As my floatplane touches down in Sechelt Inlet on the Sunshine Coast, a feeling of calm comes over me and I am reminded of how amazing it is that my office is the cockpit of a classic de Havilland Beaver.
As the owner/operator of Sunshine Coast Air, I spend almost every day in the air and on the water, connecting people from Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and beyond, to the Sunshine Coast. Although the Coast is connected to the mainland, you can only get here by plane or ferry, which means my classic six-seater seaplane, once used to transport loggers and gear to remote coastal camps, now spends the majority of its time transporting tourists and commuters to and from their destinations.
My favourite parts of the day are seeing people’s faces light up as we fly over rugged coastline and glacier lakes, or when family members wait eagerly on the dock to welcome their loved ones. It’s easy to see why people want to come here and why residents of the community are so eager to share this piece of paradise with their friends and family.
The people I’ve met are as diverse as their reasons are for coming. The region offers a wide-range of year-round activities like kayaking, mountain biking and hiking—the obvious activities—but some folks come for the romance. I’ve flown couples over the Skookumchuck Rapids to the West Coast Wilderness Lodge for a four-course meal. As we cruised home at 700ft with the summer sun setting over the inlet, it was spectacular.
Most people come to embrace the local vibe: to check out local shops, hit the farmers markets, or even participate in funky local events like the mandala painting in Robert’s Creek. Some come for the annual jazz and blues festivals or to get their groove on at the local legions that showcase both local musicians and up-and-comers from the city.
Our rainforests are a well-known picking ground for chanterelles, king, and pine mushrooms, and visitors come from all over the world for the annual mushroom festival in September. Foodies can take in a tour at Northern Divine Caviar, an award-winning caviar producer, where they’ll view 300lb sturgeon and indulge in a caviar tasting. Caviar makes a special souvenir, made even more special with a shot of ice-cold vodka.
Coasters, as they are affectionately known, are famous for their appreciation of art in all forms. If you come for a visit, keep an eye out for flying purple banners. These mean an artist is in residence and welcomes visitors to come into their home gallery or studio and say hello. There are over 100 artists and businesses that participate throughout the year and it all comes together each October when crowds flock over to do the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl.
The Sunshine Coast runs 180 km from Lund to Langdale, so each town has its own special flavour and cast of colourful characters. I live in Tuwanek, in the southern part of the Coast, up the Sechelt Inlet. I love to walk my dog Benny along the beachfront where I watch the eagles do their morning dance above me and listen to the sea lions barking to each other as they search for Coho spilling into the inlet from Grey Creek. On winter afternoons I head up to Dakota Ridge for the unparalleled views during a snowshoe or cross-country ski excursion.
There are a million reasons to visit the Sunshine Coast, but I find that most people come here to get a break from their lives and connect with themselves. For me, the best part of living on the Coast means you don’t have to wait to exhale.