I Spent A Day On This Tiny Island Near Vancouver & It's Only A 20 Minute BC Ferries Ride

It feels like a world away from the city!

Morgan Leet with friends on BC Ferries to Bowen Island. Right: Getting on BC Ferries to Bowen Island.

Morgan Leet with friends on BC Ferries to Bowen Island. Right: Getting on BC Ferries to Bowen Island.

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

A quick 20-minute ride on BC Ferries will get you to Bowen Island, B.C. — the perfect little retreat for a sunny day.

The whole adventure will give you a break from the city life in Vancouver, and you don't even need a car to enjoy it.

The tiny island is just off the coast of Vancouver, B.C., and super accessible by the ferry. All you have to do is hop on from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, and you're there in just 20 minutes.

I spent a beautiful day exploring the island, stopping in cute little cafes, going for a breathtaking hike, eating at fun restaurants, and walking along stunning beaches — all with a backdrop of blue ocean and massive mountains.

The trip there

I went to the island with three of my friends, and we decided to drive onto the ferry early on Saturday morning — at 10:15 a.m.

Morgan Leet with friends on BC Ferries to Bowen Island. Morgan Leet with friends on BC Ferries to Bowen Island. Morgan Leet | Narcity

In retrospect, we probably wouldn't even bring our car. Everything we did on the island was within walking distance, and walking on the ferry is much cheaper than driving.

Going onto the ferry is an adventure in itself. You can get out of your car and go on deck to enjoy the incredible views of the mountains and get an ocean breeze.

Leaving Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries terminal.Leaving Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries terminal.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Unfortunately, we spotted no whales — but I'm holding out hope for the summer-time ferry rides.

It felt like five minutes went by on the ferry before they announced we were about to dock in Snug Bay, on Bowen Island.

What to do on Bowen Island

Once we stepped off the ferry in Snug Bay, it was like island life instantly took over. It felt like we were far away from all of our daily worries, left with a whole day of relaxation and exploring ahead of us.

We started the day at Snug Cove Cafe, which might be the cutest place I've ever been to. They had tons of tasty breakfast options, and a cozy patio to sit out on and enjoy the sun.

Morgan Leet with friend at Snug Cove Cafe.Morgan Leet with friend at Snug Cove Cafe.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Then we decided to work off some energy with a short hike up Dorman Point. It was only 2.4 kilometres long and took us to a beautiful lookout.

View from Dorman Point Hike on Bowne Island.View from Dorman Point Hike on Bowne Island.Morgan Leet | Narcity

It's the perfect spot for a little rest, or even a picnic if you brought snacks.

After that, we went to check out Pebbly Beach. As the name suggests, it's rocky — and perfect for seashell hunting. It was totally empty, so we got to lay out in the sun there all by ourselves.

One of the best parts of the island was that you got to enjoy the classic B.C. scenery without the crowds of Downtown Vancouver.

Pebbly Beach on Bowen Island. Pebbly Beach on Bowen Island. Morgan Leet | Narcity

The rest of the day was spent exploring the cool little shops by the harbour. There were clothes, flowers, gifts, and art at these cool boutiques.

We ended the day with dinner and drinks at Rustique Bistro, which was a tasty french spot.

Morgan Leet with a friend at Rustique Bistro.Morgan Leet with a friend at Rustique Bistro.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Honestly, I recommend making no plans when you go. It was amazing just walking around the island, popping into any stores or trails that we thought looked cool.

Going home

The restaurants are all right beside the ferry lineup, so once we saw people lining up for the 6:15 p.m. ferry we grabbed the cheque and headed home.

Snug Cove, Bowen Island.Snug Cove, Bowen Island.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Our almost six hours on the island flew by, despite it being super small.

Everything moves a bit slower on the island and people were all so friendly — in classic island life fashion. It was a great break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Plus, after a long and rainy winter in Vancouver, the island was just the thing to get us ready for summer fun.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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Morgan Leet
Morgan Leet is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media based in Vancouver, B.C.