Gibsons.... It's closer than you think and well worth a day trip!
Looking to get out of Vancouver for the day? Why not visit Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast?
Gibsons is a beautiful coastal B.C. town located on Howe Sound just a quick 40 minute ferry ride out of North Vancouver.
Start the day at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver and hop on the ferry.
We reserved a spot and drove on at 9:50, and were having a coffee in Gibsons by 10:45. BC Ferries have put in many new protocols to protect customers during the pandemic including reduction of capacity to allow for more physical distancing, and asking drivers and their passengers to stay in their vehicles during sailings to reduce the number of people on the passenger deck.
They have also blocked every other row of seats on the passenger deck to give passengers space if they have walked on the ferry and need to sit down. Upon purchasing a ticket, every passenger is asked screening questions to ensure that everyone is symptom-free and that they have masks. On-board there are sanitizer stations everywhere.
They are asking everyone to carry a face mask and to use them when physical distancing is not possible. Because of reduced capacity, it is recommended to make a reservation if possible (popular days and times are already sold out) and if no reservations to expect the possibility of a sailing wait. We chose not go on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday to avoid this.
All of the staff on the ferries were pleasant and accommodating, it is a truly Canadian experience!
PLACES TO EAT & DRINK
A note on businesses and restaurants: due to COVID-19, many are closed on Monday's, Tuesday's and even some Wednesday’s. Please check before going to the locations you are interested in visiting to ensure they are open.
This is a great spot and is located adjacent to the government pier. It's right on the promenade with a view of the water and the Marina.
Jessi the bartender treats everyone like an old friend, and the staff there are great. It's a very relaxed atmosphere with great food and drinks. Think Rodney's Oysterbar, but on the water and in a pair of board shorts. Try the Chicken Arms (wings) and the Chilli Lime Prawns to start, the Halibut Fritter (fish and chips) and the Backyard Burger. Everything is good, but those are the best items. As the name suggests, they have oysters, and those along with the crabbuckit (Crab) are a great choice. Decipher the menu (which is fun as opposed to annoying) and enjoy the people, location and the view with a great drink and beer selection.
A stop at Molly’s Reach is a must. Its an iconic Gibsons Landmark as it was home to the popular Canadian television show "Beachcombers,” which aired on CBC from 1972 to 1990. They serve fantastic fish and chips, burgers and sandwiches. It is incidentally right above Smitty's and it is a great place for breakfast. The Molly's Classic or the Eggs Benny are our favourites; if you are there for lunch, try the shrimp and avocado sandwich. Kids' menu is available with four core items on it, including Kraft Mac and Cheese... there is no substitute!
We like our coffee at BeVancouver. We tasted a number of brews in and around Gibsons, and we really enjoyed this small craft coffee shop in Gibsons Landing (a second location is located in upper Gibsons). Their coffee is all small batch roasted in Vancouver, and are certified organic and certified fair trade. They also carry our favourite to-die-for Lemon Blueberry Loaf (made in Vancouver), and the donuts made by Deadly Donuts were a huge hit. Kids will love the rainbow reusable mugs for sale. The store is nicely set up, beautifully branded and the staff are all pleasant. This is our go-to for coffee, and they have a great little patio. Their COVID-19 protocol was on point, and apparently you can stay in an Airbnb that they rent out above the shop!
Gibson’s public market located down the road at the Gibsons Marina was a great find! It is home to great food shops, as well as the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre. They have only local species and operate under a collect - hold release program. Both children and adults loved learning all about our local marine animals that inhabit our local waters and beaches. The market is on the main floor and hosts a number of great merchants.
Crazy Reds Breads: Coffee and baked goods and different styles of bread. Our favourite was the Garlic Parmesan Loaf, and they made the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches as they suggested we try. The bread was so good that it didn't make it out of the market, our team devoured it before we even made the front door.
Small produce and zero-waste-food goods (flours, nuts, spices, etc.), so bring your own containers. They also carry milks, milk alternatives and eggs .Some favourites were the Buddha Bowls and Mamma Musey’s local perogies. If you have a family member who is dairy-free, the dairy-free Say Hello Sweets ice cream was a huge hit. Lemon was the team favourite.
We also visited the Fromagerie De Baie and picked some fantastic cheeses and olives.
There is also a fish, a meat shop and Wholesome Market Eats that sells ice cream and Jamaican Patties. The Patties were amazing, authentic and probably the best surprise of the trip to the market. They were also consumed within the perimeter of the market; they were just that good!
Homeware, decor, and select clothing is what you will find in the quaint and eclectic store that has something for everyone. Well curated and well stocked, a great place to find a beautiful keepsake, gift or decor.
For fashion crazy tweens this is a dream. Peggy Sue'ss carries everything a baby to a teen would need. Shoes, backpacks, dance and figure skating attire, rain gear, sleepwear and accessories; carrying some of our favourite brands including Roxy, Minymo, Mini Molly, Hatley, Bloch, Native and Saltwater Sandals.
This lovely store is full of olive oils, vinegars, salts and gifts. With so many different oils it was hard for us to choose just one as our favourite. COVID-19 policies are in place with a limit of 1-2 groups of 1-2 people, hand sanitizing, and physical distancing with staff. They are still able to do a modified tasting outside. A hint they gave us in-store was to mix one of their many flavours of vinegar with a sparkling water to make a delicious summer drink.
Gibsons is a fantastic, hospitable and beautiful town that is a short ferry ride away. While there you feel like you have travelled much further than you have. It is a great day trip and an entry point to the Sunshine Coast which we will be exploring more in the coming weeks; Sechelt, Half Moon Bay, and on.
We loved Gibsons and our team has decided that we will be back in Gibsons for an overnighter to try some of the other great restaurants we discovered, but just didn't have the time to visit. We will also review some of the accommodation options we found and visit Persephone Brewery. We drove onto the 8:15 p.m. ferry and were back in Vancouver at 9:00 p.m. Getting back home we felt like we had been on a mini-vacation, but in reality had only travelled 45 minutes out of town.
We would like to acknowledge that on our trip to Gibsons we were grateful to be visitors to the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, and Skwxwú7mesh nations