by Michelle Sproule | Looking for a break from the city but not sitting on enough cash or time to hop on a plane for a stint in Sayulita or a tour around Europe? Give yourself a faux vacation with a day trip to Bowen Island. Even though the ferry ride is short (only 20 minutes) there’s just something special about the act of disembarkation that is as liberating as it is relaxing. And to an island, no less! Super bonus: this getaway is totally doable without a car.
GETTING THERE | Drive or bus your way to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal (the 257 Horseshoe Bay Express departs from Dunsmuir/Cambie St). The 11:05am boat gets you to Bowen at 11:30am, which gives you lots of time to explore before heading home. Check the ferry schedule for all sailings here.
HIKE | We suggest you grab a quick cup of coffee (Lime & Moon Pie Company on the pier serve Moja beans) and then work up an appetite with a hike. There are numerous trails reachable from Snug Cove. Take your second right heading up Bowen Island Trunk Road and make your way through the forest to Bridal Veil Falls (30 minutes round trip) or go all-in with a hike around Killarney Lake (approx. 1.5 hrs) before landing back at the dock for lunch.
KAYAK | Bowen Island Sea Kayaking (also located on the Marina Pier) rents single and double kayaks by the hour. Consider taking a boat out to explore the shoreline and get in a little bit of an arm workout while your at it. When you arrive back on solid ground you’ll be ready for lunch.
SHIKA | Located on the Marina Pier, Shika serves up grilled rice balls (yaki-onigiri) and rice bowls generously topped with vegetarian, seared tuna or pulled pork. A perfect post-hike meal, these tasty bowls fill you up without leaving you feeling heavy. Sister restaurant to Kuma (Tofino) and Basho Cafe (Hastings Sunrise) Shika is all about quality Japanese comfort food.
Wed-Sun | 11:30 – 6pm | May to October | Marina Pier | www.shikabowen.com
ARTISAN EATS | A little further up Bowen Trunk Road (but still totally walkable) is Artisan Square where you will find Artisan Eats, a bakery turning out all manner of croissants, muffins, breads, and tarts from scratch. Bonus: on weekends, they serve up brunch classics like Eggs Benedict and Huevos Rancheros.
Tue-Sun (closed Monday) | 8:30am–5pm (9:30am-4pm, Sun) | 539 Artisan Lane | www.artisaneats.ca
COCOA WEST | Make a stop at Cocoa West to pick up some handmade chocolates. Produced by a husband and wife team, the dark treasures are made with certified organic and locally sourced ingredients. They definitely make the ferry ride home a little bit sweeter.
7 days | 10-5pm | 581C Artisan Lane | www.cocoawest.com
BRANCH 01 | New to Bowen this year is beautiful Branch 01, a modestly sized Marina Pier space filled with light, colour and a considered selection of one-of-a-kind items that not only showcase the owners’ line of wood-based objects but also pay homage to likeminded independent designers and makers (Branch owners Robin McMillan and Branch Freedman have a second project called Gamla Design that produces stunning furniture and other items for the home). “The store is essentially what we’d want to discover if we were visiting Bowen: a thoughtfully-designed space surrounded by the Pacific Northwest island calm we’d expect, but filled with the small luxuries we’d usually only find in an international city,” Robin explains. Expect everything from textiles, soaps, jewellery and wooden toys to maple syrups, candles and the most elegant looking dog feeder you’ve ever seen.
Wed & Thu and by chance on Fri, Sat, Sun: 10am-6pm | Marina Pier | www.gamla.ca