Café hopping along B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Each community has its own personality — and so do their eateries

  • Published Aug 04, 2023
  • Updated May 01, 2024
  • 739 words
  • 3 minutes
Open for more than 25 years, The Gumboot Café in Roberts Creek is a busy neighbourhood meeting spot.
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Once upon a time, the Sunshine Coast was best described as a sleepy retirement haven filled with aging hippies — just far enough from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Tucked into the southwest corner of mainland B.C., the 180-km stretch of coastline is actually part of the mainland, but the mountainous landscape means a trip to Vancouver is a 45-minute ferry ride away.

More recently, a younger demographic is discovering this coast, taking that laid-back island vibe and adding a more youthful spirit. The mix of residents is changing and each community has its own character — its own unique mix of hippie, entrepreneurial, arty and fun.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the cafés. So many cafés!

Plan to meander along the coastal road in the off-season (spring is prime time for blooms and waterfalls, fall for warm lakes for swimming), taking your time and stop in as many cafés as you can along the way. Killer coffee, baked goods and unique vibes will tell you a lot about the community you’re about to explore.

Here are our favourite stops on the 25-km route that moseyed from Gibsons to Sechelt.

Beachcomber Coffee, Gibsons Landing

Gibsons is the heartbeat of the region, a lively harbourfront town of 4,500 and the arrival point for the ferry from Vancouver. Named for the CBC TV show that made the town famous, Beachcomber Coffee embodies the sensibility of this town — bright, lively, happening. Acid yellow sign, acid yellow packaging. Still, the region’s hippie history informs the product — this kick-ass coffee is all organic and fair trade. Their motto: It’s not just a coffee, it’s a lifestyle.

Don’t miss: If you’re there on a Saturday, their Deadly Donuts — vegan, baked, cake doughnuts — sell quickly. They also have buttery baked goods.

Gumboot Café, Roberts Creek

Not to be overshadowed by all the new cafés on the block, the iconic Gumboot Café has been going strong for almost 30 years. It leans into its hippie roots with yummy, grainy breads, kale salads, rotating takes on eggs benny and classic homemade sweet treats cut into jumbo-sized portions — think hello dolly bars, lemon squares, peanut butter balls and date squares.

Don’t miss: A post-coffee stroll down to the waterfront to see the Robertson Creek community mandala, which has also been going strong for close to three decades. Each year, dozens of community members gather over several “painting days” to freshen up the iconic symbol. The backstory: the mandala was conceived in 1998 after vandals marred the waterfront site with a swastika and murderous words and the community came together to cover the hate with beauty. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the mandala is an object of meditation and spiritual development.

Joe’s on the Beach, Davis Bay

The vegan breakfast bowl at Joe's brings together tofu, avocado, kimchi, greens, breakfast potatoes and toasted nuts.
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The pier across the road from Joe's on the Beach.
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Located right on the water, Joe’s has an eye to the past and the future. This newish café-restaurant has modeled itself on the bustling neighbourhood restaurants the owners remember from the 80s, but upgraded and modernized for the 2020s. Located in the Oceanside Hotel, it draws neighbours and passing tourists with a solid brunch menu during the day and a pricier “steak and seafood” type of menu at night. The “left coast” clientele demands creative plant-powered options and there is lots to choose from here.

Don’t miss: Joe’s does a killer vegan breakfast bowl with agedashi tofu, marinated tomato, avocado, kimchi, nuts and seeds. If that sounds too healthy, never fear — you can forgo the greens and fill the remainder of the bowl with some deliciously greasy breakfast potatoes.

Basted Baker, Sechelt

Sechelt is a big town — a hub for the region and a hub for tourists, with some 10,000 residents in the greater area. Basted Baker brings in a steady stream of locals in beanies and Blundstones. This is a crowd that dresses casual but appreciates a really good takeout coffee and a sophisticated take on the breakfast classics. The café was recently taken over by the aforementioned Beachcomber, whose owners are respecting the more laid-back Basted mood, while bringing roasting an upgraded coffee menu.

Don’t miss: The various incarnations of eggs benny are heaping works of art that will keep you full through breakfast and lunch. Sweet tooths will appreciate the sticky buns slathered in cream cheese icing.


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This story is from the May/June 2024 Issue

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