Getting to the Sunshine Coast is part of the adventure.
The Sunshine Coast is located on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada (just northwest of Vancouver) and stretches 180 km (110 mi) along the Salish Sea, from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound. But although it’s part of BC’s mainland, access to the region is by air or by water only due to the mountainous terrain. There are no bridges connecting the Sunshine Coast to the Vancouver or Vancouver Island regions.
If you’re bringing a car:
To bring your vehicle to the Sunshine Coast, you must take a car ferry via BC Ferries’ scheduled service for vehicles and pedestrians from either Vancouver (to Gibsons) or Vancouver Island (to Powell River). These ferries take all vehicles (including bicycles) as well as foot passengers, and pets are welcome too. Check the BC Ferries website for information on fares, schedules, and ship amenities and services.
Reservations are available, but not required, on most Sunshine Coast sailings to and from Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Part of the ship is always available on a first come first served basis. Extra sailings are added during peak periods, but reservations can be very helpful during the summer and holidays when you want to sail at a specific time and avoid waits at the terminal.
BC Ferries also provides transportation to Texada Island, Keats Island, Gambier Island and between the north and south sections of the Sunshine Coast (Earl’s Cove to Saltery Bay).
If you’re travelling by bus, bike, or foot:
As mentioned above, you can utilize BC Ferries’ scheduled service as a walk on passenger (pedestrian) and bring a bike as well. There are also other transit options available to you, including the Sunshine Coast Connector—a convenient bus service between downtown Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast (all the way up to Powell River) via select BC Ferry sailings. Translink also provides ample service allowing travellers to easily connect from metro Vancouver via the SkyTrain & public bus connections to get to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal or the float plane terminals. Translink service between Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay via the 257 Horseshoe Bay Express or 250 Horseshoe Bay routes will be your go-to options—just be sure to check ahead for ferry departure times to ensure you make your connection, and take into account that buses may not always be exactly on time.
Never travelled with your bike on the ferry? Not to worry! This short video will tell you all you need to know about loading and unloading, as well as where to store your bike during the ride.
Cyclists can buy their tickets at the foot passenger ticket office in Horseshoe Bay—be sure to let them know you are a cyclist. The bike will add an extra $2 to your foot passenger cost. You should then be given directions to the security gate across the street from the ticket office. Walk your bike to the gate and follow signs to the berth. There is a small waiting area for cyclists.
Bikes are loaded before the vehicles. Watch for directions from staff. You will be asked to walk your bike across the loading ramp, and can mount the bike in a rack once you’re on the main ferry deck.
If you’re travelling by air:
If you don’t plan to bring a car, skip the boat altogether with a short flight. You can fly direct from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Powell River via Pacific Coastal Airlines or to Sechelt via Harbour Air or Fly! Coastal. You can also fly straight from downtown Vancouver to Sechelt or Powell River with Harbour Air. And over on Vancouver Island, both Sunshine Coast Air and Harbour Air operate regular flights from Victoria and Nanaimo to Sechelt. Not only is flying quick and convenient, but it’s a beautiful way to experience more the Sunshine Coast’s landscape.