Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay you will be delivered to Snug Cove, the cutest name for the cutest little village on Bowen Island. Here you will be tucked right into the island’s ‘downtown’ community core. Shops, restaurants and now even a distillery are all within walking distance making a day trip from Vancouver on foot totally doable. Many mainlanders will ferry over for lunch or dinner and easily return home after an adventure.
Bowen has a wonderful, thriving community and is loaded with charm. Residents are a happy bunch and that vibe emanates. The island has enjoyed a huge growth spurt over the past few years, with many families moving to the island.
The food scene here is amazing. Literally the restaurant names precursor your taste bud world tour: Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar is owned and operated by locals Yuki Goto and Guillaume Gros, and the Spanish tapas on the menu are authentic and amazing. I am still craving the Berenjena con miel - a crispy eggplant with honey and mint. And they have local B.C. wine on tap.
Next door, transport yourself to Tuscany. This restaurant has changed hands a couple of times over the years but has been a staple on the island for a while. New owners have created an amazing menu – the house made Mushroom Ravioli with parmesan truffle foam, wild mushrooms and asiago was absolutely delicious. If it was a warmer night, I would have loved to sit on the outdoor patio under the twinkle lights. Next time.
And then there is Artisan Eats. For this place, you need a car or a ride up the hill to a lovely little square with shops and artisans, the hub of which is Artisan Eats, a French-inspired bakery and eatery that serves breakfast lunch and takeaway galore. You will be hard pressed to choose among the array of treats that range from sweet pastries to euro-style croissant sandwiches and more. For breakfast, my favourite is the poached egg on avocado toast with dukkah spice. Yummy! We also tried the world-class pistachio bar and yup, it is world class. I know the former owners, Julie Cree and Christophe Langlois (a chef from Paris no less), the incredible food duo responsible for the vibe and world class baking here. So happy the new owners are locals that know a good thing and are continuing with this winning formula – including selling the hilarious t-shirts and hats, Bowen to be Wild.
Brand new to this seaside community is a distillery. Copper Spirit Distillery opened a couple of months ago to great fanfare. Making organic spirits, owners Candice and Miguel Kabantsov are enjoying every minute of it. Read more in this a recent article from iNwine.
Artists abound on the island, and there is one art installation that you just have to see (note: it entails hoofing up the side of a mountain with no real directions). Local artist Guthrie Gloag’s huge drftwood Mastodon Project was a passion project and he personally backpacked every stick of wood up the mountain himself to make a statement. Guthrie stated, “I hope that if someone does stumble upon my mastodon, or sees images of it, they might reflect on the animals living today that could be lost due to human impacts. Just as the mastodon became a symbol of extinction, I hope that my sculpture can be a message of conservation.” (see video)
There are lots of fun events to attend year-round on this feel good island. Coming this weekend on Oct. 5 is the annual Applefest. Included in this celebration are a heritage apple display of more than 100 different varieties, farmers’ market, baked goods (hunt down Artisan Eats' amazing apple beignets), music, best apple pie contest, and more. Bowen Island has a remarkable history in apple orchards, and Davies Orchard is home to heritage apple trees planted in 1887. This orchard and cottages are protected by the Bowen Island Heritage Preservation Association.
Bowen Island residents are proud of their little piece of paradise, and I don’t blame them, they kind of want to keep it to themselves. They rebranded a few years ago with a brilliant, hilarious campaign and slogan: Welcome to Bowen. Don’t forget to leave.
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