By Tammy Gagne
For the original article with additional photos and links, visit http://theprovince.com/travel/wild-about-bowen-island
Bowen Island is unique: It’s only an hour from Vancouver, but the back-to-basics atmosphere makes you feel as though you’ve traveled deep into B.C.’s wilderness.
Catch a BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay for a 20 minute sailing to Snug Cove, or take a water taxi from Coal Harbour or Granville Island. As you cross Howe Sound, the towering Coastal Mountains command you to slow down, pay attention and be present. Before you know it, you’re stepping into another world.
The wildness of B.C. is everywhere on this island of 52 sq km; with about half designated as public forested areas. Exploring is easy on trails that vary from a light forest walk around Killarney Lake to a challenging climb to the peak of Mt. Gardner (one of three mountains on Bowen). For a local’s recommendations, Jody Lorenz of Bowen Island Tours will lead you to the Island’s best locations for interests ranging from adventure to art.
Cultivating a strong connection with nature inspires creativity. That’s abundantly clear in the art and food created on Bowen. Just up from the ferry dock, Artisan Square is the creative capital of the island. Make your way on a self-guided art and nature walk available from the Bowen Island Arts Council or join Bowen Island Tours’ new Savoury & Sweet food walking tour. The tour takes you to local favourites, sampling Japanese rice balls (Shika Provisions), award-winning, roasted organic coffee (Bowen Island Coffee), sweets from a so-small-you-might-miss-it candy store (Candy in the Cove), and some of the island’s best restaurants.
You can wander Bowen on foot, but to see more of the island rent a retro-style scooter from Zoom Zoom Bowen. Ride out to Tunstall Bay on the west side of the island for a spectacular sunset, or north to Bowen Bay for shallow waters and sandy shores. If you like to walk the links, Bowen Island Golf Club has a nine-hole course smack in the middle of the rainforest, complete with views of Howe Sound.
Another satisfying way to explore the island is on the water, by kayak or paddleboard (you may spot a curious seal or sea lion). Bowen Island Sea Kayaking offers rentals and guided tours, plus insights into the rich history of the area including First Nations, the rebirth of the marine ecosystem in Howe Sound, and tales of locals in the 1920s dancing the night away during the Union Steamship Company era. The sand on Sandy Beach was actually brought over from Scotland on one of the steamships.
There’s no camping on Bowen, but there are plenty of unique places to stay. Nectar Yoga B&B is a retreat centre with a Geodesic yoga dome, surrounded by wildflowers. Alderwood Farm has an eclectic charm and specialty food store where you can pick up fresh eggs, local produce and house-made sausages. In Artisan Square there’s the Chocolate Suite at Cocoa West Chocolatier, a twist on a B&B with a supply of organic chocolates for your indulgence. And you can experience a piece of Bowen’s history, complete with wood burning stove, at The Union Steamship Cottages.
For over 40 years, this island community of 3,400 nature lovers has celebrated and shared its passions at Bowfest. On August 27, sleepy Snug Cove will come alive with a parade of homemade floats, music, entertainers, a beer garden, and local food and craft vendors. It makes for a great transition back to urban reality. And a great excuse to plan a return trip.
To plan your escape from the city visit TourismBowenIsland.com and ExploreBC.ca.
Provided by Destination BC.