Bowen Island is surprisingly close to downtown Vancouver and is easily accessible by ferry or water taxi, making it an ideal getaway for a day trip. In under an hour, you will find yourself on a secluded island that feels miles away from Vancouver with plenty of beaches, biking trails and hikes to keep you entertained.
If you plan on taking your car, you will need to go to Horseshoe Bay and ride with BC Ferries to Bowen Island's Snug Cove. If you're going by foot or bicycle, you can take the city bus (numbers 250 and 257) to Horseshoe Bay and jump on, or go to Granville Island and take the water taxi from there. The water taxi generally runs from May until the September long weekend, but it's a good idea to check with them before planning your trip. The water taxi is more expensive, but you don't have to worry about the hassle of getting to Horseshoe Bay, but both options will bring you to the same location on Bowen Island.
When you get to Bowen, you will see that there are a few restaurants, cafes and shops that you can browse through in the village. During the summer months, they have a small farmers market selling local goods and crafts. Along the same road is a grocery store where you can grab some treats for a picnic by the water, if you didn't come prepared. If you get the water taxi, you can purchase a number of prepared food dishes in the Public Market on Granville Island for a picnic. When you get off of the ferry, turn right on the first road and you will find yourself a sandy beach that's the perfect spot to enjoy your nibbles al fresco.
Depending on what you're in the mood for, you can either take advantage of the hiking and biking trails and explore those for the day, or you can choose to take a more relaxing route and soak up the sun. There's 13,000 acres of treed land on Bowen Island, so you can imagine just how many trails there are to troll through.
Dorman Point is a great hike that will give you a solid perspective of Bowen Island's geography. It's somewhat challenging in certain areas where there are steep climbs, but the 2.5km/1.5mi hike will take you about an hour and a half (return).
Killarney Lake is the most popular hiking trail on Bowen and it's made up of a good mixture of flat and steep areas. It's slightly longer than Dorman Point and is 4km/2.5mi long. Along this hike you can check out the fish ladder and trek through the lake wetlands on a wooden boardwalk. It's a great place to take photos!
If you prefer to get out on the water, you can rent a kayak in Snug Cove and make your way West of the island over to Tunstall Bay. If you can catch the sunset from this area, you're in for a treat. Those experienced with kayaking may wish to talk to the rental shop and pick their brain to find out their favorite spots. Keats Island, Gambier Island, and the Pasley Island archipelago tend to be destinations that those looking for an adventure head to.
Bowen Island Golf Clubhouse — Photo courtesy of Bowen Island Golf Club
Have a hankering to get in a round of golf? The Bowen Island Golf Club is a 9-hole course that offers well groomed greens and incredible views of Howe Sound. After you've spend a few hours on the greens, what better way to finish off the day than by going to the pub and sipping on a cold Bowen Island brew, that's actually made on Bowen.
This small slice of paradise feels like another world and don't be surprised if you want to come back and make this one of your favorite vacation spots away from Vancouver.
Life's a beach on Bowen Island — Photo courtesy of Natasha John