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