Bowen Island is a short ferry ride from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay. It’s a pretty little island and makes for a nice day trip or overnight escape.
Rural Bowen Island
Although separated from the rest of the Lower Mainland by a fairly significant amount of water, Bowen Island is still technically part of Metro Vancouver. It has a year-round population of just over 3500 people, and around 5000 including visitors in the summer.
Bowen Island is slightly larger than 50 square km in size. At close to 12 km in length and 6 km in width, it’s a small island, but not overly small.
Getting to Bowen Island
Bowen Island is indeed an island. It is surrounded by water and there are no bridges connecting it to the mainland. The only way to get to Bowen Island is by boat (unless you have a helicopter or seaplane, or you’re a world-class swimmer).
The most common way of accessing the island is via Horseshoe Bay by one of BC Ferries‘ boats that leaves about once an hour and takes 20 minutes. Return fare is about $11 per adult, half price for children ages 5-11 and $30 for a vehicle, plus taxes. Bicycles cost $2.
A lesser well-known way of getting to Bowen Island for short visits is via Pacific Ferries & Tours.
Pacific Ferries offers Island Hopping Tours between downtown Vancouver, Bowen Island, Gibsons (on the Sunshine Coast) and Granville Island from May until September. The trips run most days and include 1 to 2-hour stops at most locations.
If you want to see the Lower Mainland from the water, and visit some of the region’s most beautiful but not-so-accessible places, a tour with Pacific Ferries is a great way to spend the day!
For more information about the Island Hopping Tours to Bowen Island, as well as other destinations and whale watching tours, click Pacific Ferries & Tours.
What to Expect on Bowen Island
When you arrive you are greeted by the harbour and cute little village at Snug Cove. It’s a quiet place, so don’t expect a lot of activity.
There are a number of little bed and breakfasts on Bowen Island to choose from. There is also a marina and a small selection of shops and restaurants both at Snug Cove and further up the hill.
Looking for something interesting, then check out Rivendale. It’s a peaceful Christian Retreat Centre (so only appropriate if you’re looking for someplace quiet to get away, meditate or have your own personal retreat and time for reflection).
Rivendale is perched on the top of the hill, it’s very affordable and you make your own meals in their communal kitchen.
Book well in advance as Rivendale is a popular place. You don’t have to be religious or a Christian to stay there, but you do have to respect the quiet atmosphere so it’s not for everyone, and don’t plan to bring the kids. Click Rivendale for their brochure.