Bowen Island day trip: What to eat, see and do

December 3, 2016

by Lise Boullard

From Vancouver Island to the network of Gulf Islands dotting the coast, there’s no shortage of weekend getaway options around the Vancouver area. But if time is tight and you have just one day to spare, a trip to Bowen Island – just an hour boat ride from downtown Vancouver – may be just the ticket. From scenic hiking trails and paddling adventures to indulgent day spas and homey bakeries, there’s plenty to see and do during a day out on the Island.

Bowen Island day trip: What to eat, see and do

Getting There

A 25-minute drive west along Highway 1, or a trip on the West Vancouver Blue Bus 250 or 257 (check Translink for schedules), plus a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay will bring you to Snug Cove on Bowen Island. There are at least 11 sailings daily, but try to catch an early ferry (they start at 6:00 am) to make the most of your time one the Island. Missed the last boat back? Hire a water taxi to bring you to the mainland.


Start your day with eggs Benny at the Snug Café, a family-run local institution housed in a quaint rickety wooden building. Next, grab a cup of java and a handmade croissant or pain au chocolat at Bowen’s only French patisserie, Artisan Eats Boulangerie and Café. Located in the Island’s bustling Artisan Square with stunning views over Snug Cove, it provides the ideal spot from which to plot your day of activity. When you get hungry again later in the day, head to Doc Morgan’s Pub and Restaurant for fish ‘n’ chips or a bucket of peel-and-eat shrimp.


With so much natural beauty to explore on Bowen Island (72-square-kilometres to be exact), you’ll want to set aside at least a few hours for hiking or kayaking (or both!). Choose from three of the Island’s most interesting day hikes to get a feel for the local flora, fauna and geography. The easiest, and shortest of the three (a 2.5-kilometre route; 1.5-hour return journey) starts right at the ferry dock and takes you along a climbing, Arbutus tree-lined trail to the Dormant Point Lookout where you will be rewarded with stunning views of Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver. If you have a bit more time to spare, try the four-kilometre Killarney Lake Loop, which offers a mix of flat and steep terrain. To make hiking the focus of your day, budget five to six hours to ascend Bowen’s highest mountain, Mt. Gardner. At 719 meters, the 10-kilometre return trek is not for the faint of heart but it’s well worth the effort for the panoramic views of Port Mellon to the north and Vancouver Island to the west. If water sports are more your thing, visit Bowen Island Sea Kayaking to book a day of paddle boarding, kayaking or even surf skiing.


After your workout, head back to Artisan Square and stock up on local handicrafts and foodstuffs to take home to the Mainland. Pick up a piece of local art at Arts Pacific Cooperative Gallery or gilded works from husband-and-wife team David and Holly Graff at GILT Studio Gallery. Fashionistas will be tempted by the high-end, and sustainable fashions from Canadian labels like Mackage and Allison Wonderland on display at Wren Boutique. And sweet-tooths will love a box of handmade organic truffles from Cocoa West Chocolatier (try the tiramisu flavour, a tempting combo of espresso, vanilla and Amaretto).


After all of that activity it’s time for some R&R. Cedar Room Wellness offers massage treatments from a registered massage therapist (from 30 minutes for $45 up to 120 minutes for $180), with custom therapeutic-grade aromatherapy oils. In the mood for a little more pampering? Book a chemical-free facial, mani, pedi, Reiki or acupuncture appointment at Heartstone Spa, Bowen Island’s only certified organic green spa.

After you’ve spent the day discovering everything Bowen Island has to offer, head back to the Mainland relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to take on city life once again. Or, even better, extend your stay at one of Bowen Island’s many B&Bs.

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