Looking for a family day trip from the city that combines natural beauty with touches of modern civilization? You can’t do better than a visit to Bowen Island with kids, just a twenty-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, northwest of Vancouver. There is no shortage of great, family-friendly activities to do on the Island, and for some of them you won’t even need your car.
Bowen Island has long been a weekend playground for Vancouver residents and visitors, going back nearly one hundred years to the days of the Union Steamship Company’s trips to the Island in the early part of the 20th century. It remains a popular place to visit, particularly during the summer months. Then the local population of 3,500 can easily swell by several thousand, and the village centre of Snug Cove becomes abuzz with tourists and day-trippers.
A Day Trip to Beautiful Bowen Island with Kids
Crippen Regional Park is within walking distance of the ferry terminal, and its walk around Killarney Lake (the Loop Trail) is a wonderful, 4 km forest and marshland walking trail that is immensely popular with residents and visitors.
Depending on your walking pace, the loop walk can take over one hour. Some portions are level and stroller friendly. But most of it is hilly forest trail and wee ones would be better off in a snugli or backpack. Portions of the park trail are suitable for biking, and all of it is perfect dog-walking territory.
Snug Cove Boardwalk
Just off the ferry terminal lies the Snug Cove Marina and village shopping district. There is a boardwalk that circles the cove and ends at a section of Crippen Park with picnic tables and green space. The kids will have fun throwing rocks into the water and watching the ducks and geese along the beach, and they won’t want to miss the(self-proclaimed) tiniest candy store in the world, Candy in the Cove. Several restaurants are nearby, including Doc Morgan’s Pub, the Tuscany Pizza restaurant, and the pier-side Nancy’s Taco Stand. For a finer dining experience (perhaps on a special trip sans enfants), Rustique Bistro offers a romantic and tasty locavore menu.
This cute village complex of artisan shops, galleries and food purveyors offers two very family-friendly destinations worth noting. The first is Artisan Eats, an off-shoot of the Tuscany restaurant with options to eat-in or choose some delicious picnic options for your day trip; such as paninis, antipasti, local cheeses and tasty baked treats. For the perfect ending to your Bowen day trip, Cocoa West will tempt the family with house-made, organic chocolate and ice cream offerings.
Bowen Island School
On the way to Artisan Square, you’ll pass by the Bowen Island Community School. The playground makes for a great pit-stop after visiting nature trails and beaches.
Bowen Island Beaches
Bowen has several wonderful Island beaches to choose from. Some of them are not well labelled or that easily found, but our personal favorites include; September Morn, Bowen Bay, Sandy (closest to Snug Cove), and Tunstall Bay beach. The new Cape Roger Curtis development on the north side of the Island offers beach access, as well as a lovely public trail above the seashore. It’s one of our personal favorite walking trails.
travellingmom tip: Pick up a Bowen Island brochure or an Undercurrent newspaper on the BC Ferry for latest news and events. There’s a good map of the Island for planning your Island adventures.
Photo Credits: C. Laroye
Have you ever spent time on Bowen Island? What are some of your favorite things to do on this idyllic island? Share your comment below.