Travel Guide: Bowen Island – A Day Trip

Bowen Island is just delightful. I wanted to go somewhere out of the city, accessible by public transport and with some walking / hiking and just general nature to enjoy.

This is the perfect combination of all the above – with more.

It is super accessible from Downtown – we took the 257 (express) bus from Burrard (and I got off at Denman on the way home so really handy for the Westenders. ) Take the non-express if you want to have a bit more of an adventure and see the different neighbourhoods on the way.

Horseshoe Bay

The bus drops you off at the ferry station in horseshoe bay, we had just missed the ferry but they are usually hourly or so. Horseshoe bay has some nice views, we sat in the Blenz coffee house until the next ferry arrived. (It was pretty cold at that hour outside).

The views along the ferry ride over to Bowen are just stunning. It feels so nice to just leave the busy downtown ness behind you and, it being April, the ferry was still fairly quiet as was the island itself – which I love. Weekday travel also helps that!

When you get off the ferry you are right in the centre of the action pretty much ; there are a number of restaurants, cafes, shops and a tourist information spot which have some really helpful guides that you can take for free from their door. The guides give a great description of the different walks and hikes, lakes and other spots of interest around the island.

I had intended to walk to the Mt.Gardner summit but we decided that with some time restraints we would just take a walk through the forest and around the lake. It was perfect. There are well marked trails, just maybe look behind and keep an eye on which trail you came down but they all seem to join up anyways at some point.

After the walk which we took at our leisure, pretty accessible for all levels and some fabulous views and just that unmistakable peace and stillness that you experience in nature is definitely felt here. The greenery and vegetation here is full of life and I loved it.

We sat along the boardwalk, overlooking the lake with the midday sun warming us up after a chilly morning and ate our lunch. We then headed back towards the ferry.

Eating and Drinking

The Snug Coffee House

With some time to spare we popped into Cafe. For the plant based eaters,you can have your non-dairy milks (soy / almond) and they also had some vegan sweet treats (apple/almond crisp slices, cookies and muffins – for example!!).

Lunch options a’plenty here and I’m sure there are options that can be made plant based, also juices and smoothies.

It is a busy and popular cafe, cosy and with some seats outside for the sunnier days.

Rustique Bistro

A lot of options here, not the cheapest but it all sounds delicious. There were plant based options for those in need of that; tomato bisque soup, vegan salad or sandwich(Avo, tofu, chickpeas, nuts, etc. All the things.)

Just up from the ferry – 4 Bowen Island Truck Road.


Get your vegan (and non vegan) Earnest Ice-Cream here. Oh my! Earnest ice-cream is pretty damn goood (I’ve tried the vegan Chocolate and the walnut ones, yummy!)

So if you want some ice-cream island joy, here is your spot to go. It is just to the right as you get off the ferry.

Doc Morgans

Another place for some grub and also with a vegan option to boot – you can find yourself one of the infamous beyond burgers. That would be a treat after a nice long walk around the island and when the hunger has really set in.

Cocoa West Organic Chocolatier

An option for the chocolate lovers among us (I’ll be bringing my sister here when she visits 🙂 )

A chocolatier, cafe (find all your choco heaven, coffee and more) – you can even see some of the cocoa magic happen in store.

Things to do

Bowen Island Sea Kayaking

This looks fuuuuun. You really can pack in so much and make a real day-out for yourself, come early, get a bit of sea kayaking in, have an ice cream. The go for a walk/hike and finish it off with some lunch in one of the nearby eateries.


Marc Atkinson Trio– A Gypsy jazz concert is happening on May 11th. Maybe you take a night away and squeeze some live music into you weekend. Who doesn’t love some Gypsy Jazz on a Saturday evening?

Bowen Island Adventure Film Festival

This sounds great – short films made by Bowen Islanders about the hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, trail running and all things adventure on the island.

This is a nice article summarizing last years festival and you can check out the video below for another taster of what to expect.

There are no dates announced for the 2019 festival just yet but it seems it usually happens around the end of May but I have been in contact with the organisers and due to other commitments this year the festival will take place later in the year (Fall/ Winter time).

keep an eye out on the Facebook Page.

This would be the perfect way to both visit Bowen Island, support the local adventure film-makers and enthusiasts, learn about everything there is to offer over here and enjoy a home-grown, local festival and explore and meet some new people!

The Book Club

Bowen Island has a book club, I’m all about book clubs and reading and community and accountability. (I definitely need it sometimes when it comes to sticking to and reading one book!!)

It is free and you can join through the Bowen Library and attend the discussion days.

Summer Clay Camps

Come here for 3 days of learning and perfecting the art of claywork. Oh now this I’d love to do, learn something new, continue to grow the creative side of the brain, connect with a new community and all in the peeaceful island surrounds. Like a little retreat to the island , except using clay work as the meditation.

Handloggers Half Marathon

More reasons to both have a reason to visit Bowen Island, enjoy their gorgeous scenery and trails and also maybe give a half marathon a shot?

This will take place in August so you have plenty of time to train and it may just be the perfect way to do the Mount Gardner trail, if you are more into a challenging way to complete it.

You can register HERE.

Bowen Island Adventures even have a 14-week training programmed to prepare! Check it out HERE.

Bowen Island Adventures

I discovered this when I contacted the Bowen Island Adventure Film festival and realised that these Bowen Island Adventurers are behind the festival.

And what awesome adventures theses guy have to offer! Kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, slacklining, trail running, foraging, bird-watching, climbing, mountain biking, scavenger hunts, snorkelling, scuba diving- and more!

This would be a fantastic way to experience the beauty of Bowen Island. It kind of reminds me of Zanzibar life.

If you had wanted to give Mt.Gardner a try, you can join in on the group hike on May 13th, a perfect way to experience it with company and at a steady pace for all levels. Check HERE to read more or sign-up.

You can do self-guided scavenger hunts, laid out by the BIA team for you to discover some of the gems that Bowen Island has to offer. It is offered as a downloadable PDF that you can bring with you to explore the island.

You can join guided activities – such as climbing, hiking, running, slack-lining or mystery fun adventures. There are also community programs such as swimming, running and hiking.

All in all, I love the sound of EACH of these and I look forward to signing up for some of them over the summer. The scavenger hunt for sure!

Lunch spot with new adventure buddies

Events in May 2019

Botony and Bird Walks

Well this sounds just lovely. Hosted by The Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association, take a trip to the island and “explore the botanical and ornithological diversity on Bowen Island on a gentle walk along forest trails to Killarney Lake.”. Learn how to decipher the different sounds of the birds in the area, identify trees and learn a bit more about the natural life here.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning/afternoon. It is also a nice way to discover and learn a bit more about the island and about the different trails in the area – especially if you are going alone and want to have some company along the way.

Register HERE.

Where I stand

This is another event that is happening on Bowen Island in May. I saw the poster when I was walking around the Island and you can find some more information and the link to register on the Bowen Island website.

This will be a presentation about “what it means to be a guest on indigenous lands and how to be in right relationships with First Peoples.”

An opportunity to learn more about the First Peoples and the indigenous community and our responsibility to understand more.

Marc Atkinson Trio

A Gypsy jazz concert is happening on May 11th. Maybe you take a night away and squeeze some live music into you weekend. Who doesn’t love some Gypsy Jazz on a Saturday evening?

7.30 pm at Cove Commons.

Walking – Hiking

There are a number of trails you can do here – according to the Trail Guide from the info spot one is considered ‘Challening’ (Mount Gardner) and the rest are easy and range from 45 mins – 3 hours.

*I am reposting the information from the Bowen Island Trail Guide.

  1. Dorman Point (medium difficulty, one hour, 300ft)
  2. Killarney Lake. (Medium – a few steep inclines- 1.5 – 2.5hours, 75ft)
  3. Trails to Artisan Square. (Easy, one hour, 250ft.)
  4. Beach Walks from Snug Cover. (Sandy & Pebbly Beach, 5 / 10 mins, easy)
  5. Mount Gardner. (Challenging, 3hours, 2,400ft)
  6. Valhalla Ridge. (45 mins – one way, Medium – Challening, 950ft.
  7. Headwaters Park Trail, one hours, easy, 200ft.
  8. Quarry Park to Fairy Fen. (Easy, 90mins, 150ft.)
  9. Evergreen Trails. (Easy, 30mins, 500ft.)
  10. Golf Course Trail. (Easy, one hour, 100ft)
  11. The Cape on Bowen Trails. (Easy, 45mins, 350ft.)

Yoga – Retreating

Meditation in Motion Yoga Retreat

July 26-28 & Sept 20-22 with Katherine Moore

If you thought you may enjoy a weekend of yoga and meditation while on the island then here is a fabulous retreat that may be just what you need to unwind.

Not only is Katherine a wonderful teacher and just all round lovely person , but the space where this retreat will be held looks amazing. Check out Nectar Yoga B &B.

This retreat will combine Katherine’s love of yoga and running (Katherine is our go-to lady for any running queries when we see her, and she is always so happy to offer suggestions.) There will be guided runs to Killarney park after a quiet morning meditation, yoga classes, smoothies, juices and just the magic surrounds of this special little part of BC.

You will be staying in eco friendly cottages in the forest!

Check it out.

Sure amn’t I just delighted with myself on Happy Isle.

Nectar Yoga B & B

Well this place looks dreamy. The quintessential yoga on a small, rural island retreat space and I love it.

You can find a Geodesic yoga dome, combine daily meditation and yoga classes to your over night experience, breakfast and private forest accomadation. Mmmm yes please. You can also find a Finnish sauna here.

Another great thing about Nectar is their aim to reduce their environmental impact- using natural soaps and cleaning products, refilling glass jars for things like shampoo, ensuring that they separate and recycle packaging properly, purchasing local produce as much as possible and well , just doing what they can to make a difference.

Ferry views
I like big trees, yes – I do, I do.

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