Powell River: 142km (88 miles) N of Vancouver
It's a travel writer's truism that the "getting there" part of a trip is half the fun. In the case of the Sunshine Coast -- that strip of wildly scenic waterfront real estate north of Vancouver, along the mainland Strait of Georgia coast -- the "getting there" is practically the entire reason for making the journey. But what a journey!
Backed up against the high peaks of the glaciated Coastal Mountain range, overlooking the tempestuous waters of the Strait of Georgia and on to the rolling mountains of Vancouver Island, this maritime-intensive trip involves two ferry rides and a lovely meandering drive between slumbering fishing villages. It eventually terminates at Lund, the end of the road for the Pacific Coast's Hwy. 101.
Powell River is the only town of any size along this route. Long a major lumber-milling center, Powell River is beginning to focus on tourism as a supplement to its resource-based economy. Diving in the sea-life-rich waters of the Georgia Strait is a particularly popular activity along the Sunshine Coast.
By Car & Ferry -- Getting to Powell River and the Sunshine Coast requires taking a couple of ferries. From West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries (tel. 888/BC-FERRY [223-3779] or 250/386-3431; www.bcferries.bc.ca) terminal, ferries embark for Langdale, a 40-minute crossing. Driving north along Hwy. 101, the road hugs the coast along the Sechelt Peninsula, terminating 81km (50 miles) later at Earls Cove, where another ferry departs for a 50-minute crossing to Saltery Bay. The fare for each ferry is C$12 per passenger, C$39 per car in peak season. From Saltery Bay, Powell River is another 31km (19 miles). Lund, the terminus of Hwy. 101, is another 28km (17 miles).
You can also cross to Comox/Courtenay, on central Vancouver Island, from Powell River. This popular 75-minute crossing makes for a scenic loop tour of British Columbia's rugged coast and islands. The fare is C$12 per passenger, C$39 per vehicle in peak season.
By Bus -- Malaspina Coach Lines (tel. 877/227-8287) offers service from Vancouver to Powell River via Hwy. 101 and the Sechelt Peninsula.
By Plane -- Pacific Coastal Airlines (tel. 800/663-2872 or 604/273-8666; www.pacificcoastal.com) flies from Vancouver to Powell River.
Contact the Powell River Visitors Bureau, 4690 Marine Ave. (tel. 877/817-8669; www.discoverpowellriver.com).