The Bottom Line
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, Bowen Island feels a world away because of its slow-paced roads and limited services. And one of the best ways to explore the island environment is at sea level, in a kayak.
- Bowen Island Sea Kayaking's convenient location near the Snug Harbour terminal (just walk onto the ferry at Horseshoe Bay)
- Scenic mountain and coastal views
- Close to Vancouver
- Various rental, lesson, and tour options
- Close to restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts on Bowen Island
- Bowen has few sandy beaches to easily land on
- Occasional wake from passing boats
Where, When, and How Much:
Address: Snug Cove Dock, Bowen Island
Toll free: 1-800-605-2925
Rentals, Lessons, and Tours:
The company offers single kayaks, double kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, multi-day rentals, guided tours, and kayak lessons.
What to Bring:
Don't forget water, snacks, sunscreen, a change of clothes and shoes, and a camera.
For those who are reasonably active, a slow and steady kayaking trip will likely be a fun and rewarding activity. Being at sea level offers a different, more meditative perspective. Seabirds, seals, and other wildlife can be easier to spot when you're quietly paddling in a kayak.
Snug Harbour is located across Howe Sound from the Horseshoe Bay terminal -- an arrival and departure point for BC Ferries. The huge white passenger ships are constantly on the move. You can either take No. 257 express bus to Horseshoe Bay, or drive and park at the terminal. Ferries for Bowen leave more than a dozen times daily, and return with the same regularity. Check with BC Ferries for a current schedule.
Guide Review - Bowen Island Sea Kayaking
On a three-hour kayak paddle on the northeastern coast of Bowen, I spotted seals, watched BC Ferries vessels depart Horseshoe Bay, admired waterside cottages, and felt the tide turn.
Bowen Island Sea Kayaking has a waterside location. When disembarking the ferry, it's to the right of the terminal at Snug Cove. I arrived a little late for my booking, but the reggae music that was playing easily slowed my scheduled pace.
The staff equipped me with a life-jacket, stowed my gear in the kayak's storage area, and discussed my kayaking experience. Soon, I was paddling out in a soda-pop orange kayak toward Deep Bay. The tide flowed with my outward journey, so I took lots of breaks to float and watch for wildlife.
There is lots of lovely scenery to admire along the way. Across Howe Sound see the Sea-to-Sky Highway and sharply peaking mountains. Far closer, the Bowen coast is populated with single-family homes and cottages, ranging from expansive mansions to simple cabins. The island is forested and steep, and its hills tend to pose a challenge for cyclists.
The recreational kayaking season is accessible year-round, but it's most pleasant from May through September (the warmer weather season).
If you're just planning on kayaking and dining on Bowen Island for the day, it's not necessary to bring a vehicle across on the ferry. It's less than a five minute walk from the ferry to Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. Then, head five minutes in the opposite direction along Bowen Trunk Road to reach a strip of Bowen Island shops and restaurants, including excellent thin-crust pizzeria Tuscany.