Travel Light, and Travel Local
I am a traveler, so those world lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 made that challenging on a soul level. As much as I would have loved to just get up and go, I was conscious of a need to stay put. I went with soul integrity and let things settle. I didn’t give in to a slightly selfish need to get my nomad fix.
I know lots of people traveled when and where they could, and no judgment…you do you.
So when things and places started opening up, instead of finding a plane to the nearest open country on a potentially different continent, I took advantage of my ability to explore places near to home.
If you have read any of my words, you know that the wide open spaces of Canada are my home. British Columbia to be exact. The wild west coast, or wet coast as we lovingly call it.
You can check out my other recent post about my escapades on Salt Spring Island here.
Ironically, the day the world shut down, I was actually boarding a flight to Costa Rica. I was heading back there for a meet up with a travel buddy I had met previously on a Costa Rica trip with G Adventures (my go to favorite small group travel company). We were heading back down to CR to spend a week at a yoga retreat. While I did end up coming home early, it being the 2nd yoga retreat I had been to, the small amount of time still helped grow my appreciation for the beauty and relaxation of retreats. More on that will follow in another post.
So, flash forward 2 years into our new world, and I was on the hunt for something new, something fun, and something local. Through random searching and scrolling on Instagram and Facebook, I came across an article featuring a local yoga retreat. This was a place I had mentally bookmarked a few years before.
Bowen Island, situated on territorial Squamish Nation land, is a small island, just a quick 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver). Bowen has grown from a small hippie vibe type sanctuary island, to a cozy, slower paced lifestyle home base for artisans, retirees and those looking for a quiet weekend away (or maybe not LOL), west coast style.
Nectar Yoga sits nestled in a bit of a ravine on a 20 acre parcel of land, near the middle of the island. Having moved locations since I had originally discovered it, this new property boasts 3 single A-frame cabins, 3 larger 2 level cabins and, at the time we went, a new smaller 2 person cabin (which had actually just been moved from the original property).
There are also have a couple of small, individual rooms in the main house that can be booked, although these were still closed when I spent time there.
These Scandinavian inspired cabins (and rooms) are each themed after a specific crystal and vibe.
The small rooms in the Onyx Lodge include The Emerald Room, which has its own bathroom, and the Amber and Turquoise Rooms which have a shared bathroom. While offering the same comforts of the cottages, being placed in the upstairs of the Onyx Lodge, they do lack a bit of privacy and quiet that are enjoyed by the separate cabins.
The 3 A-Frames cabins are these adorable a shaped rooms with large double beds and a covered patio for sitting out and enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds them. The interior theme and cabins are named after the Sunstone, Jasper and Opal. These are ideal for one person and share between 2 private/shared bathrooms just across the walkway in the main building, the Onyx Lodge.
The larger Deluxe Cottages are 2 level sanctuaries with private bathrooms, that include these amazing, not to be missed, outdoor showers. The interior theme of these rooms are Amethyst, Jade and Quartz. With a king size bed downstairs (easily converted to 2 twins) and a double bed “upstairs” in the loft area, these lovely rooms can easily work for up to 4 people. Don’t miss the little window seats sanctuaries inside either.
The last cabin, the Moonstone Forest Cottage, sits a bit more private across from the Deluxe cottages. With space for 1 or 2 people, this little gem also boasts one of those wonderful outdoor showers!!
The Retreat in all its Glory
Booked in 2 day intervals, this mini retreat includes a daily morning meditation, followed by the morning yoga session. You are treated to an amazing vegan breakfast cooked fresh and served in the Onyx Lodge. After breakfast you are free to stay on the property and relax or head out and explore what the small island has to offer. Each evening you are then welcome to join the optional (at an extra cost) evening yoga session. We booked 4 nights to get in that extra couple of days of relaxation away from the hustle of real life.
After check-in on your first day, there is an afternoon welcome meeting with the group to introduce each person to one another and tell why you are there. The first evening the yoga class is included and then you are free to head into town for dinner or to head to your room to relax for the evening. As the whole space is limited to a maximum of 22 people, your group is guaranteed to stay small, allowing you to get to know each person a little bit better.
Day 2 starts with your morning meditation session either in the Yoga Dome, or a walking meditation down one of the forest paths on the large property. This is followed by your yoga session then the amazing breakfast. The balance of your day is left for you to follow your heart.
The yoga retreat offers a few package add-ons that include the afternoon yoga session, massage or even a tarot reading.
On the typical 2 day and 2 night journey, the morning of day 3 would take you through your meditation session, yoga and breakfast before check out. While it’s a small amount of time, the beauty and relaxation of the space and retreat is mighty, and worth the visit for the peace it brings.
The Island’s Offerings
Since my mom (my travel companion on this trip) and I booked the 4 days, it allowed us time to get out and about to explore a bit of the island and the few small, but cute shops in town.
When I say small, I do mean small. The main town hub, situated in Snug Cove where the ferry comes in, has only a few shops and restaurants, but each comes with their own special charm.
Although it may be hard to pick, one of my favorite food places was definitely Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar where my mom and I shared and honestly drooled over several tapa dishes. This restaurant is small but mighty and a definite must try!
There are so many other choices like Doc Morgan’s Pub & Restaurant with views of the cove, which boasts a truly lovely clam chowder. Or, you can find some delicious Italian meal choices at Tuscany.
And, if you are lucky to be there on a day when it’s open, don’t miss out on Branch on Bowen where you will find some truly amazing tacos (vegan and meat choices available, and I tried both and would highly recommend any of them LOL). They also have a pretty nice selection of ice cream, which we, of course, had as an appetizer, while waiting for our tacos to be made.
Bowen Island is a small place, as islands go, but does offer several things for the outdoor adventurist. While we didn’t try any of the water activities, (kayaking, fishing or whale watching tours, diving etc) there are plenty to choose from.
As a wild west coast island, it also includes several great small hikes that of course boast some amazing west coast island views.
While we didn’t get up to Mount Gardner (next time for sure), we did get to explore a couple small trails in Crippen Park on our first day while killing time before our Nectar Yoga check-in. The park is just at Snug Cove so has easy access to the trails from town.
Another of our days found us walking to Grafton Lake from our retreat, and enjoying the trail that loops around the lake. The trail (while not 100% finished when we were there) was a beautiful nature escape that took us under 2 hours in total, including the walking distance from Nectar Yoga. I would assume it’s finished now, but when we did the loop, the trail cut across a small creek in one place, without a bridge. I had the balance and fortitude to walk across a fallen tree, but my mom being less sturdy, took her shoes off and waded through the creek. Not sure who got the better end of that…..both options were equally good in their own way.
In every sense, Bowen Island, and Nectar Yoga were beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing. We were treated to a not so rustic nature getaway, with some great company, great food, great scenery and in the end, simply peace and quiet.
What brings your soul peace? I’d love to know!
(And YES this post includes an affiliate link to my fav go to travel company 🙂 )