurance will often cover any disruptions that happen during your trip, providing you with better ease of mind for your visit. Keep in mind that different providers will offer different coverage and have policies that may or may not cover pandemic-related hiccups when it comes to your trip. Find out what your provider offers before purchasing insurance.
9. Find activities where you can spread out.
The Sunshine Coast extends from Gambier and Keats Island in Howe Sound to Savary Island and Desolation Sound at the northern end of the Coast, meaning there’s plenty of space to spread out. The Coast is also home to miles of coastline, many inlets, bays, islands, countless trails and parks and numerous communities that link it together. When travelling to the Coast this summer, consider opting for activities (see below for our suggestions) that give you more space to roam.
10. Be patient, and enjoy the Sunshine Coast!
On the Sunshine Coast, we’re all about slowing down. We take our leisure and relaxation seriously — after all, that’s one of the reasons why you come to the Coast! This summer, a little extra patience will go a long way as we welcome back visitors to our communities, trails, mountains and beaches. Remember to share space with others and enjoy the easy going rhythm of the Coast.
Activities On The Sunshine Coast Where You Can Spread Out
1. Hike quieter trails.
We’re lucky to have some pretty spectacular hiking here on the Sunshine Coast where you can disappear into nature and find solitude amongst the flora and fauna. While every trail is worth trying, we do expect that the ultra-popular Sunshine Coast Trail will be extra busy this summer. Instead, try one of our quieter trails where you can still find the same spectacular scenery but with less crowds. Tetrahedron Provincial Park is one area of the Coast where you’ll find panoramic mountain views and fewer people.
2. Mountain bike less popular spots.
Our trail systems aren’t just meant for feet. The Sunshine Coast is home to some of BC’s best mountain biking trails with everything from fast and flowy rider-designed park-like laps to technical cross-country routes. Coast Gravity Bike Park will be busy this summer so make sure to book tickets in advance to secure your spot. You can also find less-tread sections of the Coast in West Sechelt (home to excellent cross-country trails) and in Powell River.
3. Book a harbour tour with your family or friends.
Book a slow, gentle cruise throughout the waterways of the Coast and explore the Coast on your terms. Watch for wildlife, listen from local guides as they offer anecdotes about the area, and take in the coastal scenery with no one but you and your friends or family.
4. Get out on the water on less-explored sections of the Coast.
Sechelt Inlet is a great spot to paddleboard, kayak or canoe thanks to its calm, sheltered waters and stunning fjord-like scenery. Pender Harbour is home to numerous lakes and a coastline that doesn’t see as much traffic, but it’s still spectacular, with rocky, craggy shoreline home to arbutus trees and countless bays and inlets to explore. Egmont is another great spot to explore the water, although its waters can be slightly more treacherous so make sure you’e experienced on the water before heading out.
5. Find a golf course.
Golf is inherently a socially distanced game with each party making room for one another on the greens. With courses in Roberts Creek, Pender Harbour and Powell River, you can find a quiet fairway to tee off from, all in view of the Sunshine Coast’s mountains and forests. Afterwards, hit the course restaurant or pub to refuel and mingle with like-minded visitors and locals.
6. Bikepack or cycle the Coast.
Bikepacking — the act of travelling by bike to your destination, often on a multi-day trip — is a solitary sport (Even done with friends!). The Sunshine Coast is bike-friendly and has plenty of amenities to keep a cyclist well-tread and well-fed. One of our favourite sections of the Coast to bike is from Powell River to Savary Island, a 28-kilometre-plus section of winding shoulder that leads into Lund, followed by a water taxi (they’re well equipped to transport bikes, safely and gently) to Savary Island. Keep in mind that summer on Savary is busy in any given year but opt to do this ride post-Labour Day weekend and you could have the island nearly all to yourself.
Find more activities to do here.
While exploring the Sunshine Coast, please do so safely and responsibly. We’re all visitors on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, Shíshálh, and Skwxwú7mesh nations.