Critters of Bowen Island

Posted: Fri Oct 19 18:18:00 UTC 2018

A big draw for visitors and residents of Bowen Island is the abundant nature. Everywhere you look is covered in beautiful greenery. Our guests love to escape the concrete and noise of the city for the tranquility of the forest. But not everyone is prepared for all that the natural environment brings with it, i.e. it's fauna inhabitants.

Here we introduce you to some of the forest residents, a few of whom you may encounter both outside and inside in different seasons, but most of which are happy to stay out of the way of humans.

Photo by Greg Schecter

Big critters

City dwellers may be familiar with the scent of a skunk in the neighbourhood. They usually move on quickly and don't want to interact with humans. Though many folks dislike the misunderstood skunk, they are great at controlling rodent and some insect populations. They are mainly active in the early morning and evening, though can sometimes be seen during the day as well. Look ahead where you're walking and make noise so they hear you; skunks would rather run away than spray.

Mice and rats are part of all human settlements. You likely won't see these swift critters, but we encourage guests to put their garbage and compost in the correct bins, tightly locked, so as not to attract them as well as crows and ravens who love to make a mess of an unclosed bin.

Black bear photo by Alan D. Wilson

We generally don't have bears and cougars on Bowen Island. Once every five years a bear will be sighted, and a cougar once every ten years or so. They make their way from the surrounding coast for a visit, and usually make their way off again in due time.

Photo by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Deer are everywhere on Bowen, and may startle you if they trigger a motion sensor light. Please drive the speed limit (40km/hr on-island, with slower zones in some areas) at all times, as deer will pop out of forests onto the roads. If you see a deer crossing while driving, slow down and look to where they came from, as there may be more in the group intending to cross. Babies are especially hard to see and are not yet used to cars, and sad stories are often shared of finding them on the side of the road as speeding-car-casualties. Please be careful when driving at all times.

The other populous big critter, besides humans and deer, are of course dogs. In cities people are very good about leashing their dogs and going to dog parks for a romp. However, you'll find that some folks on Bowen are less likely to leash their dogs, even where required by law.

Crippen Park and Snug Cove are on-leash areas. Crippen does have a fenced in dog park for off-leash play. On municipal property, e.g. Cape Roger Curtis, dogs must be within 3 meters of adult owners and in their control.

Please follow all leash laws, and pick up your dog's messes. Dog poop goes in the trash, never in the organics bins. And if you are strolling without a dog, don't hesitate to ask others to leash their dogs if you feel afraid or uncomfortable.

Little Critters

The charm of staying in cedar-scented wood homes is not lost on carpenter ants. Ants can appear indoors in the spring but pose no harm to humans. We treat our Bowen Island Accommodations homes for carpenter ants and sugar ants yearly, but you may still see a few here and there; we appreciate your patience with their small presence.

Spiders are around all year, but seem to ramp up their indoor web production in the fall. We realize not every guest appreciates their valuable service in controlling insect populations, so we do our best to remove them to the outdoors and their webs regularly.

While locals in some areas on Bowen report encountering ticks, others report never having seen a here. However, incidences of Lyme disease, carried by less than 1% of BC ticks, are very low in BC, so with some preventative steps, there is little need for worry. It never hurts to do a tick-check of your body after being outside and in contact with grasses, bushes, and branches, where tricks could drop onto your clothes. If you're doing some serious bush-whacking, tuck in long pants and wear long sleeves, and tie up long hair.

Photo by Stuart Meek

Wasps, or yellow jackets, are mostly a bother to humans trying to enjoy a nice outdoor barbecue in the summer, but they do play a vital role in the environment, such as pollinating and preying on other pest insects. We do our best to discourage wasps in and around our homes. Guests can reduce wasp encounters by not leaving sweets and proteins (meats, fish, etc.) lying exposed, as these will attract hungry wasps.

Photo by Judy Gallagher

Mosquitos are less of a problem on the breezy waterfront properties. To ensure none come inside, please use screens, where provided, on open windows and doors.


Of course, there are many other animal species living on Bowen, including eagles, vultures, songbirds, waterfowl, salmon, tree frogs, salamanders, red and flying squirrels, mink, and beautiful butterflies and other insects. Come with field guides and cameras to spot these and more critters as you make your way around Bowen trails.

We hope this small list of some of the animals of Bowen Island will make you feel prepared for your trip away from the big city and into big nature. Enjoying the outdoors (and indoors) on an island means tolerating, if not appreciating, everyone else who lives here too.

Catching Stars is Catching Interest: Bowen Island's Newest Art Gallery

Posted: Fri Jun 15 17:10:00 UTC 2018

A new art gallery, Catching Stars, has graced Snug Cove, in a brand new building. Bowen Island Accommodations caught up with Emilie Kaplun, who, along with Marie Neys and Pauulet Hohn, started this business togethera seed of an idea that bloomed into full fruition with a soft opening a few weeks back.


Emilie Kaplun at her new gallery. Photo by Pauulet Hohn

BIA: How did you three come together with this idea, and how do your backgrounds make this a successful partnership?

Emilie: We knew that we worked well together having worked on past projects. All 3 of us have previously owned Galleries and have taught creative courses and had the desire to continue our passions of promoting art on Bowen.

We felt that we each had something unique to offer to the business. Marie Neys with her background in marketing and running galleries, Pauulet with her amazing skills in graphic design, photography and website design, and myself with a history of running my own retail gift shops in Port Stanley, Ontario and Vancouver, and my education in art history and business.

Emilie Kaplun, Pauulet Hohn, and Marie Neys. Photo by Marilyn Cote-Dupuis

BIA: What made it the right time to do this project?

Emilie: The new pub building was being designed with retail spaces underneath, so we jumped at the idea to have a Gallery in such a fantastic location and a brand new building.

BIA: What makes Catching Stars a unique opportunity for the local artists you've chosen to represent?

Emilie: We really wanted to offer a space where local artists could have a permanent installation of their artworks to showcase throughout the year to tourists and locals alike.

Some artists have the opportunity to work in the Gallery and rent their dedicated space. Because artists are often working solo in their studios, we wanted to give them the option to be client-facing and talk about their work and creative process with the public.

We also wanted to offer an alternative for those who want to focus their efforts and energies being in their studios or who work off island and have busy lives, to simply have their work in the Gallery and we would do the promoting and selling of the work.

Our mission is to showcase and market local artists' work and get the word out to locals and tourists alike about the amazing creative talent we have on the island. Between our social media efforts, our website and all of the promotions we are doing throughout the lower mainland, we want to further publicize the fact that Bowen Island is a destination for those seeking unique art and galleries.

Photo by Pauulet Hohn

BIA: How would you describe the Bowen Island art scene?

Emilie: The Bowen Island art scene is really an eclectic mix of all ages, styles and mediums. When we started the planning on Catching Stars Gallery and did our research, we learned about artists from word of mouth who we had never heard of before, because they didn't have representation on Bowen. We are so lucky to have such amazing creative talent on this island, in so many different types of work.

BIA: Who are the collectors so far for the art that is featured, off-islanders or on-islanders, and why should visitors and locals alike visit Catching Stars?

Emilie: Visitors to the island benefit from seeing an amazing collection of some of Bowen's fabulous artists and a comprehensive collection of artworks.

Locals benefit, as we have brought in a mix of some off-island artists, in order to keep an interesting variety of works and introduce new artists to the island with specific mediums of work that we couldn't necessarily find in our local pool of artists. Bringing in some artists from beyond Bowen Island allows us to have a greater outreach in terms of our publicity and marketing.

Those artists that live and work in Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and the Sea to Sky corridor are helping to promote Bowen Island by letting their regular customers know about Catching Stars Gallery when they do their shows and promotions. This brings more people to the island and again shows the greater artistic community that Bowen Island is an arts destination.

A piece by local sculptor, Cathryn Jenkins. Photo by Pauulet Hohn

BIA: What are visitors' favourite items or artists so far? Are there favourite subjects that people are drawn to at Catching Stars?

Emilie: So far people have been coming in and telling us who their favourite local artist is, and that they are collectors of their particular work. I have a customer who collects my earrings and hair accessories for herself and as gifts, who has had frequent trips to Catching Stars Gallery since we have been open.

It's really amazing to see how much locals want to support the Bowen market and help the artists to thrive.  We have gorgeous bronze and stone sculptures by local artist Cathryn Jenkins and her work has been exciting everyone as they walk in the Gallery and are greeted by a baby Sea Lion. Our theme in the Gallery is ocean and beach, and it does seem like people have been really drawn to art with that subject matter.

Photo by Pauulet Hohn

Pauulet Hohn's beautiful turquoise mosaics that are ocean-inspired with a collection of seashells have been a favourite, as well as Marie Neys' seascape oil paintings. Both allow customers to bring home a little piece of Bowen. Natural wood artworks have been a hit as well, with much of the wood being found on Bowen Island.

People have been purchasing the Salt Spring Tea that we offer to customers in our bottomless pot, (try the "Bowen Island Berry" tea!), as well as the Howe Sound Soapworks soaps that have been "Bowenized" with local beaches and destinations on Bowen where each soap features a different artist, including artist Liz Watson's "Snug Cove Synergy" bar, and the "Mount Gardner Grit" soap bar which features label photography by your Jan Stevens, of Bowen Island Accommodations.

BIA: Any exciting events at Catching Stars coming up we should know about? Anything else you'd like to add?

Emilie: Yes! Our Grand Opening Party will be held Saturday June 23rd from 3-6 pm at the Gallery. Or if you can't make it to the party, stop in during regular Gallery hours, sip on a cup of tea and "find what inspires you" in our beautiful new Gallery that reflects the amazing creativity and natural beauty of Bowen Island.


Thank you, Emilie, for sharing what Catching Stars is all about, and we wish you a fabulous Grand Opening! Visitors can find the gallery at 479 Bowen Island Trunk Road, unit 1.

Catching Stars Gallery is open daily from 11-5 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11-8 throughout the summer. Find more information at

*More* Bowen Island Accommodations Property Upgrades To Greet You in 2018

Posted: Wed Apr 25 19:09:00 UTC 2018

We reported on round one of property upgrades this winter, and now we're excited to share what round two has added to our vacation rental properties on Bowen Island.

This past winter we saw new entry stairs, landscaping, rock work, and a wi-fi-connected watering system for the Hideaway, a new dock at the Eastman Waterfront Retreat, and a new wood stove at the Eastman Waterfront Retreat.

This spring, we've been organizing new amenities and further improvements for you to enjoy, made possible thanks to the great work of local Bowen Island trades people and landscapers.

Eastman Waterfront Cottage

The new laundry shed at the Eastman Waterfront Cottage is now up and windows will be added soon, thanks to Norbert Puppe, our go-to local builder. Guests staying for longer periods will have access to this shed, where they can do laundry in our new machines. Our cleaners are grateful to have these nearby as well, meaning quicker turnovers for our next guests checking in.

New laundry shed at Eastman Waterfront Cottage

Norbert also added a much-needed roof over the Cottage entry door so guests and cleaners don't get poured on when it's raining.

New entry roof at the Eastman Waterfront Cottage

Eastman Waterfront Retreat  

Island Girls Gardening have been working on the Eastman Waterfront Retreat property, caring for the lawn that edges the creak feature, and maintaining the garden and planters.

Norbert Puppe has finished the dock with views of Hutt Island and beyond, allowing guests to adventure out onto the water without even leaving their PJs (if they so choose!).

Lazy Bowen Hideaway

The new landscaping at the Lazy Bowen Hideaway has been planted by Su Rickett with deer-proof vegetation, so that natural beauty greets our visitors from all sides.


We hope hope our guests enjoy these improvements in the coming year, and we'll be sure to let you know about further property upgrades!

The Sweet Stand: Purveyors of Bowen Island Cakes, Treats, and More

Posted: Fri Apr 20 18:21:00 UTC 2018

We had a call from a guest recently who was celebrating a birthday while here. They asked us where they could find a Bowen Island birthday cake, and we thought it might be helpful to share our suggestions with the wider Bowen-visitor population. It's common to celebrate a birthday by getting away from it all, and not everyone wants to cart a cake (especially if it's a surprise) from the mainland.

Sweet Stand unicorn cookies.

The Ruddy Potato has some small dessert offerings, like mini cakes, as well as pies, and ice cream and other desserts are available there and at the General Store as well. Lime and Moon Pie Shop has some pies so decadent you could pass them off as cakes; however, they are open seasonally.

Lime and Moon Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
and Ruddy Potato dessert case.
(Photos from respective businesses' websites).

But if a real birthday cake, even a custom cake, is what you have your heart set on, and you have a little time to plan in advance, we recommend being in touch with Burle & Jess at The Sweet Stand, a home-based Bowen Island cake and dessert business whose products are as much eye-candy as mouth-candy.


BIA: What kinds of cakes and other products does the Sweet Stand make?

Burle & Jess: The Sweet Stand specializes in cakes and sugar cookies, but we also make a wide range of products, from classics like chocolate cake and apple pie to items for the more adventurous, like key lime tarts and tiramisu. You can find all of our cake and cookie options on our Sweet Stand website or Sweet Stand Facebook page, and if you have a specific request, get in touch and we'd be happy to discuss it.

BIA: Do you do gluten-free or vegan cakes?

Burle & Jess: We're pleased to offer many of our items available in gluten free, vegan, dairy free, sugar free, or paleo. We have many taste testers who helped us to perfect various recipes to be able to offer to those with dietary needs without compromising taste or texture.

BIA: Tell us about the folks behind The Sweet Stand?

Burle & Jess: Burle Konopa and Jess Skett make up the team behind the goods from The Sweet Stand. Both self taught bakers who come together to create delicious treats, using old family recipes, new recipes, and classic recipes with their own twists to them.

Jess Skett & Burle Konopa

BIA: How did The Sweet Stand start?

Burle & Jess: The Sweet Stand came out of the passion each Burle and Jess has for baking, and the need for delicious baked goods in Bowen Island. It started as something offered to friends and quickly expanded through word of mouth and their attendance at the local farmers markets.

BIA: How much notice do you need for a cake or other item order?

Burle & Jess: As we're a 2 person operation with all of our items being made to order, we often need a minimum of 3 days, but do suggest booking sooner if possible, and every now and again we can fit in orders for the next day.

BIA: Where can people find your cookies and cakes on Bowen Island?

Burle & Jess: Since our items are all made to order, the best way to pick something up is to send us an email or give us a call. You'll also find us at the farmers markets throughout the summer with an assortment of ready to purchase (and enjoy!) baked goods.


Thanks, Burle & Jess for taking the time to let our guests know all about your Bowen Island desserts business. The next Bowen Island birthday guest to celebrate with a Sweet Stand cake is in for a real treat.

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

Posted: Wed Apr 18 20:36:00 UTC 2018

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

#2 on map is the commuter lot by the RCMP station.
Image from

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.


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.


Posted: Wed Apr 11 20:58:00 UTC 2018

Have you ever been dissapointed when planning a special getaway only to find that your favorite Vacation Rental is booked?
Do you change your dates or change your location to your second choice?

We have a solution!!
We want to encourage YOU and our other guests to plan ahead
and reserve your preferred dates NOW.
It will make you VERY HAPPY and it makes us HAPPY to make you HAPPY!!! 

HURRY~~~Spring into action
before the Early Bird gets your SUNNY DATES.

Spring and Summer dates are booking quickly.
Planning ahead means you get your first choice (hopefully).
NOW is the time to reserve the getaway dates that you prefer.


we continue to add improvements to the
Lazy Bowen Hideaway and the Lazy B Petite Suite

Phantom Screens on all doors for more fresh air w/o bugs
Dining room glass door for more sun & beach views
Pleated Shades on all windows for sleeping late
250 daffodil bulbs for the March bloom
Flat screen TV added to the bedroom
More space in the Trailside bedroom
Entrance rockery & landscaping
Cliff Viewpoint relaxation zone
Propane BBQ for tasty meals
Anderson double entry door
coffee grinder
coffee mugs

Come Stay and Be Lazy

at the

Lazy Bowen Hideaway and the Lazy B Petite Suite

Sleeping 2 - 9 guests.

Send your booking inquiry to

or call Jan @ 888-604-1475

March is Magic on Bowen Island

Posted: Fri Mar 09 20:57:00 UTC 2018

March is magic on Bowen Island. It's the liminal space between a frozen winter and the hope of spring. The earth begins to waken, and so do we, as the scents and sights change all around us.

In this time of in-betweenness, a vacation away can be both a last chance for introspection, and a first step into opening up the soul for the new year.

As the tail end of winter  draws to a close, take this last chance to curl up with a book by the fire without feeling the guilt of wasting a beautiful day. A vacation away can be one last time for enjoying "hygge" with family during Spring Break (the popular Danish concept for the quality of cozy contented togetherness), by playing board games and watching movies after an afternoon of beach combing—things you may have pictured doing at Christmas, but were too busy cooking, cleaning, and shopping to make happen. Enjoy it now, before summer camps and good weather draw us all out and away from the house.

At the same time, it's also the first chance to truly enjoy the outdoors, as the rains abate and the sun makes it's new year debut.

Daffodils at the Lazy Bowen Hideaway

Our eyes revel in the daffodils, the crocuses, the first of the spring blooms. Pops of colour echo our yearning for vibrance after the dull greys of winter. On Bowen Island, enjoy the flowering bulbs planted by the Garden Club all throughout Snug Cove. Hiking here is at its best — the weather is mild, but not too hot, and the trails are still quiet before summer. The crowds are far off still, while you idle in coffee shops and search for groceries to make your favourite meal. This is your chance to experience Bowen Island as the locals do in the off-season, before the summer rush, but with the best spring weather.

Crippen Park. Photo by Davina Haisell

In this time of sneaky sun beams peaking through the clouds, fresh mists, and surprise sunsets, celebrate the awakening of soul by connecting with nature on Bowen Island. Only in spaces where there are trees, water, blooms, and fresh air all around can we truly appreciate the spiritual nature of this transitional time of year, and take the time to honour our physical and spiritual connection to this magical season.

To book your Bowen Island March vacation, have a look at our rental properties here, and do contact us if you need any vacation planning guidance.

Short-Term, Not Short-Sighted: Vacation Rentals on Bowen Island

Posted: Mon Feb 19 23:31:00 UTC 2018

Killarney Lake on Bowen Island   photo taken by Jan Stevens

Restrictions on short-term vacation rentals (STVR) are becoming more common in municipalities across BC. While there are some concerns many of these municipalities have in common, such as housing and regulatory issues, it's important to consider the many factors around this complicated issue before assuming that restricting vacation rentals will have the same effect in all locales, let alone a beneficial effect. Bowen Island is a unique case, and it's likely that restricting short-term rentals here won't solve the housing problem, but certainly will limit tourist dollars and employment opportunities.

Vancouver Restricts Short-Term Rentals

Our city neighbour, Vancouver, has seen the recent restriction of short-term vacation rentals. The belief is that this action will return 1000 real units to the long-term rental market. Vancouver has a variety of units available on Airbnb and other rental sites, such as suites in houses, rooms, and whole apartments.

On April 1, 2018, Vancouver implemented its ban on short-term rentals of secondary suites and restrictions on renting primary residences as short-term rentals. It is part of a set of initiatives to free up potential long-term rental units, be they suites, or homes bought as investments and never used otherwise.

The Coastal Mountains as seen from the Lazy Bowen Hideaway  photo by Jan Stevens

Would a STVR Ban on Bowen Affect Housing?

We sometimes hear the call on Bowen to ban short-term vacation rentals as well, the main reason being that there is a need for long-term rental housing. These two issues aren't necessarily linked, however, because on Bowen Island, the shape of rentals is a little different than in other municipalities like Vancouver.

For instance, there are whole houses here that owners use for their vacations, left empty part of the year. There are also suites in houses that the owners want to keep available for family and friends to use when they visit. In many of these situations, the owners have never rented these units out long-term, and never intend to, as this would restrict their ability to use it themselves. Banning short-term vacation rentals in these cases would leave these homes mostly empty, and would no longer serve the community by providing places to stay for visitors who spend their tourist dollars here.

Housing is indeed needed on Bowen for the valuable workers and citizens who make our economy and community run, but it's affordable housing that's required. Many of the vacation rentals we see, if rented long-term, would not be affordable to those who need housing the most on Bowen. These second homes are often high-end and would rent for more than the average service worker can afford.

If homeowners were forced to rent out their secondary properties long-term, not short-term, in order to keep and enjoy the property themselves, this could lead to situations where renters are asked to leave for whole months or seasons. In fact, we've seen this happen on Bowen Island already, where homeowners choose to rent long-term instead of short-term but still want to use the property themselves. On other popular vacationing islands like Hornby Island, this is common, and many year-round residents have to move out for two or three months in the summer and find temporary housing. If they can't find it on-island, they seek elsewhere, away from their home community and places of work.

It's true that there isn't enough housing for summer employees for restaurants and other businesses, kept busy by the fair-weather tourists. Having unstable long-term rentals where renters must agree to move off-island in the summer isn't a viable solution. Instead, it further limits the summer employee pool when it's needed the most.

Diversity of ownership is also beneficial to Bowen Island. The ability to Vacation Rent a private vacation home or even a primary home allows less affluent homeowners to own a BI property while supporting the Tourism economy. Otherwise, more affluent homeowners without the need for additional income would leave their secondary vacation homes empty and used only during their holidays, minimizing their ongoing contribution to the Bowen economy.

Case in point: When I inherited my aunt Jerry's property in 2004 I had no idea how as a divorced self-employed Mom I would pay for owning this long time family vacation home. The property was purchased in 1954 and was a major part of our family history.  I too wanted to be able to use the property for our family vacations. Having a long-term renter would have eliminated our option to use it as our vacation property so we began short-term vacation renting the property occasionally to help pay for the overhead. Fourteen years later we are proud to report that not only have we covered our overhead but we have contributed to the Bowen economy through wages paid, improvements required and providing Tourists to help sustain BI businesses.

Short-term vacation rentals and long-term rental housing are not mutually exclusive concepts. Banning the former won't solve the latter here on Bowen Island. A ban would, however, make a sizeable negative impact on the economy.

Eaglecliff Beach, Bowen Island  photo taken by Jan Stevens

Alternative Solutions

PST on Airbnb

Bowen Island Accommodations is proud to pay into the British Columbia coffers by charging the 8% hotel provincial sales tax plus 5% GST. Bowen Island has a handful of businesses that currently pay this hotel PST. However, that will soon change with the new agreement between BC and Airbnb; all short-term rentals booked through Airbnb will be collecting the 8% Provincial Sales Tax.

It is the first of its kind in Canada. Once these legislative and regulatory changes are made, Airbnb will begin collecting the 8% provincial sales tax (PST) and an up-to-3% municipal and regional district tax (MRDT) on short-term accommodations provided in BC through its platform.

We are pleased to learn that the revenue raised from the new tax agreement will be used to fund affordable housing projects in our province and hopefully help to address the Bowen Island affordable housing dilemma.

Review of Long-Term Rental Regulations

The BC long-term rental regulations provide necessary protections against unfair landlords. We are also aware of cases where these protections have had undue impacts on landlords, where property owners renting to long-term tenants have incurred extensive unreimbursed damages, and have had to deal with long eviction times with limited owner protections.

Based on these challenging and expensive experiences, short-term renting can appear more desirable for owners. We believe it may be beneficial to the long-term rental inventory for the province to take another look at the regulations to negotiate new equity between the owner and renter.

The Benefits of STVR on Bowen Island

Short-term vacation rentals provide places to stay for visitors. Unlike other municipalities, we don't have hotels here, and there is a high demand from tourists for places to stay, more so than is provided by conventional bed and breakfasts. Many people want their own space or a large space to bring a whole family, and this can be provided by short-term vacation rental homes and suites.

Tourists are spending money on their rental, food, gas, culture, and experiences on Bowen Island, and are integral to our local economy. The promotion that we and other vacation rental owners do in the off-season means that we all benefit from tourist dollars not just in the summer, but throughout the year, which helps keep businesses (restaurants, shops, services) open for locals to enjoy as well.

Some of those who benefit from these year-round tourist dollars are workers involved directly in the vacation rental economy. One Bowen Island Accommodations property made $250,000 in improvements in the last four years, all reliant on local contractors, architect, and casual labourers.  Vacation rental offerings must stay well-maintained and aesthetically up-to-date, and local workers help us to this end. The regular employment provided to our valuable cleaning staff and trades professionals are dollars we as business owners spend that also circulate in the local economy. If these short-term rentals were banned and left empty for occasional owner use, as they likely would be, these employment opportunities would be gone or heavily reduced.

Bowen Island Accommodations operates five vacation rentals on Bowen. In the past year, we have spent:
  • $35,500 on housekeepers
  • $4,993 on gardeners
  • $31,970 on contractors and handymen. 
That equals close to $72,500 spent on Bowen Island, which will be recirculated throughout the local economy.

Neighbouring properties to our vacation rentals benefit from the regular maintenance and improvements, adding value to the total neighbourhood.

Tunstall Bay    photo taken by Raf

Keeping Profiles Low and Standards High

Having a culture of well-managed short-term rentals on Bowen is essential if short-term rentals are to be accepted by the community.

At Bowen Island Accommodations, we are on-call to address any noise complaints, and we strive to have our vacation rentals fit in quietly with the surrounding neighbourhoods. Long-term tenants who are noisy or a disturbance to the neighbourhood can be reported but difficult to evict if that is the preferred outcome for the neighbours or home-owners. Short-term renters are there temporarily, and in our experience, most are here to enjoy the quiet and peace of our island. At BIA, we strive to connect with other vacation rental managers through the Bowen Island Accommodations Association and Tourism Bowen Island to share best practices and communicate about the importance of noise management and neighbourhood integrity.

Through our communications, we also aim to provide visitors with value-added information about Bowen Island. We have been building our website up to be a resource for all information tourists could want and need while on Bowen, including lists of activities, restaurants, events to go to, and services to enjoy, and featuring these on our blog and newsletters as well. We encourage our guests to sample all that Bowen Island has to offer, and by doing so, direct their tourist dollars to the community.

With Airbnb, VRBO, and other online platforms, anyone can manage their vacation rental. Those who are new to this income stream may not know the importance of considering neighbours or promoting Bowen businesses. By staying connected as a community of vacation rental providers, we can share our combined knowledge so that short-term rentals continue to be a real benefit to Bowen Island.

The issue of affordable housing and people using short-term vacation renting as a means of income is a greater issue than just Bowen Island's, but Bowen Island has it's own context to consider as well. Affordable housing projects and policies are needed, and solutions are out there, but banning short-term rentals here isn't one of them. A deeper look at the issues involved will show that the loss of short-term rentals will have unintended effects and that the real-time benefits to the community and economy are many.

The Off-Season Magic of The Eastman Waterfront Retreat

Posted: Sat Feb 10 00:44:00 UTC 2018

The Eastman Waterfront Retreat is a show-stopping Bowen Island vacation rental property with panoramic views of gulf island wonder. And as with all gulf islands, natural beauty comes with a variety of weather in all seasons, from spectacular sunshine to moody watercolour-like washes of blues and greys.

What our off-season guests know (and probably keep secret), is that even the occasional rainy days have a special beauty all on their own, and the Eastman Waterfront retreat is poised to feature this beauty perfectly. Here are a few reasons why the fall, winter, and spring are great times to book your restful vacation at the Retreat.

The Cozy Factor

For some, winter vacations have a whole other purpose than summer vacations. In summer, the weather is lovely and guests want to leave the house to explore the trails and water. In contrast, winter getaways are about self-care, introspection, and getting cozy, and the Eastman Retreat fosters these qualities admirably. 

The bathtub in the master bathroom is made for looking out to a cold sea from a warm bubble bath. Shift from the infrared sauna to the king bed in the evening, and wake up well-rested to a view of the water. With a few books on the bedside table and coffee brewing in the kitchen, achieving peace and rest is easy here.

The energy-efficient fireplace puts out a beckoning glow, with logs we provide for your stay. The facing sectional couch and ottoman encourage you to put up your feet and cuddle under a blanket. With the flatscreen TV sitting adjacent, you don't have to move an inch to switch from real fireplace to fireplace channel (if that's your thing), or movies and cable. Turn your head, and another view awaitsHowe Sound, featuring all of its inhabitants.

Wildlife Watching

All rooms in this seaside house face Howe Sound and the forested and serene Hutt Island. Without the busy boating activity that summer brings, you are likely to see sea lions, seals, otters, waterfowl, diving birds, and eagles, and if you're lucky, whales, which have been returning to the now de-industrialized Howe Sound in search of schooling fish. The Retreat is a wildlife-watchers' dream, and you don't have to brave winter weather to reap the rewards of being close to nature.

Good For All Group Sizes

The fall, winter, and spring are great times for family gatherings on Bowen Island, and especially so at the Eastman Retreat. If the weather is grey one day, then cozy up by the fire and read to each other, or watch movies from the large couch. 

With three bedrooms and extensive floor space, your family or group of friends can spread out, with no one getting in each others' way. Yet there are plenty of design features that will bring you together, such as the living room sectional sofa, the large dining room table, the breakfast nook, and the barstools around the kitchen island. And since our mild fall, winter, and spring coastal weather is variable, it's likely you will get days bright and warm enough to enjoy our propane BBQ and patio dining furniture on the sweeping deck.

Even if you're on your own or a couple in search of a small BC cabin for rent in the woods, the Eastman Retreat has what you'd intended to findpeace and tranquility, away from it all. Use the downstairs for your living space, cook a romantic meal in the well-equipped kitchen, cuddle by the fire, and then mosey into the bedroom for a nap, all without climbing a stair. Then again, there is the lounging loft upstairs for quiet afternoon reading or sketching sessions. The expansive design of high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and far-reaching vistas expands the mind, perfect for a creative solo retreat.


While all of our Bowen Island Accommodations properties are situated in peaceful settings, the Retreat is perhaps the most secluded, almost at the end of its road, on the quiet northwest side of Bowen Island. While traffic noise is virtually zero out here, any sound from boats or the occasional chainsaw in the distance occur mainly when weather is nice, in the summer. So fall, winter, and spring here bring an extra layer of quietude.

If you're looking to get away for a special kind of vacation, one that focuses on wellness, rest, wildlife, and peace, the Eastman Waterfront Retreat meets and exceeds all expectations on all fronts.
Book for the restfulness of the off-season, and reap the rewards of our discounted shoulder-season rates. Discover the features of this magical part of the island in this gorgeous house for yourself. You'll want to keep it a secret too.

Book now at

Opening Soon! What's New in Bowen Island's Snug Cove

Posted: Fri Jan 12 21:43:00 UTC 2018

Snug Cove. Photo by David Stanley.
Have you visited Bowen Island this past year? Snug Cove, our sleepy little village, has been getting a makeover, with several new buildings popping up. For those curious as to what to expect in these new places, we've gathered some information and mini-interviews about the exciting offerings coming soon to Snug Cove.


Catching Stars Gallery

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, water, plant, tree, outdoor and nature
West Coast Dreams by Marie Neys
Bowen is an island chock-full of artists, so it's no surprise that one of the new features in Snug Cove will be an art gallery featuring the works of local artists. (For a full listing of art galleries on Bowen, see our Arts page here.) We spoke with co-founder of Catching Stars Gallery, Marie Neys, to get the scoop on this exciting addition to Bowen arts and culture.

BIA: What artists and what kinds of artworks will visitors find at Catching Stars Gallery?
Marie: Catching Stars Gallery offers a wide range of fine art, giftable art and home decor.  Over 25 local and off-island artists will be represented. There will be 500 square feet of gallery space and 300 square feet of art framing space, with paintings, jewellery, sculpture, fibre arts, accessories, glass, mosaics, home decor, and more.

Emilie Kaplun, Pauulet Hohn, and Marie Neys:
artists and founders of Catching Stars Gallery

BIA: What's the story behind you deciding to open a gallery?
Marie: Pauulet Hohn, Emilie Kaplun and I dreamed of providing a venue where artists can showcase their new works in a permanent location in the heart of Snug Cove.

BIA: Why "Catching Stars?"
Marie: The symbolism can be taken 2 ways. The Gallery will be featuring many of the star artists on Bowen,  plus we live by the ocean and one of the sea creatures that fascinate us are the beautiful red and purple starfish.

BIA: How does Catching Stars fit with what Bowen Island means to you?
Marie: Just as Bowen Island is a rich diverse community we know Catching Stars Gallery will offer a diverse array of art, gifts and home decor. Our mantra is "Find what Inspires You!"

Some of the artists who will show
their works at Catching Stars Gallery

BIA: Anything else you'd like to add?
Marie: Just a hearty thank you for taking the time to include us! We will be organizing our promotional materials in the upcoming months and would be happy to provide them to your guests.

Catching Stars Gallery opens this winter 2018, in the new building in the Snug Cove intersection that will house the new Bowen Island Pub. Folks can find more information online at:

Bowen Island Pub

As both a locals' friendly hangout and music scene staple, we look forward to seeing how the new Bowen Pub building will enhance the great food, service, and fun it has provided to Bowen for so many years. As the go-to spot for Bowen live music and themed parties, (you don't want to miss Hallowe'en, New Year's Eve, or Movember at the Pub), we can only expect bigger and better from the new venue, rumoured to open in late spring or summer this year, and to have a larger stagefor more DJ nights, Blues Nights, and all-around good times.

The new pub building will hold not only the Pub and Catching Stars Gallery (see above), but also retail on the first floor and much-needed housing for Pub employees on the top level. Once the new building is ready to go, the owners' plan is for the old pub to be demolished and a new rear building will replace it, containing town homes, apartments, and retail space.

The Bowen Pub was chosen as one of West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce's Businesses of the Year in 2015, thanks to its leadership and contributions in the community by (then new) owners Glenn and Meredith Cormier.
Find out more about the new Pub construction at:

Copper Spirit Distillery

The long-empty lot between the Snug Cafe and Doc Morgan's is being transformed this year into a brand new Snug Cove building and business, Copper Spirit Distillery, owned and operated by locals Candice and Miguel Kabantsov. Candice kindly took the time to answer our questions about the business and building, and their artisanal products soon to appear on shelves and in cocktails on and off-island.

BIA: Describe for us what Copper Spirit will be like for visitors to see and experience?
Candice: Copper Spirit Distillery, which is set to be open in June, will primarily be a small craft distillery and tasting room producing organic vodka, gin, and whisky. In the tasting area, guests will be surrounded by beautiful copper stills while sipping our handcrafted spirits and discussing the production process and flavour profiles with our master distiller. The lounge, set to open in the fall, will be a place to relax, unwind and connect. Our focus is mindful consumption with an emphasis on health inspired cocktails and elixirs.

BIA: How did you come to decide to build a distillery?
Candice: We decided to build a distillery because we want to create a sustainable business that supports the local economy. We are passionate about mixology and health, and endeavour to design the healthiest possible spirits and cocktails using local organic grains, fruits and botanicals.

Concept image of the Copper Spirit Distillery building.

BIA: Tell us about the products you'll be creating there, and will they be available for purchase off-island as well?
Candice: Though our focus is primarily organic vodka, gin and whisky you can expect to find various concoctions on the go at any given time: multi-grain spirits, house-malted grain spirits, house-brewed kombucha and ginger beer, infusions, and seasonal fruit liquors. All spirits will be available for online purchase, at the tasting room, and distributed to restaurants and private liquor stores throughout the mainland.

BIA: What does Bowen Island mean to you, and how does your distillery complement that?
Candice: Bowen Island has been our home for the last six years. It is our peaceful refuge and we feel absolutely lucky to be part of the few that call it home. Bowen Island is a great tourist destination with a small town feel. The community, scenic mountain backdrops and the ocean within walking distance cannot be beat. Copper Spirit Distillery will be a relaxing gathering place for locals and visitors to connect, learn about artisanal spirits, and experience unique craft cocktails.

Cove Commons

Photo from

The Cove Commons, set to open in January 2018, is a vision made reality this past year, thanks to community donors, fundraisers, and grants from the Federal and provincial governments, as well as many volunteers involved in all aspects. A partnership between the Bowen Island Public Library and the Bowen Island Arts Council, visitors and locals alike will enjoy this new building right at the entrance to Snug Cove, just off Government Road.

The main entrance off Cardena Road will house the new Gallery @ Cove Commons, featuring ten exhibits a year of local and off-island artists, as well as music and literary events, art classes, and more.

If your visit lands on a weekend, check the Bowen Island Arts Council website to see if an art show opening or other event is happening during your stay, as the Arts Council is the heart of Bowen Island culture, and you'll be sure to have a good time. Either way, be sure to pop in to see the current exhibit, and perhaps purchase some art cards to send to friends while on your lovely island vacation. 

Illustration by Jeff Swain

Behind the Gallery, in the other half of the Cove Commons, sits the Annie Laurie Wood Annex of the library, which will feature comfortable seating areas for independent work and use of internet. While you're there, browse the old library building, accessible via the Annex, and enjoy this historical old general store-turned-library, recently renovated (November 2017) to match up with the Annex.

We recommend borrowing DVDs and New Books from their well-curated collection to enjoy during your stay on Bowen. Getting a local area card, a BC One Card, or a visitor's card to borrow items is easy as pie, just bring some ID with your photo and address.

Bowen Island Public Library
Bowen Island Art Council
Find out more about the Cove Commons here.