In Vancouver, we’re spoiled for choice of islands. You’ve got Vancouver Island (best known as “Tofino”,) the Gulf Islands, the San Juans if you’re feeling fancy, and the Sunshine Coast or the Olympic Peninsula if you’re willing to stretch the definition of island.
So, for many visitors and a lot of locals, Bowen gets missed. Too close. Too populated. Not “island” enough.
I’m often of that camp, but a recent day trip may be enough to start changing my perspective.
Reasons to love it:
Lots of ferries. And no ferry reservations!
Said ferries leave from Horseshoe Bay. Arguably more convenient, definitely more picturesque than Tsawwassen.
Cheap ferries! $48 for two adults and a vehicle, round trip. That’s a quarter of the price it costs to go to and from the Gulf Islands.
The crossing itself is beautiful. Horseshoe Bay is cute, the mountains are surrounding you, and it’s a quick (20 minutes) cruise to the other side.
Once there, Bowen is pretty cute itself. There’s good ice cream on the marina, decent restaurants in the town centres, and shops that toe the line between Bohemian and Hipster. There’s even a ranch (aka nicer boarding) for dogs, how I convinced Mat to go.
Outside of the town, Bowen is beautiful. Lush and wilder than you’d expect, given the population and the size.
There are a few hikes, though to make a real expedition of it the best way is to skip the car, walk onto the ferry, and head up the trail from Snug Cove itself. It connects to a loop around Killarney Lake, or up the “big” trail to Mt Blank.
We were feeling lazy, so skipped the peak and went for a wander around the lake. Enough (minor) climbs and descends to feel like you’re getting a casual workout, but mostly just a meandering trail around a pretty lake. The best part? The small town vibe that led to our befriending a woman on the trail, and discovering her son owns our favourite restaurant (Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog.) Small world.
On our day trip, we visited the dog ranch, hiked the lake, and hit the town for a leisurely lunch (and ice cream) before taking the ferry back. Perfect day out of the city.