A three hour tour

Bowen Island from a visitor’s perspective

Kayaking is the best way to see another side of Bowen Island from the most incredible vantage point.

Sometimes we take the natural splendours of our backyard for granted, until we see them being appreciated through the eyes of visitors.

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Such was the case one recent Sunday afternoon when the Undercurrent was a guest on a tour with Bowen Island Sea Kayaking (BISK). BISK owner and knowledgeable host Brent O’Malley served as our guide and we were joined by two tourists from Hong Kong and two from Vancouver.

We departed Snug Cove for the better part of the afternoon and gradually headed north along the shoreline towards Finisterre Island, in plain view of the majestic Coast Mountains and the Lions. 

A stop in Deep Bay proved fruitful as far as marine life spotting goes. We were first greeted by a seal, its slick head glistening in the sunlight, bobbing around and putting on a show for us. The couple from Hong Kong excitedly pulled out their iPhones to capture the moment. Soon after we saw Bowen’s resident majestic swan gliding around the bay, in another breathtaking moment during the tour.

Back out on the open ocean, O’Malley dove into the history of the island and surrounding Howe Sound region. We learned of the heady Union Steamship Company days when tens of thousands of people would come over to the island for a weekend of revelry.

O’Malley is especially knowledgeable and passionate about the re-emergence of marine life after the industrialization of Howe Sound.


“The Sound was essentially killed through the 20th century but now that it’s had 15 to 20 years to recover, the herring are coming back, the anchovies are blooming in abundance,” says O’Malley. “It’s bringing in the larger fish including the salmon, the seals, the sea lions, the orcas, humpbacks, the porpoises - all being seeing now by many old-time residents of Bowen.”

The three-hour shoreline tour is one of BISK’s more popular excursions, because it’s the right length of time, explains O’Malley. Sometimes the guides will heads south along the undeveloped coastline to Apodaca Beach, Bowen’s only marine park. 

Regardless of the itinerary, be prepared for close encounters with wildlife. Kayakers often see bald eagles, seals and seabirds, along with the island’s plentiful deer that sometimes wander into view above the beaches.

And if you’re really lucky, you could wind up a few hundred metres from a pod of white-sided dolphins or a couple of orcas. BISK touts the shoreline tour as being suitable for beginners and families with children. Each tour starts with on-land instruction to ensure participants are comfortable and confident before launching their kayak.

For a unique kayaking experience, check out BISK’s full moon tour and bask in the glow of the orb as it rises over Cypress Mountain. On a clear night, the moonlight shimmers on the water and illuminates the surrounding shoreline. The next full moon tour, weather depending, is scheduled for Aug. 18. For more information visit bowenislandkayaking.com.

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