Snug Cove Ferry Terminal is the first glimpse of you will see when you travel from Vancouver to Bowen Island British Columbia

Vancouver to Bowen Island: Easy Day-trip from Vancouver

Vancouver to Bowen Island: Is it worth a trip?

An easy day-trip (or longer!) getaway from Vancouver, Bowen Island is a beautiful Island located just off the coast of West Vancouver in Howe Sound. It’s a quick 20 minute boat ride from downtown Vancouver. You’ll find so many things to do on Bowen Island, including stunning beaches, rainforest hikes, views over Howe sound, delicious restaurants, and comfortable accommodations. All of this on this little island that is a part of the city of Vancouver. One could argue it’s one of the best day-trips from Vancouver!

Sandy beach in a protected cove on Bowen Island. A fantastic place to stop on a daytrip from Vancouver to Bowen Island
A local secret sandy beach on Bowen Island in a protected cove

Do I need a car to travel from Vancouver to Bowen Island?

There are lots of ways to travel from Vancouver to Bowen Island, and no you don’t need a car to go to Bowen Island! Bowen Island is a part of the city of Vancouver, and so, has transit options on the island including bus service (search routes 280, 281, and 282 for Bowen Island bus routes). You can walk on the ferry, bring a bike, drive on the ferry, or book seaplane flights with Harbour Air.

Translink’s bus service for the city of Vancouver includes these routes on Bowen Island

Is Biking on Bowen Island safe?

You can bike on Bowen Island, with a warning that there are lots of hills! There is only one section of developed bike pathways on Bowen Island, with plans in place to extend this over the next decades. If you choose to bike on Bowen Island, be aware that there are no shoulders on the road, the roads are windy, and of course the hills. As a recreational biker, I can say that these hills were a workout, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable biking with kids to get around Bowen Island.

The roads on Bowen Island are narrow and winding, with many blindspots. Be aware and prepared if you choose to bike on your trip from Vancouver to Bowen Island.

Travelling to Bowen Island on foot

Many of the restaurants on Bowen Island and some beaches and hiking trails are within walking distance of the Snug Cove ferry terminal. This means that walking on to the ferry instead of taking a car is a great option. I have travelled from Vancouver to Bowen Island taking the walk on ferry and parking close to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, and have taken the bus from downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. Both were relatively painless. If you want to take the bus from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay and then walk on to the ferry look for bus route 257 here. The bus route from downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay is about 45 minutes.

Ferry Schedules to Bowen Island

The most common way to get to Bowen Island from Vancouver is to hop on a ferry at Horseshoe Bay. The cost for a walk on ferry ticket Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove in 2023 is $11.32 roundtrip. The cost for bringing a car on the ferry from Vancouver to Bowen Island in 2023 is $43.55 roundtrip. The ferry runs both directions multiple times a day, every hour starting at 5:50 am until 10pm. You can book sailings and find a fare calculator on the BC Ferries site.

If you are looking for flexibility in travel times or a later boat ride a water taxi/charter service is available through Cormorant Water Taxi.

Vancouver to Bowen Island ferry crossing across Howe Sound at sunset.  The sky is many beautiful colors.
A ferry going across Howe Sound British Columbia from Bowen Island to Vancouver at sunset

Flying to Bowen Island

Want to see views of Howe Sound from above AND eat at the best restaurants on Bowen Island? Fortunately, someone has thought of this! Harbour Air offers seaplane service from Vancouver to Bowen Island and an incredible flight seeing and dinner package! In my opinion, flightseeing might be one of the most luxurious and unique things to do on Bowen Island, BC.

What to do on Bowen Island

Now that you know how to get to Bowen Island from Vancouver, let’s talk about why Bowen Island is worth visiting!

The Beaches on Bowen

There are 48 beaches and ocean access points on Bowen Island 🤯. With so many options, chances are you’ll find some favourites! Some are rocky beaches, some are beaches with pebbles and logs. You’ll also find coves accessible by boat, kayak/SUP, and trails that overlook the ocean. The best beaches are local gems, including my personal favourite, a hidden sandy beach, perfect for swimming and spending a day. You’ll need a car to access this hidden gem on Bowen Island. You can find directions here

Vancouver to Bowen Island
There are 48 beaches and ocean access points on Bowen Island.

4 Beaches Within Walking Distance of Snug Cove Ferry Terminal

  1. Sandy Beach Bowen Island. This is a beach within walking distance of the Bowen Island Ferry Terminal. The water is shallow and warm (ish) and is a great place to swim. This beach has some sand, and very small rocks. There is boat storage and outdoor bathrooms available. This is a perfect kids beach on Bowen Island, or place to spend a day lounging in the sun. It is also close to the restaurants and parks of Bowen Island. Some of my favourite day trips from Vancouver to Bowen Island, have been times where I walked on the ferry, and then walked to Sandy Beach.
  2. Mother’s Beach This beach is located right under the causeway, and has a nice sandy area for playing in the sand, it is not recommended for swimming. A great spot for littles that don’t care for swimming, but love the sand! Children who don’t love the water do exist, I have one! 😂
  3. Pebbly Beach is just a little further, over the bridge past sandy beach from Snug Cove. There are lots of logs, and small rocks here to explore, and even some sandy areas.
  4. September Morn Beach is a 20 minute walk from the Bowen Island Ferry Terminal, Snug Cove. This beach is on Dorman Bay and has a steep bank to get down to the beach. Heads up, although beautiful, this one is a clothing optional beach.

Want more information about Bowen Island beaches? Check out this post here for all beach things to do on Bowen Island, and information about THE best beaches on Bowen Island & local gems .

Hiking Trails and Parks Bowen Island

Bowen Island has lots of trails and parks for all abilities. After many wonderful trips and exploring many of the trails on Bowen Island, these are my picks for 3 must do hiking trails on Bowen Island.

Dorman Point Hike, Bowen Island

  • Easy walking distance from the ferry, just across from Snug Cove ferry terminal
  • 3kms roundtrip
  • amazing views ( University of British Columbia, Arbutus Trees, Horseshoe Bay).  For more beautiful hikes to explore on your travels through British Columbia, check out these 13 Best Hikes in Tofino
  • I have done this trail with a 2 year old who walked the whole way (with some encouragement and of course play!)
Vancouver to Bowen Island.  The view from Dorman Point out over the Strait of Georgia
The view from Dorman Point, Bowen Island

Mount Gardner hike, Bowen Island

  • Highest point on Bowen Island, and with that has spectacular views
  • Multiple routes, all of which are about 10km and about 700m of elevation
  • Helicopter pads where you can sit and take in the 360 views from Bowen Island.
  • Regardless of the trail you take to get up, I think you’ll enjoy the views as much as I do!
Vancouver to Bowen Island
View from the top of Mount Gardner on Bowen Island

Pebble Beach Sea Walk

  • Family friendly trail that has fun boardwalks, beaches, and a lighthouse.
  • As it is west facing, a great sunset spot on Bowen Island
  • Often sea lions and sea life to see here
  • Because of all the fun features, this is one of those low effort, high reward options
  • I like to visit this trail every time I take a trip from Vancouver to Bowen Island 😍
Kids love the Pebble Beach Sea Walk, it’s a great sunset spot too!

You can find detailed trail information about these trails including GPS coordinates on the TrailCollectiv app as well as my picks for 11 of the best hiking trails on Bowen Island here.

Other Fun Things to do on Bowen Island

  • Go sea kayaking, or paddleboarding. Bring your own, or rent kayaks and paddleboards from Bowen Island Sea Kayaks. Hint: They do tours as well!
  • Rent e-bikes from Bowen e-bikes or scooters from Zoom Zoom Scooters to explore Bowen Island
  • Learn photography and take incredible photos of Bowen Island on a photography tour that runs from Vancouver to Bowen Island
  • Explore the local gift shops located on the main road, just up from Snug Cove Ferry Terminal.
  • Go on a boat tour from Vancouver to Bowen Island
  • Whalewatch 🐳
  • Go golfing at Bowen Island’s beautiful 9 hole golf course
  • Relax and read a book, check out the bookstore
  • Visit one of the many nature conservation areas
  • View the salmon run in the fall at the fish ladder
  • Explore tide pools and look for crabs and other sea creatures (hint: if you flip rocks over that is where you will find crabs!)
Vancouver to Bowen Island, 2 people kayaking in the waters surrounding Bowen Island
Sea kayaking around Bowen Island

Best places to eat on Bowen Island

After spending the day exploring, you will likely be hungry! As a treat, most of the restaurants are within walking distance from the ferry terminal AND have delicious food! Because it’s relatively easy to do a quick trip from Vancouver to Bowen Island, it is not unheard of for people to people to pop over just for dinner!

5 Restaurants worth visiting on Bowen Island:

  • Branch on Bowen (Delicious tacos, and icecream, vegan food on Bowen Island, at Snug Cove Ferry Terminal
  • Barcelona Tapas and Wine Bar -Everything is made from scratch using fresh local and sustainably-sourced products.
  • Artisan Cafe- A french bakery on Bowen Island, breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee & snacks throughout the day.
  • The Shed Eatery-a great patio on Bowen Island, many gluten free and vegan options
  • Bowen Island Pub-live music on Bowen Island on Saturdays, open every day.

Places to Stay Bowen Island

Bowen Island has remained an idyllic getaway from the city life of Vancouver. There are no large resorts or chain hotels on the island. The best places to stay on Bowen Island are vacation rentals, cottages and B and B’s. I have yet to stay in a spot on Bowen Island that I didn’t LOVE! You can book the best in Bowen Island accommodations here.

Wrapping Up! It’s so worth it to take a trip to Bowen Island!

In conclusion, taking a day-trip or weekend trip from Vancouver to Bowen Island is the perfect getaway from Vancouver. Bowen Island is a part of metro Vancouver, and a quick 20 minute boat ride from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with many parks, trails, beaches, and water sports. The restaurants on Bowen Island are so delicious that many people come visit just for dinner, and there are plenty of comfortable, unique, ocean front accommodations! One of many unique things to do in Vancouver! For more things to do in Vancouver, hidden gems from a local, read here!

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