Bowen Island Cycling

2024 Guide for a Bowen Island Day Trip

What do you want to do?

That’s what I ask everyone who shows up to our shop, wether they’re renting an eBike, Golf Cart, or just a passer-by who wants some more information.

“Mountains, Forrests, Views, Water, Cider, Golf, Hikes?” I say curious.

They normally respond with an emphatic ‘All of the Above’ reply.

Ok, so in this post I’m going to break down what I consider to be the best day trip on Bowen Island, and leave the rest up to you.

Starting the day

Grabbing breakfast on Bowen you have a few options. Tell Your Friends probably does the most upscale breakfasts in the cove. If you want to watch the ferry coming and going, and the Kayak shop in full swing, then this would be the place to go. Sunrise is great from the marina.

If you’re feeling like a bigger breakfast is in order, or an even earlier day calls, then there’s Snug Cafe. Eggs Benedict, Smoothies, or just a couple of breakfast wraps with avocado, eggs, and sausages are great too.

Pro tip: Get to the breakfast joints just before the ferry is arriving for the shortest lineups. Use the app “Bowen Island” to get a fix on the ferry.

For the Hikers

You’ve made it here, caffeinated on your first coffee, and are gearing up for some nature. Wow, Nature! You’ve got some options:

The All Day Hikers: Come September, the locals have one of the hardest lower mainland 1/2 marathons that runs over Mt. Gardner. Yeah, it’s brutal; I’ve done it twice now, it’s sadistic, but somehow we love it. Needless to say, if you’re doing Mt. Gardner, get prepared for a 5 hour minimum round trip from Snug Cove.

There are two ways to approach Mt. Gardner. One walking from Snug Cove, as an out and back, but the second is probably my favourite. Catch the bus and head across the island to either Blue Water, or to Rileys Cidery. Head into the trails from there, and walk back to Snug Cove. I’ve never been into out and backs, covering the same territory twice, so I think this is a great option for those who know they can last the 5 hours.

If you’re unsure of the route and we’re open, pop into our shop and ask for directions; we’ll be happy to show you the way. The other great resource for not getting lost on Bowen Island is Tourism Bowen Island. They have some great maps, and friendly people. Only a short walk from the cove too right next to the bus stop you’ll be waiting at anyways.

The 1 hour hiking groups: we’ve got two routes for you. One is up to Dorman Point. Just cross the grass field (left after you walk off the ferry), and start heading up. It’s a semi-steep 45min uphill hike to a beautiful view point. This out and back gives you a great view of Vancouver.

If you’ve already done this; there’s a secret trail behind the mailboxes on Dorman Road. The hike takes you up to a water tower overlooking the city. Search for Valhalla and you’re on your way. Not recommended for those not up for an adventure in getting lost.

The keep it casual group: From Snug Cove, if you walk the trails behind Tourism Bowen Island, you can make it to Killarney lake in about 40min-1hr. A round trip of Killarney Lake is about 1hr as well, making it the flattest rout on the Island and only about 2 hours of walking. You’ll pass a waterfall at Bridal Veil Falls, and a beaver damn half way to Killarney Lake.

For the beach lovers

There are some amazing beaches on the island. Check out our municipalities map called Bowmap and click ‘Shoreline Access’. It’ll tell you what beaches are Community Beaches, Neighbourhood-beaches, and costal access points.

It’s always so sad when I have a group of visitors head down Adams road, expecting to find a beach, but instead get a costal access-point. So they have to bike up the extremely steep hill, only to go down Bowen Bay hill. Which they get to a beach; but then they have to bike up an even steeper hill to get out.

My suggestion is if you have a vehicle, head to the cape, and go to Roger Curtis Pebbly Beach; or stick it out at Tunstall Beach.

For the Cider Enthusasits

Bowen Island features two cideries. Rileys Cidery, and Meadowbrook Cidery. Both are great; and highly recomended.

At Medowbrook, you can get Lunch, look at the quail, pet a dog, see the chickens, admire the apple trees, and just live that quiet farm life. Just about 1/2 way across the island, and higly recomended.

Meadowbrook Market is also a Bowen eBikes Charging Station, so if you have grabbed some bikes; stopping here is recomeneded before carrying on.

Rileys Cidery is a little further across the island. A large acreage; with some unique ciders that are winning awards across America. The claim to fame is they have over 1000 different apple species on the property.

Rileys Cidery is a Bowen eBikes charging station. You could leave the bikes on the charger here, if you wanted to do a “quick” summit out and back on Mt. Gardners back side. A “quick” summit being about 1hr up and 30min down.

For the activity doe’rs

We’ve got golf, there’s Kayaking, and of course eBiking on the island.

While there is some mountain biking, I’d recommend meeting up with a local to tour you around. Any of the harder runs on the north shore, would be easier here. Everything goes up a level in difficulty on Bowen for Mountain Biking.

Kayaking at Bowen Island Sea Kayaking is a great way to spend an afternoon cooling off.

Camping on Bowen Island

Unfortunately, there is nothing yet here on the island. There’s a debate going on now wether to allow Metro Vancouver to build a campground out near Cape Roger Curtis or not.

The only camping is kayak access only. Would not recommend camping on Bowen Island just yet.

Getting from point to point

If you’re looking to get around the island without a vehicle; I can’t recommend the ebikes enough, but hey I’m biased.

There are no taxi services here on the island, so if you’re looking to get to the golf course; bike, or hitchhike is your only way. Luckily this year we have quite strong eBikes for the hill coming out of the golf course.

If you’re looking to go to Cape Roger Curtis, the bus route does not go there. But biking, you can get there, and stop off at a couple of the cidery’s for food along the way.

If you do bring a vehicle across; make sure you’re prepared to wait for an extra ‘overload’ sailing to get off. The evenings are the worst, and sometimes the ferry is canceled after 5pm (water taxi/passenger ferry only). Saturday & Sunday evenings are the worst for overloads, but you should be fine on a non-holiday Monday-Friday sailing.

Getting Here

Take the 257 bus from downtown Vancouver. (You do not want to get on the 250, unless you have a stomach of steel). The winding roads of west Vancouver have never agreed with me, and the extra 20min journey; why?

Are you coming here more than once? Consider loading up an ‘experience card’ sold by BC Ferries. Passengers can load up $50, or drivers $100, and the card will give you 20-30% off your voyage to Bowen Island. Just coming once? It’s about $12, and a little more if you bring your own bike.

Driving on the ferry: Your ticket will say lane 69. Nice, but you actually start off heading down lane 1 (one), the LEFT MOST isle down to the front of the lines. You’ll hit a stop sign. Have a look for the bridge and a sign that says lanes 60-70 underneath. There’s where you drive into; underneath the covered bridge.

You do not need to be in lane 69 to board the Bowen Island Ferry. You can be a lane to the right or left; and it will be just fine. If a lane is full; just pull into the one beside it.

Getting Off Bowen Island

Your ticket is a round trip; and no one will ask you for the paper on the way off.

The ferry line can be a bit tricky. There will be chaos in the summertimes. The main rule is do not park on the yellow cross hatches on the roadway. The stop sign for boarding the ferry is right in front of our bike shop. Motorcycles board first, then vehicles.

One big ‘gotcha’ is Wednesdays the 4pm off Bowen Island is Dangerous Cargo. No one else can get on this ferry; only propane trucks.

Wednesdays leaving Bowen Island you want to catch the 2:40pm ferry or the 5:10pm ferry. There is no 4pm sailing.

Saturdays leaving Bowen Island often during the summer time they cancel the 7:30pm sailing. It’s the 5:10pm, 6:20pm and then the 8:40pm sailing.

The two best apps for Bowen Island

The Bowen Island app in the app store has sailings and a map of the ferry. One of the best resources I use on an almost daily basis.

Audio Me has tours of Bowen Island. If you want to have an audio guide instead of sticking with a tour group; then it is recommended.

Final thoughts

This has been written based on my time living on Bowen Island; growing a rental business, and having thousands of cyclists give me their thoughts on the day.

If there’s something in here that’s not covered; but you want to know about; reach out to or give us a call at 778-956-7946. We’re always happy to answer any questions bike related or not.