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Trip 051 - August 2, 2011 (Tuesday)

Bowen Island Ferry Trip

Via BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove and back

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Distance From Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal:
About 20 kilometers via Lions Gate Bridge. Ferry trip to Bowen Island - 25 minutes one way. Trip frequency - about once an hour from early morning to late evening (with a break of several hours in the afternoon).

Liked: Views of the nature and other ferries, modern-looking interior and exterior (Queen of Capilano ferry), cafe available on board, lots of room on a mid-morning weekday run, comfortable waiting room at the Horseshoe Bay Terminal.

Of note: Rather steep ticket price (over $41 for a vehicle and a driver return fare).

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Backroad Mapbook (2010 edition) Coordinates for Bowen Island: Page 10 (Gibsons) F6-F7.

Related Websites: BC Ferries, Tourism Bowen Island.

Other Ferry Trips: Horseshoe Bay - Nanaimo Ferry Trip, Francois Lake Ferry Trip.


We took this ferry trip to get to Bowen Island, where we hiked Mount Gardner. But the ferry ride was remarkable on its own. Great views and an interesting experience await Bowen Island ferry riders.

1. The directions to Bowen Island Ferry are as follows: To get to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal from Vancouver, take Highway 1 West to the very end, where it turns into Highway 99 Sea-to-Sky. Here we are approaching the end of Highway 1 West. Stay right to get to the ferry terminal.

Highway 1 BC Near Horseshoe Bay

2. Just a bit further, there is another decision to make. If you are driving a vehicle onto a ferry, stay right. To get to Horseshoe Bay Village, or, if you are a foot passenger heading to a ferry, stay left.

Driving to BC Ferries Terminal near Horseshow Bay British Columbia Canada

3. As we were driving a vehicle to a ferry, we took the right lane and ended up at the toll booths. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay Terminal go to Nanaimo (Vancouver Island), Snug Cove (Bowen Island) and Langdale (Sunshine Coast). It comes as a surprise to some people, but you cannot take a ferry to Victoria from here, and, instead, need to go to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, located 1.5 - 2.5 hours (depending on traffic) away in Delta, near the US border. Another option is to take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and then drive to Victoria. You can also take a ferry to Nanaimo from Tsawwassen.

Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal Toll Booths British Columbia Canada

4. Toll booth #8 served Bowen Island ferry riders. Our return trip cost for a car + driver was almost $42. There is no toll booth at Bowen Island, and you just board the ferry on your way back without any ticket.

Bowen Island Toll Booth Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal Province of BC Canada

5. We then drove forward and parked in lane #70. Lane #69 is reserved for Bowen Island-bound vehicles too. We would then drive for half a minute to our left to board a ferry.

BC Ferries' staging area for Bowen Island-bound vehicles

6. While waiting for the ferry, we checked out the waiting room located right by lane #70.

BC Ferries Waiting Room Entrance at the Horseshoe Bay Terminal

7. It turned out to be a very modern, comfortable waiting room. Seats, snacks, public phones, washrooms - what more can a reasonable traveler ask for? By the way, see the TV screen in the top left corner?

Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal Waiting Room Photo BC Canada

8. That screen was showing the ferry schedule, as well as the current location of all the ferries serving Horseshoe Bay, their heading, speed, and estimated arrival time. On the screen map Horseshoe Bay is where the Queen of Cowichan is located, Bowen Island is just to the left across a small stretch of water, and Vancouver Island is a mass of land closest to the Coastal Renaissance.

BC Ferries Vessel Tracking TV Screen at Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal Waiting Room

9. Having checked out the waiting room (there is another one at the terminal too), we went to see the boarding of Nanaimo-bound Queen of Cowichan. Vancouver Island-bound ferries are much larger than Queen of Capilano, which we would take to Bowen Island. This is the Queen of Cowichan. We took this ferry in 2021 on our return trip from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay.

BC Ferry Queen of Cowichan at Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal

10. Nanaimo it is.

Boarding BC Ferry Queen of Cowichan Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo

11. BC Ferries staff were busy directing traffic entering the ferry.

 BC Ferries Workers Directing Traffic Boarding Queen of Cowichan

12. Some foot passengers were waiting on the side. Not sure if they were going to Nanaimo or Bowen Island.

Foot passengers waiting at Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal British Columbia Canada

13a. Finally, we were directed onto the ferry. It was not possible to take a photo of the exterior of our ferry from the terminal, but when we visited Horseshoe Bay last year, we took a photo of Queen of Capilano (the only ferry going to Bowen Island) at that time, so here it is.

BC Ferry Queen of Capilano (en route to Bowen Island)

13b. And here is a July 2021 side view of Queen of Capilano, which we took from Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry en route from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Departure Bay).

14. Boarding the Queen of Capilano.

Cars Boarding Queen of Capilano BC Ferry at Horseshoe Bay Terminal

15. Departing Horseshoe Bay.

Departing Horseshoe Bay en route to Bowen Island

16. Time to check out the interior of the ferry on the second floor, above the car deck. Looks very modern.

BC Ferry Queen of Capilano Interior

17. Passengers can look through large windows.

Inside Queen of Capilano Ferry

18. Hungry? There is a cafe waiting for you.

Cafe Inside Queen of Capilano BC Ferry

19. Bon appétit!

Passengers Eating at BC Ferry Queen of Capilano

On the next page, we will check out the open upper deck, see some very fine views, and also take a look at Bowen Island's Snug Cove ferry terminal.

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