Located at the opening to Howe Sound is the beautiful and quiet Bowen Island which lives up to its tag line of “Within Reach, Beyond Comparison.”
How to get there
A return foot passenger ticket costs $11 for the 20 minute journey across the water to the island inhabited by 3,300 people. Make sure you get yourself a good spot on the sun deck and have your camera ready to grab some stunning photos of the surrounding snow-capped summer mountains.
You don’t need a return ticket, you simply walk back onto the ferry at Snug Cove. The last ferry from Bowen Island leaves at 10.10pm.
Kilarney Lake Hike
The Kilarney Lake hike is approximately 9 km in length, with minimal elevation gain and took us approximately 2 and a half hours to complete with a 15 minute lunch stop.
After leaving the ferry take the first road on your right next to the Bowen Island Library and walk past the visitor centre (where you can pick up a trail map) to the signposted Alder Grove Trail and head into Crippen Regional Park.
The first highlight of the hike is the Bridal Veil Falls which flow into The Lagoon. The falls have a clever fish ladder to allow fish to swim upstream during mating season. We imagine it would be quite spectacular to visit during the early autumn to see some Salmon getting some serious Michael Jordon “air time” as they move upstream!
After crossing the Millers Road we followed the Hatchery Trail through some lush rainforest before taking a right into the tranquil Terminal Creek Meadows, although we did have to dodge some suspect Aussie rules players trying to throw a strange shaped ball around!
After taking a right onto Killarney Creek Trail we headed down to the dam at the south end of Killarney Lake, which offered a great viewpoint of the water and surrounding mountains, as well as some picnic benches and washrooms. We did witness a fellow hiker taking some time out for an early afternoon nap in the summer sunshine only to be woken up by a out of control puppy giving her a lick to the face! Top tip – sleep with one eye open!
The 4km undulating hike around the rest of Lake offered some great exercise, which you can also take to the lake in the form of paddle boarding (you need to bring your own). The return journey is a repeat of the inward trip.
For those of you looking for a longer, more challenging hike on Bowen Island, check out the 17km intermediate trek 719m up Mount Gardner.
“Downtown” Snug Cove
Snug Cove is a peaceful backwater which offers an excellent retreat from the intensity of the city.
There is a great Coffee House called the Snug Cafe, which offers a full range of breakfast, lunch and snack offerings. Helena fell in love with their raspberry cream cheese croissant.
We also stumbled upon the smallest Candy Shop in the world, which was about 6ft by 4ft! The shop had 3 customers in and was full! Despite its size the shelves were packed with treats from all over the world, which because of Helena’s ability to guess the name of the children’s song playing in the store we got free!!
Continuing the size theme, we also noticed that Snug Cove is home to the world’s smallest Sears!
Snug Cove also has a great looking pub (Doc Morgan’s) overlooking the harbour which provides a welcome retreat for tired hikers….shame we were running late yet again for the return ferry.
Watch Out for
– If you’re driving to Horseshoe Bay in the summer on a weekend, make sure you get there early to get a car parking space in the BC Ferries official car park (which apparently fills up by 9am) otherwise you will face the dreaded 3 “you shall not pass” cones! With limited parking options, we managed to find a space outside a local school which was a 15 minute walk (or a 5 minute run downhill if you’re late for the ferry) to the terminal.
– Finding an ice cream can be surprisingly hard in Snug Cove on a sunny day! We managed to get one at the candy store!
– It can get pretty windy on the sundeck during the quick 20 minute crossing – hold onto your hat!!
The island has enormous sea kayaking opportunities around its sheltered bays. For those who can handle the cold ocean water there is swimming off the island’s sandy beaches. The trails are bike friendly. The Island is also known for its artwork and jewelry.
So in summary, a day trip is Bowen Island is cost effective and offers visitors a great chance to unwind and enjoy some beautiful scenery, while the ferry ride home gives you a great chance to catch 40 winks after a long day on the trails….
The temperatures are rising, the snow is beginning to melt, your legs can’t take the burn of trying to power through Spring slush anymore and your mind begins to start thinking about warm summer days and golfing!
With more players per capita than any other country, Canada has a legitimate if not well recognized claim (probably due to the lack of any well-known professional players) to being the golfing capital of the world!
With the sun shining in late March and the mercury topping a whopping 17C we decided to put down the skis for the morning and head to Gleneagles Golf Couse located in well to do West Vancouver (not the less famous one in Scotland) where the crystal clear waters of Howe Sound meet Burrard Inlet.
Why Visit Gleneagles
– Gleneagles is the best value course in British Columbia (in our opinion). At only $20.25 (after tax) for an adult round in March, the public course is accessible to all and has none of the pretentious rules sometimes associated with elite golfing clubs such as not being able to wear a collarless shirt!
– The course is only 9 holes, has a Marshall to keep people moving at a decent pace and takes just under 2 and a half hours to play which means that it will keep any non-golfing significant others in your life happy!
– The course is surrounded by spectacular scenery with the snow-clad Coastal Mountains on 3 sides, and the pristine blue water of Howe Sound on the other. Such a backdrop helps you forget about the ball you just topped a breathtaking 5 yards or the putt you have just missed from a foot out!
– The open all year round course is a great place to learn the game. I tend to find by the time I get to hole number 14 on a “grown up” course I am mentally exhausted from having to concentrate too much on such a small object, and am also physically drained from having to dig around in bushes, grass and water hazards trying to find my lost balls!
– Although it’s only 9 holes (par 35) that does not mean that the holes are not challenging. The first has a hidden creek that catches many golfers out, whilst those teeing off on the 3rd hole are faced with what seems like a 100 ft steep hill (aptly named Cardiac Hill) to get up!
– The course has a very efficient online booking system which allows you to book 7 days in advance and has a very generous cancellation policy of just 2 hours beforehand. Just make sure you book by 9pm the night before you want to play to secure your place.
– Given the popularity of the course with locals, the organizers will always look to send you out in groups of 4 which means that you often meet new and friendly people. In my personal experience, I often find they are keen to give me advice on where I am going wrong!
– Gleneagles has a great little clubhouse (yes, I have hit the roof with an errant drive) called the Larson Station offering a full food menu. The highlight has got to be the sun decked patio overlooking the Howe Sound and the 6th fairway. You can also hire the venue for private functions; a golfing acquaintance recently had their wedding there.
– After one round at Gleneagles, I went and bought myself a golf cart (the budget only extended to one you push not drive!) This reason is that I was so tired after carrying my bag up Cardiac Hill (see below) on the 3rd hole my game fell apart afterwards. Subsequent visits with a trolley have shown that my game is still not very robust but at least I am not as tired! Trolleys can be hired for $5.25 from the club shop.
– Last year I played with a US work colleague who hits a golf ball like he is knocking down a 10ft wall. Excited to being playing a 100 yard pitch into the final green, he caught the ball “thick” so to speak and sent his scud missile into the car park behind….the sound of a hard ball bouncing off car roofs and windshields thanks to the absence of any kind of netting means I don’t recommend parking your car near the 9th green!
– Despite a lack of nets on the 9th green, the course has a few “house protector” nets notably on the 1st and 2nd holes. If you have a natural slice like me these can often help out with trick shots which enable your ball to bounce back into the centre of the fairway!
– It’s wise to make sure you know how to get to this course (see map). On my first visit to the course, my friend’s iphone placed the course in the middle of the ocean. Another friend who has lived in the area for 10 years ended up half way to Squamish on Highway 99 before realising his mistake. Give it time….I am sure someone will end up on a BC Ferry to the Sunshine Coast!
– The course is open all year round but I would recommend some waterproof footwear if playing outside the summer months, or maybe that is just me given how often I am in the ditch!
– If by hole 6 you are running out of balls (to hit), a couple of kids can often be found selling them at 12 balls for $6…..one has a distinct South African accent suggesting that this sort of work can pay for an international jet setter lifestyle;)
– The Larson Station Russell Lager on the “19th” hole is cold and refreshing. Please note the models below are actors, and are not real golfers;)
So, a great value course surrounded by stunning scenery for those who are learning, or those who only have time for quick golf fix.