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a ferry docks in horseshoe bay vancouver.

Horseshoe Bay: Explore an Idyllic Coastal Hideaway

Horseshoe Bay is a charming seaside village that boasts stunning views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains. Yet to most, it’s viewed as nothing more than a conduit to a trip to Whistler or Vancouver Island.

Today, we’re here to change that! Whether you’re an adventurer seeking to embark on a scenic day trip, or a traveller eager to unwind before a ferry ride, this seaside village is an essential stop on the map of British Columbia’s treasures.

So, let’s learn about this idyllic home of Horseshoe Bay Terminal together⛴️⛰

Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver

Situated at the westernmost edge of West Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay is a quaint destination that serves as the starting point for many day trips from Vancouver. Firstly, it marks the start of the renowned Sea to Sky highway that connects Metro Vancouver with Squamish and the enchanting town of Whistler.

But most importantly, it serves as the home to a Horseshoe Bay Terminal, which links the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. You’ll find sailings to Nanaimo, the Sunshine Coast, and Bowen Island. Just remember, if you’re looking to get from Vancouver to Victoria, you’ll need to head to Tsawwassen Terminal.

Let’s be honest, in ninety percent of cases this scenic hideaway is viewed as nothing more than a springboard for destinations further afield. But the area has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a break from Vancouver’s hustle and bustle.

Things to Do Near Horseshoe Bay

a snapshot of sewell's marina in horseshoe bay british columbia.

Wander Horseshoe Bay Village

Though small in size, Horseshoe Bay Village is bursting with experiences. So our first piece of business is to explore this charming village with its captivating ocean views and mountainous backdrop.

Horseshoe Bay Village is dotted with boutique shops, each offering unique finds. Whether you’re on the hunt for handcrafted souvenirs, indigenous art, or quirky accessories, these little stores are treasure troves waiting to be explored.

The village is also a gastronomic haven. From cozy cafes serving piping hot coffee to dine-in restaurants dishing out fresh seafood platters, there’s no shortage of culinary delights. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Troll’s Restaurant: an old-school fish and chip restaurant that is a favourite with families.
  • Olive & Anchor: a modern gastro-pub with elevated pub fare, fish and chips, and a lovely patio. 
  • The Troller Ale House: a pub serving great food and a broad selection of craft beer, cocktails, spirits and wines.

Related: Your North Vancouver Neighbourhood Guide

the view of deep cove on one of our vancouver kayaking tours

Take a Guided Kayaking or Snorkelling Tour

Horseshoe Bay Village is centred around Sewell’s Marina. Here, you can start by soaking in the coastal vibes. Feel the gentle breeze on your face, hear the lapping waves, and let the salty scent invigorate your senses. It’s nature’s own aromatherapy session!

For those looking to delve deeper into marine life, there are fishing, snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving opportunities aplenty. The waters of nearby Howe Sound are teeming with wildlife, including orcas, seals, eagles and a vast array of fish so there is plenty to see!

This makes the area a perfect setting for your own nautical adventure. You can rent equipment from local providers and paddle away to the hidden coves and nearby islets of Howe Sound.

Related: The Best Vancouver Kayaking Tours

flowers in the foreground of a beach on bowen island, bc

Take the Ferry to Bowen Island

Horseshoe Bay Terminal is the convenient departure point for travellers seeking to embark on a journey to Bowen Island. This picturesque island is located just 20 minutes from town, but its peace and tranquillity will make it feel a million miles away.

Boasting natural beauty and a serene ambiance, the island is one of the 14 top day trips from Vancouver for a reason. Alternatively, there a number of guided day trips that depart from Sewells Marina in the village’s harbour.

You can enjoy its charms, relish the peaceful setting and experience various outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and hiking. And all just 20 minutes from the city!

Related: Bowen Island: A Hidden BC Gem

The view from Whytecliff Beach, West Vancouver

Soak up the Sun at Whytecliff Park

Within close proximity to Horseshoe Bay, you’ll discover Whytecliff Park. This haven for marine enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers features a diverse array of over 200 marine animal species, making it one of the best scuba diving locations in the region.

During the summer season, the park is frequented by locals looking to enjoy picturesque Whytecliff Scuba Beach. While it’s rocky and gravelly in nature, the beach is one of the most pristine in the region. And neighbouring Whyte Islet is a great spot for cliff diving if you’re feeling adventurous!

Additionally, Whytecliff Park has lots of space for picnics, making it an ideal spot for enjoyable family barbecues. Personally, I try and make it out every year. So trust me, it is not to be missed!

Related: Vancouver’s Best Beaches

a map that illustrates how to get to Horseshoe Bay from downtown Vancouver.

How To Get To Horseshoe Bay

Navigating from downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay might seem daunting for a first-timer, but trust me, it’s simpler than it looks! So, buckle up, and let’s embark on this journey together.

Since the village houses a ferry terminal, it is a regional transportation hub. The result? An area conveniently situated right off the Trans Canada Highway #1 that is well-served by public transit.


Driving is the most straightforward way to get to Horseshoe Bay if you’ve got access to a car. The drive is roughly 30 minutes without heavy traffic. But be warned, during peak hours, the Stanley Park Causeway and Lion’s Gate Bridge can get quite congested.

  • Start on West Georgia Street from the center of downtown.
  • Continue onto the Stanley Park Causeway, passing through the iconic Stanley Park.
  • This route will take you over the majestic Lions Gate Bridge.
  • Follow Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy) and take the exit for Horseshoe Bay.
  • Enjoy the scenic vistas as the urban landscape transitions into the lush Pacific Northwest coastline.

Note: Parking spaces in the village are available, but they can fill up during peak times, especially in summer. It’s a good idea to arrive a bit early or consider public transport if you’re not too keen on hunting for a parking spot.

Public Transit

Whether you’re someone without a vehicle or just want to sit back and enjoy the ride without the responsibility of driving, the Vancouver’s public transit system is fantastic!

And the best part? Horseshoe Bay Terminal is served by its own express bus. And since it has access to an express lane, transit is often faster than driving during peak hours.

  • Start at any SkyTrain station and get yourself to Granville Station or Vancouver-City Centre.
  • Take bus #257 Horseshoe Bay Express from stop #58504 on Georgia Street in front of the Hudson’s Bay department store. This bus offers a direct route, so sit back, relax, and in about 40-45 minutes, you’ll find yourself at your dreamy destination.

Horseshoe Bay Vancouver FAQs

Horseshoe Bay is a picturesque seaside village located on the western tip of West Vancouver, right at the entrance to Howe Sound. It serves as the home of the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and the start of the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.

You can easily reach Horseshoe Bay from downtown Vancouver by car or public transit. The drive takes you through the Stanley Park Causeway across the Lion’s Gate Bridge to West Vancouver. With minimal traffic the journey takes around 30 minutes. But you’ll often encounter congestion, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

The direct bus, known as #257 Horseshoe Bay Express, departs from Georgia Street near the Skytrain’s Granville Station and Vancouver-City Centre Station. The journey takes around 40 minutes and drops you right at Horseshoe Bay Terminal.

Apart from the beautiful marina, you can explore nearby Whytecliff Park, Bay Street’s boutique shops, and the local seafood restaurants and pubs. The views of the bay against the backdrop of mountains are stunning from almost everywhere.

Indeed! Visitors can indulge in kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing charters, and even scuba diving. There are several rental shops in the area to provide the necessary equipment. Whytecliff Park also contains a stunning secluded beach which is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and cliff diving.

Absolutely! Horseshoe Bay serves as one of BC Ferries’ most important terminals. You can find routes to Bowen Island, Vancouver Island (Nanaimo), and the Sunshine Coast. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to get to Victoria, you’ll need to head to Tsawwassen Terminal south of Vancouver.

Ready to anchor down and enjoy Horseshoe Bay?

As you can see, Horseshoe Bay is so much more than just a ferry terminal; it’s a haven of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation.

As you wander the marina, let its charm seep in and enjoy the scenery. Because Horseshoe Bay beckons travellers with its pristine beauty and rich tapestry of experiences.

Happy wandering⛴️

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