Coastal Circle Route Road Trip | Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Vancouver Island | Everything you need to Know

The Coastal Circle route is a unique and adventurous journey in British Columbia. When I first visited Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, I was amazed by the natural beauty and beautiful coastline. Before you start this journey, let me warn you that it is very important to plan your trip ahead of time to ensure a wonderful experience. Usually, this trip is a week long but you can plan according to the time you can spend. I recommend you spend at least 5 days to ensure enough time to enjoy the most out of this journey.

I ended up doing this trip a few years ago and since then I’ve done this almost every year. I tried my best to design this trip in a way that you will get the best out of this trip. I will share the best time to visit the Sunshine Coast, how to travel around and how to reach Vancouver. I’ll recommend you book in advance the stay as during peak season everything is booked out or very hard to find something.

Best Travel Tips for Coastal Circle Route

Now before I start with the itinerary for travelling in the BC Coastal Region. I would like to share some of the best tips to know while you’re here. It is important to know all about the place you are visiting so that you can stay safe and get the best deals in the region.

What is the Best Time to Visit BC Coastal Region?

Personally, I believe that the best time to visit the coast depends upon your preference and interest in what you want to do and where you want to go. The West Coast is year-round destination. As compared to rest of the Canada, this is one of the best destination that receives almost less to no snow with mild weather conditions. Therefore, it is easier to still enjoy a lot of things. Categorizing this in terms of months will be:

Summer which is from June to August. This time of year is peak tourist season. The weather is usually warm and sunny. Summer is perfect for those which are more into outdoor activities especially Hiking, Camping, Beaches, adventure activities and parks. Now this weather is preferred by everyone so you’ll find everything full and packed. It’s not just Tourists but locals as well.

Fall which is from September to November. This time of the year shows the true nature of the coast where all the trees change colours and the temperature is mild with stunning views. This time is amazing for those who love nature and want to enjoy the wonderful wildlife and forests. This time is more popular with local hikers and campers who want to get the maximum before the temperature gets down.

Winter which is from December to February. While the area receive very less snow and the nearby mountains look stunning. This time of year is great for skiing and snowboarding and enthusiasts from all over the world come to vancouver to enjoy this time of years. Places like Grouse mountain and whistler are packed with experts to learners. If you feel like learning snow activity this is best time of the year.

Spring which is from March to May. Spring bring back the mild temperature after the cold winter. This also bring back the most beautiful time of the year with blooming cherry blossoms. One more thing that come back after this is the outdoor activity enthusiasts. This is perfect time to go hiking or cycling, start gardening and explore the beauty of West coast.

How to Reach West Coast, Canada?

Your Journey for the Coastal Circle Route will begin in Vancouver and arriving in Vancouver is very easy with connectivity from all around the world and a beautiful airport, Sea Port and Road access from other parts of Canada and the USA. Vancouver is a major transportation hub with routes in all directions.

By Air: Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the major airport serving the city of Vancouver with a second airport nearby which is Abbotsford International Airport (YXX). Both the airports are well connected to domestic and international flights. YVR is well connected with Vancouver with Taxi Service, Regular Shuttle Service and Canada Line Skytrain to reach any part of Lower Mainland Vancouver.

By Train: Via Rail offers Train service from various parts of Canada including Toronto, Edmonton, and Jasper. If you’re travelling from USA the you can take Amtrak‘s Cascades route which runs from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver. Both the trains are more focused on a scenic route and run slower than other trains. They might be time consuming but worth the view.

By Road: Vancouver is easily accessible by a car via major highway connecting all major cities in Canada and the USA. Several bus companies like Greyhound and Pacific coach lines provide bus services from Canada and the USA.

Best transportation method for the Coastal Circle Route

Once you are in the vancouver you need to figure out the best way to travel. There are multiple ways to travel on this route and here is a list of the best transportation methods of the coastal circle route.

By Car/RV: The best way to do the coastal circle route is by car or RV. If you are a local and have a car then it’s perfect or else there are a lot of rental services available all over the city of Vancouver with all kinds of cars/RVs that you need from budget to luxury. If you are a local, you might also have the opportunity to get EVO for yourself.

Motorcycle: If you’re someone like me who enjoys the adventure on a motorcycle then this is an amazing route to enjoy on a motorcycle. You can explore the coastal route and the winding roads. However, be careful with the weather and plan ahead of time.

Cycling: If you do cycling on a regular basis and feel adventurous then this scenic route is perfect for you to do it on a cycle. If you plan on doing this trip then make sure to plan ahead and check the weather, and accommodation and make sure you are physically fit.

By Transit: Public transport is available on this route but not as reliably available. I don’t recommend this method as you won’t be able to enjoy this trip in a way, and won’t be able to reach remote areas unless you plan on a lot of walking. If you have to use this method then it’s best to plan accordingly and spare some extra time for this trip.

Where to Stay on Coastal Circle Route?

Choosing the right accommodation is very important to enjoy the trip. I’m adding a few places that you might like during this trip. You can choose from one of these or find a place according to your plans. Some of the links on this page are affiliate links.

Best Place to Stay in Vancouver

One Bed Apartment In Downtown Vancouver Modern Comfort Meets City Vibes

The Douglas, Autograph Collection

Embarc Vancouver

Best Place to stay in Egmont

Backeddy Resort and Marina

West Coast Wilderness Lodge

Strongwater Camping and Cabins

Best Place to stay in Powell River

Beach Gardens Resort and Marina

Powell River Town Centre Hotel

The Old Courthouse Inn

Best Place to stay in Nanaimo

Ramada by Wyndham Nanaimo

Courtyard By Marriott

Quality Inn

Best Place to stay in Victoria

The Magnolia Hotel and Spa

Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel & Suites

Hotel Rialto

Tips for Coastal Circle Route

  • Make sure to check for the ferry Schedule and book in advance on the BC Ferries Website, Specially during peak time.
  • Make sure to plan and book your accommodation in advance during the summer season.
  • Always carry some food, water and a GPS or a map.

Complete Coastal Circle Route Travel Itinerary

This itinerary covers a scenic coastal journey and takes you to a whole different side of Canada. I made this itinerary based on my personal experience but I recommend you to always check for updates of places and accommodations before planning your journey.

Day 1

Take a Ferry

Start your day early and take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. I recommend you start early so that you’ll get enough time to explore the Sunshine Coast as there’s so much to see and enjoy. Drive from Langdale to Gibson to start your journey.

Gibsons

Start by exploring this charming waterfront village with amazing galleries, shops and cafes. Make sure to visit one of the amazing local breweries to pick up something for the evening. You can choose from Persephone Brewing Company, Tapworks Brewing Company, and The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery. If you want to take a panoramic look at Gibsons and Howe Sound, plan a hike or a drive to Soames Hill Park.

Sechelt

Once you’re done with Gibsons, enjoy a drive on Sunshine Coast hwy with a stunning view of coastline and mountains. Head to the Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and enjoy the day use area here and a perfect beach for swimming. Next head back to the town and enjoy lunch at one of the local restaurants. If you are looking for some water activities then this is a perfect place.

Egmont

After the long day trip once you finally arrive at your final stop for day 1 first check in at your accommodation. After that, you can check out one of the top attractions in Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park. There are plenty of water based activities available that you can choose from and enjoy an amazing sunset. Finally, enjoy your dinner before wrapping up your day. If the weather is clear then stargazing is the best activity for the night with a bonfire with friends.

Day 2

Princess Louisa Inlet

Start your day by booking a boat ride to Princess Louisa Inlet. Also known as the most beautiful anchorage in the world. With more than 60 waterfalls this area receives visitors from all over the world. You can join a guided tour to learn about the history of this area.

Earls Cove

After enjoying this hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast it’s time to head to Earls Cove to take a ferry to Saltery Bay. Make sure to check the timing of the ferry with BC Ferries.

Saltery Bay Provincial Park

 

Once you arrive at Saltery Bay check out the day use area of Saltery Bay Provincial Park. This lush green and rocky beach area is a popular swimming area and picnic spot for travellers. If you want to do scuba diving then this is the perfect area to do it.

Stillwater Bluffs

If you want to do a small hike during your trip then there is nothing better than Stillwater Bluffs. This small hiking trail will take you to a whole different world which will spell magic on you. This place is popular among all kinds of travellers and adventurers.

Powell River

Finally, arrive in the town of Powell River and enjoy a late afternoon or evening snack before heading out to explore this beautiful town. Make sure to check out historic sites such as Powell River Historical Museum or the Patricia Theatre which is one of the oldest operating movie theatres in Canada. Next, I will recommend you relax along the beach before ending your day with an amazing dinner in this beautiful town.

Day 3

Start with Breakfast

Start your day with an amazing breakfast to load the energy for the day. There are a lot of coffee shops and cafes to check out in Powell River. Once you are done start your journey toward the charming town of Lund.

Lund

Once you arrive in this beautiful village, start by exploring the galleries, shops and waterfront areas of Lund. I will recommend you to take a whale watching tour or a scenic boat tour to explore this region. Spend your noon exploring the nearby area and beach. Before heading out to the next stop make sure to have your lunch here.

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park is heaven for boaters. Some people even rent kayaks from Powell River to come up to here to camp. Explore this area by hiking or kayaking. If you are fascinated by yatchs and boats then this is a must visit place for sunshine coast trip.

Powell River

Once you are done with Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park head back to Powell river. Spend your evening by renting a kayak and go for a sunset kayaking. You can stay in Lund as well but I will recommend you to come to Powell River so that you can start early for Vancouver Island. Before finishing your day, choose a good restaurant and enjoy the dinner.

Day 4

Ferry to Comox

After a morning breakfast start by saying goodbye to Powell River and taking a ferry to Comox. Check for the schedule on the BCFerries website for the schedule and I’ll recommend you to take an early ferry to make the most out of your day.

Courtenay

Once you arrive in Courtenay, start by exploring the attractions like the District Museum, Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park. Explore the downtown of Courtenay and shop around. Look out for some of the amazing local restaurants and enjoy lunch before leaving for your next destination on your trip.

MacMillan Provincial Park

MacMillan Provincial Park is a unique and majestic BC Provincial Park located on Vancouver Island. You can spend hours on the trails here exploring the old growth trees in this park. Depending on the time of your visit you can encounter local wildlife like deer, elk, black bear, and many different kinds of birds. The trails in this park are mostly flat and wide and very easy to complete.

Nanaimo

Once you are done with the park it’s time to drive to Nanaimo. This vibrant town is filled with so many things to do and explore. Start by exploring the charming downtown area of Nanaimo. Indulge yourself in exploring the history of Nanaimo by visiting Nanaimo Museum. Enjoy some amazing outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and boating in and around Nanaimo.

End your day by visiting a local brewery and enjoying the night.

Day 5

Start with Coffee

Start your day early with a coffee and a breakfast. Today is going to be a lot of exploration so it’s better to fuel up and hit the road early.

Ladysmith

This beautiful town is known for its heritage buildings, amazing waterfront area and beautiful arts. Explore the historic downtown area and by visiting the Ladysmith Museum. Enjoy the waterfront park with a sandy beach and walking trail. Ladysmith offers a lot of things for all kinds of travellers and serves as an amazing stop for your travel journey.

Stocking Creek Waterfall

If you are a nature lover then this waterfall is a perfect hidden gem for you. Stocking Creek Waterfall will provide you refreshing adventure on this trip. Take your time and enjoy the scenery and don’t forget to take some amazing pictures.

Duncan

Duncan is also known as City of Totems with numerous Totems scattered throughout the town. The carvings on these Totems tell the stories of Indigenous Culture and heritage. Moreover, this is not the only attraction in Duncan, this town boosts charming boutiques, galleries, and cafes.

EXPLORING BRITISH COLUMBIA: A 5-DAY ROAD TRIP FROM VANCOUVER (WITH MAP)

Malahat SkyWalk

@malahatskywalk

Malahat SkyWalk offers a breathtaking experience to everyone. This place provides a panoramic view of the stunning coastline and the mountains. If the weather is clear you can enjoy the clear view and amazing birds. This place is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to leave with amazing memories on this trip.

Goldstream Provincial Park

If you are a nature enthusiast and love outdoor adventure then this provincial park is the right place for you. There is a wide range of activities available in this park. If you are looking for a hike then this park has anywhere from an easy to more challenging one. The park is also home to some of the old growth trees on the island.

Victoria

After all these activities you’ll finally arrive in Victoria. If you have some time left for the day then make sure to utilize it and explore the capital. One thing that I will recommend is to visit the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the late evening or at night time. After this finish your day with dinner at one of the prestigious restaurants.

Day 6

Inner Harbour

Start your day at the iconic inner harbour in Victoria. This area is a perfect blend of historic charm and modern delight. This area is perfect for a morning stroll and to explore one of the most visited places in Victoria. If you are planning for a harbour plane ride then you can look here.

Royal BC Museum

https://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/

Royal BC Museum will show you British Columbia’s rich history, culture, and natural wonders. This place is one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures. As you stroll around the gallery, you’ll find stunning artifacts to interactive displays, this museum offers so much to see and learn. Make sure to check their website for any special event happening at the Royal BC Museum.

Downtown Victoria

Downtown is a perfect mix of historical landmarks, cultural experiences, and scenic beauty. Explore the beautiful streets with shops, cafes and restaurants. There are a variety of local boutique shops to and tons of small shops to explore around downtown.

Ferry to Vancouver

Finally, your trip is coming to an end. You can take the ferry to Vancouver with a lot of memories from this amazing Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast trip.

Make sure to share your experience in a comment with me.

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