Planning a trip to the Sunshine Coast? You’ll definitely want to spend some time in Gibsons. Formally known as Gibson’s Landing, this quaint town is the gateway to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Discover the best things to do in Gibsons, including where to eat and where to find the best views.
Located within the traditional territories of the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), Sechelt (Shíshálh), and Sliammon (Tla’Amin) and Klahoose First Nations, the Sunshine Coast is filled with natural wonders.
Here you’ll find majestic old growth forests, secluded beaches, and magical fjords that cut through rugged mountain ranges.
Stretching almost 180km from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound, the South and North Coast both offer visitors ample opportunity to explore and reconnect with nature.
With so much to see, you may find yourself facing a dilemma: where should you stay on the Sunshine Coast?
Perched at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is often the first stop for visitors arriving from Vancouver and is an ideal base for exploring.
In this guide, I’m covering the very best things to do in Gibsons, from outdoor adventures to places to eat and drink. You’ll also find a selection of accommodation recommendations and personal tips to help you plan your time in Gibsons – whether you decide to stay for the day or a week.
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Things to do in Gibsons
1. Take a wander through the town
Set against the beautiful backdrop of Howe Sound, walking through the town of Gibsons is a scenic affair. Even if you decide not to stay in Gibsons, be certain to stop in the town during your time on the Sunshine Coast for a quick stroll.
Browse the local clothing stores and charming shops that line the Landing, before stopping in Winegarden Waterfront Park. With sweeping views of the harbour and Keats Island, it’s a lovely spot to sit and relax for a little while, especially on a sunny day.
At the bottom of School Road, you’ll find Molly’s Reach, the iconic restaurant featured in CBC’s The Beachcombers. This TV show was one of the longest-running television shows in Canada and ran for 387 episodes before wrapping up in 1990. In 1995, the property was converted into a restaurant and is still heavily associated with the show.
The ‘Persephone’, the logging tugboat that appeared in the show, was donated to the town in 1991. It was restored by volunteers and installed in 2007 as a historical landmark next to Molly’s Reach.
2. Visit Gibsons Public Market
This charming public market is situated in the heart of Gibsons Landing and overlooks the harbour and marina.
Open all year round, here you’ll find a traditional market with local merchants offering fresh produce, delicious baked goods, beautiful flower arrangements, and speciality products. But Gibsons Public Market is much more than just a market. It’s a community hub where residents and visitors alike can enjoy art and entertainment, from live music on Saturday afternoons to various community activities. And that’s precisely why it’s one of the most wonderful things to do in Gibsons.
3. Hike Soame Hill
With sweeping views over Gibsons Harbour, Howe Sound, and the coastal mountains, Soames Hill is the epitome of the Sunshine Coast’s pristine beauty.
Hiking to the viewpoint is one of my favourite things to do in Gibsons. Soames Hill Park has over 5km (3 miles) of trails which wind through the impressive second-growth forest. This short hike can be done in under an hour but I recommend setting aside a few hours so you can enjoy the views at the top.
Whilst the hike may be short, it is steep and involves climbing 434 steps to the top. Make sure you are adequately prepared; take plenty of water and wear sensible shoes with good grip as the staircase can be slippery.
You can access the park from four different locations as shown on this map, courtesy of the Sunshine Coast Regional District.
It’s not uncommon for bears and other wildlife to frequent the park, so make sure you are prepared and be bear aware.
4. Learn about the marine ecosystem of Howe Sound
Gibsons Public Market is also home to the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre where you can immerse yourself into the underwater world of Howe Sound.
The centre operates under a ‘collect-and-release’ model whereby they collect local marine life which is then released back into its natural environment after a short stay at the centre. This philosophy promotes sustainable education and allows the public to learn more about their local coastal waters without damaging the ecosystem.
The centre is currently open and you can read more about the safety precautions they have in place on their website.
5. Kayak to Keats Island
Gibsons’ location makes it an ideal place to explore the nearby islands in Howe Sound, namely Keats and Gambier. If you’d like to get out on the water, there are a number of companies kayak rentals, lessons and guided tours.
There are plenty of sheltered inlets and bays around the Sunshine Coast so kayakers of all levels can enjoy this activity. That being said, if you’re renting privately, the local companies do prefer you to have previous experience. This is the case particularly in Gibsons as the winds can be quite strong in Howe Sound.
We booked our kayak rental with Alpha Adventures. Although they’re based in Sechelt, they deliver kayaks and paddleboards to your location on the water as part of your rental. One thing I want to point out is that although they will bring all the gear (kayaks, oars, life jackets etc.), you should bring your own dry bag to keep your personal items (and your lunch) dry.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as there are often a few curious sea lions that pop up from time to time.
The Gibsons Harbour Ferry is a popular alternative for those who don’t want to kayak to Keats Island. The high speed ferry costs $30 pp and the harbour ferry costs $10pp and takes you directly to the island where you can spend the day exploring.
6. Sample the local beers
Home to multiple award-winning craft breweries, the Sunshine Coast’s craft beer culture is flourishing, so much so that there are now three distinct breweries in Gibsons alone. There’s no disputing that beer tasting is one of the most fun things to do in Gibsons.
- Persephone Brewing: One of British Columbia’s most unique breweries, Persephone Brewing doesn’t just grow beer. It’s also a farming community with two fields, two apple orchards and two market gardens. This ‘beer farm’ is a wonderful spot to relax whilst trying some of their local beers.
- The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery: For the non-beer drinkers (myself included), the 101 Brewhouse + Distilleryoffers the best of both worlds. Gibsons’ first craft distillery, it has an array of unique gin and vodka cocktails, as well as locally brewed beers.
- Tapworks Brewing Company: If you’re looking for somewhere with a view, Tapworks Brewing Company has a large patio which looks out over the ocean and the mountains. And better yet, they host fun trivia nights every Monday. These are currently being held virtually so you can join wherever you are!
7. Visit the other coastal towns on the South Coast
Gibsons is a wonderful base from which to explore the other coastal towns. Roberts Creek, Sechelt, Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour, and Egmont are all situated along the South Coast on highway 101 (the main highway on the Sunshine Coast).
You can easily spend a day exploring a few of the different towns during your time in Gibsons. If you don’t have a lot of time and there’s only one thing you do, I’d highly recommend driving along the coast to Smuggler Cove near Sechelt.
Used in the 1920’s by American prohibition alcohol smugglers, the area has a colourful history. Today, it’s a popular spot for hiking and walking and offers impressive views over Georgia Straight, Thormanby Island, and Texada Island.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN GIBSONS
With a vibrant food scene, your biggest challenge will be choosing where to dine. Here are a few of my personal favourites:
Serving simple dishes packed with fresh, natural flavours is Buono’s speciality. Perched on the water’s edge, the restaurant offers a scenic setting which is complimented by the warm hospitality and focus on Italian family style dining.
Lunitas Mexican Eatery
From Italy to Mexico. Lunitas Mexican Eatery is a must-visit if you’re partial to tacos, burrito bowls, and tequila fuelled cocktails. The restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and serves up modern-day versions of classic Mexican dishes.
Smoke On The Water BBQ
Commonly known as ‘the barbecue shack’ by locals, Smoke On The Water BBQ is located right on the wharf offering diners a beautiful view. All of their meats are smoked on site with real hardwood to recreate those authentic southern flavours. If you’re a fan of BBQ food, you simply have to try their signature pulled pork, chicken and brisket sandwiches. It’s primarily a takeout venue but it does have 14 seats outside overlooking the harbour.
Smitty’s Oyster House
Just a stone’s throw from the waterfront, Smitty’s Oyster House is ideally situated to serve some of Gibsons’ best seafood. Whilst we didn’t personally dine here, it would be remiss not to mention it. If you’re a lover of seafood, book a table at this former marine repair shop and enjoy the catch of the day.
The Black Bean
If you’re looking for a breakfast or lunch spot, stop by The Black Bean in lower Gibsons. They serve gluten-free muffins, bakes sweets, breakfast sandwiches, and hearty soups.
Beachcomber Coffee Co
No trip to Gibsons would be complete without stopping by Beachcomber Coffee Co. Known for their speciality coffees, it’s here that you’ll find the delicious Deadly Donuts (and the real reason for our visit to the coffee shop). These donuts were created in collaboration with Cheeky Monkey Cakes in Sechelt and are available in vegan and gluten free options.
WHERE TO STAY IN GIBSONS
There are plenty of lovely apartments and guesthouses in Gibsons to suit every budget.
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Caprice Bed and Breakfast
A pet-friendly guesthouse with three rooms, two of which open onto the terrace. The spacious lawn is framed by west coast cedars, hemlocks and firs and overlooks the Strait of Georgia. Guests can also enjoy the hot tub and outdoor pool. To check prices and availability, click here.
Although slightly further from the town than other options, this lodge is probably one of my top picks in Gibsons. This historic gem has been renovated over the years but has managed to retain its original beauty. The suites are spacious and contemporary, each with their own private entrance and balcony overlooking the water. To check prices and availability, click here.
Gibsons Garden Hotel
Whilst I prefer to stay in guesthouses and B&Bs when travelling, if you do prefer hotels then Gibsons Garden Hotel has good reviews and amenities. To check prices and availability, click here.
How to get to Gibsons
Located at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is a mere 40 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay.
BC Ferries run daily services between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale for foot passengers and cars. Once you arrive in Langdale, it’s just a 5 minute drive to Gibsons.
Ferries do get busy especially over long weekends so I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance to secure your preferred crossings. You can check the sailing schedule here. Return tickets usually cost around $82 per vehicle.
For those not taking a car, you can take the 257 express bus from Vancouver city centre directly to Horseshoe Bay and board as a foot passenger. BC Transit offers a regular bus service between the BC ferries terminal in Langdale and stops in Gibsons, before continuing on to other towns such as Roberts Creek and Sechelt. You can check schedules and times here.
Whether you choose to stay for a week or just an afternoon, there are so many lovely things to do in Gibsons. There’s a lot of information in this guide so don’t forget to save it so you can read it again later.
If you’re looking for more travel inspiration, have a look at these BC guides:
- A guide to Squamish
- 15 wonderful hikes near Vancouver
- A weekend in Tofino
- The prettiest spots in Vancouver
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.