One of the great perks of living in Vancouver is all the great weekend-away options at my fingertips. My latest adventure (in the form of a self-care weekend) is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay. Bowen Island is a cute destination with small-town charm. It offers Vancouverites the opportunity to leave behind the urban hustle and bustle in exchange for a quieter pace of life, at least for a weekend. For the sake of reconnaissance, I spent a weekend relaxing (ahem, gathering intel), so that I could find and share the best things to do on Bowen Island.
Explore Snug Cove
The main ‘town’ of Bowen Island is called Snug Cove and is conveniently located where the ferry from Horseshoe Bay drops you off. It’s a picturesque little area that lives up to its cozy name with a handful of small cafés, bakeries and eateries.
It didn’t take me long to wander around Snug Cove, where I picked up some snacks and fruit for the weekend. For this, I went to the Ruddy Potato — think Bowen Island’s take on Whole Foods. I loved the hippie-esque vibe with plenty of organic items and reminders to use brown bags instead of plastic. The Ruddy Potato also stocks items from local artisans like candles and soaps so I could keep the feel-good mood going once I returned home. For caffeine addicts, Bowen Island Espresso Hut and the Snug Cafe are the spots to fuel up.
A Hike Through the Woods
The highlight of my stay on Bowen Island was the Killarney Lake loop hike. It’s a nice 3-4 hour circuit that starts at Snug Cove, taking me around a peaceful lake with some short inclines and declines in between. While I was hiking, I came across remnants of British Columbia’s logging legacy. Look out for old-growth tree stumps that have since become ‘nurse trees’, providing energy to support newer growth.
Since it’s a temperate rainforest climate, Bowen Island only gets snowy for about two weeks of the year so conditions are usually favourable for a hike. For a shorter (or longer!) excursion, you’ll find lots of lovely walking and hiking trails elsewhere on Bowen Island. I didn’t have the stamina for the Mount Gardner hike (10 kilometres round-trip, reaching an elevation of 719 metres) but it’s a great option for ambitious hikers.
Moments of Calm at a Yoga B&B
My home-away-from-home was Nectar Yoga B&B, whose Scandinavian design is your first clue that this isn’t your typical B&B. In addition to the amazing breakfasts (delicious spreads of vegetarian eats and fresh-baked goodies), meditation and yoga classes are included in your stay and happen in a peaceful dome set in the woods.
I stayed in a cute A-frame cabin whose fresh cedar smell definitely added to my weekend of Zen. I was nervous about staying here solo, but I discovered that this is actually a regular occurrence! Most of the other guests also arrived on their own and I got to meet new people who were also looking for a city escape.
If you’re coming with a group or looking for more traditional accommodations, you should check out the Artisan Suites with a great view of the water, or the vacation cottages of the Union Steamship Marina which has a long history on the island dating back to 1889.
Meet Your Makers in Artisan Square
Want to feel good while shopping on Bowen Island? Artisan Square is the spot to hit. This mini-plaza is a collection of locally-owned businesses and chances are you’ll get to chat with the very person that made your work of art or piece of jewelry.
Given my relentless sweet tooth, my first stop was Cocoa West for some handmade truffles. Chocolatier Joanne Mogridge makes all her chocolates in-house using organic, sustainably sourced ingredients. I also browsed the latest collection of the Arts Pacific Cooperative Gallery which features the works of over a dozen Bowen Island artists.
Pure Pampering at Conscious Cosmetics
Living my best West Coast life also meant a bit of pampering too. Following the eco-conscious attitude of Bowen Island, I found some great all-natural products at Conscious Cosmetics. This handmade skincare and cosmetics line was created by Bowen Island local Malene Rosenberg Hansen in her home studio overlooking the ocean. The Citrus & Vanilla day cream smelled good enough to eat!
A Touch of Spanish Tapas
But, onto actual eating. While healthy, organic fare is aplenty on Bowen Island, there are also some finer dining spots here like Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar. This Spanish tapas eatery serves up refined fare with a focus on seafood. But my favourite bite of the evening was a veggie option: champinones asado, mini toasts topped with flavourful forest mushrooms. It was the perfect final meal to conclude a restful weekend on Bowen Island.
From yoga inspo to breathtaking sceneries, here are some more moments captured on British Columbia’s Bowen Island…
All blog images by Andrea Yu
Header image: Bowen Island/Horseshoe Bay ferry. Credit: Destination BC/Alex Guiry