Savary Island wasn’t on our radar when we left home for a week-ish long bike trip along the Sunshine Coast. But as we were making our way along Highway 101 towards Powell River, we kept hearing consistent reports from the locals about a tiny island out off the coast of Lund: “white sandy beaches”, “shallow blue waters”, “Caribbean feeling”, “the Hawaii of the north”… It should come as no surprise that our plans were quickly changed!
Savary is one of smallest Northern Gulf Islands (it runs only 7.5 km long and 1.5 km at its widest) and is only accessible by private boat or water taxi from Lund, the northern terminus of Highway 101. Roads are not paved and motorized vehicles are scarce (yay!). The rumours that led us to Savary proved to be all true: the waters are blue, the sand is white and fine, and the overall feeling is that of a laid-back, off-the-beaten-path tropical island. Legend also had it that these are the warmer waters you’ll find in the BC coast but based on our tests, the water wasn’t quite “Caribbean” temperature-wise. However, after several days up and down the hills of the Sunshine Coast under a bleaching sun, let me tell you, a nicely cool, refreshing swim is exactly what we needed and once we dove in we were in no hurry to get out.
We planned the stops for this multi-day trip with a combination of hostels and camping in mind, but you’ll find many other accommodation options along the Sunshine Coast if you are looking for something different or want to extend/shorten your daily rides. Our average was around 70km per day and it took us a total of 5 days to complete this loop from Vancouver around to Qualicum Beach, where a neck kink encouraged us to take the bus to the ferry in Nanaimo and cut the ride short.
The breakdown was as follows: Day 1 – 56 km ridden from Vancouver to Sechelt, with a ferry crossing from Horshoebay to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Day 2 – 64 km along Highway 101 to a camping site by the water in Egmont. Day 3 – another ferry crossing and 42 km of riding to Powell River, where we stayed at the Harbour Guesthouse. Day 4 – a total of 54 km (28 km from Powell River to Lund, a loop of Savary Island and a bit more of riding to get to Okeover Park Provincial Park, our stop for the night). Day 5 – Back to Powell River, ferry cross to Comox on Vancouver Island, and ride to Qualicum Beach, where we ended after 100km of riding.
Be prepared for an endless succession of rolling hills on the Sunshine Coast. When taken one at a time, none of them are very demanding – other than a long climb after the ferry in Saltery Bay and a really steep 14% section out of Powell River on the way to Lund. However, the constant up and down on a bike loaded with camping gear can be exhausting, especially in the record breaking heat we experienced. Between Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay there are good alternatives to the highway on small roads by the water. Otherwise, most riding is done on the shoulder of Hwy 101, which can be narrow at times, certainly in the vicinity of Pender Harbour.
Once returning on Vancouver Island, the terrain is very flat and kilometers effortlessly fly by in comparison. If you ride all the way to Nanaimo, expect hills closer to the city.
Hungry? Try some blackberry cinnamon buns at Nancy’s Bakery, in Lund, while you chill out in their patio and wait for the water taxi to Savary Island. Thirsty? Grab a growler at Townsite Brewery, Powell River’s very own micro-brewery.
Getting to Savary Island:
- BC Ferries schedule (To Langdale/Saltery Bay/Comox/Horseshoe Bay)
- Lund Water Taxi (To Savary Island)
- Route 2149222 – Bikemap.net
- Skookumchuck Narrows Tide Schedule PDF 2013
- Townsite Brewing Powell River