Access: To reach Bowen Island first grab a bus bound for Horseshoe Bay. At the end of the line follow the crowds into the ferry terminal. The ferry crossing takes just 20 minutes and return fare is included in the ticket price. In addition to hourly service by BC Ferries, Bowen Island is also serviced by water taxi. Call Cormorant Marine at 604-947-2243 or 604-250-2630. For those who are in a hurry to relax contact Bowen Taxi at 604-947-0000. Translink is now supporting a rudimentary bus service on the island during peak hours. All buses are equipped with bike-racks. More information about the Bowen Island Community Shuttle can be had by calling 604-947-0229.

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Visiting Bowen Island is always a treat. This funky little community on the edge of West Vancouver is not a suburb nor is it a rural backwater like many of the Gulf Islands. Just 3,000 full time residents call this 5260-hectare rock home. In addition to kayaking opportunities which are detailed in the Sea Kayaking Section, Bowen Island offers three pleasant hikes. All start from the ferry terminal and all are accessible most of the year. If lucky, you'll miss a ferry or two after the hike and - shucks! - have to do some carbo-loading in the Bowen Island Neighbourhood Pub [604-947-2782.] Cappuccino, ice cream and the usual post-hike rewards are also available from the cluster of shops just above the ferry landing.

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Salal

Salal

Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying baskets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.

Illustration by Manami Kimura