For the original article with additional photographs and content, visit Vancouver Magazine.
Bowen Island has charm, carbon-positive scooters and a sense of community you won’t want to leave.
Cocooned in the mouth of Howe Sound between the Sunshine Coast and West Vancouver, Bowen Island makes for an easy, and most definitely welcomed, day-away trip from the city hustle. Just a short twenty-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay loop the top deck a few times taking in the glorious panoramic backdrop, before finding yourself docked at Snug Cove—a.k.a downtown Bowen—and eager to explore.
Getting Around Bowen Island
Straight off the ferry, hop on one of two community buses that roam the surrounding East and West areas of the Island—city dwellers can even use their Compass cards, so there’s no need to scrape together what loose change you can find at the bottom of your bag. Head to Cates Bay (East) for glorious views across the water, or Bluewater (West) to start your ascent up to Mount Gardner. If you don’t mind getting a later ferry back, Tunstall Bay (West) is also renown for it’s pretty spectacular sunsets. For a more adventurous mode of transport; Bowen Island’s original carbon-positive scooter rental company, Zoom Zoom Bowen (*note: Zoom Zoom is no longer operating), will give you the freedom to discover the Island on two wheels. Whether you hire for the full day or just a few hours, cruising to your destination will be the best part. Remember, a good part of Bowen is accessible by foot, so take the day in stride and explore as much as you can—just make sure to pick up a map on the crossing over.
Where to Eat on Bowen Island
Once off the ferry, hang an immediate right and head for Branch and Butter; a unique seasonal snack, ice-cream and boutique gift shop with seriously Instagramable pastel-tiled counters. On your way in, examine Vancouver’s Earnest Ice Cream flavours—you’ll want to remember these for later—and grab a slice of toast to go. (It’s a lot fancier than it sounds, we promise.) There’s also a pretty sweet story behind this place, so make sure to find out how this little gem came about before you leave.
On the hunt for a great coffee spot? Giving you a slight taste of what island life could be like, take a seat in the courtyard of Cocoa West—located at Artisans Square—to fuel up on caffeine and indulge in one, or maybe definitely more, of their locally sourced organic chocolates. If it’s something a little more substantial you’re after, check out Artisan Eats Café for a French-inspired brunch/lunch with views across the ocean.
For the evening; the “downtown” area of Bowen plays host to some great dining options. Sip a glass of Sauvignon on the patio and do like the Europeans with a medley of Spanish delicacies at Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar. Or opt for something a little more casual and head to Doc Morgan’s for some good ol’ pub grub and views across the dock. Treat yourself: As if being on Bowen wasn’t sweet enough. Fuel your sugar rush at Candy in the Cove—the self-proclaimed smallest candy store in the world.
What to Do on Bowen Island
If it’s a taste of Bowen culture you’re after, start with Artisans Square, a “community of retail, food, fine art and wellness.” Just a short fifteen minute walk from Snug Cove, amongst Cocoa West and Artisan Eats Café, spend a leisurely morning perusing the hub of the Island. You never know what local treasures you’ll find.
Scout out the perfect lunch spot along the 4km Killarney Lake trail, a thirty minute walk just west of Snug Cove. Once there, the loop around the lake only takes forty-five minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to stop for a picnic and simply admire the lily-pad spotted waters. For something more than a light stroll, Dorman Point is an easy hour roundtrip, offering a beautiful lookout across the coastline. On a clear day you’ll even be able to make out that wonderful Vancouver skyline. The trail entrance can be found in Crippen Park, just a short walk from the ferry terminal…and even closer walk from the pub.Go hard or go home: If you’re a real hiking buff, head straight for Mount Gardner. We’ve heard the 360 views of the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound and Vancouver are most definitely worth it—just be prepared for the seven-hour roundtrip.