Bowen Island’s Artisan Square

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Bowen Island is a contradiction.  It’s a 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay but feels like miles and miles from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver.  In fact I suspect for most people, just getting to Horseshoe Bay makes up the bulk of the travel time.

The island is about 6 km wide and 12 km long taking up about 49.94 sq. km.  Like the nearby Horseshoe Bay, which oddly is part of West Vancouver, it’s mountainous and lush.  There are about 3500 permanent residents.  There are both coniferous and deciduous trees on the island and when my family was there, we saw Arbutus trees, which are notable for their red flaking bark, were in bloom, which is something we’d not see, even on Vancouver Island.

The BC Ferries vessel arrives in Snug Cove and you drive right off into the main town.  We were headed to Camp Bow Isle to check out where our daughter would be spending a week this summer.

The views from Horseshoe Bay are worth the trip alone.  Please make sure to look at all the pictures in the gallery with this article.

After our visit, we were recommended to check out Artisan Square, which is a quaint and rather new looking grouping of shops, cafes and galleries.  As is common with small towns, the Vet is right beside Cocoa West Chocolatier, which had some very nice treats indeed and was not a feeble snack shop, and the Dentist is across the parking lot.  The website www.artisansquare.com indicates that there’s everything from a piano studio to a yoga studio.

Our real destination was a very late lunch at Artisan Eats Café and Fine Foods.  They serve breakfast until 3 PM and start taking things down by 4 PM.  My wife is a vegetarian and tried a mango tofu burger that she reported as one of the best she’d ever had.  Restaurants tend treat veggie burgers as a recipe to simulate pulverized ground beef instead of reinventing the concept of a burger.  I am on the other end of the spectrum and tried the pulled pork sandwich.  It was a real BBQ pork sandwich with lots of flavour.

There’s a small bus operated by BC Transit that allows you to get from Snug Harbour to Artisan Square.  This means that you could have a rather excellent lunch, a scenic short ferry ride, but not have to bring your car.  Passenger only fares are $10.20 ($5.10 for kids).  Your car adds $29.20 to the price, which frankly I’d rather spend that money on food.  

The BC Ferries schedule for this route is mixed in with the Horseshoe Bay – Sunshine Coast listings.  The precise page is:  www.bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/biva-current.html

I was curious to see what it would take to get to Bowen Island from Vancouver without a car. I checked Translink.ca and it shows a $3.75 bus fare from Westbound W Georgia St at Seymour St (257 Horseshoe Bay Express).  It takes about an hour, but with a good friend to chat with, it could be fun and makes total transit costs for a day trip mini vacation quite affordable.

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