Calm and free from crowds, this forested island off Vancouver serves as a retreat from the stresses of the city. With hiking trails, kayak-friendly coastline, and sheltered bays, the island offers plenty of opportunities for fun in the fresh air, while a smattering of small villages showcase its vibrant art, craft, and food scenes.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from Vancouver, Bowen Island is an ideal day trip. Jet Ski tours of Howe Sound depart from Granville Island and skirt around the scenic coast of Bowen Island, as well as other neighboring islands such as Anvil Island. Some Jet Ski tours make a dinner stop at Bowen Island, allowing participants to disembark and dine at one of Bowen Island’s local restaurants.
While the island is served by a ferry, visitors looking for a little more freedom and flexibility may want to rent a private speedboat instead. Once on the island, while away the hours lounging on sandy beaches, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or swimming.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bowen Island is an easy day-trip option for visitors based in Vancouver.
- Most boats dock at Snug Cove on the east coast, where you’ll find restaurants, cafés, art galleries, and a weekend market in summer.
- Private speedboat rentals usually include a boat license, safety briefing, and instructions.
How to Get There
Regular ferry service to Bowen Island departs from Horseshoe Bay terminal. To get to the ferry terminal, ride bus 250 or 257 from downtown Vancouver, a journey of between 40 and 50 minutes. The ferry journey itself takes another 20 minutes or so. For a quicker option, take a water taxi or pilot your own private speedboat from Granville Island.
When to Get There
Bowen Island is best in summer, when warm weather allows for outdoor activities. The summer season also offers more festivals and events, including outdoor climbing sessions and open-air yoga classes.
Wildlife-Watching near Bowen Island
The boat trip over to Bowen Island takes passengers through the heart of Howe Sound, where a host of wildlife species thrive. As you cruise across from the mainland, look out for harbor seals, which can often be seen at Palm Rocks, and bald eagles. Whales, including humpbacks, have been spotted in the waters of Horseshoe Bay. Bowen Island is free from bears and cougars, though deer do roam freely.