Staying Here, Enjoying Vancouver: Making the Most of Vacation Rentals on Bowen Island

With vacation rentals in Vancouver, BC, becoming increasingly sparse due to new restrictive regulations, travelers are looking further afield for places to stay near Vancouver.

Photo by Jan Stevens

Luckily, vacation rentals on Bowen Island are available as a convenient option, with the bonus of being on one of BC’s loveliest Gulf Islands, a true paradise. Folks choosing to stay on Bowen Island and travel to Vancouver for their urban fixes can return to serene Bowen Island for a quiet evening and a great sleep.

Here’s how easy traveling from Bowen Island to Vancouver is. We recommend taking transit to maximize travel and parking savings and avoid the stress of city driving.

To and From Vancouver By Transit

On Bowen, Getting to the Ferry in Snug Cove

Make your way to Snug Cove by car, and park in the commuter parking lot on Miller road, next to the RCMP station. Here you can park up to twelve hours, and stroll through the woods along Maple Trail in Crippen Park for five minutes, arriving in lower Snug Cove and the ferry terminal.

Commuter lot by the RCMP station.
Photo from www.bowenislandmunicipality.ca/parking


#2 on map is the commuter lot by the RCMP station.
Image from www.bowenislandmunicipality.ca/parking

Alternately, take the Bowen Translink shuttle bus if you're staying at the Eaglecliff properties (Lazy Bowen Hideaway and Lazy B Waterfront Suite), or walk to the ferry if you're at the Evergreen Cottage. (Sorry, bus service does not reach the Eastman properties, but if you’re not driving, try hitching a ride, as folks are usually kind enough to pick others up). If you're using cash or credit card, and taking the shuttle bus and planning to take Translink in Horseshoe Bay as well, let the driver know. What they will usually do is tell you not to pay, and just pay on the other side, as they are currently not able to give transfers like regular buses do. More on Translink fares below.

See our article on getting around Bowen Island for more details on traveling around Bowen Island.

Always check the ferry schedule when planning your trip. Note the longer break in service in the middle of the day. And no need to worry about your ferry ticket, it’s free on the ride from Bowen to Horseshoe Bay.

Once on the mainland, there are three bus options from Horseshoe Bay to downtown Vancouver:
  1. Translink Bus 250 - approx. 55-minute bus ride  
  2. Translink Bus 257 Express -  approx. 35-minute bus ride
  3. The Bowen Island Express Bus - approx. 30-minute bus ride.

Translink - Buses 250, 257 (and others), SkyTrain, and SeaBus in Metro Vancouver

To get downtown from Horseshoe Bay, take Translink buses numbered 250 (about 55 minutes to downtown) or 257 Express (about 35 minutes to downtown). Both run regularly, however, check online, check routes on Google Maps, or call Translink (604-953-3333) if you’ll be returning late at night, to be sure you’ll make your ferry connection.

Catch these buses in Horseshoe Bay just outside of the ferry terminal; you won’t have to wait long for one to show up. Use the transfer you'll get for 1.5 hours on buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus (though there is a higher charge if you go across zones on SkyTrain or SeaBus).

250 Bus returning to Horseshoe Bay.
Photo by Tawker.

When returning home from downtown, find stops for these buses along Georgia Street, beginning in the east from the Hudson's Bay Company store at Georgia and Granville (bus stops are on the north side of the street, heading west).

Keep in mind that the 257 Express has fewer pickup locations along Georgia, and are not always the same locations as the 250. Both, however, pick up from in front of The Hudson’s Bay Company on Georgia at Granville, at Georgia at Burrard, and at Georgia at Denman, so these are three good spots to wait if you're not picky about which you get on (see image below). (The 250 is the longer scenic route along West Vancouver's NW Marine Drive).

Translink 250 & 257 stops where they both occur. Photo images from Google Maps.

Adult fares are 2.85 for 1.5 hours of use, and there is also a Day Pass option if you’ll be using transit all day.

Note: As mentioned above, if you are catching the Bowen Shuttle bus from Eaglecliff, let your driver know before you pay with cash or credit card that you’ll be using Translink on the mainland, and they will usually waive your fee, as they do not give out transfers.

In spring 2018, Translink is introducing on-bus payment by credit card, so no need to worry about exact change. You can find more information on fares here.

Bowen Island Express Bus

“The Bowen Island Express bus” (also known as “Peter’s bus”) is a special commuter run bus servicing early morning ferries, and for people returning to Horseshoe Bay from downtown in the late afternoon. The cost is 4.00 each way, and the ride is about half an hour.

This bus picks up passengers from the 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 am ferries (or equivalent summer/holiday ferry schedule times). Catch this bus outside the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay, around the corner on Bay Street. On a Monday morning, however, you can get the bus right on the ferry if you take the 6:30am run (the bus spends the weekend on Bowen).

Click here to read about the three downtown stop locations and times, and check the Facebook page for updates. The bus may return to meet 3 special commuter runs of a water taxi, leaving from the Government Dock in Horseshoe Bay. Please ask Peter, the driver, if this is still happening. Otherwise, you can return on the ferry.

Express Bus Stops, returning to Horseshoe Bay
Image from Bowen Island Bus (Express Bus) Facebook Page


Note, this is not the same as Translink bus or stops, and the fare is not transferable to Translink buses. (However, as of writing there was some discussion around having the Express Bus link into the Translink payment system in the future.)

BC Ferries

The ferry fare to Bowen Island is 12.35 for adults. If you already have a BC Ferries Experience Card, it will be 7.50. (To get a card, you must load it up with a minimum 65.00-115.00, so ask about this option when you first use the ferry on your way to Bowen. The Bowen route savings are worth it if you use BC ferries often enough).


BC Ferries stops selling foot passenger tickets 10 minutes before the sailing time, so plan to be there earlier than that, especially before the final ferry before the midday break and before the last ferry of the dayyou don’t want to miss it. But if you do...

Water Taxi Options

Did you miss the last ferry? Not a problem. Cormorant Marine runs a water taxi service at 11:30pm Sundays through Thursdays, and at 12:30pm Fridays and Saturdays, at 10.00 per person, from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island. 


They leave from the government dock at the foot of Nelson Avenue. (From the ferry terminal, walk west on Bay Street, and turn right on Nelson towards the water). Get there a little early and wait on the dock; if there is a crowd, the water taxi may make two runs.

Walking directions from the Translink bus stop at the
Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal to the Government Dock,
to catch the water taxi.
Image from Google Maps.

If you have time to spare in Horseshoe Bay, enjoy the waterfront park or go have a drink at The Troller Ale House, which is often open late.




BLAST Sea Taxi is another option for pedestrians getting to Vancouver and back. Call or check their website first to confirm these route and times.

They provide a weekday commuter run from the Government dock on Bowen Island to scenic Coal Harbour downtown, leaving at 6:30am, 8:00am, and 5:10pm, and returning 7:10am, 4:30pm, and 6:00pm.

They also run between Bowen Island and Granville Island on weekends in the high season, with three trips a day, starting from Bowen at 9:45am.

Traveling By Car

Take the scenic Marine Drive route to Vancouver, or the highway for saving time.
Do remember to be back at the ferry terminal at least 15 minutes before your sailing, and we recommend more than that for during commuter runs (early morning and later afternoon/evening) and when catching the sailing before the midday break.

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With a myriad of options to choose from to travel between Vancouver and Bowen Island, staying here and enjoying Vancouver and the natural beauty of our island is an easy decision to make. Contact us if you have more questions about travel and visiting Vancouver from Bowen Island, and of course, peruse our stunning propertiesthey will certainly sway you to the Bowen way.


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