Bowen Island is located at the mouth of Howe Sound, which is the most southerly fjord in the Northern hemisphere. This is also the perfect day trip from Vancouver or weekend getaway. Here are some food-activity pairings to try while visiting the island.
If you are set to hike Mount Gardner, you will want to gobble up a lunch filling enough to keep you going for several hours. The Snug Cafe is a quick walk from the ferry terminal and offers a variety of filling sandwiches served with chips (as in potato chips, not fries), salad or soup. Their clubhouse is made of generous chunks of chicken breast (I celebrated the fact it was not assembled with turkey cold cuts), bacon, tomato, lettuce, yellow cheddar and lemon aioli on slightly toasted multigrain bread. The side salad — which one would typically not expect too much of — was delicious. Excellent value for the price and high on the filling scale!
For porky sandwich fans, The Snug offers the traditional pulled pork and pork jowl sandwiches which are quite tasty. If you are not in the mood for a hearty lunch, salads (only one was offered when we visited), wraps, pastries, shakes and smoothies are also available. The friendly staff takes your order at the counter and you seat yourself. Patrons can soak up the sun on their charming patio. All that you need to get ready for your journey on the Island!
Address: 445 Bowen Island Trunk Road
Maybe you made it to the Island to admire Bowen’s postcard-like scenery: shiny blue water that makes you squint with a backdrop of luxurious green mountains and endless blue skies. Kayaking is one of the signature activities in the area as the sheltered waters make it fun for the whole family. It also is a great spot for stand up paddleboarders. After a good work out on the water, you will have to refuel and get your energy level up again. Hot chocolate is what you want!
Make your way up to Artisan Square to savour one of Cocoa West concoctions. Spicy hot chocolate is something to try at least once in your life. It’s tangy enough to waken your taste buds but sweet enough to comfort them at the same time. The Poblano offered on the menu is an excellent balance between the two and includes a blend of milk and dark chocolate for the melted chocolate taste true chocolate addicts crave. If you are one of those extreme chocolate lovers, the Seville will satisfy you with its thick, velvety dark chocolate. For a nice twist, spike any hot chocolate with a shot of organic expresso. Trust me on this one, order a hot chocolate even if it’s 30 degrees outside though your “hot” chocolate can be served ice cold!
Address: 581C Artisan Lane
If you are in town for one of the festivals or events taking place on the Island, stop for breakfast or lunch at the lovely Artisan Eats and Cafe. This place alone is worth the 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay and the exquisite views reward you for the hike up to Artisan Square (a bus can take you up too). If you take your morning coffee seriously you will appreciate the fact that the coffee is provided by local roaster Lance McLure of Galileo Coffee Co. The French pastry chef makes from scratch croissants, pains au chocolat, muffins and breads. If brunch is your thing, then chef-owner Thierry will impress you with pâtés, terrines (I’ll just say that he has worked at Oyama Sausage on Granville Island) panini, tartines, sandwiches, cured meats and local BC cheeses. All can be enjoyed at a communal table from Tuesdays to Saturdays. It is closed on Mondays.
Address: 539 Artisan Lane
In the eventuality that you have planned a leisurely walk around Killarney Lake, you might want to have a bite right on the pier before heading to the trails. Nancy’s Tacos is an unpretentious shack with a simple “Island laid-back” menu: hard and soft tacos with beef or beans. The beef is lean and locally sourced, the salsa is home-made and all the fillings are fresh. Good prices and gorgeous views if you pick a spot on the neighboring boardwalk.
Address: 400 Bowen Island Trunk Road
On your way to the lake, make sure to stop by the “smallest candy store in the world”. Inside is an array of mostly vintage and imported candies in jars, fancy packages or familiar wrappings. This will bring back childhood memories, guaranteed!
Address: 449 Bowen Island Trunk Road
For people who are turning the visit into a weekend getaway, there are lots of bed and breakfasts and little cottage options on the Island. If you are there for the night, you may want to have dinner at Left Bank, a stylish decorated restaurant owned by the French inspired chef Becky Dawson. Visit their website for their business hours before you go. Should you feel like going to Italy for the night, Tuscany offers wood fire hand tossed pizzas and Mediterranean food in a heritage style house or on the garden patio.
Address: 433 Bowen Island Trunk Road
Address: 451 Bowen Island Trunk Road
Needless to say that the exciting ferry or water taxi rides add to the overall experience. Which food-activity pairing will you try next?
Photos: Véronique Moal, Gaëlle Hautbois, Véronique St-Antoine