Further Afield: Lund Shellfish Festival

The Annual Lund Shellfish Festival Sunshine Coast

If you haven’t tasted the bounty of BC’s oysters, same-day harvested and served up raw on a government dock in a quiet harbour away from it all, you haven’t lived.

Forget all you know about oysters, clams, prawns and fish, and plan a weekend getaway to scenic Lund, on the upper Sunshine Coast (Powell River) this May 27-29.

Foodies from as far away as Colorado, Texas, Montreal and even overseas come for this unique opportunity to rub elbows with the locals and dine on some of the freshest seafood you will ever taste, in one of BC’s tiniest and most scenic harbours only a few hours from Vancouver.

This is a great driving getaway for Vancouverites looking for something different to do yet stay relatively close to home. Two ferries and about 130km are all that lie between you and the tiny town of Lund where all the magic happens. (See How to Get There, below)

The Shellfish Festival starts with the annual ‘Chowder Challenge’. Perennial favorites pit chowders against newer contestants with chowders ranging from cream-based to manhattan-style blends, and in between you’ll find some of the strangest and most delicious chowders you’ll ever taste. The format is great too… your ticket buys you a plate of numbered paper soup cups and a voting card; you sample all of the chowders and then vote for your favorite. When you return your vote, you get a bowl of your favorite and head over to a table laden with salads, oysters on the half-shell, salmon and freshly steamed prawns, small town style. This event sells out fast so be sure to get your ticket (604-483-4000) soon as there are no tickets at the door.

Saturday and Sunday all of the aquaculture farmers set up on the Government dock and the real treats begin in the open air market. Oysters shucked right in front of you, seafood brochettes, fancy dishes from the restaurants and hotels in the area, steamed seafood and more. One can not overstate the delight of slurping back the wild, briny delight of an oyster just hours after it was harvested. Even the rain seems different when there’s seafood around. Local artisans also display here, and around the harbour are galleries and specialty stores.

When you’re not noshing down the fabulous food, you can go clamming on Savary Island, 4-wheel the backcountry’s logging roads on a tour, explore the harbour and nearby Ragged Islands in a kayak, or take an aerial joyride. Saturday night take a dinner cruise aboard a catamaran, or hang out in Lund or Powell River.

Sunday is famous for a pancake breakfast held right on the boardwalk of the harbour and run by the Lund Volunteer Firefighters. But don’t sleep in – it goes fast. One fireman even brings his own homemade fruit preserves. Sunday at noon is the Oyster Judging Contest where producers from all over BC vie to win the award of Top Oyster in the province. Five experienced judges award the honours, and there is a Public’s Choice award too. Just be prepared to use the pointy parts of your elbows to get some! An Oyster Shucking Demonstration follows. Sunday is also a great day for marine environment tours and the first ever Whale Singing Contest. (I dare you.) The festival winds up with a cooking demonstration and a sunset tour for those who don’t have to rush back to the city.

Don’t forget to bring a cooler… fresh shellfish sales right off the dock from local shellfish growers runs both days from 12-5pm. We went too late last year and missed the best choices, so head over early.


Accessible via BC Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay – Langdale/Gibsons scheduled 40 minute runs (every two hours, roughly), the Sunshine Coast offers a relaxing counterpoint to the always-on vibrance of Vancouver. The 86km drive from Langdale to Egmont for the second ferry leg can be spun into a half day opener on the weekend if you leave the city Friday morning, and offers small villages to explore: Gibsons Landing, Roberts Creek (the Gumboot Nation where Creekers live), Porpoise Bay and Sechelt, and Madeira Park up at the top end. There’s only the one road, and this is the great leveler of the Coast to visitors from the city. You drive with the pack and get there when you get there. (Locals have learned to bring something to read, snacks and water, and a leash for the dog, to make any wait another opportunity to relax.)

From Egmont, you’ll board another ferry for a 55 minute crossing around Nelson Island to Saltery Bay on the Powell River side. NOTE: do yourselves a favour and make a reservation well in advance. Festival weekends can mean lineups and it’s worth the small fee each way to assure your spot. Remember you only pay one way! There is a charge boarding at Halfmoon Bay, and leaving Saltery Bay on the way home; the other two crossings are free. If you use the Ferries regularly you should invest in a BC Experience card for 25% off each paid crossing.

This portion of the drive rewards travelers with beautiful sweeping views, and if you stay on the Highway instead of turning in to the suburbs of Westview, your lead-up to Lund will take you through the resource-based historical district. Be sure to follow the old Townsite roads to get to Powell Lake to see beautiful early 1900s homes just up from the mill. This is also a geocache location; you just may geocache the Provincial MLA, Nicholas Simons, for the riding (we did!).

Follow the bridge and head up through the communities of Cranberry and Wildwood, where time moves even slower… and then you’ll find yourself on the last 10 minutes of approach to the harbour of Lund, named by one of the earliest non-native inhabitants, a pioneering Swede and now the gateway to BC’s boating paradise, Desolation Sound.

This is where the annual Shellfish Festival happens, in this tiny hamlet overlooking Savary and Cortes islands.


Lund Shellfish Festival web site
Plan your visit

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