Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park is a small and picturesque anchorage just north of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. Originally the fishing grounds for First Nations people that harvested their food from the sea, the 185-hectare park was also used by smugglers who took advantage of the cove's hidden and calm waters to smuggle Chinese and other foreign immigrants from the United States into Canada.
The entrance to the park by land brings you through a large swamp created and maintained by a beaver population. A wooden boardwalk snakes through the swamp and allows visitors a close-up, undisturbed view of the inner workings of this ecosystem. The boardwalk connects to the coast, and the trail continues around the shoreline and weaves in and around small inlets and coves. The trail through the cove gives you lots of opportunities to view the calm, clear waters along with sea birds, ducks, and bald eagles. The trail then continues out along the rugged coastline where new aspects offer larger vistas across the sea. Leading further along the coastline between the mainland and Thormanby Island, the shoreline trail loops back to the main trail near the boardwalk.
There is another trail that leads to the backcountry campsites and more secluded cove. The campsites are small and wild with no amenities, but they are available for free. Following the trail to the end takes you to the final campsite right at the beach. This is the jewel of the park. Beautiful and secluded campsites next to the beach are highly desired locations, especially during the summer, but it may be worth a try later in the season.
Besides the hike around the park there are miles of coastline to explore by kayak or with scuba gear, and there are a few benches, pit toilets, and open areas for picnicking. The hike along the trail is only 1.5 kilometers one way, but there is plenty of diversity within that short distance. However you choose to explore, a day at Smuggler Cove is a day well spent.