Bowen Island is a small island that is a 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay just outside of downtown Vancouver. To get to the Horseshoe Bay terminal, you can either drive or take the city bus system either the 250 or 257 Express bus. We got lucky and the first bus to arrive at the downtown City Center bus stop was the Express bus! It was late afternoon and the bus took a little longer than we anticipated to make the drive but it was fun to see parts of the city.
The bus drops you off at the ferry terminal where you can purchase your ferry ticket to Bowen Island. The ferry runs about once an hour...except between 1-3. There are waiting rooms with free wi-fi access in the terminal building. Once the ferry arrives there is a quick turnover as passengers and vehicles exit and then the loading process begins. Passengers can walk on and choose many different locations to sit including indoor cushioned seats or outdoor benches on the upper deck. Several people also chose to stand on the car level which is the lower deck of the boat. The ferry trip is quite fast and before you know it you'll be pulling into Bowen Island's Snug Cove.
Just off to the side of the dock you will notice several small buildings including Nancy's Tacos, Lime and Moon Pie Company, and Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. BISK offers rentals and guided tours for both sea kayaks and stand up paddle boards. We signed up for the Sunset and Evening paddle which is a three hour guided paddle for $65. Our flights were delayed slightly so we ended up arriving off the ferry at 5:30 and still needed to check into our B&B. The guides told us to take our time and started our tour a few minutes late.
That night there was also a large children's group out for a paddle and lots of locals taking part in local night out paddling the waters. My friend Jules and I were paired up with a guide named Kyrsten. Kyrsten gave us a basic tutorial and laughed that we were both super nervous about getting into the kayaks without dumping into the water!
The kayaks had a rudder which was controlled via foot pedals inside the boat. The foot pedals took some getting used to for both Jules and I. Luckily we started out going through the bay so the water was nice and calm. We had fun checking out all of the boats that were harbored in the bay. There were a few close calls as we learned how to make the turns and navigate the boats around each other.
Midway through we paused for a photo op. I made the transfer to pass my phone over to Kyrsten with no problems but then Jules and I had to get lined up for the photo. Just as Jules neared my boat, I reached out to grab her boat and nearly capsized myself. We were all cracking up at how unbalanced I got the boat. Once we got the picture taken, we took off heading along the coast to next bay. We checked out all the "beaches" along the coast and by "beach" I mean small rocky patch. We saw a beautiful Heron and even a little seal playing in the water.
Being the runner that I am...I wore my Garmin for the kayaking trip. Every so often I would check out speed in nautical miles which Kyrsten thought was fun. She kept telling us that we were ahead of the average tour group! We ended up covering 6 miles in our 2 hour paddle, which Kyrsten told us was 2 miles further than the normal tour group normally goes. We had plenty of time to add on additional distance but Jules and I were both exhausted from our travel day and we were starving since we hadn't had time to eat dinner before the kayak trip started. The last 20 minutes were tough for me since I was trying so hard to stay awake. I had barely slept the night before and then didn't sleep on the plane at all.
Once we were back at the dock, we had to navigate getting out of the kayaks. We both managed to do it but were surprised at how tough it was. My bottom had fallen asleep during the paddle and it felt so good to get to stand up and stretch. We helped dock the boats and then headed to Doc Morgans for some dinner. The Cheddar Ale Soup tasted awesome and hit the spot.
We had lots of fun kayaking with Kyrsten and the Bowen Island Sea Kayaking crew. Next time, you are in Vancouver consider a side trip to Bowen Island. Not only is there great kayaking but there is also a great network of trails for light hiking on the island. More on that in another post!