Desolation Sound. The name justifiably evokes images of solitude, peace and tranquility, and for those traveling to the north end of Highway 101, that's what you'll find.
Our journey along the Sunshine Coast is well worth the five hour travel time from Vancouver. Although intercepted by two ferry sailings, the scenic highway hugs up to a rugged coastline that is downright breathtaking. Gnarled arbutus trees and thick-rooted evergreens frame peek-a-boo ocean vistas where kayakers, canoeists and sailors have a heyday in the protected waterways.
With such diverse marine life, it comes as no surprise that the Sunshine Coast has also become a diver's den. The sheltered waters ensure year-round visibility, and encounters with the undersea metropolis are possible for both the rookie and veteran diver. Novice scuba hounds can be seen bobbing beneath the surface at Trail Bay,
where hidden treasures include everything from antique bottles to remnants of the steamship days. Tzoonie Narrows is another aquatic hot spot, not only for the newbies in neoprene, but for night seekers as well. With its slower tidal stream, checking out sea lemons, lingcod, and silvery perch that thrive below, is a breeze. The more adept adventurer may head to Martin's Cove or the popular Skookumchuck Rapids where these 'strong waters' certainly live up to their name.
Land lovers, like ourselves, are lured to the Mother lode of 'grounded' adventures along this coastline. As well as nature walks and hiking trails, this byway is dotted with alluring picnic pull-ins and provincial playgrounds. We discover that there's everything from rustic backwoods sites, and boat 'access only' parks, to lush green spaces that are chock-a-block full of amenities.
Twelve kilometers south of Sechelt is one of these camping magnets. Aging Hemlocks and Douglas fir cocoon the chiseled out tent sites at Roberts Creek Provincial Park, and at low tide
a cobblestone beachfront offers an awesome arena for viewing starfish, mussels and oysters. If your visit is during the cooler months, there's even a good chance of spotting a seal or a spouting whale out on the rippled ocean.
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is another popular place to build a campfire. It's situated at the southern end of Sechelt Inlet and is separated from the Strait of Georgia by a narrow isthmus of land. Tall timbers shade the grassy areas of this
parkland paradise and a sandy beachfront hems its tranquil shoreline. As well as hosting groups and families, kayakers take reprieve here after a day's paddle on the still waters.
At the northern point of this narrow channel sits the pit stop of Egmont and a short puddle jump away (via BC Ferries), Saltery Bay. Here, we discover another woodsy wonderland and neighboring marine park where urchins and crabs literally hang out.
Although absorbing the great outdoors is a natural phenomenon while traveling the Sunshine Coast, you don't have to go totally primitive. As well as places to pitch our tent, we're lured by a number of pampering gems that glitter along this highway. One in particular has figured out how divinely to integrate both qualities.
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, just past the hamlet of Halfmoon Bay, offers sanctuary confines with a rural twist. A labyrinth of boardwalks extend between evergreens and lead to sumptuous Tenthouse Suites that supersede anything known to the Swiss Family Robinson. As well as providing some quintessential R&R (relaxation and romance), each haven boasts enough posh amenities to entice long-term hibernation. Heated slate floors, hydro-therapy tubs, and flickering fireplaces all snug into the soft-sided abodes that view Malaspina Strait. Similar perks are also provided in the Ocean Edge cabins and Pool Side rooms, and if you can ever tear yourselves away from these enclaves, a variety of outdoor adventures are just outside the door.
The winding highway comes to an abrupt end thirty minutes past Powell River, and just three kilometers shy of its grand finalé is the turn-off to another whimsical retreat. Although they don't suspend from tree limbs, most of the ten unique craftsman-built lodgings at Desolation Resort have been hewn from surrounding cedars and firs. Rural charm makes its way to each fanciful interior where staircases lead to cozy lofts and bunked sleeping quarters snuggle into alcoves. Some chalets offer one room, others two, and all boast decks that offer a sensational Okeover Arm view.
Here, we end the day, and as the rays from the setting sun cast a palate of pinks and golds across the sky, we gaze out at the picture-perfect setting of solitude, peace, tranquility and desolation - all at the end of Highway 101.
Jane Cassie: Sunshine Coast inlet, starfish, Jervis Inlet, Rockwater jet tub.
Jane Cassie and husband-photographer, Brent, have been featured in Northwest Travel Magazine, North American Inns, Resorts & B&B Magazine, Spa Life Magazine, and INNspire Magazine as well as Canadian and US newspapers. Jane is co-owner/editor of Travel Writers' Tales
Vancouver Coast and Mountains Region Tourism: wildflowers, Douglas fir, fishing boat, creek, kayaking, pier, bay.
If you go
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort1-Rockwater Secret Cove Resort
5356 Ole's Cove Road
Halfmoon Bay BC, V0N 1Y2
Tel: 877-296-4593 604-885-7038
2694 Dawson Road
Okeover Inlet Powell River, BC Canada
Tel: 604-483-3592 or 1-800-399-3592