Bowen is an idyllic Howe Sound Island off the coast of Vancouver. Bowen has all the rustic charm of a gulf island escape without the long journey to get there. This makes Bowen the ideal weekend getaway from Vancouver. This guide will fill you in on where to stay, what to do, the best hiking trails, and where to eat and drink!
Why visit Bowen Island
- Water sports abound: kayak, SUP, swim
- Try your hand at fishing
- Hiking trails galore
- Lovely artsy community with cute boutiques & galleries
- Convenient access from Vancouver and the surrounds
- Gorgeous scenery from the woods to the ocean
- The handful of restaurants are ALL GOOD!
The beauty of Bowen is its’ easy access. Catch a 25-minute vehicle or passenger ferry from Horseshoe Bay, only a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The ferries are relatively frequent and the timetable is listed on the BC Ferries website. https://www.bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/biva-current.php
What to do on Bowen
Bowen is all about rest, relaxation and the outdoors. It’s a paradise for lovers of hiking, kayaking, fishing, and boating. It’s also a great getaway for those looking for a cabin weekend. Cozy up by a fireplace and read, write, draw, or enjoy time with friends.
- Kayak and SUP rentals are available at the main harbour
- Visit the distillery for spirit and cocktail tastings
- Hiking trails galore (listed below)
- Enjoy a delicious meal (recommendations below)
- Spend a relaxing beach day at one the numerous coves & beaches
- Cozy up in a delightful cabin
There are a lot of hiking trails on Bowen. These are a few of my favourites.
Dorman Point Lookout is a 2.5km/1.5mi hike from the ferry dock that takes about 1.5 hours. While there are some steep climbs, reaching the summit of the plateau offers striking views.
Crippen Point is a 4km Killarney Lake loop west of Snug Cove with steep and flat sections. It takes around 30-45 minutes to walk to Killarney Lake and around 1 – 1.5 hours to walk around the lake. Traverse the wetlands on a boardwalk and watch out for great blue herons and black-tailed deer.
Mt. Gardner is a challenging 10km hike with an elevation of 719m. It takes around 5-6 hours and culiminates with panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.
Cape Roger Curtis Shoreline walk is an easy 45-minute flat trail that skirts the ocean.
The Mastodon Hike is a locals secret, my friends who live on Bowen took me there. It’s a real gem but very hard to find!
Dining and drinking
Barcelona Tapas have excellent Spanish cuisine with a fine drinks list. Don’t miss happy hour!
Tuscany offers quality Italian food, including delicious pizzas. Dine on the patio when the weather is warm.
Rustique Bistro serve French food in a cozy setting.
Snug Cove is a bustling cafe with friendly staff, coffee, and snacks in a house with outdoor seating.
Artisan Eats is the best cafe in town for lunch food and quality coffee and treats.
The Pub was recently renovated and is popular with locals, especially on live music nights.
Dock dining options include Tell Your Friends Cafe and Branch. Get the quintessential Pacific Northwest experience as you enjoy lunch or coffee.
Doc Martins has a maritime feel and great views, especially from their expansive patio. Their pub-style food is comforting and filling and their happy hour is generous.
Where to stay
Bowen Island has a mixture of accommodation options from luxury waterfront homes to quaint apartments. There are plenty of homes for rent, although the island isn’t too fond of Airbnb. Here are a few favourites:
Artisan Suites are 4-luxury suites in Artisan Square with lovely views and modern decor. Sleeps 2.
Alderwood Farm is a cozy cottage that sleeps 2 adults.
Libellule Cottages are 2 unique wooden cottages on a 3-acre property with a solar heated pool.
For larger houses contact Bowen Island Accommodations for housing sleeping up to 6 guests.
Tips for the best visit to Bowen Island
- The best beaches for morning sun are Cates bay at Hood Point and September morning
- Sunsets are best at Tunstall Bay or Bowen Bay
- Enjoy views and a meal on the dock with tacos from Branch or coffee and snacks from Tell your Friends cafe
- Bowen is lovely all year round. It sometimes snows in the winter months, making for some pretty views!
- High season is June to September, as those are the warmest months
- Weekends in summer are the busiest times, try to avoid those for the best deals, otherwise book in advance to avoid crazy prices
- Arrive an hour before the ferry to ensure you get on (if you have a car), and grab a coffee or go for a walk in Horseshoe bay