Bowen Island

2024 How to Get to Bowen Island by Car

You think driving on the ferry to Bowen Island would be straight forward, but it’s a little confusing the first time. So let me walk you through how it works. This has also been a source of debate amongst locals, if the boarding process should be changed to make it more clear to load.

Getting to the Payment Gate

After turning off Highway 99 and following the signs for Ferries, keep to the right most lane. If you see cars backed up in the middle or left most lanes, they are most likely waiting for Naniamo or Langdale. Keeping to the right most lane gets you to the payment gate where there is usually a smaller lineup of vehicles.

During the day time, you will be going through gate 8 on the right. For the 10:20pm ferry, this can switch to the left or Gate 3 or 4.

After Payment Follow the left most lane

Once you’re through the payment gate, keep to the left most lane one until the first stop sign. There are speed bumps all the way down, but luckily BC ferries gives us the long roller speed bumps instead of the short and choppy bumps compared to the other lanes.

Sit back and enjoy a little schadenfreude as you see other vehicles racing you down in lanes 2-7, but going the same speed and being bounced into oblivion.

Just stick in that lane one until you’re past the stop sign. If you see vehicles waiting, you may be stuck waiting for another ferry to unload, but you should still make your sailing if they’ve let you through the first payment gate.

After the stop sign drive under the tower on the right

Just after the stop sign you’re looking for that tower on your right and the signs that say lanes 61-72. Drive in either when directed, or after stopping. If you’re a larger over-height vehicle, or have a long trailer you may have been directed elsewhere. If you are a normal size vehicle, under 6′ and less than 20′, then drive on under the overhead tower.

After you drive into the Bowen Island Loading area

When inside, look for lane 69, but if it’s full, go one to the right or left, and keep this pattern up. Today, I drove into lane 64 because all other lanes were full. The important thing is that you don’t block the back area where cars need to go behind you.

Today, lanes 65-72 were full, so we pulled into lane 64.

Just because your ticket says 69, does not mean you need to drive down lane 69.

The Queen of Capaliano, better known as the Bowen Island ferry, will be able to take just over 100 vehicles. This is about 10 lanes worth of vehicles. Lately, lanes 71 & 72 have been undergoing construction, and are vacant of cars. So if you were worried about missing the ferry because you are in Lane 64; fear not.


I hope this guide to driving onto the Bowen Island ferry has been useful. If you’re not under the tower in a normal sized vehicle, check with one of the staff members to make sure you’re in the right place.