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Island Flavour

An islander’s guide to visiting Bowen for city folk

You are excited to escape the city and set sail for your island getaway. You can already smell the salty sea air and feel the warm sun on your face.

We islanders enjoy having other people visit and experience what we love so much about living here on Bowen, however, we are also protective of this blessed place we call home. If you follow a few of these guidelines, you will be welcomed with open arms. Or, at least, you won’t have anyone rolling their eyes at you.

Consider leaving your car at home

Lighten your footprint by using your feet. Because who wants to head to paradise only to find themselves stuck in traffic and choking on fumes. You are likely escaping the city to immerse yourself in nature, so embrace your own biped nature. Know that everything essential on Bowen is within walking distance of the ferry. And if it isn’t, there are several options for getting around – scooter rental, public transit, plus an organized hitchhiking network. Catching a ride with a friendly local is encouraged, look for the designated LIFT stops.

Slow down

If you insist on bringing your vehicle, there’s not a lot of rules we take seriously here, but the speed limit (max 40 km/h) is one of them. Our roads are single lane, without shoulder, and are shared with pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife. Travel with care. There’s nowhere to get to that requires any urgency, anyways. Well, maybe except to the grocery store before it closes. Or to the beach before the sun sets. But if you miss the ferry, don’t worry, there’s another one real soon.

Our local restaurants are all amazing, and also operate on ‘island’ principles. Service is more about having an enjoyable experience than ushering people through a revolving door, which means sometimes it takes more time. Relax. That’s why you’re here anyways, right?

Support local business

Leave the Starbucks and McDonald’s behind in the city. We value that our businesses are locally owned and operated. It’s part of what adds to Bowen’s unique character and charm. It can be a challenge to maintain a business in a small community, especially during the quieter winter months, so share your love with the artisans and families of Bowen by shopping local. Besides, we have WAY better options on the island for coffee and burgers. But please don’t ask any of the restaurants if they offer “happy meals” for the kiddos. They do not.

Keep the landscape clean

You’ve come to be rejuvenated by the forests, mountains, and sea. We must all do our part to keep them pristine. Increased population during the visitor season strains our local services, such as garbage collection. If you bring trash from the city, please dispose of it responsibly. If you have carried your coffee cup all the way from town, take the extra step and carry it to the garbage can. Feel free to go the extra mile and join the latest social trend, plogging, and pick up any rubbish you find while exploring the island. Also, please do not smoke in the forests, especially in the summer months. We like our forests green.

Say hello

We islanders are a friendly bunch. It’s a telltale sign you are a city dweller when you walk past without looking us in the eye and saying hello. Or at least a small smile. It can be an adjustment if you are from a large city where trying to acknowledge every other human would be overwhelming. But here, it’s an aspect of what makes life so enjoyable. We love to engage in a brief dialogue with a passerby. It doesn’t need to be deeply meaningful, you can simply comment on the scenery, or that you like their funky purple hat, or whatever. Just take a moment to connect. You will be reminded about the goodness of humanity by doing so.

Figure out the ferry

We are a community that depends on the ferry for our connection to the world at large. The “Queen of Cap” is our lifeline, sometimes quite literally. We use it to commute to work, visit family, attend cancer treatments, etc. When the ferry system gets botched up, it’s one of the few things around here that raises our blood pressure. If you take note of a few simple rules, everyone will have a smoother sailing: do not cut in line; if you are travelling on foot, allow cars to unload and load before crossing the road and halting traffic; and when lining up to leave Bowen, observe the yellow crosshatches painted on the road that indicate “no parking”. Bon voyage!

Kiley Redhead

Director of Adventure

Kiley believes adventure brings out the best in her and that is has the transformative capacity to do the same for others.

Six ways to cool off on a hot day

This summer we’ve already experienced scorching heat, sweaty brows, and sunburns – and it’s only June.

With summer comes long days of sunshine, providing plenty of time for outdoor adventures. After hours of roasting under the blazing sun, here are some of our favourite ways to chill out on Bowen:

Gobble up some ice cream

Almost everyone has sweet memories of sticky ice cream trickling down their hands and arms to drip onto their wet-from-the-beach swimsuit. Add more gooey goodness to your fond remembrances at:

  • Located on the pier, Branch and Butter serves locally-made Earnest Ice Cream with newfangled flavours such as Spruce Bud or Rhubarb Oat Crumble.
  • The window on the boardwalk at the Union SteamShip Marina gift shop serves up good old-fashioned choices like Strawberry or Chocolate, but feel free to mix it up with a scoop of Birthday Cake or Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl.
  • Cocoa West Chocolatier at Artisan Square serves a small selection of standby flavours from Mario’s Gelato.

Head to the nearest beach for a swim

Island living means exposure to constant breezes and brisk ocean water temperatures that will soothe your heat-agitated soul. There are numerous beaches to discover on our rocky shores, here are a few of the more popular ones for swimming:

  • Tunstall Bay Beach is family-friendly and it’s west-facing locale provides for great sunsets.
  • Roger Curtis Beach is popular for an end-of-the-day dip and is also one of the more dog-friendly spots on the island.
  • Seymour Bay is located near the golf course (yes, there’s a golf course on Bowen) and has lovely views towards the city.

Find a shady spot under a patio umbrella

Many of Bowen’s great restaurants also have great patios and for as long as we get to enjoy the dry summer months, they are usually humming with happy patrons.

  • The cheerful courtyard at Rustique Bistro is surrounded by grass, shaded by trees, and also dog-friendly. You know you’re not in the city any more when.
  • Located “up the hill”, the French-inspired comfort food served at Artisan Eats is loved by locals and visitors alike. Enjoy your breakfast or lunch on the terrace overlooking stunning Howe Sound.
  • One of Bowen’s newer-on-the-scene restaurants, Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar, has created a lovely gazebo-like patio surrounded by fresh flowers where you can bask in their Spanish delights.

Imbibe in a cold drink

Refresh yourself with an icy beer, unique cocktail, or fresh juice at one of Bowen’s favourite institutions. As an added bonus, each of these establishments also have covered patio seating to shelter you from the elements.

  • Hang out at Bowen’s newest establishment, the Bowen Island Pub, which offers chill west coast vibes with craft beer and locally-inspired cocktails.
  • A long-standing visitors’ favourite set in a historic building, the tap list at Doc Morgan’s will suit a variety of tastes.
  • The Snug Café is known for their breakfasts, which also includes a reviving selection of veggie juices or blended fruit smoothies.

Take part in an ocean-going adventure

Not every adventure with us is going to make you hot, some are specifically designed to keep you cool.

  • For those who want to gain confidence to go swimming beyond splashing about at the shore, learn important skills in our open-water swimming course, Intro to Ocean Swimming.
  • Hot to Cool will get you sweaty with our hiking adventure that leads you clear across the island, where you will finish off with an invigorating swim at one of our favourite beaches.
  • Explore the amazing underwater scenery that exists only in Howe Sound by learning to snorkel in our Under the Sea adventure.

Follow the locals

There are many hidden gems on Bowen Island so if you know someone who lives here, they can point you in the right direction.

  • If you’re lucky enough to be friends with a member of the Tunstall Bay Beach Club, ask them if they can bring you as a guest to lounge poolside.
  • Dine in the fields as the sun sets at the popular Long Table Dinners at Home Farm Gardens where local chefs prepare sumptuous meals using farm-inspired ingredients.
  • One of Bowen’s favourite summertime traditions is attending the Canada Day Celebration in Crippen Park where the local volunteer fire department showcases their fire trucks and turn the hoses on to soak all those who are willing to jump into the fray of shrieking children.

Kiley Redhead

Director of Adventure

Kiley believes adventure brings out the best in her and that is has the transformative capacity to do the same for others.

Watch adventure films uniquely Bowen

At first glance, you might wonder what locals get up to on Bowen, but there is more to see and do than meets the eye.

When you arrive off the ferry, you will notice the commercial centre is small – six restaurants, two pubs, one chocolatier, a few shops and galleries, some cafés, plus a smattering of other essential services sums up the hustle and bustle on our fair island. But if you look beyond the buildings, out to the sea, through the forests, and into the mountains, you will discover there is much more to behold.

The diverse landscapes of Bowen offer opportunities for a wide variety of outdoor activities, and not only are locals outside playing, they are also making films of their escapades. Here are some eye-catching films made by resident Bowen adventurers:

Best places to rest in between adventures on Bowen

From earthy to elegant, Bowen’s welcoming lodgings have got you covered for the night.

Even though the island is close to the City, why spend only one day in paradise when you can stay two, three, or more? Whether you want to pare down to a simpler existence or indulge in all the creature comforts, there is a unique experience available for everyone. Once you have tuckered yourself out playing outside all day, these are some select places to turn in before heading out on your next day’s adventure.

Funky cabin in the woods

Nestled amidst five acres of forested trails, Wildwood Lane Cabins offer three rustic cabins, all updated with industrial and reclaimed timber features. Each cozy pad includes a fully-equipped kitchen and loft bedroom. You will feel as though you are deep in the backwoods, yet still have access to all the amenities Bowen has to offer.

Website

Home away from home

Bowen Island Accommodations provides a range of homey options from beach cottage to luxury waterfront home. Each with gorgeous ocean views, you are sure to regain your energy by breathing in the revitalizing sea air.

bowenislandaccommodations.net

Girlfriends’ getaway

At Tyee House, you will likely be invited to unwind from your day in the garden with your favourite bottle of wine. The delightful host provides epicurean breakfasts made from ingredients she picks up at the local farmers market. Lucky you! Grab your girlfriend, there’s a bedroom for each of you, and pack your bags.

Website

Detoxify your life

The attention to detail is what guests appreciate about the well-appointed cottages set upon immaculate grounds at Nectar Yoga B&B. Each stay includes healthful breakfasts, yoga, and meditation lessons. For a more internal kind of adventure, experience their specialty – liquid detox weekend getaways.

nectaryogabnb.ca

A piece of history

A century ago, Bowen Island was a premier resort destination for adventure seekers who travelled from town by steamship. Now operated by the Union SteamShip Company, these historical cottages have been preserved to maintain their original character. Located in the heart of Snug Cove, each differs with a range from one to five bedrooms.

unionsteamshipmarina.com

Room with a view

Bowen Bay’s Nest is a 2-bedroom luxury, self-contained suite overlooking Bowen Bay with views to the Sunshine Coast and beyond. This modern oasis entices you to slow down, connect with nature, and take it all in.

Website

Kick up your heels

The guest suite at Evergreen Accommodations is a spacious private apartment, perfect for putting your feet up and soaking in the ambience. Originally built in the 1940s as a recreation hall for a nearby resort, you will feel reminiscent of those marvellous times with access to the grand dining room, sitting room, and historic dance hall.

evergreenaccommodations.com

Romantic evening

The Chocolate Suite at Cocoa West is located in the centre of the artisan community surrounded by shops, art galleries, and wellness studios. Once you are ready to retire to your den, dim lighting and dark chocolate makes for an night of sensual indulgence. Sweet dreams.

cocoawest.com

Get the gang all together

Bowen Island Lodge is one of the few accommodations on the island capable of hosting large groups. The scenic oceanside setting has inspired a recent remodel of the rooms and suites. With boardrooms and a full-service hall, they are all set to host your next educational seminar or corporate event.

bowenislandlodge.ca

Furry-friends welcome

Bowen Island is an animal lovers’ paradise. With beautiful forested trails and dog-friendly beaches, you and your pooch can go almost everywhere, including to stay at the Simply Safari Guest Suite. Your cordial hostess has decorated the suite in the style of her frequent African safari excursions.

simplysafarisuite.com

Kiley Redhead

Director of Adventure

Kiley believes adventure brings out the best in her and it has the transformative capacity to do the same for others.

Four outdoorsy events to check out this summer

Whether you want to be inspired by other people’s stories or get your own feet wet, adventure is waiting for you.

These festivities are about celebrating the great outdoors, they are also about people who love to be outside. Behind each of these events are impassioned locals who believe in the power of adventure to enhance lives. These are a few of the organized events you can join in on Bowen Island this summer season:

Bowen Island Adventure Film Festival

When we started the film festival three years ago, we didn’t realize we were also planting the seed for what is now Bowen Island Adventures. At the time, we simply wanted to connect with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts and offer a platform for people to share their stories about their love of sport and to celebrate the extraordinary nature of Bowen Island. This year’s event will again showcase a diverse array of adventure-loving residents doing everything from scuba diving to rock climbing, right here on our beloved island.
Saturday, May 26th, 2018
For more info: biaff.ca

’Round Bowen Challenge

Organized by Brent O’Malley, the intrepid owner of Bowen Island Sea Kayaking, this race to circumnavigate 32 km around Bowen is one of the West coast’s biggest kayak events. The ’Round Bowen Challenge is open to paddlers of high performance kayaks, fast sea kayaks, sea kayaks, OC 1’s and 2’s, and standup paddleboards. The race ends with a dock party, awards ceremony, and the now famous salmon BBQ at the Bowen Island Marina.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
For more info: bowenislandkayaking.com/events-item/round-bowen-challenge

Swim Bowen

A force of nature herself, Mary Letson, the owner of Positively Fit, is pro-active in the fitness community. She created Swim Bowen to help fundraise for islanders who are undergoing cancer treatments. This inaugural event is a 1,000 m open-water swim, which can be done either solo or in a relay team. Grab your goggles to go for an invigorating plunge and then unwind with the post-event festivities at the Tunstall Bay Beach Club.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
For more info: swimbowen.wordpress.com

Handloggers Half Marathon

This challenging 21 km mountain trail run takes racers through some of Bowen’s most scenic trails. What started out as an idea during a trail run, the first event took off with just five hardy runners. Six years later, the Handloggers Half Marathon has grown to involve over 70 racers. Supported by a strong volunteer contingent, this event is spearheaded by co-organizers Phil Osborne and Alicia Hoppenrath, who are both also founders of the Bowen Island Trail Society.
Saturday, September 1, 2018
For more info: handloggershalf.com

Kiley Redhead

Director of Adventure

Kiley believes adventure brings out the best in her and it has the capacity to do the same for others.

Summer fun for (big and little) kids

Every experience in life can be an adventure if you bring your child-like wonder to it.

Children are brimming with a natural curiosity and desire for play. And play comes in all sorts. Bowen offers a plentitude of outdoor adventure sports, however, there are many other types of activities to engage kids of all ages and interests. Here are a few suggestions for summer pastimes on Bowen:

1

Explore tidal pools at Cape Roger Curtis

Spend your morning visiting the area surrounding Bowen’s iconic landmark, the lighthouse at the Cape. On this side of the island, the seas are slightly wilder and create the perfect conditions for wave-hopping at the beach. When the tide is out, venture onto the rocks and explore the pools that teem with sea life. Be sure to bring your swimsuit as a short stroll along the SeaWalk Trail leads you to Pebbly Beach, a more sheltered bay with a sandy bottom, great for a dip on a hot day. Roger Curtis Beaches at the Lighthouse on the Cape.

2

Frolic at the playground at Bowen Island Community School

Referred to by locals as BICS (pronounced “bicks”), this elementary school is the hub of family life on Bowen. It features a modern playground with swings, slides, and climbing structures. There are also soccer fields with plenty of room to run and tennis courts to whack a ball around. Let your young’uns roam free and ensure a restful night’s sleep for everyone. 1041 Mt. Gardner Road.

3

Enjoy ice cream on the marina boardwalk

Take a snapshot of island living as boats and planes come and go at the busy marina operated by the Union SteamShip Company. Stroll the boardwalk alongside the great lawn where you can play catch or set up for a game of croquet. Mind the gaggle of geese, however. At the ice cream window, choose your favourite from a variety of options. Whether you pick old-fashioned vanilla or caramel cookie swirl, pull up a seat on a bench and gobble it up before it melts. 431 Bowen Island Trunk Road.

4

Pick wild berries all over the island

The roads and forest trails on Bowen are bursting with wild berries during the summer months. In June, you will begin to see delicate salmonberries, in July come the sweet-tart huckleberries, and in August are the big, juicy blackberries. As you wander, it’s great fun to search for these treasures of the edible kind. These areas are also great for wildlife spotting as birds and animals depend upon these berries for nutrition. Be sure to share the bounty and leave plenty for others. It is important to be able to identify what is edible. If you are not sure about a berry, don’t eat it!

5

Have a restful read at the Bowen Island Public Library

The Bowen Island Public Library is housed in one of the original commercial buildings on Bowen and retains its historical charm. Upon entering, it feels as though you have been embraced by a warm hug. The friendly librarians will be happy to make recommendations on favourite children’s books. Curl up in a comfy chair and while away the afternoon. Note this library is child-friendly, meaning not always so quiet. You may hear an excited voice or two every once in a while. 430 Bowen Island Trunk Road.

6

Watch birds and bats flutter about the causeway

The causeway is a brief 5-minute walk from the ferry and links the Cove with the residential neighbourhood of Deep Bay. On this bridge between the fresh-water lagoon and the ocean lives flocks of birds including ducks, geese, herons, eagles, and you might even catch a glimpse of Bowen’s resident white swan. Perch on the bench and take in the view of the North Shore mountains (it never gets tiresome). As dusk sets in and the mosquitos come out, the feeding bats put on an airshow sure to provoke squeals of delight. At the end of Union Road.

7

Load up on sweets at Candy in the Cove

While it proclaims to be the “smallest candy store in the world”, what it lacks in square footage, it makes up for with its huge selection. Your eyes will pop at the abundance of sugary confections available ranging from nostalgic goodies to current favourites. If you’re lucky, you will arrive during music trivia time and have a chance to win free candy. It might be best to follow up this activity with a run about at BICS (see number 2 above) to burn off some of that energy. 449 Bowen Island Trunk Road.

8

Tinker with the newest toys and games at Phoenix

Bowen’s toy store features a well-curated selection of the latest playthings for kids of all ages. In summer, the specials include water floaties, super soakers, and beach toys. It is the place to shop for finding a unique gift for a birthday party on-island or snagging a colouring book for the car-ride home. In addition to toys, browse a great sampling of books, cards, and puzzles, plus hand-made gifts from makers on Bowen. You probably won’t leave without hearing at least one “Mom/Dad, can I have…?” 209 Village Square.

9

Spot wildlife at Killarney Lake

A walk around Killarney Lake provides an alternate, more serene view of water life on the island. The shoreline is covered in lily pads most of the early summer providing cool shade for fish and tadpoles below. Above the surface, the trails are rife with critters. Have fun by creating your own game to see who can spot the most dragonflies, frogs, and squirrels. Other animals of note you may encounter are deer, slugs, and the occasional slithery snake (don’t worry, they’re the harmless kind).

10

Pump up at Bowen’s bike park

Hop on your BMX or mountain bikes and ride the waves at Bowen’s newest outdoor playground. Built by the local community, this forested pump track is a continuous circuit of dirt rollers and jumps that loops back on itself, suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. Located on the BICS Trail.

Summer fun activities on Bowen