Couple of weeks ago we were looking for a day tour from Vancouver, somewhere relatively close, yet without the need for a car. We have opted for Bowen Island. Bowen Island, has been one of the very first places recommended to me by “strangers” online when asked about day trips from Vancouver.
To get to Bowen Island from downtown Vancouver, you need to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay. To get to Horseshoe bay, you can take the 250 Bus from West Georgia Street. There isn’t much to do around Horseshoe Bay at all, therefore I’d leave only enough time to get to your ferry comfortably. The ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island takes 30 minutes. This is the perfect day trip, as even if you wake up at 11.00am and take the 1.00pm ferry you still have more than half a day on the island. Return ticket for an adult is $10. If you’re looking to drive, there is parking available at the bay.
TIP: I’d recommend bringing a bicycle with you, Bowen Island is small but has very limited public transport and cycling is the easiest and fastest way to get around, also there’s a very cool bike track in the woods! (Unless you decide to bring your car on the ferry)
Things to do in Bowen Island
The island itself isn’t that small, however the tourist area isn’t overwhelming. There are few “main” areas to visit:
- Artisan Square
The square is open until 4.00pm on the weekends and while there isn’t THAT much to do there its definitely worth a visit. It takes about 5 minutes to walk through the square, however the shop fronts are super cute and very small town feel like. There’s a lovely little cafe called Artisan Eats in the heart of the square with a balcony where you can sit and watch people go by.
- Snug Cove
Snug Cove is on your left as you get off the ferry, if you follow the “crowds” you won’t miss it, especially as its signature feature is a beautiful old windmill. The Cove is home to many cafes, shops and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy local brews. In the summer there are also plenty of family games and activities on the lawn to keep all ages happy & occupied.
- Snug Cove General Store
This is going to sound a little strange, to recommend a little local store however keep on reading to see why I’ve put it there. Couple of weeks ago we’ve been at a diner in New Westminster and for the first time in my life I had a Jalapeno Tabasco. It was beyond delicious and I was unable to find it anywhere – Independent, Shoppers, Royal Canadian Superstore, Walmart – nobody sold it. When we decided to hike around the island, we stopped in this general store to buy some sandwiches and I randomly came across this sauce! I honestly couldn’t believe it, as its only a small local grocer but there it was. To make things funnier their motto is “What ever you need… We’ve probably got it!” Which is ironic, as they do not sell sandwiches so bring your own.
- Bike Track
There is a very cool bike track just behind the local school, at the entrance to the Killarney Lake Trail. Next time we go visit, we will definitely bring our bikes for ease of getting around the island and trying out this track.
There are number of hikes to complete on the island, the most popular one being Killarney Lake Loop Trail which takes approximately 1.5h – 3.0h; the smallest loop is 4km, the longest being 8km. The lake itself is beautiful, it’s not an extreme hike, very much like a walk. There are some picnic areas along the way, where those sandwiches would come in handy! There are few other hikes that are more challenging such as Mount Gardner & Mount Collins.
- Nature Sights
There were few other places we passed, worth checking out. If you go down the hatchery trail to the Killarney Lake Loop you will see a Hatchery which is very very cool and there’s also a hidden waterfall there!
During the summer, you can enjoy a picnic or some activities with your family on the Terminal Creek Meadow which is on the way to the lake. You will also find a dog park nearby.
There are a lot more things to do on the island that one might think, they have a golf course, number of little beaches, a museum and a marina! You will definitely need a full day to explore it properly.
There is a tourist office by the snug cove and there is also a representative on the road with a map ready to tell you all about things to do on the island so you’re not left to wonder around aimlessly.