Bowen Island is a small island and a municipality at the entrance to Howe Sound, connected to Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland by a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver - additionally, private water taxis can be chartered but there are no regular/scheduled water taxi services available. The island has become a favourite tourist destination although amenities and activities are limited. Most activities involve wandering the shops or exploring the parks and natural areas.
See Vancouver for options to get in the Vancouver area by plane, by bus, and by train, and by boat.
BC Ferries, toll-free: +1-888-223-3779. Operates ferries connecting coastal communities in British Columbia. The most popular way to get to Bowen is on BC Ferries' service from Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) in West Vancouver to 1 Bowen Island (Snug Cove) on the island. The ferry crossing takes 20 minutes and generally runs hourly (except early afternoon). Daily first inbound departures are normally at 5:50AM and daily first outbound departures are at 5:20AM, except on Sundays, when outbound departures normally start at 6:20AM. Last departures vary seasonally, but generally depart sometime between 10PM and 11PM. There are 15-16 trips a day with the first ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay at 6:05AM. Fare is $12.10 for an adult foot passenger, bicycles are $2 and a car is $34.20.
You can drive your car onto the Queen of Capilano in Horseshoe Bay. Be warned the during peak travel hours and during the summer there are often overloads and the ferry is often late due to high tourist traffic. Mechanical problems can cause the ferry to be cancelled and all vehicles will be stranded on Bowen Island until the ferry becomes operational again. Check the Service Notice section below the current schedule for Bowen Island on the BC Ferries webpage.
By water taxi
- Cormorant Water Taxi, ☏ +1 604-250-2630. Operates water taxi services in the local area, including stopping at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver.
An information centre is located a minute's walk up the main street from the ferry dock (turn right just before the library). The centre is run by Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce, and provides lots of information on Bowen Island accommodation and activities.
There is also a strong culture of hitchhiking on the island.
By public transit
TransLink, ☏ +1-604-953-3333. The main public transit network in the Vancouver area, including: Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Lions Bay, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and White Rock. Its network includes buses, SkyTrain (rail rapid transit), SeaBus (ferries), West Coast Express (commuter rail), and HandyDART (door-to-door shared-ride service for those who cannot ride public transit without assistance). Passengers can pay for fares using Compass Cards ($6 refundable deposit), Compass Tickets, or tap-to-pay using contactless credit cards (only American Express, Mastercard or Visa) or mobile wallets. Passengers using Compass Cards and Compass Tickets pay discounted fares. Passengers can transfer for up to 90 minutes, except if taking West Coast Express, in which case they can transfer for up to 120 minutes. On bus and HandyDART, passengers can also pay in cash, but in that case will not receive change and are not eligible for transfers. Zone based fares apply between Monday and Friday for trips starting before 6:30PM, if travel involves SkyTrain or SeaBus. Outside of those hours or for travel on only bus or HandyDART, a single-zone rate applies. If travelling by West Coast Express, a higher-cost zone-based fare system applies regardless of time of travel. Children 12 and under can ride for free. People aged 13 to 18, and 65 and older pay discounted concession fares.
- There is a bus service on several routes that will take you around to most parts of the island, however it runs infrequently. The bus routes all terminate one block away from the ferry terminal at the intersection of Bowen Island Trunk Rd and Cardena Dr.
Not currently available
By ride hailing
- Wander around the village of 1 Snug Cove.
- Visit one of the small beaches on the island. There are a couple near Snug Cove; others are scattered around the island and require transportation to get to.
- Visit 2 Crippen Regional Park. Open every day, 8AM-9PM in the summer (8AM - dusk at other times of the year). The park has some heritage buildings, a fish ladder, picnic sites and trails for walking, cycling and horseback riding. It is accessible from the main street in Snug Cove.
The primary attraction of Bowen Island to Vancouverites has been to get away from everything and relax. However, if you want to do something, there are a few options.
One is to rent a kayak and paddle around Snug Cove or venture around the island.
- 1 Bowen Island Sea Kayaking (On the dock to the right as you exit the ferry in Snug Cove), ☏ +1 604-947-9266, email@example.com. Rents kayaks by the hour or overnight. They also provide lessons and guided tours.
There are also a number of hikes on the island. Crippen Regional Park offers a number of shorter hikes that can be done in a couple of hours. 2 Dorman Point (trail begins at the end of Snug Cove beach) provides views of the harbour and the entrance to Howe Sound. The hike to 3 Killarney Lake (about 45 minutes each way) passes through forest and the fish ladder to the lake. There is also a 4 km hike around Killarney Lake.
Tougher, but with more rewarding views, is the hike to the top of 4 Mount Gardner. The trail begins 3 km from Snug Cove on Mount Gardner Road and is mostly through forest. It rises to an elevation of 719 m and on sunny days provides a very nice view. The trail is 11 km in length, so be sure to leave yourself enough time if you have to walk from Snug Cove to the trailhead.
There are a number of small craft and souvenir shops in Snug Cove, as well as many artist studios and galleries located at 1 Artisan Square, a 5 minute drive or 15-minute walk from the Ferry.
- 1 Cocoa West Chocolatier, 581 Artisan Ln (15-minute walk from ferry, up the hill to Artisan Square), ☏ +1 604-947-2996. W-Su 10AM-5PM. Organic, artisanal chocolates. $10-30.
- 2 Artisan Eats Cafe & Fine Foods, 539 Artisan Lane (15-minute walk from ferry, up the hill to Artisan Square), ☏ +1 604-947-0190. Tu-Sa 8:30AM-5PM, Su 9:30AM-4PM. Housemade breads, pates, rillettes, sausages....panini sandwiches, antipasti, a great selection of local and European cheeses and fine foods. Incredible view of ocean, mountains, ferries and forest. $5-15.
- 3 Bowen Island Roasting Co. Ltd. (The BowenCoffee Store), 105-996 Dorman Rd (Under The Ruddy Potato, beside the Beer & Wine Cellar), ☏ +1 604-562-0024. M–F 7AM–5PM, Sa 9AM–5PM, Su 10AM–4PM. "The BowenCoffee Store" with everything coffee... and tea too! Gifts and souvenirs, and coffee and tea brewing supplies. The coffee is fresh roasted organic coffee and the store has over 65 organic loose leaf teas including whites, greens, oolongs, wellness, herbal, mate, matcha and blacks. Snacks, light lunches, Coffee & Tea Bar, Mario's Gelati Italian Ice Cream in summer months.
- 4 Doc Morgans Marina Pub and Restaurant, 437 Bowen Island Trunk Rd, ☏ +1 604-947-0808. Short walk from the ferry dock. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. The pub is located upstairs above the restaurant and has a beautiful large deck overlooking the marina. Fish and chips, seafood specials and other pub fare.
- 5 The Snug on Bowen Coffee House (The Snug Cafe), 445 Bowen Island Trunk Rd (2-minute walk from ferry up the main road), ☏ +1 604-947-0402. 5AM-4PM. A busy local cafe offering breakfast and lunch, including fresh muffins, cookies, cakes, croissants, English-style breakfasts, eggs bennie, French toast, wraps, and sandwiches. There are some gluten-free and vegan options, as well. If you're trying to catch a ferry, make sure you indicate that so the staff are aware that you're in a hurry. $6-12.
- 6 Tuscany (Tuscany Pizza), 451 Bowen Island Trunk Rd (2 minute walk from ferry up the main road), ☏ +1 604-947-0550. nightly from 5PM (summer), Tu-Su 5PM-8PM (winter). A bustling European style trattoria in a heritage style house with a lush garden patio. The wood fired oven cooks up some excellent pizzas and Mediterraean cuisine. Thoughtful wine list. Reservations recommended. $15-25.
There are no hotels or campgrounds on Bowen Island so the accommodation consists mostly of bed and breakfasts scattered across the island.
- 1 Lazy Bowen Hideaway + Lazy B Petite Suite, 1475 Cleator Rd, toll-free: +1-888-604-1475, BeLazy@LazyBowenHideaway.com. An waterfront cottage/duplex + suite with spectacular views that is close to a beach. Each unit has a full kitchen and the cottage has a seaside deck with gas BBQ. The cottage sleeps up to 5 guests and the suite sleeps up to 4 guests. Cottage: $145-165; Suite $115-135. Prices for double occupancy. $35 for additional adult and $25 for additional child.
- 2 Chocolate Suite, 581 C Artisan Lane (above Cocoa West organic chocolatiers in Artisan Square), ☏ +1 604-947-2996, firstname.lastname@example.org. Better than your traditional B&B, this is a Bed & Chocolate Suite for two located in Artisan Square above the organic chocolatier's shop Cocoa West. Complimentary espresso, but for meals, head to the nearby café. $159/night ($139 off–peak).
- 3 Union Steamship Co. Cabins, 431 Bowen Island Trunk Rd, ☏ +1 604-947-0707 x2, email@example.com. Eight cottages, each sleeping 2, 4, or 5-7 people. All have a fully equipped kitchen, and most have wood-burning stoves. All but two have an ocean view. Add rolling beds to get to maximum capacity. Limited RV parking, enquire. $125–180/night, more in high season.
- 4 The Lodge at the Old Dorm, 460 Melmore Rd, ☏ +1-604-947-0947, firstname.lastname@example.org. A 7-room bed and breakfast, converted from the dormitory of the Union Steamship Company. Built in 1941, renovated in the 1990s. A lavish breakfast is included. $110–179/night.
- 5 Alderwood Farm, Cozy Cottage and Garden Suite, 1351 Adams Rd, ☏ +1 (604) 947-9434. This farm in the centre of the island offers two two-person guest rooms, plus beds for three more which can be pressed into service. Continental breakfast included. The cottage has rudimentary cooking facilities.
The nearest hospital is in North Vancouver.
Bowen Island is typically a day trip from Vancouver. Bus connections at the BC Ferries terminal in Horseshoe Bay will return you to West Vancouver, and Downtown Vancouver beyond. Last ferry leaves Snug Cove at 10:05PM. Granville Island Water Taxi also runs passenger-only trips back to Granville Island in Downtown Vancouver.