A sheltered harbour north of Sechelt near the entrance to Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park, Secret Cove is a popular summer resort retreat, with the remote feeling of an island and all the convenience of a mainland coastal community.
Secret Cove boasts some of the best sport fishing charters available in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
The area around Secret Cove was originally inhabited by the shishalh tribe of the Coast Salish First Nations. The area was chosen for its mild climate and abundance of fresh water and natural food (fish, shellfish, berries and roots). The shishalh tribe became known as the Sechelts, a derivation of she’shalt, meaning the people. Roberts Creek formed the boundary between the Sechelt people to the north and the Squamish people to the south.
Residents welcome seagoing visitors with government floats, three fully equipped private marinas and a choice of restaurants and overnight accommodations. Along with the marinas in Pender Harbour, Secret Cove offers year-round fishing for salmon, red snapper, flounder and cod.
Location: Secret Cove is located on Highway 101 on the Sunshine Coast of BC, approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of Sechelt. The Sunshine Coast 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 45-minute ride to Langdale Ferry Terminal on the Sechelt Peninsula. Highway 101 links Langdale with Secret Cove, 20 miles (32 km) to the north.
Anchorage within Secret Cove is available in a number of inlets, but most boaters prefer the inside of Turnagain Island, named when the commander of an 1860 survey boat couldn’t navigate a dangerously narrow passage, and ordered his oarsmen to “Turnagain!”
Fishing: As successful lures, hot spots, and biting times vary so greatly in the convoluted waterways around Pender Harbour and nearby Jervis Inlet, it’s important to drop by one of the marinas for the inside line, plus charts, licences, restrictions, and limits. Fishing is what they do best here, and patience is their long suit with visitors – all that sunshine has a profoundly positive effect on residents’ attitudes.
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.
Hiking: The Sunshine Coast Trail stretches from the Saltery Bay ferry terminal in the south to Sarah Point in the world-famous Desolation Sound in the north. The 180-km trail rivals the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, offering panoramic views and wilderness campsites, while also providing access to developed campgrounds and two B&Bs for those who wish to spoil themselves after trekking through the forest.
Mountain Biking: One of the most ambitious mountain-bike trail projects, the 20-mile (33-km) Suncoaster Trail, opened in the mid-1990s. At present, it extends between Homesite Creek, near Halfmoon Bay, through the foothills of the Caren Range to Klein Lake near Earls Cove. Along the way, it passes abandoned rail lines, BC Hydro service roads, old-growth forests, and rocky promontories, and near its northern terminus has incredible views of Ruby and Sakinaw Lakes. Although mostly gravelled singletrack, the trail follows Hwy 101 for short distances where necessary. The shoulders on the highway have been broadened to comfortably accommodate cyclists in these places. Eventually, the trail will extend to Langdale. One of the most scenic spots is beside a waterfall where a 68-foot (21-m) bridge spans Sakinaw Creek.
Other lengthy loop trails reached from the Trout Lake and Halfmoon Bay Forest Roads include the Carlson Lake Loop (moderate/difficult; 13 miles/21 km), which is marked by orange paint, and the Lyon Lake Loop (difficult; 10.5 miles/17 km), marked by yellow paint. North of Trout Lake, the Homesite Creek Bike Loop (moderate/difficult; 5 miles/8 km) follows the Homesite Creek Forest Road. The entrance to the road is obscure, so watch carefully for an orange ‘Trucks Turning’ sign about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north of Trout Lake on the north side of Hwy 101, just past Homesite Creek. The 5-mile (8-km) intermediate/expert trail is marked by biking symbols and blue paint. The biggest reward on this loop is an extended downhill after a taxing opening ascent.
Marine Adventure: Several marine parks are located in this area, most with undeveloped facilities. Boaters may find freshwater at the occasional one but should always bring their own. Much of the coastline is sheltered, which provides good protection for those in small paddlecraft or motorboats. Kayakers can explore the many bays and headlands around Smuggler Cove Marine Park, just north of Halfmoon Bay, or paddle across Welcome Passage to the golden sand beaches of Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park on the west side of North Thormanby Island.
There is camping at Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park, located about 4.5 miles (7 km) south of Secret Cove, one of the most popular anchorages on the Sunshine Coast, well-protected from wind and sea. This small, sheltered marine park with 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.
Paddlers can head offshore to Simson Provincial Park, which enjoys a particularly pretty location on South Thormanby Island, occupying much of the island, with a blend of sandy beaches, forested slopes, and tranquil coves. Spyglass Hill at the north end of the island is a prominent landmark to watch for after launching from Halfmoon Bay north of Sechelt. 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.
The tiny 1-hectare Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park features a broad sandy beach located at the southern tip of North Thormanby Island. The large sheltered Buccaneer Bay provides safe anchorage in most summer conditions, and the nearby Gill Beach on South Thormanby Island is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the Sunshine Coast of BC. The area features tide pools, driftwood, warm water for swimming and is popular with families and kayakers. Wilderness camping is allowed, and hiking and picnicking are also offered. Access is by boat only from Halfmoon Bay and Secret Cove. Like several local landmarks, Buccaneer Bay was named after a race horse in England’s 1880 Epsom Derby.
Southeast 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.
Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region, 5.5 miles (9 km) north of Secret Cove. The Madeira Park government floats provide over 400 metres of moorage space- only a brief walk from ‘downtown’ Madeira Park.
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.