It was a sunny weekend morning and my friend Matt and I were trying to decide what to do to make the most of the day. The criteria: it had to be something new and we had to be able to take Avy along. Matt suggested a trip to the Sunshine Coast but while checking the BC Ferries listings to get there we saw the Bowen Island schedule and thought “hey, why not??”.
Bowen Island is 3 nautical miles from Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver, and just a 20 minute ferry ride! BC Ferries runs hourly, with one exception over the lunch hour. A round trip for a vehicle and 2 passengers is $59.50 plus tax, the walk-on rate is $12.35 per person and dogs are free.
If you decide you want to walk-on, there is plenty to do within walking distance of the ferry terminal at Snug Cove, including restaurants, shops and some hiking trails within Crippen Regional Park. If you drive over you can get virtually anywhere on the island for a day trip and will have access to lots of great little beaches, coves and hiking trails!
Since we decided to go to Bowen Island on a whim and didn’t really have a plan, we picked up an island map from the tourist pamphlets on the ferry and decided to explore the west side of the island. But first, we needed to get Avy into the water as soon as possible to cool off. So, after driving off the ferry we followed the map north to our first stop at Millers Landing Beach. The views were spectacular and the small, rocky beach was perfect for Avy to take a dip and ease the anxiety of her water obsession – which was maxed out from the ferry ride.
From here we carried on to the west side of the island and stopped at several beaches including:
Note: some beaches on Bowen Island restrict the time of year when dogs are allowed – be sure to check the signage posted at the entrance to all beaches.
After poking around several beaches and doing some exploring, we decided it was time to get a bit of exercise and check out the trails at Bowen Island’s Crippen Regional Park. It is about a 5 minute drive from Snug Cove and once there we walked an easy 9km on the Killarney Lake Loop Trail. It has very little elevation change and more amazing scenery.
It was starting to get on in the afternoon so it was time to head back towards the ferry to find some food and then head home (this is also where the majority of the islands shops and restaurants are located). We weren’t sure what we’d be able to eat with Avy in tow, but figured we could likely get a sandwich or some other take-out and go to one of the park areas next to the ferry terminal to eat it.
We checked out Doc Morgan’s Pub & Restaurant right next to the ferry line up and, to our surprise, we found they have a dog friendly patio out back – they have a restaurant and patio upstairs, and a large, covered patio downstairs. The downstairs patio had a water bowl for dogs at the edge of it and a group of people were sitting at one of the tables with their dog at their side. We asked a server what the dog policy was and were told that dogs were welcome on the lower patio but not the upper one. We happily took a seat and enjoyed dinner and a drink with Avy next to us before it was time to head back over on the ferry.
Needless to say after running on beaches, swimming and a long walk, Avy was exhausted by the end of the day.
Update: Thanks to one of our readers who wrote us after reading this post, the Bowen Island Pub also allows dogs on their patio and has excellent food. It’s located at the top of the hill by the ferry terminal. We haven’t had a chance to try it yet but we definitely will on our next visit!