On a sunny Sunday in Spring 2021, we decided to visit Bowen Island for a day trip. Bowen island is very close to Vancouver (only a 20 minutes ferry ride), and the island is fairly small, so you can definitely return on the same day if you don’t want to stay the night. Also, the return trip is free! We took a car over there, but its possible to go on foot as well, as most of the shops and restaurants are walking distance from the ferry terminal.
- Boarding the ferry
- On the ferry
- Lunch – The Snug Cafe
- Cape Roger Curtis Lighthouse
- Dorman Point
- Killarney Lake
- Ice Cream – Branch on Bowen
- Return Ferry
Bowen Island is a great first time ferry ride for cats! It’s a short journey and the destination has lots of cat friendly activities!
Boarding the ferry
The ferry departs from Horseshoe Bay (schedule posted here), which is an exit on the Sea to Sky Highway. If its your first time boarding here, try to arrive 15 minutes before departure, and make sure to follow the signs to enter the correct lane! You cannot reserve bookings for this route. If you miss the turn (which we did), you’ll have to do a loop through the village, which takes about 8 minutes (but if you arrived 15 minutes early, you will still make the ferry). After paying at a toll booth, and sitting briefly in a waiting area, you will be directed onto the ferry where you will park where the attendant directs you to.
The ferry costs $10.45 for adults and $29.60 for a car. (Fare Calculator here)
On the ferry
The washrooms are upstairs in the enclosed seating area, and there is an top level deck as well. You can also stay inside the car. The ferry ride is only 20 minutes long, which is very short, and you’ll soon hear announcements to return to your car for departure.
There are lots of dogs in the car deck and the tiny Pet Area is not great for cats. It would be better to stay in the car or secretly go to the other decks in the cat backpack. Even though these areas are not pet friendly, no one noticed or minded. (Backpack perks!)
Lunch – The Snug Cafe
Most of the restaurants and shops are located close to the ferry terminal. Right after getting off the ferry, you can look for a place to park. Free parking is located either on the street, or the nearby parking lot.
We decided to eat at The Snug Cafe which has a beautiful pet friendly patio. The coffee was very good, but the food is just okay. It is worth it to come here for the ambiance though! It reminds me of somewhere tropical!
The patio has cool rocks and bushes for cats to sniff while the humans are eating!
Cape Roger Curtis Lighthouse
Our first stop after lunch was the Cape Roger Curtis Lighthouse on the west end of the island. As the ferry terminal is on the east side, people who came on foot will stay in the east end, and the west end is relatively quiet. The lighthouse is about a 15 minute drive from the ferry terminal, and has a very small parking lot (around 6 spots). From there, there is a short trail leading down to the water’s edge. We spent almost an hour here, climbing the jagged rocks and taking photos.
Cats will love climbing the rocks here, but it can be a little windy, and the waves might be loud. Keep them in the backpack if they aren’t feeling comfortable here!
Dorman Point is back on the east side of the island. You’ll drive most of the way up a small mountain, and then hike the rest on foot. It’s a short 200m uphill hike. From the viewpoint, you’ll be able to see West Vancouver, although partially obstructed by trees. For a better second viewpoint, go a little further towards the right side of the main viewpoint, where there is a small clearing. It looks like you can explore a little further than this, but we didn’t go any further.
This is a short hike so you can either let your cat walk it, or carry them in their backpack.
Killarney Lake is the largest lake on Bowen Island, and you can walk all around it on a well maintained trail for an easy 2 hour hike with minimal elevation gain. The parking lot is decent size, around 20 cars. We decided not to walk around the entire lake, but went towards the left / clockwise direction around the lake to the closest viewpoint. This is a small pebble beach where you can hang out, eat some snacks, and enjoy the lake view.
This is a nice spot for cats to explore and sniff the rocks.
Ice Cream – Branch on Bowen
Branch on Bowen is a small ice cream shop near the ferry terminal. It’s a good spot to go while waiting for the ferry. Perfect for the end of a long day! They have many flavours and I got the Whiskey Hazelnut. It was soooo good!
To return on the ferry, just drive back the main road from where you came from. Cars will park directly on the road leading to the terminal, and wait to board the next ferry. We saw people put their cars in park and walk off while waiting. We did this too and got ice cream while we waited.
Again, the return trip is free so you just have to drive on and follow instructions. We stayed in the car for the journey back.
Your cat should be all tired out by now. They should nap the entire journey home!
We had a great day at Bowen Island! It was sunny, relaxed, and Teddy had a great time too. I would definitely recommend this trip to other cat explorers!
Have you been to Bowen Island? Would you want to go after reading this?