Named after the original First Nations people of the region, the shishalh, the community is sustained by self-government, a communal lifestyle and wisdom of the elders. Sechelt is a small community sitting on a sandbar, the narrow Sechelt isthmus separating Sechelt Inlet from the Strait of Georgia.
If it weren’t for this small neck of land less than a half mile wide, a large portion of the peninsula north of Sechelt would be an island, cut off from the mainland. This wedge of sand backs ocean water, which flows from the northwestern entrance to the inlet near Egmont, into three inlets: Sechelt Inlet (the largest), and the Salmon and Narrows Inlets, which branch east from Sechelt Inlet.
The word “Sechelt” means land between two waters. Indian Legend has it that the creator gods were sent by the Divine Spirit to form the world. They carved out valleys leaving a beach along the inlet at Porpoise Bay. Later, the transformers, a male raven and a female mink, changed details by carving trees and forming pools of water. The raven is an integral part of the Sechelt Indian Band’s culture and is often seen in their carvings.
A magnificent sweep of beautifully cobbled beach combines wave polished granite ramparts with driftwood & many-coloured pebbles. Treed mountains, cascading creeks and waterfalls create the spectacular coastline of Sechelt making the community a photographer’s delight year-round.
Sechelt’s central location on the southern peninsula of the Sunshine Coast makes it a natural hub for business, culture and tourism. The thriving village is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and a natural seaside beauty that lends a special charm to the attractions and amenities of the Heart of the Sunshine Coast.
The Sechelt area climate is characterized by mild, moist winters and warm dry summers. Temperatures on the Coast range from freezing in winter to highs of 30C (90F) in summer. The annual rainfall is approximately 100cm (40in.) The Sunshine Coast is sheltered from the open Pacific, and the milder weather patterns result in very light snowfalls in the region.
The Sunshine Coast is split into two portions on either side of Jervis Inlet. Roughly speaking, the southern half between the ferry slips at Langdale and Earls Cove occupies the Sechelt Peninsula, while the northern half between the ferry slip at Saltery Bay and Lund sits on the Malaspina Peninsula.
Location: Sechelt is located on Highway 101 on the Sunshine Coast, which is accessible from the rest of the Lower Mainland only by boat or airplane. Travellers aboard BC Ferries leave Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver for the 9.5-mile (15.5-km) ride to Sunshine CoastLangdale on the Sechelt Peninsula (45 minutes). Highway 101 links Langdale with Sechelt, 9 miles (15 km) to the north.
Approaching from the north, BC Ferries also connects Comox on the east side of central Vancouver Island with Powell River on the Malaspina Peninsula. On the southern coast of the Malaspina Peninsula, the ferry terminal at Saltery Bay connects with Earls Cove on the northern Sechelt Peninsula and Highway 101.
Coach Lines operate daily to connect the Sunshine Coast with Vancouver, and a bus service between Sechelt and the ferry terminal at Langdale is provided by BC Transit and local bus services. Air services include scheduled flights from Sechelt to Victoria, and a daily float plane air service from Sechelt to Vancouver and Nanaimo.
Don’t miss the impressive House of Hewhiwus (House of Chiefs), the Sechelt band government offices and home to the Sechelt Nation’s cultural centre, which houses a museum, an art centre, a gift shop and the Raven’s Cry theatre.
Visit historic Rockwood Lodge, a Union Steamship resort built as a boarding house in 1935, a time when all visitors to the Sunshine Coast arrived by boat at a wharf in Trail Bay.
Top Canadian authors gather at Rockwood Lodge in mid August for the annual Festival of the Written Arts. Listen to your favourite authors who enjoy talking with their readers, and share a glass of wine with fellow travellers who appreciate story telling. Sechelt’s summer celebration of Canadian writers and writing is very popular, so book early.
Totem Poles: Twelve Coast Salish totem poles look out over Trail Bay – they recount the history of the Sechelt Indian Band, the first in Canada to gain self-government in 1986.
The Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, located within walking distance of downtown, offers continuous showings for local artists and continues to expand with exciting and innovative programs. Raven’s Cry Theatre seats 274 guests and is the perfect venue for concerts, live theatre & musicals and weekly first-run movies.
Fish Hatcheries: Learn about the life cycle of the salmon at the Sechelt Hatchery, near Porpoise Bay Provincial Park. The Chapman Creek Fish Hatchery on Field Road has an education centre detailing the life cycle of salmon, and offering scheduled tours for schools and groups. Visitors can see the tiny fingerlings ready for release into Chapman Creek.
The community of Wilson Creek south of Sechelt is a large rural and residential area, and the location of the regional airport and the Wilson Creek Campground. This community was named after James Wilson, a blacksmith employed by the Burns and Jackson’s Brothers Logging Camp in 1898.
Steamship History: Steamboats such as the All Red Line’s S.S. Selma provided the transportation needed to establish a settlement within the community. The Union Steamship Company purchased the property and cabins in 1917 in today’s Selma Park, and expanded on the resort theme. Today Selma Park exists as a quiet residential neighbourhood that stretches along Highway 101.
Davis Bay, less than 3km south of Sechelt, is one of sandiest and most accessible beaches on the Sunshine Coast. Just pull off beside Hwy 101 at a likely looking spot and let the picnicking begin. The sweeping views here across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island are unbroken by any offshore islands, and are a rarity along the otherwise sheltered coastline. A pier juts a long way out from the beach, a good indication of how shallow the water is. In summer, when the tide rises over the beach exposed to the warmth of the summer sun, the ocean warms up as it absorbs all that solar energy and provides swimmers with a Mediterranean-like setting. Purple-hued sand dollars add to the ambience; their shells fade to a bleached white when their life cycle is complete. The sandy beach may yield clams, but your best bet is casting from the pier here for salmon.
The community of West Sechelt is situated on a large plateau, offering one of the few suitable locations for agriculture in the municipality. In 1915, farms were established by pioneers such as W. J. Wakefield and Abe Mason, today West Sechelt has the second largest population within the District, and is the location of substantial new residential developments.
East Porpoise Bay includes a mixture of industrial and residential areas, including the new subdivision of Porpoise Bay Estates. One of the highlights of the neighbourhood is Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, located on the west side of East Porpoise Bay road.
West Porpoise Bay and Sunshine Heights features spectacular views of Sechelt Inlet, and the relatively flat, serviced land. Residents also have easy access to the Village of Sechelt, Kinnikinnick Park, the Arena and the Sechelt Golf & Country Club.
Initially developed for summer cottages, Sandy Hook grew substantially after 1963 when a development company started to build permanent homes and cottages in the area. The name, Sandy Hook, was named after sand was placed on the waterfront area to make it more attractive. The area still retains a cottage ‘feeling’, with many of the homes overlooking Sechelt Inlet. Additional features of the area include a children’s park, and a boat launching facility.
The residential community of Tuwanek is located on the east side of Sechelt Inlet at the foot of Mount Richardson. The name is derived from one of the original four “septs” (division of the Sechelt Nation) located around Narrows Arm. Tuwanek is the eastern gateway to the Tetrahedron Plateau and Provincial Park. Attractions include the Tillicum Bay Marina and the Gray Creek Fish Hatchery.
Wildlife: The marshland around Sargeant Bay Provincial Park is an important stopover for waterfowl such as harlequin ducks, Canada geese, and trumpeter swans, as is the upland area for a host of migratory songbirds. Local volunteers have undertaken an ambitious project to restore wildlife habitat around the bay.
Marbled Murrelet: Some of the oldest yellow cedar and western hemlock in western Canada grow in the Caren Range, northwest of Sechelt. Home to the marbled murrelet, a drab, starling-size seabird whose numbers are in as precipitous a decline as the old-growth western hemlock on which it depends, these mountains form the backbone of the Sechelt Peninsula. Although most murrelets nest in cliffs and rock walls, the marbled murrelet, having evolved beside the majestic, ramrod-straight, temperate old-growth forest, lay their eggs on the hemlocks’ broad, moss-draped limbs.
Caren Range Old-Growth Forest in the Caren Range has been the scene of much conflict and despair, when some of the oldest trees in Canada – in excess of 2,000 years old – were cut by logging companies, then left to waste!! You’ll have to drive a long way through open hillsides (also called clearcuts) before you reach the shade of the park, but the tranquillity you’ll experience there will be a grand reward.
Sea Lions: California and Steller’s sea lions and harbour seals gather during winter months at the mouth of Chapman Creek south of Sechelt. Walk out onto Mission Point for the best views. The best approach to the point is from the beach at Davis Bay.
Snickett Park and Pebble Beach in Sechelt are good places to head to once you’ve packed the picnic hamper full of goodies. In case you’ve forgotten anything, you’ll find it at one of the shops on the Boulevard just off Hwy 101 in downtown Sechelt. If you’re in a hurry (a contradiction if there ever was one in this laid-back environment), park yourself on Snickett’s Pebble Beach on Trail Bay adjacent to the Boulevard. If not, head 3 miles (5 km) north of Hwy 101 on E Porpoise Bay Road to the sandy shores at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on the Sechelt Inlet. As you’d expect from a park this size, rows of picnic tables dot the beach, which is sheltered by wistful willows.
Golf: Sechelt Golf & Country Club is an 18-hole, Par 72 golf course (6,553 yards) located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast and open to the public every day for a memorable round of golf. Golfers will enjoy the generous fairways and large gently sloping greens. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Boat launch locations around Sechelt include public ramps at Chapman Creek, Sechelt, and Cooper’s Green Regional Park in Halfmoon Bay, and private ramps at Halfmoon Bay and Secret Cove.
Diving: Sechelt Inlet offers excellent dive spots accessible only by boat. The premier dive site is the HMCS Chaudiere, a 118-metre retired Canadian Forces destroyer escort that now serves as an artificial reef off Kunechin Point in Sechelt Inlets Marine Provincial Recreation Area. Kunechin Point is also the site of a marine park campground and can be reached by boat from either Sechelt or Egmont. Another popular dive site in Sechelt Inlet is at Tuwanek Point Marine Park, where fish are so varied and numerous that you may think you’re snorkelling in Hawaii. The chill of the waters in the inlet will quickly disabuse you of that notion. Access to this aquarium is by water only. The closest suitable public access points are Porpoise Bay Park and Tillicum Bay Marina. Note that there is no access from the community of Tuwanek. Coopers Green Regional Park on Redrooffs Road is also a popular spot for diving. The relatively shallow water on the east side of the bay provides good beginner and intermediate diving as well as snorkelling.
Diving on the Sunshine Coast.
Cycling: Although shoulders on the winding highway can be narrow, cyclists will find that Highway 101 is a challenging but often scenic route. Avoid peak traffic times, such as the surge that follows the arrival of a BC Ferry, and you’ll have long stretches of the highway to yourself, particularly as you pedal north of Sechelt. One consideration: You don’t have to cycle Hwy 101 all the way, all the time. There are a few backroads, such as Lower Roberts Creek Road, that travel in roughly the same direction while providing a more tranquil ambience. Lower Roberts Creek Road loops away from Hwy 101 north of Gibsons and rejoins it north of Roberts Creek, for a total distance of 5 miles (8 km).
Highway 101 rises and falls as it parallels the coastline for much of its length. One of the steepest hills is on the north side of Sechelt. Redrooffs Road is a delightful 6-mile (10-km) side road that loop-dee-loops along the coast off Hwy 101. The southern entrance to Redrooffs is located about 4 miles (7 km) north of Sechelt. The northern entrance is just north of Trout Lake.
Fishing: So successful has the rearing program been at nearby Chapman Creek that it is the only stream on the Sechelt Peninsula where anglers can keep coho and chinook salmon. It’s still best to check local regulations beforehand. While the hatchery has been experiencing good returns, fish stocks in the Strait of Georgia and Malaspina Strait have been steadily declining in recent times. March is one of the few months on the fishing calendar when anglers get to stay home and tidy their tackle boxes, or tie on a fly and try for surface-feeding trout at Trout Lake on the north side of Hwy 101, 6 miles (10 km) north of Sechelt.
Mountain Biking: The Sunshine Coast is a maze of mountain-bike paths, the result of a progressive attitude towards mountain biking. South of Sechelt, the area around Roberts Creek is a great hangout for the serious mountain biker. Three major loop trails – Roberts Creek, Clack Creek, and the Brodie Race Trails – will wear the tread off any tire and introduce riders to shorter technical routes, all accessed from B&K Road (Roberts Creek Forest Road), just east of Roberts Creek Provincial Park. All trails begin a short distance up the road at the BC Hydro power line.
In Sechelt, an area with some good intermediate/expert trails is the Angus Creek Bike Loop, between the Sechelt landfill and the Gray Creek Forest Road. A number of interconnected forest service roads will lead you to the singletrack. The Angus Creek route is marked with a biking symbol and orange paint. The steep approach on the Sechelt-Crucil Forest Road will test your ability to ride clean.
North of Sechelt, the area around Trout Lake has a plethora of trails for all skill levels to choose from. Look for trails such as Little Knives (also called the Trout Lake Trail; easy; 7.5 miles/12 km return) and Redrooffs to the south of Hwy 101, as well as Shakecutters, Hydroline, Crowston, Wormy Lake, and the Microwave Tower Trails to the north. The trailhead for routes on the north side of Hwy 101 is on Trout Lake Road about 6 miles (10 km) north of Sechelt. The Trout Lake Loop Trail is marked with biking symbols and yellow paint. Trails on the south side of Hwy 101 begin at the south end of Trout Lake. An alternative approach to Little Knives (Trout Lake Trail) is from Redrooffs Road in Sargeant Bay Provincial Park. The trail begins opposite the yellow gate that marks the entrance to the beach.
Coast Gravity Park is a gravity-fed mountain bike facility overlooking Sechelt Inlet, located in Porpoise Bay, just 3km from Sechelt. Twelve downhill trails suitable for riders of all levels of experience are carved through pristine low-elevation oceanfront forest (Green, Blue, Red and Black Trails). Access is via Wharf Avenue, Porpoise Bay Road and Dusty Road, then follow the signage along Forest Service Road to Coast Gravity Park.
Winter Activities: The Sunshine Coast’s long suit is brightness, which, when combined with winter whiteness, produces a dazzling effect. Cross-country skiing is the choice of winter recreation pursuits. Snow often remains in the forest well into June, by which time most visitors have wisely headed for the beaches. The best winter recreation is near Sechelt, where you’ll find 12 miles (20 km) of well-developed cross-country ski trails on Mount Steele in Tetrahedron Provincial Park. The Tetrahedron Ski Club built the trails as well as the four sturdy, 12-person, first-come-first-snooze cabins that lie at a variety of locations throughout the park. Cabins with wood-burning stoves are located at Batchelor Lake, Edwards Lake, McNair Lake, and near the summit of Mount Steele. All but the expert 3.8-mile (6.2-km) return trail to Mount Steele are rated as intermediate runs.
Bring your skins, as many of the approaches climb the steep-sided, clear-cut hillsides to Gilbert and Edwards Lakes. Trails lead from the cabin at Edwards Lake up to the Mount Steele cabin above or down to the cabin near McNair Lake. A popular loop route runs from the parking lot to Edwards Lake and then returns via the cabin at Bachelor Lake. The Tetrahedron Ski Club is a good source of information. For experienced, avalanche-prepared skiers, there’s backcountry ski touring in the Panther Peak section of the park.
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park has vehicle/tent campsites, including double units, north of Sechelt on East Porpoise Bay Road. There are also 6 bike-in sites for those who are cycle-touring the region. Porpoise Bay Park is an excellent base for canoeists to explore Sechelt Inlet Marine Recreation Area. As you’d expect from a park of this size, rows of picnic tables dot the beach, which is sheltered by wistful willows.
Mount Richardson Provincial Park on the east side of Sechelt Inlet protects ocean shoreline and Mount Richardson. The summit of Mount Richardson (986 metres/3,205 feet) offers great views of Sechelt Inlet, the Sechelt Peninsula, and the town of Sechelt. Access is by 4-wheel drive to the mountaintop hiking area and Richardson Lake with its rustic campsites. The park shoreline includes three of the boat-accessible camping sites on Sechelt Inlet, at Oyster Beach, Nine Mile Point and Tuwanek.
Sargeant Bay Provincial Park, 4 miles (6 km) west of Sechelt, features a sandy beach that’s ideal for swimming and picnicking. You’re most likely to find yourself sharing it with local bird-watchers who come down to explore the nearby marsh. As you walk south along the bay, the cobblestone beach changes to more hospitable sand, which is where you’ll want to spread out and listen to the lapping of the waves and the laughing of the gulls.
Roberts Creek Provincial Park straddles Highway 101, about 8 miles (12 km) south of Sechelt, and offers vehicle/tent campsites. Lush second-growth forest is the setting for the park’s picnic grounds and beach, the entrance to which lies south of the campground on Elphinstone Road, where you’ll find two dozen tables arranged beside the ocean. Bring your beach shoes, as bare feet may find the cobblestoned coastline too rough on tender tootsies. If you like to pick mussels and oysters and look for seashells, the beach at the picnic grounds is a good place to visit at low tide. Just check for red-tide warnings and harvesting closures beforehand at the entrance to the park.
There is camping at Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park, located about 9 miles (15 km) northwest of Sechelt, one of the most popular anchorages on the Sunshine Coast, well-protected from wind and sea. This small, sheltered marine park with 5 walk-in campsites serves as a jumping-off point for paddlers wishing to explore several offshore islands in what is arguably the most scenic location on the Sunshine Coast. Watch for the well-marked approach to the park on the south side of Hwy 101, between Halfmoon Bay and Secret Cove. Follow Brooks Road 3 miles (5 km) to the parking lot, from where you can walk the 1-mile (1.6-km) trail to the wilderness campsites, or paddle in from Brooks Cove through Welcome Passage. The sheltered coastline of Smugglers Cove provides great protection for paddling.
Coopers Green Regional Park: On Redrooffs Road between Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay is the waterfront Coopers Green Regional Park, where you’ll find a beach with a mix of rock and sand, and offshore islets. Enjoy a picnic supper while watching the summer sun sink offshore as it lights up the picturesque cove. Coopers Green is a popular location for divers, and has a large grassy, treed area with a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, BBQ pit, washroom facilities, swimming beach and a public boat ramp.
Short trails in Connor Park connect to extensive hiking and mountain biking trails that wind through the Halfmoon Bay area. The park is reached via Redrooffs Road from Hwy 101, between Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay – approximately 10 minutes driving north of Sechelt. From Redrooffs Road turn east on Southwood, left on Westwood and left at the deadend.
Sechelt Inlets Marine Provincial Park is a narrow, fjordlike environment where old-growth forest plummets down the sides of the Caren Range mountains to the ocean. Beaches are limited, and where they do occur you’ll find small park sites suited for rest stops or overnighting. Given the rocky shoreline of much of the Sechelt Inlet and its two branches – Salmon and Narrows Inlets – kayakers will be relieved to reach one of the sites when the wind rises and makes paddling extremely difficult.
Kayaking: It’s only about a 2-mile (3-km) paddle from the marina to the first marine-park site at Tuwanek Point. Two of the trickiest sections involve crossing the mouth of Salmon Inlet, where strong winds can quickly turn a leisurely paddle into a maddening fight, and navigating Tzoonie Narrows in Narrows Inlet where, unless you enter the narrows at a favourable tide, you’re in for a battle against the current. Note that there is no water access from the community of Tuwanek.
It takes the better part of a day to paddle the 22 miles (35 km) from the federal dock in Sechelt to Egmont at the north end of the inlet via Skookumchuk Narrows. You can reduce the paddle time by launching at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park or private Tillicum Bay Marina, a good place to leave your car if you’re going on an overnight paddle. Both the park and the marina are located on E Porpoise Bay Road (Sechelt Inlet Road) in Sechelt.
Paddlers can head offshore to Simson Provincial Park, which enjoys a particularly pretty location and occupies much of South Thormanby Island. It’s only a 2-mile (3-km) paddle from the public boat ramp in Halfmoon Bay across Welcome Passage to the east side of South Thormanby, the larger of two similarly named islands. Paddlers can not only explore Simson but also Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park, on the west side of North Thormanby Island, as well as many bays and headlands around Smuggler Cove Marine Park, just north of Halfmoon Bay.
From Porpoise Bay charter boats will take you to the most spectacular Fjord – Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park and finally Chatterbox Falls.
The scenic town of Roberts Creek lies on a quiet winding side road off Highway 101, midway between Gibsons and Sechelt on the lower Sunshine Coast of BC. Roberts Creek is a haven for artists, artisans and craftspeople, and many of these artists open their home studios to the public.
Northwest of Sechelt on Highway 101 is Halfmoon Bay, a small village of permanent homes, summer cottages and five regional parks. The Halfmoon Bay community can be reached by the uniquely named Redrooffs Road, so-called because a popular local resort once featured a cluster of tourist cabins, all with red roofs.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour. Board a B.C. Ferries vessel at Powell River that will take you across the waters of the Strait of Georgia to Comox, on Vancouver Island’s east coast. Travel south to Victoria and return to Vancouver by ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. Circle Tours in British Columbia.