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A Day Trip To Bowen Island From Vancouver

A Day Trip to Bowen Island from Vancouver

Bowen Island is easily accessible as a day trip from Vancouver though it makes a fine weekend destination too. And you don’t need to take your car! While there are no hotels on Bowen Island there are many B & B’s and cabins for rent which you can find online if you decide to stay longer. It’s kind of like having one of the Gulf Islands close to home.

"Sunset from Bowen Island"
Sunset from Bowen Island

Getting to Bowen Island

Catching the 20-minute ferry ride to Snug Cove on Bowen is a great way to start your trip. Enjoy expansive views of Howe Sound; it doesn’t get any more spectacular than this on a sunny day! Although the island is only 20 square miles there are loads of ways to enjoy the island life.

Enjoy beautiful west coast scenery on the ferry to Bowen Island
Enjoy beautiful west coast scenery on the ferry to Bowen Island

What to do on Bowen Island

When you arrive on Bowen Island there are a number of shops and restaurants to wander around in and on summer weekends a great outdoor market is held in the Square. It sells locally grown produce, bread, jewelry, and other island-made items.

Snug Cove has a kayak rental place right next to the ferry dock. The location makes it easy to explore the east side of Bowen Island.

Lovely kayaking around the island
Lovely kayaking from Bowen Island

Look for the small local museum where you can learn about the island’s history and the effect that the Union Steamship Company played in bringing people to Bowen in the past.

There’s enough to do in the Cove for a few hours; take a gentle stroll along to Mannion Bay and enjoy it’s sandy beach or head off in the other direction on some easy trails to Dorman Point in Crippen Regional Park. Here you’re rewarded with excellent views of Howe Sound.

Take a hike 

An easy, if lengthy walk is from the Cove to Killarney Lake. There is a loop trail that will bring you back toward your starting point just in time for lunch at the waterfront pub in Snug Cove. You can watch for your return ferry while you’re enjoying the sunshine on the outdoor deck. The walk is flat and will take under two hours start to finish at an easy pace.
"Boardwalk to Killarney Lake
Boardwalk to Killarney Lake on Bowen Island

If you’re in search of a more strenuous hike you can walk, or catch the local bus, to the base of the Mt. Gardner Trail. The ascent will take you 2,500 feet up to spectacular 360 degree views. From the top you can see Vancouver, Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia. There is even seating at the top provided in the form of a helicopter landing platform!

You can see fish ladders on one of the hikes on the island
You can see fish ladders on one of the hikes on Bowen Island

Visit one of the beautiful Bowen Island beaches

There are a number of pretty beaches on the island, mostly on the west side. They include Bowen Bay Beach, Bluewater Beach and Tunstall Bay plus there are numerous small beaches found off the walking trails.

"Rocky beach on Bowen
Rocky beach on Bowen Island

Kayak to the Pasley Islands

There is good boat launching site from the west side of the island. Sometimes the kayak rental company will drop you and kayaks off so you can explore the Pasley Islands. (Highly recommended!)

Although there are the ubiquitous “private property” signs everywhere, there are many lovely spots to land. Arbutus Island is especially nice with white sand beaches which connect at low tide with nearby Hermit Island.

Kayaking the Pasley’s is a wonderful paddle with much varied scenery and plenty to keep you intrigued about what is around the next corner. One rocky outcrop has an outdoor claw-foot bathtub perched above an outhouse, all precipitously overhanging the water.

Watching the ferry come in from one of the parks
Watching the ferry come in from one of the parks on Bowen Island

Don’t forget this little local gem, especially if you have visitors; even the ferry ride to Bowen Island from Horseshoe Bay is worth the trip!

Where to stay on Bowen Island

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Artisan Suites, a 4 star inn on Bowen Island offers modern rooms, some with views and a delicious breakfast.

Another top choice is English Rose Cottage that features a garden – and a sitting area in each bedroom.

Further reading on things to do near Vancouver

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A day trip to Bowen Island from Vancouver
Guest blog post kindly provided by Heather Priest of Sidney, BC.
Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 14 Comments
    1. @Alicia It’s actually quite hilly. We ferried over and cycled for the better part of a day – though much of it is through the woods. There are some nice beaches where you could have a picnic. I’d call it a moderate cycle.

      1. Further to Alicia’s question, how “bikeable” is the island generally? If I am staying near Killarney Lake, what would be the best way for me to cycle there from Snug Cove?


        1. @variegata The island is very bikeable – just be prepared for hills. We have always found the locals to be respectful of bikes. Pick up a map in town and that will be the easiest way to figure out the most direct route. It won’t be difficult.

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