Many of us living close to metro Vancouver tend to forget that we have our own “Gulf Islands” close to home. Bowen Island is easily accessible as a day trip 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.
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 Bowen Island is only 20 square miles there are a myriad of ways to enjoy island life.
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.
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
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!
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.
Kayaking 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.
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!
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