Bowen Island is a small island 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 and a regularly scheduled water taxi from Granville Island, in downtown. 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.
The most popular way to get to Bowen is via BC Ferries service from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to 1 Snug Cove on the island. The ferry takes 20 minutes and generally runs hourly (except early afternoon). 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.
A water-taxi run by English Bay Launch provides a passenger-only connection between Bowen Island and Granville Island or Coal Harbour. Monday to Friday, it departs Granville Island at 7:15AM and 4:30PM, and departs Coal Harbour at 6PM. The ferry departs Snug Cove on Bowen for Granville Island at 6:30AM, and departs Snug Cove for Coal Harbour at 8AM and 5:15PM. There is a weekend service between Snug Cove and Granville Island during the summer with six departures. The price for a one way trip is $20 M-F and $25 Sa-Su; round trips are $35 M-F and $40 Sa-Su. Children 2-12 are $10 each way. Reservations are recommended.
There is a bus service that will take you around to most parts of the island, however it runs infrequently. Information on the schedules are available through the Translink webpage; the C10 and C11 service the island.
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.
- Wander around the village of 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 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. Bowen Island Sea Kayaking, on the ferry dock at Snug Cove, 604-947-9266 (firstname.lastname@example.org), , rents kayaks by the hour or overnight. They also provide lessons and guided tours. $35/$45 (single/double, for three hours).
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. 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 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 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 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), ☏ . We-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), ☏ . 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), ☏ . 7AM-5PM M-F, 9-5 Sat, 10-4 Sun. "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, ☏ . 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), ☏ . 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), ☏ . 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.
- Doc Morgans Inn, ☏ . Short walk from the ferry dock. Accommodation consists of four cottages/suites and one float house in the marina. All spots offer a view of the harbour and have kitchenettes. $130–250 (two night minimum stay between May 1 - Oct 15).
- On the Sea Bed and Breakfast, 15-729 Taylor Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Twiggleberries Bed & Breakfast & Spa, 711 Cates Hill Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four rooms are available. Guests can use the hot tub or if they want a bit more pampering visit the spa.
- The Studio at Cove House, 426 Union Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A luxury self-contained Bed and Breakfast suite on the waterfront in Deep Bay, only a 150-yard walk from the ferry. Be pampered but independent. Nightly accommodation, romance packages, and writer's retreats.
- Lazy Bowen Hideaway + Lazy B Petite Suite, 1475 Cleator Road, toll-free: , ✉ 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.
- 1 [dead link] Chocolate Suite, 581 C Artisan Lane (above Cocoa West organic chocolatiers in Artisan Square), ☏ , ✉ 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).
- 2 Union Steamship Co. Cabins, 431 Bowen Island Trunk Rd, ☏ , ✉ 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.
- 3 [dead link] The Lodge at the Old Dorm, 460 Melmore Road, ☏ , ✉ 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.
- 4 Alderwood Farm, Cozy Cottage and Garden Suite, 1351 Adams Rd, ☏ . 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.
Bowen Island is typically a day trip from Vancouver. Bus connections at the B.C. 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.